Absolutely NO PROBLEMS here in Illinois! (tounge in cheek)

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By Megan O'Matz

Tribune Staff Writer

December 27, 1999

TIME, Ill. -- In this, one of the smallest incorporated villages in Illinois (population 36), the clerk/treasurer, Mrs. Claus, keeps the handwritten village records at her home in a small, cranberry-colored, zippered suitcase.

"No computers," she explained over tea at her kitchen table. "But I've got a real old typewriter I picked up at a yard sale."

Yes, Virginia Claus is her real name. Yes, the town park is dubbed Time Square.

And, yes, this speck-on-the-map community in rural Pike County, roughly 275 miles southwest of Chicago, has prepared, in its own way, for the Y2K bug.

"We're just keeping our pencils sharp," quipped 56-year-old Willard Daniels, village trustee.

To date, the village has spent $0.00 on the problem--almost comical in comparison with the multi-millions that cities and the suburbs have dedicated to fixing the computer glitch.

In this small town, Y2K fears are considered by many to be big-city woes, something to be joked about, given that Time has--basically--stood still for decades. Even if the bug does bite a big city, in Time there are no elevators to trap people and no stoplights to snarl traffic.

And yet, despite the limited scope of municipal government and the general feel of a small town, denizens of Time can't help but experience Y2K fever in many of the same ways as everyone else. Indeed, the town is proof that the electronic circuitry undergirding modern life knows no geographic bounds.

Law enforcement authorities in Pike County, local health-care workers, bankers and utility representatives have been working for months--some for years--

testing computer systems, buying new ones and devising contingency plans for potential disruptions.

But people in Time aren't panicked. They aren't worried about airplanes falling from the sky or power outages plunging the land into darkness.

"I definitely think it's overblown. Way. It's just hype," said Linda Chiatello, village president and owner of the village's sole computer, a used IBM Aptiva with Windows 95 on which her kids play video games and write papers.

Unsure if the computer is Y2K compliant, the family says it'll get by if it crashes. "We haven't had it that long," said daughter Amanda Hammitt.

Accustomed to harsh country winters in which the electricity often goes off and canning and stockpiling food is commonplace, people here say they're not afraid of a microchip.

"I think around here people get worried more about getting snowed in," said Rose Martin, 60, Daniels' longtime housemate and, like him, a village trustee. She lost a 1997 re-election bid for village president by a coin flip.

("I called heads," the victorious Chiatello, a housekeeper, said of the tie-breaker.)


Personally, I like the idea of winning an election by the flip of a coin.LOL

-- TM (mercier7@pdnt.com), December 28, 1999

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