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Paul Conlin of Blaze Broadband checks his dish and batteries on Rattlesnake Mountain. Also shown: a third of the mast and microwave there in Hume.

Since April 12, free Internet access has been available in the parking lot of Leeds Ruritan Club Park in Hume, thanks to a Wi-Fi hotspot set up by Blaze Broadband, a local firm. Even though the park is currently closed due to the pandemic, anyone can utilize the Wi-Fi from their vehicle in the parking lot from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

According Peter Carp, of Leeds Ruritan Club, he received a call from Blaze Broadband owner Paul Conlin on April 9 with the idea, and the hotspot was installed three days later.

At the time, the school division was preparing to transition to a remote learning model – in which a student’s access to Internet is central factor – and Carp and Conlin wanted to ensure that nearby residents could access good Internet, especially for school and work, during the pandemic, Carp said.

Blaze Broadband is not charging for the service. “We just decided to set this thing up and open it up for people to use,” Conlin said. Some homes in the area are able to access wireless broadband, he said, but the uneven terrain and abundance of trees means that some residences cannot receive a good signal.

“Paul is a very community-oriented guy,” Carp said of Conlin.

Carp said that there are often two or three cars parked in the lot with their occupants using the Wi-Fi. As of now, there is no set date for how long the hotspot will be in place, but Carp said that there is a possibility the Ruritan Club may be able to pay for the hotspot to remain permanently.

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