January 18, 2022

Upper Kennebec Valley ready> Communities prepare shelters, generators for New Year’s Eve

BINGHAM — Officials along the upper Kennebec Valley from Bingham to the U.S.-Canada border say their communities are prepared for Y2K emergencies that might arise with the advent of the new millennium this weekend.

In the event of an emergency, officials urge residents to call 911.

Most agencies have upgraded their computers, some have readied emergency shelters at local school or municipal buildings, and some have alternate generators available in the event of an electric power failure.

“Our emergency systems will be open, and we have pagers for fire and ambulance,” said Bingham First Selectman Jeffrey Jacques. “The high school is our point of emergency shelter with portable heaters.”

The sewer plant will have pumping capabilities in the event of a power failure, so that sewers can be kept running, Jacques added.

The computer at the town office was checked earlier this week and received a passing grade, according to Tax Collector Violet Tibbetts. Most computers are programmed to show only the last two digits for a year’s date and could fail on Jan. 1, 2000, because the machines instead would record the date as Jan. 1, 1900, which is the crux of the Y2K problem.

At the U.S. Border Inspection Station, located 16 miles north of Jackman on Route 201, Inspector Darrell Glidden said the officers will have checklists for routine checks on Jan. 1.

“Our computers have been upgraded,” he said. “We go through the district office in Portland. Our computer people there have expertise, and we’ve already gone through dry runs.

“We foresee no problems as far as computers are concerned,” Glidden said.

In Jackman, “everything is Y2K-compliant,” said Frank Haggan Sr., selectman and acting town manager.

Jackman-Moose River Fire Chief William Jarvis said his department is preparing for the new millennium as it would prepare for any major storm.

“Central Maine Power has assured us that all is Y2K-compliant. And so has Bell Atlantic,” Jarvis said.

“As far as the Fire Department goes, we have our own generator, and we can use our generator to provide heat in any building where we can hook up to a furnace,” Jarvis said.

If something happens to the power transmission line coming into the town, the Jackman Region Health Center, the Northland Living Center and several businesses have their own generators that could provide emergency heat, he said.

In West Forks Plantation, 23 miles south of Jackman on Route 201, First Selectman Donald Burnham said the town is not in a position to be concerned about Y2K computer glitches.

“All our books are done by hand and a calculator,” he said. “We have no computer, no fax, no photocopier. We’re just a little town with 36 voters.”

Meanwhile, at The Forks Plantation, just south of West Forks, First Selectman Danny MacDonald said, “We’re ready.

“We’ve updated our computer system,” he said. “The town has invested in a generator to keep the town hall heated. The town hall is our emergency building.”

In case of an emergency, residents may call MacDonald at 663-2235, he said.

Caratunk First Selectman Christopher R. Young said his town of 100 people has no town hall or school building. The C.E. Ball Elementary School in town is owned by SAD 13.

“We have our own fire station, and the town does have a generator at the fire department, and it serves our fire station,” he said.

An official at the Maine Forest Service, a three-building compound off Route 201 in Caratunk, said his department has a Y2K preparedness plan.

“My supervisor will be checking all the facilities on January 1 to make sure that everything is still working,” said Warden Darrell Rich.

In the town of Moscow, just north of Bingham on Route 201, an official said the community is ready.

“We did have our computers checked over to make sure everything’s OK,” said First Selectman Donald Beane.

“Whenever we have a fire, we call the Bingham Fire Department, and we belong to the Upper Kennebec Valley Ambulance Association,” he said.

“We’re not worried about it,” Beane said of the coming millennium.

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