Y2K4

Sheriff Dave Burright waits for the clock to strike midnight at the command center Friday evening.

Brian Bubak, Mid-Valley Sunday (File)

The following article originally ran in the Sunday, Jan. 2, 2000, edition of Mid-Valley Sunday, a joint Democrat-Herald/Gazette-Times venture.

First, a riddle.

What would you have if you scheduled a technological and social disaster, but nothing happened?

The answer: A Y2K party.

Once feared as the impending disaster of the millennium, the year 2000 computer problem has turned out to be, at least so far in the mid-Willamette Valley, a non-event.

Public and private utilities reported clean turnovers to Jan. 1, 2000. Major companies said it was business as usual as the new year began.

Many small business owners will not know if they had a Y2K problem until the open Monday morning (SPOILER: They didn't.) and start their computers, and the few scattered power outages that did occur may or may not be attributed to Y2K. But with few exceptions, the state, nation and world seemed unscathed Saturday.

At the Linn County Sheriff's Office, Y2K eve was anticlimactic at best. "For the mot part it was more of a typical weekend, rather than a Year's weekend," said Dave Burright, county sheriff. "It was the best possible outcome."

The most exciting thing that happened in Burright's incident command center was a brief interruption in the room's lights when Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Howell snuck over to the switch and flicked it off at the stroke of midnight.

"Somebody's fired!" Burright exclaimed as Howell turned the lights back on.

Burright had double the usual number of patrols — 21 cars — on the streets Friday night and Saturday morning. The most exciting calls the office received were for illegal fireworks and a few noisy parties.

While all was quiet inside the sheriff's office, a lot was going on outside. A steady din of shouting, cheering, fireworks and even celebratory gunfire rose above Albany at midnight and continued well past the designated hour. Small fireworks displays were common all across town.

Numerous private parties, both small and large, made a much more definable mark on the turn of the year than any computer problem.

• Pacific Power: The company reported no Y2K-related failures of electrical power. "We are pleased, and not at all surprised, at the ease with which our systems have handled the date rollover," PacifiCorp CEO Alan Richardson said Saturday in a written statement.

• Northwest Natural Gas: No interruptions of service have been reported. "We're doing very well," said spokeswoman Joelle Fixel. "In fact, we've pretty much sent people home and just have them on call."

• U.S. West: The telephone company's entire network was unaffected by the Y2K rollover. Calling volume doubled in the several minutes immediately before and after midnight, but not enough to overload circuits and crash computers. "We successfully rang in the new year," said William White, the company's Y2K czar.

• Municipal utilities: No losses of sewer or water services have been reported. "Everything went very smoothly," said Albany City Manager Steve Bryant.

• Banking: U.S. Bank and Wood Products Credit Union, among others, reported Saturday that their systems were unaffected by Y2K and all account information remains intact. "Everything is functioning normally now that Y2K is here," said Wood Products President John McLaughlin.

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