The Commerce News
December 29, 1999
Scope Of Y2K Predictions
From dire predictions to nary a worry,
few issues have changed so much so quickly as the concern over
the so-called Y2K computer glitch.
Two years ago, one year ago the speculation was that the inability
of some computers, chips and software to tell 2000 from 1900
had the potential of being a major disaster worldwide. The public
was confronted with the possibility of power outages nationwide,
lost data in the financial world, elevators that would refuse
to work and even (gasp!) coffee makers that would fail Jan. 1.
Various groups began making recommendations of stockpiling food,
weapons, firewood and drinking water, predicting major disruptions
in the delivery of virtually every commodity.
Today, there is a universal cautious optimism that the average
citizen will see very little disruption. The vast majority of
American firms have upgraded or replaced computers and software.
We are assured that the electric grid will work, and today the
worst-case scenario is a short power outage.
It's anybody's guess as to what Y2K might have generated had
no one taken it seriously. Today, curiosity about where Y2K problems
will appear has replaced fear. In the unlikely event that the
power goes out, chances are it will be for some other reason
than Y2K and will be very short-lived.
Have a safe and Y2K worry-free New Year's Eve, but keep a flashlight
handy, just in case.
Lots Of Progress
As 1999 comes to a close, the new year
is being greeted as the start of a new century and the "new
millennium," while technically, it is neither. The 20th
Century began with 1901 and will end with the year 2000. But
so many people have begun calling 2000 the beginning of a new
millennium that most of America seems to have redefined the rules
The debate over what the new year actually is will probably last
until mid-year, when the public will realize that if it corrects
its viewpoint, all of the "new millennium" hype can
be repeated again in late 2000.
What should not be debated is that 1999 was a good year for this
county and this city. Consider a few of the good things that
·Voters approved a change in county government that should
bring professional management and better representation.
·Voters approved a sales tax to help pay the costs of
providing infrastructure for the growth we're experiencing.
·The county landed what will eventually be a $400 million
Georgia Power plant. Taxes Georgia Power will pay will help relieve
residents of the growing cost of operating schools and government.
There were other significant activities during 1999 as well.
Work progressed on the important Bear Creek Reservoir, Jackson
County took the plunge into the sewage treatment business, Commerce
made strong strides toward improving and expanding its utility
capabilities, work actually started on "Progress Road,"
the first access road along Interstate 85, the Jackson County
Area Chamber of Commerce, with more members than ever before,
positioned itself to provide leadership throughout the community,
and school construction projects were planned or started all
over the county..
But there is much to do. The county faces tremendous pressure
from growth, and all communities will be affected. More thought
must be given to long-range planning, the emphasis on providing
water, sewerage and other utilities must continue, the county
must implement its new government and survive the transition.
1999 was a year of much progress. Hopefully, it will continue
during the next year, and into the New Millennium whenever
people decide it starts.
The Commerce News
December 29, 1999
OK, Now It's
Time To Panic
Well, it's here. We've laughed about it,
read about it, been warned about it. Y2K, the year 2000, is here.
Those of you reading this by candlelight should have read it
before midnight Jan. 1.
The paper is printed Wednesday, Dec. 29. It arrives in local
mailboxes Thursday, Dec. 30. If you read it promptly, you have
from one to two days to get ready for the Disaster of the Year.
No, not the presidential elections. They'll be much worse, but
you have to survive Y2K before you have to vote in even the primary.
By now, you've read all of the articles advising you that the
Y2K problem isn't one and that you should keep calm. I'm here
to advocate the opposite. If you haven't panicked, it's about
time you did. Get ready for the worst (next to the elections).
Actually, it will not be all that bad, assuming you are not flying,
driving a car, standing in an elevator or taking a shower as
the new year arrives, or at 1:00 a.m., considering that all of
the region's electrical generating facilities operate on Central
Other than those possibilities, aside from nuclear meltdowns
in Georgia Power's plants Hatch, Vogtle and Yamtrahoochie, the
only real danger is that none of the former Soviet nuclear weapons
are Y2K compatible. When the clock turns over at midnight Dec.
31, the launch mechanisms are going to read 01-01-00, causing
the computers to figure that the Soviet Union has been nuked
back into the dark ages, and they will automatically launch all
This would really be terrible, except that the guidance mechanisms,
which are all based on stolen western technology that at the
time was not Y2K ready, will fail and the bombs will fall in
remote or expendable places like the Sahara Desert, Birmingham,
AL, or Washington, DC, the lasr of which might have the benefit
of causing those elections to be canceled.
The good news is that even with all the power out, we'll still
get good service. The DOT and the city of Commerce have both
announced plans to physically man the traffic signal devices
that are going to fail, not really because of Y2K, but because
the DOT computer programmers inadvertently left off January.
When the power goes, the main source of local electronic news,
which is mainstreetnews.com, will also be out. But we at MainStreet
Newspapers Inc. carefully planned for that contingency. All of
our newspaper vending racks are Y2K compatible. Carefully insert
two quarters, open the door and remove one, just one, newspaper.
Most of what was on the web page will be in our newspapers.
There are a few simple things you can do to help you get through
the worst. Unfortunately, it's too late to do most of them, so
if you haven't prepared, don't come walking up my driveway.
I've stocked up on food, water, fuel, Tums and beer. I've maxed
out the credit cards, refilled my extra propane tank, and loaded
and sighted in my guns, and had my camouflage cleaned and pressed.
See you in 2000, if you make it. You still have time to get in
a few hours of panic.