PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Public Utility District is creating WiFi hotspots and charging stations across the county to give individuals and families access to the internet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PUD officials hope to add hotspots in the coming weeks to the communities of Quilcene, Brinnon, and Coyle, and are working with the Port of Port Townsend on digging trenching to run fiber optic cables at the Jefferson County International Airport so that area can be a WiFi hotspot as well.
“We’re working as hard as we can to get these areas hooked up on to the WiFi. The broadband that we have put into the community has seen success,” PUD General Manager Kevin Streett said during a meeting Tuesday.
Five PUD WiFi hotspots are active now in Jefferson County. They are:
• Chimacum Substation on Chimacum Road in Port Hadlock.
• Jefferson PUD Customer Service Office at Four Corners Road in Port Townsend. The office is closed but the parking lot is open and WiFi is available.
• Hastings Substation on 20th Street in Port Townsend.
• Dana Roberts Substation on Clay Street in Port Townsend.
• Gardiner Fire Station on Old Gardiner Road in Sequim (technically Clallam County).
Officials also are considering partnering with Mason and Kitsap counties in areas with a shared jurisdiction, such as near the Brinnon School.
A map of the wireless hotspots can be found on the PUD website at www.jeffpud.org/wifi- hotspots/ as well as on the PUD Facebook page, when new sites are added.
Streett said that the homeless and transient community in Jefferson County have been asking for phone charging stations for quite some time.
“In the past, they would go into the library and other public buildings to charge their phone or tablet,” he said.
“Right now, none of those places are available to this portion of our community.
So we have reached out to a couple of partners and we have talked to some people on how do we do this safely. We don’t have all the information yet, but it is a very inexpensive mall program that we can do to help out,” Streett said.
The idea is to choose a few locations in Port Townsend, Port Hadlock, and Quilcene areas, he said.
Ken Parkican be reacxhed at kpark@peninsuladaily news.com.