Tulsa Garden Club Celebrates Its 71st Annual Garden Tour


The Tulsa Garden Club is celebrating its 71st annual Garden Tour.

People came out to enjoy gardens and also learn tips and tricks about gardening on Saturday.

Related Story: 71st Annual Garden Tour Back In Full Force

This year, the club showcased five gardens and three interiors.

The tour serves as a fundraiser for club programs, including aiding horticulture education.

“I love everything about it,” said Sandy Farris, the Patron Chair of the Tulsa Garden Club. “I love the ladies, the friendship, and the fact that we are really helping a lot of lives.”

Jim Rodgers, who opened his home to the tour, said he has already learned a lot from being part of the club.

“Sharing with, the ladies and men that run the garden tour, they have been very helpful in showing us other things we can do, and complimenting us on what we’ve done,” said Rodgers.

Farris said the tour and club bring people together who might not have met otherwise, under a shared interest in gardening.

“It’s the glue, that pulls us all together because it’s such a diverse group,” said Farris. “You might see a lot of retired people, there could be accountants, people that you would have no idea and they will have their funky hats on and they love to garden.”

Rodgers hopes people walk away from the event inspired to take part in gardening themselves.

“The world needs more beauty,” said Rodgers. “More happiness, more love. Nothing does that more than the beauty of flowers, trees, lush yards. It makes me feel peaceful and at the same time very happy.”

The Garden Club spokeswoman says the next garden tour will be held next spring.



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Tulsa Garden Club Celebrates Its 71st Annual Garden Tour


The Tulsa Garden Club is celebrating its 71st annual Garden Tour.

People came out to enjoy gardens and also learn tips and tricks about gardening on Saturday.

Related Story: 71st Annual Garden Tour Back In Full Force

This year, the club showcased five gardens and three interiors.

The tour serves as a fundraiser for club programs, including aiding horticulture education.

“I love everything about it,” said Sandy Farris, the Patron Chair of the Tulsa Garden Club. “I love the ladies, the friendship, and the fact that we are really helping a lot of lives.”

Jim Rodgers, who opened his home to the tour, said he has already learned a lot from being part of the club.

“Sharing with, the ladies and men that run the garden tour, they have been very helpful in showing us other things we can do, and complimenting us on what we’ve done,” said Rodgers.

Farris said the tour and club bring people together who might not have met otherwise, under a shared interest in gardening.

“It’s the glue, that pulls us all together because it’s such a diverse group,” said Farris. “You might see a lot of retired people, there could be accountants, people that you would have no idea and they will have their funky hats on and they love to garden.”

Rodgers hopes people walk away from the event inspired to take part in gardening themselves.

“The world needs more beauty,” said Rodgers. “More happiness, more love. Nothing does that more than the beauty of flowers, trees, lush yards. It makes me feel peaceful and at the same time very happy.”

The Garden Club spokeswoman says the next garden tour will be held next spring.



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Are premium travel cards with high annual fees worth the money?


When the pandemic hit, expensive credit cards tailored to frequent travelers had to pivot quickly to non-travel perks or risk losing customers who were paying hundreds of dollars in annual fees to earn benefits and rewards geared toward going places.

JPMorgan Chase, Capital One and other premium credit card issuers loaded up on partnerships with companies focused on life indoors. “When the pandemic first hit, it felt like every travel card was piling into everyday benefits — groceries and also things like streaming services, food delivery,” said Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst for CreditCards.com. 

Now, with travel and entertainment booming, high-fee cards, including Chase’s Sapphire Reserve ($550 annual fee), Capital One’s Venture X ($395 annually) and American Express’ Platinum card ($695 a year) have returned to offering their most lucrative rewards to those who don’t stay home. 

It’s hard to know how much of the $164 billion credit card industry belongs to premium travel cards. Issuers don’t break out their data. But overall, “we’re seeing pretty sharp increases in both spending on the cards in the travel sector, as well as redemptions for travel,” said John Owens, the general manager of Elan Credit Card, a division of U.S. Bancorp that runs credit card programs for 1,300 community banks and credit unions. 

For certain frequent travelers, high-fee cards can easily pay for themselves and be worth much more than their triple-digit fees over the course of a year. The challenge for the uninitiated is to get beyond the glossy marketing, the perk sprawl and the sheer allure of spending, to weigh the benefits against the costs.  

“Reward centers in the brain that are sensitive to pleasure are specifically activated by the possibility of purchasing something with a credit card,” said Drazen Prelec, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. “If you use the card for happy experiences, that card acquires some of the associations with the purchases you’ve made. … That gives it kind of a psychological glow.”

That glow is one reason travel cards, with their promise of easy luxury, exotic locales and rich incentives, can feel a lot more enticing than getting cash back on a trip to a big box store with a no-fee card. 

The most visible and common incentives are rewards points, which are ladled on by the thousands and can be worth hundreds of dollars. American Express, for instance, is offering a signing bonus of 100,000 points for the Platinum card. The Sapphire Reserve card comes with 50,000 points. The Venture X comes with 75,000 reward miles. Certain airlines have

Rewards points are “what I like to call a buffer currency,” Prelec said. “It doesn’t feel like you’re spending money.”

Even if it did, it could be hard to determine how much. 

Points have traditionally been valued at a penny apiece, but now their worth can depend on a host of factors, and because plans have become so complicated, using points to pay for airline tickets and hotel rooms, for instance, can be like chasing moving targets. 

Credit card companies prefer to keep cardholders in their ecosystems, and typically reserve the maximum rewards points, as well as the highest possible “exchange rate,” for travelers who book through their proprietary portals. Take Venture X’s 75,000-point signing bonus, for instance, is worth $750 when used toward flights, hotels and other services booked through Capital One’s travel portal. If the cardholder wants to trade the points for a statement credit or check and spend the reward outside the portal, they’re worth $375. 

Another powerful selling point for travel cards is an annual credit for travel purchases. The Sapphire card credits users a total of $300 at the end of the year for anything that qualifies as a travel expense. Venture X also offers a $300 annual travel credit, but the travel has to be booked through Capital One’s portal, “which is a little bit of a stumbling block for some people,” said Rossman of CreditCards.com. 

This is why partnerships can sometimes be as important as points, when it comes to calculating the value of a card. Some travel cards partner only with certain hotel chains or airlines, which can affect the value of the cards themselves, as well as the cardholders’ ability to take advantage of other perks connected to particular airlines, like free baggage fees, upgrades and access to airport lounges. 

Travelers who prefer to book directly with hotels or airlines or prefer to use third-party channels like Travelocity also might not derive as much benefit from the cards as people willing to use the issuers’ travel portals, where similar discounts may not be available. 

To attract younger users, and retain existing ones, card companies have also added restaurant programs, with benefits including first dibs on reservations at certain trendy restaurants in big cities or pop-up events featuring famous chefs. “I think these cards are catering to a more affluent young professional type, the kind of people who tend to eat out a lot,” Rossman said. 

But dining perks are mainly a way to score bonus points, or to use them, and they may not directly defray the cost of the card. Also, they’re frequently available in some form with cards that have lower annual fees, or none at all. 

And for premium travel cards, the fees aren’t the only higher costs. According to CreditCards.com, the current annual percentage rate for a rewards credit card is 16.17 percent, compared to 13.28 percent, on average, for low-interest cards.  

“If people pay more for something, they are more likely to use it,” said Ali Besharat, an associate professor of marketing and co-director of the Consumer Insights and Business Innovation Center at the University of Denver. They see it as a “justified expense,” he said.




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43rd Annual Home, Sport and Travel Show underway in Bemidji – Bemidji Pioneer


BEMIDJI — The Sanford Center was a buzz of activity on Friday afternoon as the 43rd Bemidji Jaycees’ Home, Sport and Travel Show kicked off for the first time since 2019.

The event continues through 8 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Sanford Center. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for ages 6-17. Children 5 and under will be admitted free.

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Joseph Mattson, 1, checks out a machine at the Ironhide Equipment booth with his grandma, Barb Martin, at the 43rd Annual Home, Sport and Travel show on Friday, April 1, 2022, at the Sanford Center.

Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

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Attendees browse the Growing Our Future booth at the 43rd Annual Home, Sport and Travel show on Friday, April 1, 2022, at the Sanford Center.

Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“Everybody knows that once the Home, Sport and Travel Show happens, spring is around the corner and it’s just a great opportunity to showcase our local businesses in town,” said Jaycee member Eva Fisher

during set up on Thursday

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Attendees spin the wheel at the Bemidji Police Department booth to win a prize at the 43rd Annual Home, Sport and Travel show on Friday, April 1, 2022, at the Sanford Center.

Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

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From left: Jim Perish, guest services, and Steve May, security, greet attendees to the 43rd Annual Home, Sport and Travel show on Friday, April 1, 2022, at the Sanford Center.

Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

The Jaycees are hoping folks are ready to get back out and hit their rite-of-spring event.

“As events are happening more, we anticipate a lot of people from the community coming through and making those relationships and connections with the businesses here,” Fisher said.





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JH Travel and Tourism Board releases annual report – Buckrail


JACKSON, Wyo. — The Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board (JHTTB) released their annual report reflecting on fiscal year 2021, running from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.

The report includes information on lodging tax revenue and spending, marketing and campaigns, hotel occupancy, national park visitation and airport stats by season.

According to the report, from June 2020 to July 2021, a total of $6,884,687 in Lodging Taxes funded the town and county and JHTTB.

A 5% lodging tax is applied to overnight stays at lodging facilities. Three percent is given to the state to fund the Wyoming Office of Tourism and the Wyoming Tourism Board. The remaining 2% stays in Teton County, with 60% of these funds managed by the JHTTB for destination marketing, tourist education, events, and other tourism-related initiatives. The Town of Jackson and Teton County manage the remaining 40% and use the money to mitigate the impacts of tourism on infrastructure.

In fiscal year 2021, the town and county received $2,753,875 from the lodging tax and JHTTB received $4,130,812. According to the report, JHTTB spent 47% of the toal funds, or $1,947,350, on destination marketing/paid media.

Lodging tax revenue was highest in June of 2021 with a total of $750,611 collected.

JHTTB also shared more information on their new project to create a sustainable destination management plan (SDMP). The board has contracted with a consulting team from George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies working with Confluence Sustainability to lead the SDMP.

The goal of the SDMP is to “create messaging that aligns with the values of our community, attracts visitors who are most desirable for our destination, and educates them on lower-impact ways to enjoy our beautiful surroundings,” Chairman Brian Gallagher said in the report.

The study is set to be completed in September 2022.

The complete report is available here. More information on the sustainable destination management plan is available here.



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UAE: Residents cancel travel plans despite accumulating annual leaves amid Covid – News


Most people are opting to spend their vacations locally



Published: Sat 15 Jan 2022, 10:55 AM

Last updated: Sat 15 Jan 2022, 11:03 AM

Some UAE employees are avoiding taking a long annual leave to travel abroad and opting instead for a shorter vacation to spend locally, fearing that they might get stranded overseas due to constantly-changing travel restrictions.

The recruitment and HR industry say that employees are increasingly opting to spend their annual leaves locally since some companies have asked their employees to exhaust their annual leaves. But some employees have still accumulated a good number of annual leaves, as they were not able to travel abroad during the past two pandemic years.

“With new regulations to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the UAE and many countries imposing strict restrictions and lockdowns, employees are now rethinking their leave plans to avoid being stranded,” said Mayank Patel, country head of Adecco Middle East.

He pointed out that there might not be any change in annual leave policies of employees for now, as the spike in cases is also pushing back to the previous days of ensuring colleagues’ safety and work from home. However, in the best interest of the organisation and to ensure employees have a work-life balance, this may result in accommodating a part of their leaves to be adjusted.

Waleed Anwar, managing director of Upfront HR, suggested that it is wise for most people at the moment to stay in the UAE to avoid being stranded overseas. “This is the general opinion we are hearing from our clients in the UAE. Travelling will come with the risk of being stranded. In most cases, unless you are in a customer-facing role, most companies will offer employees the flexibility to work remotely to allow for continuous flow of work, wherever they are.”

Vijay Gandhi, regional director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Korn Ferry, believes that if the past 18 months have brought a huge change to the way many people work, then the coming years will bring an even greater revolution in working practices in the UAE.

“Location neutral jobs will lead to more flexibility. More offices will change in design to allow for this flexibility based on job and team demand. We will continue to see creative and different working ideas emerge and fit the new working environment,” he added.

The change in the working week in UAE, according to Gandhi, will also bring in a positive spin to the work from home culture. “Individuals are not rewarded by 9-5 or Monday-Friday parameters, but pegged to outcomes they are achieving on a regular basis. In general, the work environment will undergo a significant change, with remote working being part of the norm.”

Spending annual leave locally

Waleed Anwar added that now more than ever, UAE employees are spending more leaves locally due to restrictions on travel globally. “Because they’re afraid of being stranded overseas and not being able to return, so the leaves are definitely shorter and changing from the traditional long summer leaves we are used to taking in this country.”

Over the last two years of the pandemic, some employees have accumulated annual leave for not being able to travel due to Covid-19 restrictions while some employees have no annual leftover at all because employers encouraged them to take leave during the lockdowns, he added.

Starting January 1, 2022, the UAE government shifted its weekend from Friday-Saturday to mid-Friday until Sunday to help local businesses and also improve residents’ work-life balance.

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“Change in weekends should not change how many leave days people are entitled to, because as per the UAE labour law, employees are entitled to 30 days’ leave after completing one year of employment, out of which 22 days are working days – which will still remain the same with the change in the weekend,” said Anwar.

People-intensive firms may change annual leaves

Recruitment and HR industry say that firms operating in the people-intensive industries, such as tourism, retail and hospitality, are likely to recruit more people with the change in the weekend. Such firms may also alter employees’ annual leave due to the Covid-19 pandemic and structure it in a way that would help them meet their targets and also benefits the employees.

“This new working week will definitely stir changes in many industries, such as F&B and hospitality business, to make arrangements in brunch and dining offers, Friday special offers, etc. They could also consider hiring additional staffing during the new weekend leading to new revenue opportunities in this sector,” said Patel.





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Yellowknife women strike again with third annual holiday tip of $1,000


It’s a good thing Jonny Vu wasn’t able to give up his shift as a server at the Woodyard Brewhouse & Eatery last Thursday as he had hoped. 

Vu served a table of 10 women that night who, after paying for their meal and leaving a tip, gave him a card they had each signed.

“I looked inside the card and there is $1,000 cash,” he said. “It was super overwhelming. I had no idea how to react. Yeah, it was just very, like, speechless.”

The card came from a group of women who have gotten together for a meal during the holidays since 2019, and given $1,000 as a gift to their server.

Jonny Vu was overwhelmed when a group of women gave him a card containing a $1,000 cash gift. (Submitted by Amanda Lalonde)

“It’s one of those things I look forward to most now, ” said Amanda Lalonde, one of the women in the group.

“It’s become sort of a tradition to start the holiday season, to get in the Christmas spirit for myself, and I know my family gets excited to watch me go and wants to hear all about it when I get home.”

The women — all moms who want to set a good example for their kids — chip in $100 each and choose a restaurant at random.

Lalonde said the idea began when one of her friends, Brandy Arychuk Smith, suggested on a Facebook post that moms get together and organize some way of giving back to the community.

The goal, Lalonde said, is to make the Christmas season special for someone else.

“It’s just something to make us feel good in this holiday season. It is the season of giving, so anything that we can do to contribute feels good for us and hopefully feels good for the recipients.”

She said many of the women in the group give in other ways as well, during the holiday season and throughout the year.

“So I think it’s just a part of our nature.”

When Vu opened this card, he found $1,000 in cash, a gift from the women who signed it. (Submitted by Johnny Vu)

As for Vu, he said the money means a lot to him.

After receiving it, he chatted with the women, thanked them and then went into the bar fridge to call his girlfriend.

“You won’t believe what happened,” he told her.

He said he gave her all the money without hesitation to help pay for airline tickets she had just bought for both of them to go see her grandmother in Jamaica, who has recently moved into a retirement home. (CBC spoke to Vu before Ottawa warned Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of the country.)

“That’s wonderful,” said Lalonde, when she heard what Vu was planning. “I’m thankful that the money is going to go for the trip to see her grandma. It’s just wonderful hearing that.”

“I think the whole thing, it just feels good to give around Christmas time, because that’s what Christmas is, right? The spirit of giving.”



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WYBA hosts first annual Thanksgiving Tip-Off youth basketball tournament | Local


Twenty-two teams from Wyoming and South Dakota met for the first annual Thanksgiving Tip-Off youth basketball tournament Saturday in the Wyoming Center at Cam-plex.






Thanksgiving Tip-Off

Twin Spruce Junior High eighth grader Tatum Sorensen goes up for a layup while taking on Douglas during the Thanksgiving Tip-Off 2021 at Cam-plex on Saturday. Twenty-two teams from Wyoming and South Dakota met in the Wyoming Center to play in the first American Athletic Union tournament in Northeast Wyoming history.



It was the second tournament hosted by the Wyoming Youth Basketball Association, an organization associated with the American Athletic Union. AAU is one of the most popular and competitive traveling sports organizations in the country.

Teams registered in the tournament were automatically registered to compete in AAU tournament in the future, WYBA co-founder Dana Miller said. Stan Quash, a representative for AAU from California, traveled to the tournament and was impressed with Cam-plex’s facilities.

“I had an opportunity to tour and see some of the facilities here and there’s a whole lot of opportunities here in Gillette,” Quash said. “There’s a lot of opportunities for AAU to continue to grow here.”

The Thanksgiving Tip-Off was no regular basketball tournament. The teams were divided into eight different age groups (four boys, four girls) and played in a marathon of two-minute games.






Thanksgiving Tip-Off

Camels Paetyn Sylte, 12, moves past WYBA defenders on her way to the basket Saturday during the Thanksgiving Tip-Off at Cam-plex.



The tournament format was a way to present a unique playing experience for the players. Games started with a tie score and just two minutes on the clock with six full-courts seeing action simultaneously.

Saturday’s tournament was the first AAU tournament held in Northeast Wyoming, and possibly the entire state, Miller said.






Thanksgiving Tip-Off

Dane Wasson soars to the rim as the Twin Spruce Warriors go on to defeat Douglas 75-11 Saturday during the Thanksgiving Tip-Off 2021.



“This is getting our teams playing opportunities,” Miller said. “We’re creating more opportunities for kids to play basketball and since we’re hosting it here locally, the kids don’t have to travel.”

The tournament was made possible with the recent purchase of 12 free-standing basketball hoops by the Campbell County Public Land Board in September. There was only one bid by Universal Athletic of Gillette that came in for roughly $69,998.

“We wanted to develop tournaments in our area so we weren’t traveling for extended periods,” WYBA co-founder Kevin Couch said. “We’re also part of the sports tourism advisory committee and the idea was to build home-grown events that bring more teams into our community.”






Thanksgiving Tip-Off

Brogan Stewart takes a shot at the basket while sporting a Santa hat during the Thanksgiving Tip-Off 2021 at Cam-plex Saturday morning.



The tournament used the same flooring that was used for the second annual Pepsi Cup, a youth soccer tournament that saw 67 teams compete at Cam-plex in January.

The WYBA has no plans of slowing down following this weekend’s tournament. Miller and Couch have another tournament schedule at Cam-plex in February.






Thanksgiving Tip-Off

Sixth grade Camel girls coach Karen Johnson talks to her team in a huddle Saturday at the Thanksgiving Tip-Off 2021 at Cam-plex.



“It is really cool to have a long-term vision and an idea come to life,” Couch said. “We really are like five or six years down the road from the whole idea so to get to where we’re at right now is greatly satisfying. Now we just want keep growing it and keep making it bigger.”



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