by Beth Hutchinson
For the Pathfinder
December 31, 1998
An update on the activities of the Y2K group and continued discussion about the proposed "Creek to Creek" pathway and the hydrant adoption program formed the bulk of the brief Community Council meeting December 14th.
In a scheduled presentation, Karen Lyncoln reported that local interest in the Y2K phenomenon seems to be building. The group she spearheaded in the fall is meeting twice a month to process information and continue planning for a variety of possible emergency scenarios that might result from computer chip glitches.
Gary Miller, president of First Valley Bank, and Jack Hunt, representing Missoula Electric Coop, talked about the efforts both of their systems were making to minimize disruption at the turn of the century.
Miller covered the efforts the bank has been making to make sure their equipment and programs are Y2K compliant and indicated that he thought the local situation was under control. If there were to be breakdowns (and he wasn't anticipating any), they would come from regional systems that provided support services for First Valley. Both First Valley and the Federal Reserve System were making provisions to ensure that a more than adequate money supply be available in case any of the complex interconnected systems experienced short-term disruptions.
Hunt affirmed that MEC was also on top of the challenge. According to Lyncoln, he expressed a greater concern with possible brown outs that could occur this winter when power providers deal with deregulation. The chief issue associated with deregulation has to do with the fact that MEC has been buying and selling electricity for under five cents/KWH while outside Montana there exists a pool of other potential buyers at at least seventeen cents/KWH. Local costs may need to adjust upwards as supply and demand mechanisms operate to determine free market rates.
Lyncoln remains interested in possible county Y2K efforts. Bill Silverman, county emergency preparedness chief, will be coming to a meeting sponsored by the local Y2K group on January 25th to discuss emergency shelter.
The University of Montana will sponsor a conference on Y2K issues on January 13-15. Any interested individuals are invited to attend. Call the university for more information.
At the next local Y2K meeting (to be held on January 11th in the SLES multi-purpose room), Paul Torok, manager of the Seeley Lake Water District, will talk to the group about best and worst case scenarios for those on the town's water lines. In addition to providing information about alternative ways to get water from wells, he will cover sanitation and purification measures that need to be followed if surface systems become our chief water resource.
On January 29th, Lyncoln plans to make a lunch time presentation at the senior citizen center. At that time a survey will be taken to determine the numbers and locations of those retirees who may need support with health and/or emergency living matters.
Lyncoln, in closing her remarks, said she believes the group is moving through its list of goals effectively. It is currently developing a series of support papers including one listing local people with special skills and another detailing the variety and volume of storable food goods required to feed a person for a month. Workshops on canning and woodstove cookery are being organized.
In regular council work, member Cheri Thompson and county planner Zoe Mohesky reported the completion of first level planning for the proposed "Creek to Creek" pathway along Highway 83. They will turn their map and information over to professional designers. There remain questions as to who these designers will be, county employees or the engineering firm dealing with the highway improvements, as well as to whether the highway and pathway can be completed simultaneously. Thompson and Mohesky plan to explore funding options next.
Council members Dave Spence and Kevin Wetherell reported on the fire hydrant adoption program. They shared the map locating the hydrants prepared by the fire department and explained that the department preferred the hydrants to be named by street and sequenced from west and north as much as possible. Beth Hutchinson was asked to write an article promoting the adoption program to be included in both the Pathfinder and the next water district newsletter. Senior Priority students will be asked to help recruit hydrant adopters.
The idea of having local residents assist with keeping hydrants accessible for fire fighting has been discussed for quite a while. The seriousness of the access issue became notable in the winter of "96-'97 when record amounts of snow hid the bulk of the hydrants. The Community Council, having been asked to garner support for the project, wants to make this valuable community service work fun. Adopters are asked to keep their hydrants clear of weeds, snow and other debris for a radius of three feet around each hydrant. The fun part comes with decorating and possibly planting low-growing flowers around the hydrants. To date, four hydrants have been adopted. Sixty-three still need committed attention.
The Department of Transportation meeting on Highway 83 improvements has been rescheduled for February at the request of DOT. The state expects to deal with bids in May and June and to have the work begin in August of 1999.
Council chair Paul Conn, having consulted with the county election office, reported that the normal April election could go on since no monetary issues were involved. He was concerned, however, with losing the advantage of sharing election expenses with several other local boards. The council asked the clerk to poll the various town boards to determine whether they would want to revise their election schedules to accommodate the June election.
Paul Conn and Tom Morris' current council terms are coming to an end. Neither has said whether he plans on running for re-election. A third position currently vacant will also be listed The board-appointed position remains unfilled. Thus, four seats on the council need to be considered this coming spring, if not sooner. Anyone interested in the two currently vacant seats can contact the Community Council now.