By Ron VandenBoom
National Guard facilities in Havre and throughout Montana will be manned Dec. 31, 1999, and most of Jan. 1, 2000, as a precaution.
Maj. Joe Foster, public information officer for the Montana Guard, said in a telephone interview Thursday, that the Havre office of the Guard will be staffed and ready to respond in the event of any kind of problem.
Other armories throughout Montana will also be staffed in the event Governor Marc Racicot calls the guard to active duty in response to "any potential threat to public safety which may emerge."
Montana Guard units will not be drilling or be in an active duty status, he said, "but it is important that they be ready in the event of communication problems."
Foster explained that the Montana Guard has high frequency radio communication capability that will allow the units of the Guard to be activated should the need arise.
The concern is that groups or individuals may use the holiday to disrupt services -- "in an effort to further their own interests," Foster said.
Local units of the National Guard have been given a letter, and read a letter in formation, Foster said, telling guardsmen to respond automatically to the nearest armory in the event something happens that could be consequential.
Foster added that guardsmen have also been instructed to insure that their families are taken care of and prepared for any eventuality before leaving to join their guard units.
"We do not want to alarm the citizenry," Foster said. "But we do need to be prepared just in case."
The U.S. Coast Guard LORAN Station North of Havre has also been busy preparing for Y2K, according to Chief Greg Hejl, commander of the facility.
"We've already run two exercises," he said.
The exercises test the ability of the station to run on backup generators and continue to send out a reliable guidance signal. The test also checks primary and backup communications hourly.
Primary communications to and from the site is telephone communications, Hejl explained, with cellular phone and high-frequency radio communication to the Seattle Wa. headquarters, serving as backup.
Two more exercises are planned at the station, Hajl said. The first will take place Dec. 31, 1999, and the last on Feb. 29, 2000.
Each exoecise begins at about 4 p.m. and lasts until 2 p.m. the next day.
Hajl said he expects to take no extra precautions against acts of terrorism against the station stating that there is not much someone could do to harm the facility. Hajl also believes the isolated location of the site adds to its security.
The regular crew will also be on site Dec. 31, but no festivities are planned, Hajl said.