Cook Forest State Park connects with Wi-Fi

By Marissa Dechant  Staff writer

Visitors to Cook Forest State Park can now stay connected while enjoying the outdoors.

Pennsylvania Great Outdoors announced Friday that the state park has Wi-Fi connection available in select locations, including the park office on River Road.

An official Wi-Fi unveiling ceremony will take place May 23 at 11 a.m. at the Cook Forest State Park office.

“In this social media age that we live in, being connected is a quality of life for vacationers, visitors and people who live here,” said John Straitiff, executive director of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors visitor’s bureau.

Straitiff said the project was a joint effort with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania state police and North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission.

“The conversation to bring Wi-Fi to the area happened awhile back,” Straitiff said. “People said they love to come to Cook Forest because they can unplug, but we’ve been seeing a trend with millennials and business people who want to stay connected to social media and keep in contact with work.”

Straitiff said the idea originated in August 2015, when he heard that Winslow Hill Bed and Breakfast in Benezette had begun to offer free Wi-Fi for its guests.

“We’d been getting requests from lodging members in Cook Forest who wanted to be connected to Wi-Fi,” he said.

The concept was brought back to Cook Forest and found to be a feasible project through beta testing, Straitiff said.

People do not need a password to access the Wi-Fi, Straitiff said, adding that more businesses are creating their own hot spots.

Straitiff added that the bandwidth can be adjusted to accommodate more visitors during a holiday weekend or fewer guests during offseason months.

“I’ve heard a lot of stories of people being able to post photos of wildlife or their canoe trip while they’re still down by the river,” Straitiff said. “Now they can share photos online before they forget about it.”