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City, county have Y2K hotline ready

December 20, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The Hagerstown and Washington County governments' Y2K hotline will take calls beginning Dec. 31 at 8 a.m. until early on Jan. 1, 2000, City Public Information Manager Karen Giffin said.

The hotline number is 301-791-3814, according to a joint city and county statement released Monday.

The line probably will be available until around 2 a.m. Jan. 1, Giffin said.

The hotline, which also is being called a rumor control line, will connect to both county and city operators who will be able to answer questions about both governments' systems.

The hotline can be used by citizens with Y2K-related questions or emergencies, should they arise.

"The City of Hagerstown government is aware of its citizen and customer concerns regarding the Year 2000 (Y2K) computer issue, and to that end has worked diligently to address any possible Y2K-related problems. As an extra step, a Y2K hotline will be available to answer any questions that citizens may have as the new millennium is opening," Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said in the statement.

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Computer systems were left vulnerable to the Y2K computer glitch when early computer programmers, to save space, designated dates with two digits. The fear is that without repairs or upgrades some computers might malfunction when the calendar turns from 1999 to 2000 if they interpret the date as 1900.

Over the past year, both city and county governments have done extensive testing of their computer systems, and neither government expects any major problems.

The city formed a Y2K Oversight Committee that was charged with making sure all city departments tested their equipment for Y2K readiness and developed a contingency plan.

The county government tested the 911 emergency dispatch system in August without a problem, and all county departments developed contingency plans, according to the statement.

Both governments advise residents to have their own contingency plans in place and to stock up on emergency supplies as if preparing for severe weather.

Recommended supplies include a flashlight, battery-operated radio, spare batteries, bottled water, food, and fuel for heating and transportation.

Those with questions before Dec. 31 can call City Light Department Manager Terry Weaver, who is chairman of the city's Y2K Oversight Committee, at 301-790-2600, or the Washington County Public Information Officer at 301-791-3383.

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