Community Conversations coming to Louisville and Jefferson County, KY : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

A friend of mine with a local radio station was working Friday evening when three Y2K-related faxes were received. Four upcoming Community Conversations are planned for Louisville and Jefferson County. While it was my experience at the Frankfort "Community Conversation" in June...

...that these are more about calming Y2K concerns than they are about informing the public about the risks of Y2K and how to prepare for them, I think residents of Kentuckiana will want to know the schedule of these and see how this might be reported in the local media.

Here's the press release:





Telephone: (502) 574-3900 - FAX (502) 574-2693

Richard N. Bartlett, Executive Administrator


(Suggested publication/use Sunday, September 12th, and Monday, September 13th)

In cooperation with the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, the Project Impact Metropolitan Y2K Task Force will host four "Community Y2K Conversations" over the next two weeks to provide forums for the public to get more information on the Y2K subject.

These programs will open with a short video address from President Clinton focusing attention on the Year 2000 Conversion effort. It will then include a community resource panel comprised of key utilities and organizations working in the community to prepare for, or mitigate potential Y2K problems. Louisville Gas & Electric, Bell South, Louisville Water, MSD, Emergency Management, banking, and the American Red Cross are among the groups that will be represented. Each panelist will make a short presentation, and will then the group will answer questions from the audience. The forums are expected to last about 2 hours.

The locations for these "Community Y2K Conversations" are:

September 14, 7 PM, Atherton High School, 3000 Dundee Road

September 15, 7 PM, SW Government Center, 7219 Dixie Highway

September 16, 7 PM, Central Government Center, 7201 Outer Loop

September 22, 7 PM, Youth Performing Arts Center, 1517 South 2nd Street

Both Louisville Mayor David Armstrong, and Jefferson County Judge Executive Rebecca Jackson, have declared the week of September 13th as "Y2K Awareness Week". They are encouraging the community to come join in these "Community Y2K Conversations" to get their questions answered.

Project Impact is a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) initiative to make our community more disaster resistant. Louisville and Jefferson County were designated in late 1998 as a "Project Impact Community", and working to prevent or reduce the potential of Y2K problems, along with public education, are components of the local Project impact strategy.

Release date: September 10, 1999

For more information call: Jim Graham, 852-0902


Also faxed on Friday along with the press release are copies of the proclamations signed by the Mayor and the County Judge. Dave Armstrong's proclamation is for September 13-17, and has the date of Armstrong's signature listed as August 30th. Rebecca Jackson's proclamation is for September 12-18, and has the date of Jackson's signature listed as September 12th.

-- Linkmeister (, September 13, 1999


Are you going to any? I'm kinda worried I might know some of these people putting on a "polly" spin say something I shouldn't and suffer repercussions at work. I have a fear that when there are shortages of items in December people will remember that I was preparing and somehow blame me probably with help from media spin

BTW a " higher up" at work said a few weeks ago in my presence " I just hope this y2k bug doesn't spread from computer to computer like some kind of virus or something. If it does that then we are in real trouble"

I hope that makes you feel better about the local situation!

-- Johnny (JLJTM@BELLSOUTH.NET), September 13, 1999.


I'm planning to go to at least one of them. I know that a very optimistic picture is going to be painted, but I want to go so I can "read between the lines" and hopefully get an idea about what might be ready and what areas are lagging. I'm almost certain I'm not going to be hearing about potential supply-chain problems or how non-Y2K compliance internationally might affect Jefferson County residents.

I'm also pretty sure that local organizations are going to make comments about the dollar amounts they're planning to spend to become compliant and be reluctant to say what percentage of their mission- critical systems have already been fixed.

Louisville's Web page about Y2K sounds thorough, but I have no idea how close they are to completion:

Jefferson County's Web page is not as informative as Louisville's:

I plan to mostly listen and not ask many questions, but if I do ask any, I'll be polite and civil as usual. I'm going to at least one of them to see if there is any good news that's specific, to see how much spin is going on, and I'm also wondering how the local media is planning to cover these Community Conversations. I know that the recent New York City event received very little attention in their media.

Anyone else from Kentuckiana who's interested in Y2K locally might also want to take a look at this thread:

-- Linkmeister (, September 13, 1999.

Looks like a waste of time. Most of us here are way beyond the stage of getting this type of preliminary info. Too little, too late. Thanks for posting the notice, though.

-- Pearlie Sweetcake (, September 13, 1999.


I agree. The main reason I'm going to go to one of them is to see what kind of message the public is being provided with. I'm curious about what kind of preparation suggestions are being made to the general public.

By the way, about 5 minutes ago, WAVE 3 briefly mentioned these four meetings on their 6 PM news. One of the co-anchors made the odd comment that after all this time, some people still have questions about Y2K. It sounded to me as if she was implying that most people have already seen the good news and have come to the conclusion that Y2K is no big deal.

-- Linkmeister (, September 13, 1999.

I went to the first Community Conversation last night, the one at Atherton. I'm glad I went. It confirmed the earlier impression I'd gotten at the June Community Conversation in Frankfort that LG&E has made substantial progress in its Y2K work, but it was also confirmation, to me anyway, that Bell South is still a question mark.

Only about 25 people showed up for this first one at Atherton. The two-hour session was opened by a newscaster from WAVE 3 (more about her later). A short video clip of President Clinton was shown, and then the presentations by the local organizations began.

A representitive from LG&E was the first to speak. LG&E's rep told us his comments were being made under provisions of the Year 2000 Information and Readiness Act to legally protect LG&E from any lawsuits that might arise from his statements.

Having said that, I did hear some fairly hard information about Louisville Gas and Electric. The representive said that LG&E's mission-critical systems are currently 98% Y2K "ready" and that they expect to be 100% ready by September 30th. The rep also said that if the rollover had occurred on June 30th, the amount of Y2K work done by that point would probably have been enough that the public would not have noticed any differences in LG&E's service.

The Bell South representitive was rather vague, in my opinion. She mentioned things such as a 1995 start, 500 to 1000 people working on Y2K, the final cost expected to be $350-500 million dollars, working with vendors and having contingency plans...but I didn't hear the kind of hard information that would have given me a good idea of how far along Bell South has come.

The rep from Bell South also suggested that the lack of problems on 9/9/99 was a sign that Bell South is in pretty good shape. (She made that point a second time during the question and answer session). We were also asked not to use the phone at rollover unless necessary, and that if there was no dial tone at rollover not to automatically assume that it's a Y2K problem because the phone system might be heavily used that night.

A banking regulator for the state spoke next. He said there could be a cash shortage if too many people try to get cash from ATM's at the same time. He also mentioned that it's a good idea to keep records, warned about Y2K-related scams, and reminded us that accounts are insured by the FDIC.

The next representitive to speak was from the Louisville Water Company. He too mentioned all the steps involved in their Y2K efforts, said they were doing well, but didn't give much hard information about their progress. During the question and answer session later, the Louisville Water company's rep, when asked the extent of their progress, reluctantly said that the water company is 98% ready and said they have assessed their embedded chip situation.

The Louisville Water Company rep also said that "9/9/99 was a very important date." He said that the water company would be putting up a Web page soon about its Y2K efforts.

The rep that spoke next was from MSD and seemed very down to earth. He told us that the sewer system mostly works by gravity, but that there would be an emergency generator at each of the county's sanitary pumping stations at rollover. In case there were an extended power outage, sewage could be dumped into the Ohio River and streams to prevent sewage from backing up into the homes of individuals.

MSD's representitive did admit that there aren't enough large generators to power the 15 flood pumping stations in the county in case of a blackout, but he also pointed out that precipitation is usually low in January.

Next to speak was Dick Bartlett from the Louisville/Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency. He distributed a basic list of preparedness tips to everyone in the room, which included a suggestion to plan for 3-5 days. He also talked about DOS not being compliant, Windows 95, 98 and NT needing patches, and said he was "fairly confident" that the local 911 system run by Bell South would be in good shape.

Mr. Bartlett also reminded the audience to make back-ups of their PCs and data, suggested a spike protector in case of a "possible but unlikely spike in power," and expressed concern about the lack of Y2K work on the part of small businesses. He also touched on just-in-time deliveries and suggested that businesses should look at alternative ways of shipping just in case.

Then the newscaster from WAVE 3 spoke again. With a noticeable "polly" disdain, she started by saying, "Now that we've all been reassured that..." [things will be OK], she introduced a speaker from the American Red Cross who recommended 3-5 days worth of supplies. A list of Web sites was also given, including Koskinen's, and

The question and answer session was next, and I was surprised at the informed questions the audience had. These questions and answers are all paraphrased and condensed.

Q: Can LG&E island itself from the grid?

A: Yes, it can if the situation were that serious, but doing so would have repercussions and wouldn't be done unless absolutely necessary. Also mentioned in the answer was that LG&E is increasing its coal supply by 10 days from 30 days worth to 40 days worth.

Q: Has Bell South done testing in the lab or in the field?

A: Mostly in the lab, but that's usually good enough. The Bell South rep again mentioned that the lack of problems on 9/9/99 was a good sign. [Of course, the 9/9/99 situation is its own, unique type of glitch different from the Year 2000 problem, and was never expected to cause problems, but that didn't stop Bell South or the Louisville Water Company from bringing 9/9/99 up.]

Q: Could something happen in Jefferson County with sewage like what happened with sewage in the park in Los Angeles when their sewage system was Y2K tested?

A: In a worst-case scenario, sewage can be dumped into the Ohio or streams to prevent a sewage back-up.

Q: Has the banking industry verified the compliance of small businesses and companies that it has made loans to?

A: Yes.

Q: Are your vendors compliant (question for all the panelists)?

A: We're in close contact with all of them. [The LG&E rep also said it has checked on the status of its coal suppliers.]

Q: What about the domino effect, the international situation, and the possibility that we might not notice the biggest effects until after March 1st?

A: Many foreign countries aren't as dependent on computers as the U.S.

Q: What are you doing personally to prepare for Y2K (asked of all the panelists)?

A: We have a background in emergency management, are always well prepared, and aren't doing anything special for Y2K.

Q: What about the flow of power between different electric companies. Has that been tested?

A: It can't be tested.

Q: Why should we believe what LG&E has to say about its September 30th deadline when LG&E has already missed two earlier deadlines?

A: It was planned to finish early so that there would be some breathing room in case deadlines were missed. 6% of mission-critical systems were still not ready on June 30th, but the public probably would not have noticed their service being affected even if the rollover had been on June 30th.

Q: What about the Y2K bunker being built in Washington D.C. and the cancelled holiday leave in many organizations?

A: "The International Coordination Center" [sic] is for contingency planning--it doesn't mean that there will be big problems. It will also monitor Eastern countries who will enter the year 2000 17 hours before the U.S. does and is also for tracking incidents caused by hackers or terrorists at rollover.

Q: Are banks in this area noticing an increase in demands for cash?

A: No. And, the Federal Reserve is going to have an extra $50 billion in cash available if needed.

Q: Why is the city's Web page about Y2K much more detailed than the county's? Is the county behind?

A: The county is working hard on Y2K; they just didn't bother to put as much on their Y2K Web page as the city did.

Q: What about the supply of foreign oil?

A: Venezuela is making progress and Mexico is in pretty good all- around shape for Y2K. If gasoline prices do go up early next year, they're likely to drop down soon afterwards, just as they did after the Gulf War.

Q: What about the international supply chain and the food supply?

A: We depend on American farmers for agricultural products more than we realize. There is also 30 to 60 days worth of food supply in the pipeline in case of problems.

[Personal comment: but not in supermarkets. That's why I bought extra canned goods earlier this year.]

Final comments on the Community Conversation at Atherton: All the panelists were respectful of the 25 or so members of the general public who showed up, and besides the expected comments to not take one's life savings out of the bank, did not make light of personal preparedness. The only person in an official function there with an attitude and who showed disdain about Y2K concerns was the newscaster representing WAVE 3. I could tell by, among other things, her reactions to the questions on index cards from the audience she read to the panelists that she knows little about Y2K.

To me, the comments made by Louisville Gas and Electric and the Metropolitan Sewer district were encouraging. I was not as encouraged by the Louisville Water Company's comments and even less so by Bell South's.

-- Linkmeister (, September 15, 1999.

I also attended the second Community Conversation--the one on Dixie Highway--and was able to glean a few extra tidbits of info that I wasn't able to at the first one.

J.P. Hines of LG&E, in response to a question about natural gas, said that LG&E's natural gas service was 100% ready on June 30th, ahead even of the Y2K work LG&E is doing on power. At the first Community Conversation, Mr. Hines had said that 6% of the mission-critical work on power had still been remaining as of June 30th.

LG&E's slide presentation described its 9/9/99 NERC drill as, quote:

September 9, 1999 was a more extensive test of communication systems and contingency plans

Tony Gregory of the Louisville Water Company said they are stockpiling extra needed chemicals. He also described the water company as being "100% assessed." One of the slides in the Louisville Water Company's presentation had this information about areas the water company has needed to address:

The LWC is affected by these year 2000 issues in the following way:


Microchip based process control systems

Richard Bartlett of the Louisville/Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency said that a new system to handle the city's payroll had been on line since September 6th, replacing the old mainframe system. He said there was a reason for the new system to start on that date, and that is (he said) that 9/9/99 would have been the last date for the payroll(!)

During the question and answer session, someone asked about whether barge companies and railroads were compliant. The LG&E rep answered the question, and said that they had checked into it because LG&E relies on barges and railroads to deliver coal, and that LG&E is confident about the work that barges, railroads, and coal suppliers have done.

I hope it's true.

Another question asked was about when city and county government began their Y2K work and how much each is planning to spend. The answer was that both have been working on it for two to three years. Richard Bartlett, who otherwise seems to know a lot about the city and county's Y2K efforts, was unable to give an estimate of the city and the county's Y2K budgets.

It was mentioned by someone else that the county had a meeting with each of its departments in December of 1998 about Y2K. This was given as a piece of good news, but it came across to me as possibly meaning that there was no centralized oversight or centralized Y2K plan for the county until then.

The county jail, according to one speaker, has a new $4.6 million information system but said that there will be a manual lockdown on December 31st just in case.

All Jefferson County police and EMS workers will be on duty working their regular non-holiday shifts at rollover.

-- Linkmeister (, September 16, 1999.

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