Jackson ringing in new year to the sound of Y2k warning bells

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Jackson ringing in new year to the sound of Y2K warning bells

Thursday, November 11, 1999

They can deny it if they want, but the people who run things around Jackson obviously take the Y2K scare very seriously.

Like my grandmother used to say, better safe than sorry. But safe from what? I'm not sure anyone knows.

Dire predictions for the year 2000 began as strictly a computer thing. When people like me shrugged off the threat of computer crashes (I still remember how to play solitaire with cards), we learned computers control everything. Without them, planes will crash in midair. Power plants will shut down. Banks will collapse.

Panic, or at least a run on generators, had begun when computer gurus started calling the disaster overrated.

Now most experts assure us there is no reason to hoard Spam. Disruption of essential services like ESPN will be minimal, they say, because computer systems across the nation have been upgraded and tested.

What a relief. Except for one thing: the Book of Revelations.

Preachers of various stripes exploited the hysteria by divining God's wrath in the computer bug. They warned that 2000 will bring anything from great tribulations to the apocalypse.

Disaster predictions are probably a load of hooey, but authorities in Jackson are not taking any chances.

Eve on the Ave, Jackson's annual downtown New Year's Eve party, will break up five hours before the traditional midnight climax.

Organizers moved up the celebration to 3-7 p.m., saying it is mainly an effort to attract more people. Y2K fears are also a consideration.

The stroke of 7 p.m. is supposedly a good time to ring in the new year because that is the global dawn of 2000 in Greenwich, England.

Right. So many New Year's Eve parties have been spoiled by waiting for midnight on our continent.

Police are thankful for the early party because they do not want thousands of people on the streets at midnight.

An extraordinary number of officers will be on duty when the new year begins because Sheriff Hank Zavislak has mobilized all area police agencies for an "all-hazards drill."

The drill includes preparations for mass unrest.

An old county garage will be a temporary detention facility capable of holding several dozen hooligans. New gas masks, helmets and shields have been purchased for deputies.

Zavislak says he does not expect any Y2K problems but he must prepare for the worst-case scenario.

What is the worst case? It's anybody's guess. Nothing is likely to happen, but people may lose power. Do we really think that might cause mass hysteria?

Police are not alone in preparing for an unlikely worst. At the Citizen Patriot, our computers have been tested and declared free of Y2K bugs. Still, we will print the Jan. 1 paper extra early so it can be off the presses before midnight. Other companies are taking precautions, too. You probably know people who talk about selling all their stocks, or loading up on ammunition, or refusing to travel over the holiday.

Caution is good, I suppose, but too bad it puts a clamp on what should be one of the most festive nights of a lifetime.

Instead of 15,000 people watching fireworks exploding at midnight, you envision deserted streets and police in riot gear.

Goodness knows what my grandmother, who was born in the last century, would say about people so afraid to enter the next one.

- Brad Flory's column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call him at 768-4925 or e-mail him at jcpnews@citpat.com

-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), November 12, 1999


Homer: Do you live in the Jackson, Mi. area? I lived there until 5 years ago, when I bugged out to Florida. If you do live around Jax, I would be interested in talking to you.

-- Rick (Rick@rick.com), November 12, 1999.

Does anyone know if Randy Terronez is still running the show in Jackson?

-- Ron Schwarz (rs@clubvb.com.delete.this), November 12, 1999.

I STILL live in Jackson (MI), and I am concerned about SMP (prison)!


-- Jenny (callme@scared.net), November 12, 1999.

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