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Y2K bug squashed

Business returns to normal after the Y2K changeover at the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Monday. Businesses, along with national, state and local governments across the country, reported only minor glitches involving the so-called Year 2000 computer

Only minor computer problems greet Monday work force

Wire and staff reports

From Main Street to Wall Street, Americans returned to work Monday, logged onto their computers, checked their e-mail and found that whatever Y2K bug there may have been had largely crept back from whence it came.

The government's chief Y2K adviser, John Koskinen, declared victory over the once-dreaded glitch, saying business as usual had resumed around the world -- with a few minor exceptions.

I think ... we can safely say that what has been referred to as the Y2K bug has been squashed, he said.

Most Oregon businesses and offices were apparently able to restart their computers without encountering any serious problems from the Y2K

Every single phone system, every single computer in our system is working fine, said Jeff DeBoer of Medford-based Lithia Motors. No glitches whatsoever.

There was not even a hiccup, said Bear Creek Corp. spokesman Bill Ihle.

Manufacturers who started up over the weekend also reported no problems.

We didn't have any hitches, said Brian Melchiori, manager of the Eastman Kodak plant in White City. None whatsoever.

Oregon state workers fired up their computers this morning and also encountered no problems.

Our goal was to be able to open our doors Monday morning with no disruption in services, and so far we've accomplished that, said Christy Leonhardt of the statewide Year 2000 Project Office.

We're getting reports from all the agencies, and we've had no problems in the first few hours of the return to business, Leonhardt said.

She said state officials had not heard of any glitches Monday morning at hospitals, banks, utilities and the private sector areas the state has been monitoring.

A few problems became evident in Oregon and across the nation Monday, however.

For example, a computer at the state purchasing office started dating documents Dec. 32, 1999, on Saturday. That problem has been fixed, state officials said.

Other minor glitches included the failure of a noncritical monitoring component of Portland's wastewater treatment system. It was replaced within minutes. And a service elevator in the state's Revenue Building in Salem malfunctioned, apparently because of Y2K problems.

A computer that tracks nuclear material at the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee malfunctioned. The actual accounting of material was not affected, officials said.

In New Mexico, Motor Vehicle Division offices could not issue driver's licenses for a time.

The presidential campaign Web site of Vice President Al Gore also was bitten. Gore's Internet Town Hall site touting his presidential candidacy briefly carried the date Monday, 0. Gore's campaign called it a minor glitch that was quickly fixed.

Koskinen cautioned that more glitches would occur in the coming days but predicted they would be localized and transitory and will not pose a threat to the nation's economy.

Aside from a few minor irritations, most Americans appeared relatively unaffected. An estimated $100 billion was spent preparing for Y2K, and some people have looked askance at the price tag, considering that no major problems surfaced.

Koskinen, who said the money was well-spent, compared it to insurance.

You have a house for 10 years, and you have an insurance policy and never have a fire. You go out and buy a new house. Do you buy insurance? The answer is you probably do, he said.

The government's Y2K center is to reduce operations significantly in coming days. The global monitoring center established in Washington by the United Nations canceled its remaining briefings for reporters.

The U.S. banking system opened so smoothly that billions of dollars in extra currency -- distributed to banks to avert any financial panic -- were shipped back to the Federal Reserve.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reported a problem with electronic licensing and registration of gun dealers. Koskinen said the ATF would license and register dealers the old-fashioned way, on paper, until the problem is repaired. He said the bureau's ability to conduct background checks on gun buyers had not been affected.

Among 36 states, half reported no problems and the other half reported a wide range of minor problems, none critical.

bug. - Photo fromAP