Public WiFi, info kiosks unveiled at Headwaters Festival

Published 4:30 pm Monday, May 20, 2024

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The city of Harlan took advantage of the inaugural Headwaters Arts Festival on Saturday, May, 18, to unveil two new amenities: free public Wi-Fi and digital tourism information kiosks for downtown Harlan.

City of Harlan Tourism Director Brandon Pennington talked about the new additions during an interview at the Harlan Center.

“This is a really big day for the city of Harlan,” Pennington said. “To begin with, the inaugural Headwaters Arts Festival is kicking off today, which will feature art, music, food, that sort of thing.”

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Pennington pointed out the Headwaters Festival seemed a natural choice for announcing the public Wi-Fi and kiosks.

“We thought it was a great opportunity,” Pennington said.

According to Pennington, the Wi-Fi will be a useful tool for residents and visitors alike.

“We do live in an area where some cell service can be unreliable, so having this opportunity to launch downtown Wi-Fi gives us an opportunity to not only enhance what we do with tourism, but also what we can do for festivals and events,” Pennington said. “It’s also a safety measure, if you don’t have cell service you can’t get calls out if something’s going on.”

The Wi-Fi project came about through a partnership between the City of Harlan, the Harlan Fiscal Court, Harlan City Tourism, and One Harlan County.

“We’re just very thankful we’ve been a part of this project,” Pennington said. “I think this takes us into a new era for the city of Harlan.”

One Harlan County Executive Director Cole Raines talked about how the Wi-Fi operates.

“One Harlan County received a grant to do the infrastructure that covered the radios (Wi-Fi transmitters) and installation,” Raines said. “As part of that, there are five radios across downtown, the main one is on top of the courthouse and there are four more on lampposts around town. We also have two mobile units we can take around downtown if we want to boost signal for an event. Long term, I’d like to expand the network.”

City of Harlan Mayor Joe Meadors shared his thoughts on the public Wi-Fi.

“I think this is a great addition to our downtown community,” Meadors said. “It’s going to be an important piece of what we’re trying to do for visitors and our own citizens who happen to be shopping or eating in the downtown area. It’s going to make it a lot more convenient for them to access the internet.”

Pennington also mentioned the city now has digital kiosks which allow visitors to look up tourism information at the Harlan Center and other locations around town.

“I’m equally excited to introduce our information kiosks” Pennington said. “These kiosks are strategically placed throughout downtown to provide interactive information about local attractions.”

The kiosks are connected to the Harlan Tourism website allowing visitors access to an abundance of information about Harlan County.

The Rajant Corporation manufactures the equipment used for the downtown public Wi-Fi.

Alice Disanto, Jim Tom Trent, and Mathew Hardif represented the Rajant Corporation at the event.

“We provided Harlan with a network to provide the town public Wi-Fi,” said Hardif. “It will provide decent coverage for anyone walking around town as well as vendors who come to town for special events.”