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Social distancing at a high level. Crews install a hot spot at an access point.

OKANOGAN - New “drive-fi” drive-in Wi-Fi hot spots are up and running, and ready to serve students and families with a place to access schoolwork and connect with teachers.

Working with the schools, the utility identified 15 locations based on broadband availability and the local need for additional access. The PUD has installed 13 sites, with two more to come soon from retail service providers.

Updates on the sites’ progress and a map of each location are available on the district’s website.

The sites likely will remain in operation through the summer, but could remain in place if still needed for school in the fall, said the PUD. Anyone can drive up to one of the sites, using existing parking lots to stop and stay in the car to follow social distancing guidelines.

Users can then access the Internet, download or upload needed schoolwork, and so on, and then drive away when done, said PUD officials. Each location has about a 300-foot range.

The sites are open access, so do not require a password. Users need to have their devices search for a wireless connection, and look for the name “OKPUD_FreeWifi.”

Because it is an unsecured network, the district advises that users exercise caution in sharing confidential material.

Signs will be placed at each location soon.

The district will be able to monitor how much usage each site gets and will consider additional sites if needed.

Active PUD locations are:

Carlton – Old Carlton Road at 90-degree corner near Texas Creek Road.

Conconully – Sit-n-Bull Pub parking lot, 308 N. Main St.

Crumbacher – Crumbacher Road, between Ponderosa Drive and Oakes Drive.

Oroville – Substation parking lot, near the soccer field on 12th Avenue.

Malott – Malott Improvement Club parking lot, 123 School St.

Methow – End of the pavement, South Main Street.

Okanogan – Parking lot of Okanogan Armory, 71 Rodeo Trail.

Omak – Parking lot of Wenatchee Valley College at Omak, 116 W. Apple Ave.

Omak – St. Anne’s Episcopal Church parking lot, 639 S. Ridge Drive.

Pateros – Across the street from Pateros Garden Apartments, 249 W. Dawson St.

Swanson Mill – Fire Hall, 474 Swanson Mill Road.

Twisp – Twisp Fire Station parking lot, 234 W. Second Ave.

Tonasket – Parking lot of Tonasket PUD office, 17 W. Third St.

Soon-to-be active sites are:

Brewster – Parking lot of Brewster Boys & Girls Club, 601 W. Cliff Ave.

Loomis – Parking lot of Loomis Community Church, 13 Palmer Ave.

In addition, Washington State University Extension for Okanogan County recently got a wireless hot spot under a statewide project in response to COVID-19 and accessibility to broadband service.

The office, 1234 S. Second Ave., was selected as one of an initial 15 locations in Washington to participate in the project.

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