Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

June 4, 2013

Pryor goes wireless

Cydney Baron
Pryor Daily Times

Pryor, OK — Pryor is officially the first town in Oklahoma to have free community Wi-Fi.

Wireless Internet was was kicked off with a block party this weekend.

The Wi-Fi covers most of the downtown area, from southeast First Street to northeast First Street and was financed by a grant from Google, which has a data center in MidAmerica Industrial Park.

The party began at 11 a.m and attention immediately turned to Rep. Markwayne Mullin who made his way to Pryor for the celebration despite the rough Oklahoma weather.

“I'm jealous of Pryor,” Mullin said. “Where I'm from, we still have dial-up and here you guys have a block-wide free Wi-Fi.”

Mullin described Oklahoma as the heartbeat, the soul and the Bible belt of the country, and said those qualities are reflected in Pryor.

“Companies like Google don't just happen for communities this size,” Mullin said. “Pryor is a small town that has stepped out of its comfort zone to bring Google in. Google is a company that thinks outside the box and is a huge investment for this community.”

Mullin talked about the long-term benefits Pryor will see as a result of that investment.

“You are allowing our kids to stay here. You're creating incentives for future generations to stay in Pryor rather than travel to larger cities,” said Mullin.

He applauded Pryor for being the first in the state, then turned the microphone over to Mayor Jimmy Tramel.

“Google has been a positive force in our community since the day they came to our community,” said Tramel.

“Pryor is the first in this, that's something to be proud of,” said Tramel. “This Wi-Fi covers Main Street, from First to First. My goal is to eventually provide free WiFi for the entire city.”

Tramel applauded Google, who has helped the community through digital education, technology grants, seminars and training.

Tramel gave a special thanks to Chris Calvert and Bart Heins, who were instrumental in some technical aspects of  the project.

Mike Wooten, operations manager for the Google data center, was welcomed to the stage next.

With pride and enthusiasm, Wooten discussed a free Wi-Fi program for Oklahomans affected by recent tornadoes.

“I thank Mayor Tramel, and the city of Pryor, for helping us through some extreme technical hurdles and legal challenges throughout this project,” said Wooten. “We're excited to be a part of this.”

Pryor High School students were standing by to inaugurate the wireless Internet service, with laptops provided by Google.

Tramel and Wooten created a ceremonial “wire-cutting” to symbolize Pryor moving from wired to wireless.

With cheers and applause, the party began.

Local vendors and organizations set up booths at the festivities.

There was literally dancing in the street when the band Beacon Drive took the stage. Tramel and Katy Gusterson, a Google employee, got in on the fun and danced their way across the street.

The hope is that WiFi will entice people to utilize Pryor's downtown area more and encourage new businesses to locate there.

“Big things are happening in Pryor that make it a desirable place to live, work and play,” said Barbara Hawkins, president of Pryor Chamber of Commerce. “Google has played a major role in energizing our city.”