San Antonio to host air travel conference in early 2022

Good news: San Antonio has a major, in-person convention on the books.

In 2022.

In February of that year, San Antonio will host the Routes Americas conference, an event that connects airport officials and airline executives to discuss expanding routes and air service, city officials announced Thursday.

Event organizers say they expect the conference will bring a much-needed boost to the San Antonio hospitality and tourism industry that’s been battered this year by the pandemic. Long-term, the conference could bring more airlines and routes to the area, officials said.

“Air service development is a key priority for the city and (San Antonio Airport System),” said Jesus Saenz, San Antonio’s airport director. “Routes Americas is an unparalleled opportunity to showcase our great city directly to the decision makers as well as bring a much-needed boost to our hospitality community utilizing our world class convention center, hotel rooms, venues and restaurants.”

Last year, the Routes Americas conference was held in Indianapolis, and brought together 700 delegates representing 90 air carriers. In 2022, officials expect the event to bring 1,000 participants to San Antonio.

While air travel picked up at San Antonio International Airport over the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s still down sharply from 2019.

On ExpressNews.com: Holiday, diversions lure travelers into the skies

The passenger count at San Antonio International dropped by two-thirds in September compared with a year earlier. Airlines have at least temporarily eliminiated some routes while cutting the number of flights on other routes.

From Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, three million travelers passed through the airport, down 61 percent from the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, San Antonio’s hotels — magnets for conference visitors in the pre-pandemic era — saw their revenue fall by more than fifty percent from July through September compared with the same time span in 2019.

Hotel occupancy was at 41.6 percent over those three months, compared with an average rate of 65.9 percent in the summer of 2019.

On ExpressNews.com: San Antonio hotels weathered big revenue declines in third quarter

“As a city, we’re committed to the meetings and conventions industry,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said, pointing to renovations of the River Walk and Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. “As our meeting industry has evolved and innovated in a COVID-19 environment, one foundation that has only become stronger is the San Antonio spirit of hospitality and enrichment.”

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Cathedral City voters to decide fate of short-term vacation rentals in March special election

The Cathedral City Council on Wednesday night unanimously agreed to allow voters to decide whether to phase out short-term vacation rentals, teeing up a heated debate before a special election occurs on March 2.



a truck that has a sign on the side of a mountain: Cathedral City is the second most populous city in the Coachella Valley.


© Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun
Cathedral City is the second most populous city in the Coachella Valley.

Faced with the decision of repealing a previously passed ordinance to phase-out rentals or calling for a referendum, the council went with the latter, citing the quality of life issues raised by many residents and strong opinions on either side.

“We’re divided here,” Councilmember Mark Carnavale said. “This has to go to the voters for their opinion.”

A working-class community with around 54,000 residents, Cathedral City had around 400 short-term vacation rentals this year before the council passed an ordinance to eliminate them in all neighborhoods but homeowners associations. Their presence has caused significant debate including a lengthy task force report, a moratorium on new rentals, and hundreds of comments from residents on either side of the debate. 

Through the referendum, voters will decide whether the city should stick with the council’s September decision to undo its existing regulations and phase out short-term rentals by 2023, or overturn those policies. 

After the September vote, supporters of short-term rentals organized as Share Cathedral City embarked on a signature-gathering campaign to overturn the ban. The group is an offshoot of another group called I Love Cathedral City that sprung up earlier this year to support vacation rentals, and both argued that Cathedral City didn’t properly enforce its original short-term rental ordinance before making the decision to ban them.

They gathered 4,304 signatures, and 3,515 were verified by the county registrar of voters as of November 24. That meets the threshold of more than 10% of the city’s registered voters to trigger a referendum on whether to overturn the ordinance.



a sign on a dirt road: A sign with a slogan in favor of banning short term rentals sits in the front yard of a home in Cathedral City, Calif. on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.


© Vickie Connor/The Desert Sun
A sign with a slogan in favor of banning short term rentals sits in the front yard of a home in Cathedral City, Calif. on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.

Past coverage: Cathedral City votes to phase out short-term rentals by 2023

Past coverage: Cathedral City group opposed to short-term rental ban submits petition

Because the group gathered enough signatures, the council could’ve voted to repeal the ordinance or put it to the voters. In casting his vote in support of the referendum, Mayor John Aguilar said he has concluded that short-term vacations are “disruptive to our neighborhoods and a bad idea.”

Before Wednesday’s vote, roughly 40 people spoke during a two-hour-long public hearing on what has become one of the most controversial issues for Cathedral City in recent memory.

Residents on both sides of the debate urged the council to take their side by citing the cost to taxpayers of hosting a special election. The Riverside County Registrar of Voters estimates it will cost be between $75,000 and $85,000, according to Cathedral City documents. 

A heated debate

When the city decided to phase out short-term rentals by

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Sparta Recreation Department’s First Christmas Tree Lighting and Other Holiday Events

SPARTA, NJ- The first Sparta Township Christmas tree lighting had to be held without a crowd.  The only element of the celebration that remained was the tree lighting on the front lawn of the Sparta VFW on Main Street on Thursday night.

Sparta Recreation Director Jeanne Montemarano was joined by elves Alison Deeney, Kelly Giannantonio, Janice Williams, Mayor Jerry Murphy, Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn and Mr. and Mrs. Clause.  

Plans originally included Santa in a snow globe for photos along with other activities typical for the annual Sparta Recreation Visit with Santa.  The most recent executive orders from Governor Murphy limiting indoor and outdoor crowds caused the activities to be canceled.

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According to Sparta Recreation Director Jeanne Montemarano they are expanding Santa’s ride through the community on the fire truck on the weekend of December 11 and 12, weather permitting.  In past years, Santa would take an hour to ride through town on his way to meet children and their families at Station Park. 

Additional Christmas events are being offered by the Sparta Recreation Department.

Sparta children can mail letters to Santa and Santa will mail a letter in return.  They can be sent to Sparta Recreation at 65 Main Street in Sparta.  The Recreation department staff will make sure they get to the North Pole in time for Santa to respond. They even provide stationary.

Sparta Recreation is also sponsoring a Holiday Home Decorating contest.  For the first time residents will be able to register their home for consideration. 

  • Homes must be registered by December 11
  • Between December 14 and 16 The Sparta Recreation department staff will photograph the homes that are registered.
  • On December 17 the photos will be posted on the Sparta Recreation Department Facebook page,
  • The two homes with the most “likes” will win.
  • On December 22 the winners will be announced on the Sparta Recreation Department Facebook page.

The first and second place winners will receive a prize and a sign to display on their front lawn, according to the recreation department announcement.

Montemarano said details for the Menorah lighting, scheduled for next Thursday, are also being discussed.

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Mark Bennett: A path of safety, adventure and recreation underway, at last | News Columns

Just outside West Terre Haute on Tuesday morning, a young woman walked toward Terre Haute along U.S. 150 as cars and trucks sped past her.



Mark Bennett: A path of safety, adventure and recreation underway, at last

Tribune-Star/Mark BennettProgress underway: Ben Leege stands beside the substructure of a new pedestrian walkway adjacent to the south side of U.S. 150 between West Terre Haute and Terre Haute. Leege is the Indiana Department of Transportation’s project engineer on the effort.


She walked just a few feet from traffic. That’s because there’s almost no shoulder area between the edge of the highway and the steel roadside barriers. “The Grade,” the 1.1-mile stretch of roadway between the two towns, is risky for the numerous people who walk or bicycle to their destinations.

At that same moment Tuesday, construction continued on a remedy to the longtime hazard.

It’s a success story, a community-wide effort that will provide safety, as well as an economic boost and recreational opportunities.

Anyone who’s driven between Terre Haute and West Terre Haute since late August has undoubtedly noticed the early-stage progress on a new pedestrian walkway, adjacent to the south side of the U.S. 150 pavement.

Once it’s finished in October 2021, that young woman and other pedestrians or bike riders will be able to trek to and from West T and the Haute without feeling the air gusts of SUVs and pickups that motor by at an average rate of 16,000 vehicles a day, according to 2018 figures from the West Central Indiana Economic Development District.

This solution to that decades-old problem alone validates the project’s $6.2-million cost.

The walkway opens up other benefits, too.



Mark Bennett: A path of safety, adventure and recreation underway, at last

Tribune-Star/Mark BennettScenic: A new pedestrian walkway on the south side of U.S. 150 between West Terre Haute and Terre Haute will offer its users a clear view of the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area, shown here.


It unlocks a virtual dead-end to the popular National Road Heritage Trail, which winds for 30 miles through eastern and central Vigo County and across the Wabash River before reaching the no-room-to-safely-walk-or-bike segment of U.S. 150. Thanks to the walkway, the Heritage Trail system could someday connect Vigo County’s four college campuses. Heritage Trail also can now extend to Illinois and link with burgeoning trail systems in Vermillion, Parke and Sullivan counties.

And, the walkway makes the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area and its Wabashiki Trail more accessible. The new pedestrian bridge will run alongside the 2,700-acre wetlands, which was set aside by the state of Indiana in 2010. The numbers of hunters, anglers, bird-watchers, hikers, runners and picnickers using Wabashiki’s amenities will grow.

Terre Haute and West Terre Haute could become a destination for groups of cyclists, runners and outdoors enthusiasts, just like other Midwestern towns that anchor long-running trail systems.

Constructing the walkway on the slope between the highway and wetlands requires some architectural finesse.

Three-hundred steel pilings are being driven 30 to 60 feet deep into the soil to support the walkway, explained Ben Leege, the Indiana Department of Transportation’s project engineer. Those 12-inch-diameter pilings are then

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The Trump travel ban on Muslim-majority countries may be associated with preterm births among women, study says

The 2017 travel ban imposed by the Trump administration on seven Muslim-majority countries may be associated with an increase in preterm births among women from those countries residing in the United States, according to a new study.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Researchers found an increase in preterm birth rates among women from countries on the 2017 travel ban.


© Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
Researchers found an increase in preterm birth rates among women from countries on the 2017 travel ban.

The study, published last week in the journal Social Science and Medicine, analyzed preterm birth rates among women from countries impacted by the travel ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Researchers found an increase after the ban, with a preterm birth rate of 8.6% between February and September 2017. That percentage rose from 8.5% before the ban, between January 2009 and December 2016.

By comparison, US-born, non-Hispanic White women held a steady 8.6% preterm birth rate throughout the time frames.

The 0.1 percentage point increase may not seem dramatic, but it means that the odds of women from these countries having preterm births increased by 6.8%, according to lead author Goleen Samari, an assistant professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

“It’s a massive change when you think about a 6.8% increase,” Samurai told CNN. And because these women typically have better birth outcomes than non-Hispanic White women, Samari says, going from better to worse is significant.

Stress could be reason behind preterm births

To calculate the change, the team used a time series model to estimate the expected preterm birth numbers had the ban not been issued. They used data beginning in 2009 to see what the expected number of preterm births among women from the banned countries would be in 2017 and 2018, after the ban went into place. The team then compared the expected amount of preterm births to the actual amount, showing the elevated trend.

The researchers could not say why the policy led to a rise in preterm births. However, Samurai says that the researchers hypothesized that it was due to stress — either the initial acute stressful shock of the first order or chronic stress exposure as the ban continued to change and make headlines for its court filings or protests.

Another reason could be a decline of quality care, as some women may have avoided prenatal care because they may have felt like they were in a discriminatory environment, Samari says.

Researchers also noted some limitations in their analysis, notably that they did not use individual-level information in their analysis, like maternal facts, political ideology or gestational risk factors that may have contributed to preterm births.

The study stands out for its focus on women from the Middle East and North Africa, who tend to be overlooked as they are classified as non-Hispanic White in data, the researchers say. They add that no study had focused on the impact of a policy that is considered xenophobic and Islamophobic.

Preterm births and poor birth outcomes are “sensitive markers of temporally acute stressors from social and economic threats to

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Mayor Stothert names new Director of Parks, Recreation and Public Property

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has named a new Director of Parks, Recreation and Public Property.



a screen shot of a man: Matt Kalcevich


© Provided by KETV Omaha
Matt Kalcevich

Matt Kalcevich comes to Omaha from Des Moines, where he worked as recreation manager. Kalcevich has worked in that field for more than a decade.


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Stothert’s office said Kalcevich graduated from Nothern Arizona University in 2001 and obtained a Master’s degree in recreation management from Arizona State University.

Kalcevich is set to start his new position in Omaha on Dec. 14. According to a news release from Stothert’s office, Kalcevich’s salary will be $162,318.

Kalcevich takes over for Brook Bench, who took a job in public property development.

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READ THE FULL STORY:Mayor Stothert names new Director of Parks, Recreation and Public Property

CHECK OUT KETV:Get the latest Omaha news, sports and weather from team at KETV – and find out why we’re Omaha’s favorite news source.

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California’s stay-at-home order allows essential travel only. What does that mean?



a body of water next to the rock: Big Sur is among the California tourism destinations that may be affected by Gov. Gavin Newsom's tightening of travel restrictions. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)


© (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Big Sur is among the California tourism destinations that may be affected by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s tightening of travel restrictions. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Stop traveling, the governor says.

With the “regional stay-at-home” order issued Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom is imploring Californians to stay home for the next three weeks and cinching already tight restrictions in areas where the COVID-19 pandemic has hospitals under the heaviest pressure.

Outlining the new restrictions, which include new capacity limits for retailers and other changes, state officials said hotels and other lodgings will be allowedto open for critical infrastructure support only.” But in the immediate aftermath of the governor’s announcement Thursday afternoon, details of the new travel restrictions remained unclear.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Service, said the state is effectively telling, not asking, Californians to stop all nonessential travel. That includes canceling holiday travel plans, he added.

“The message of the day is, as much as you can, be at home,” Ghaly said.

However, he and Newsom also stressed that parks and beaches would remain open and that Californians could boost their mental health by hiking, running, fishing, practicing yoga, skiing, snowboarding and otherwise savoring outdoor activities.

The new regional stay-at-home order, which officials said goes into effect within 48 hours of the announcement, applies in California regions where ICU availability is less than 15%. Among other things, the new order “prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others.” It is to remain in effect for at least three weeks.

The order’s regional grouping categorizes Los Angeles County within an 11-county area that also includes Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The 11 Southern California counties and 12 counties in the Central Valley could be required to implement the new restrictions on Friday, based on current projections of the rising number of patients who have been admitted to intensive care units.

VisitCalifornia.com, the state’s tourism website, puts the new rules in blunt terms: The state, it says, has “banned non-essential travel in most of the state beginning Dec. 4.”

In a widely circulated letter to industry professionals, Visit California President and Chief Executive Caroline Beteta wrote that in the 23 counties immediately affected, “hotels can remain open, although the order announced today bans non-essential travel statewide.”

She also noted that ski resorts can stay open (but must close their food and beverage services) and that campgrounds must close, along with wineries, breweries, museums, zoos, family entertainment centers and aquariums.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area spokesman Tim LeRoy confirmed the information about ski operations. California State Parks did not respond to questions about how the governor’s order would affect its campgrounds. As of Wednesday, 83 state campgrounds were at least partly open.

Other details of the state’s plan for enforcing the

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The 2017 travel ban may be associated with preterm births among women from the targeted countries, study says

The study, published last week in the journal Social Science and Medicine, analyzed preterm birth rates among women from countries impacted by the travel ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Researchers found an increase after the ban, with a preterm birth rate of 8.6% between February and September 2017. That percentage rose from 8.5% before the ban, between January 2009 and December 2016.

By comparison, US-born, non-Hispanic White women held a steady 8.6% preterm birth rate throughout the time frames.

The 0.1 percentage point increase may not seem dramatic, but it means that the odds of women from these countries having preterm births increased by 6.8%, according to lead author Goleen Samari, an assistant professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

“It’s a massive change when you think about a 6.8% increase,” Samurai told CNN. And because these women typically have better birth outcomes than non-Hispanic White women, Samari says, going from better to worse is significant.

Stress could be reason behind preterm births

To calculate the change, the team used a time series model to estimate the expected preterm birth numbers had the ban not been issued. They used data beginning in 2009 to see what the expected number of preterm births among women from the banned countries would be in 2017 and 2018, after the ban went into place. The team then compared the expected amount of preterm births to the actual amount, showing the elevated trend.

The researchers could not say why the policy led to a rise in preterm births. However, Samurai says that the researchers hypothesized that it was due to stress — either the initial acute stressful shock of the first order or chronic stress exposure as the ban continued to change and make headlines for its court filings or protests.

States are calling racism a public health crisis. Here's what that means

Another reason could be a decline of quality care, as some women may have avoided prenatal care because they may have felt like they were in a discriminatory environment, Samari says.

Researchers also noted some limitations in their analysis, notably that they did not use individual-level information in their analysis, like maternal facts, political ideology or gestational risk factors that may have contributed to preterm births.

The study stands out for its focus on women from the Middle East and North Africa, who tend to be overlooked as they are classified as non-Hispanic White in data, the researchers say. They add that no study had focused on the impact of a policy that is considered xenophobic and Islamophobic.

Preterm births and poor birth outcomes are “sensitive markers of temporally acute stressors from social and economic threats to war, hate crimes, and socioplitical threats,” the researchers wrote in their analysis.

Other studies have pointed to similar findings. After September 11, women with Arabic names were 34% more likely to have a low birthweight infant than before the attacks, according to a 2006 study. Another study, published in 2018, found the passage of a restrictive immigration law in Arizona
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California’s new COVID order: Leisure travelers must stay home

Stop traveling, the governor says.

With the “regional stay-at-home” order issued Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom is imploring Californians to stay home for the next three weeks and cinching already tight restrictions in areas where the COVID-19 pandemic has hospitals under the heaviest pressure.

Outlining the new restrictions, which include new capacity limits for retailers and other changes, state officials said hotels and other lodgings will be allowedto open for critical infrastructure support only.” But in the immediate aftermath of the governor’s announcement Thursday afternoon, details of the new travel restrictions remained unclear.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Service, said the state is effectively telling, not asking, Californians to stop all nonessential travel. That includes canceling holiday travel plans, he added.

“The message of the day is, as much as you can, be at home,” Ghaly said.

However, he and Newsom also stressed that parks and beaches would remain open and that Californians could boost their mental health by hiking, running, fishing, practicing yoga, skiing, snowboarding and otherwise savoring outdoor activities.

The new regional stay-at-home order, which officials said goes into effect within 48 hours of the announcement, applies in California regions where ICU availability is less than 15%. Among other things, the new order “prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others.” It is to remain in effect for at least three weeks.

The order’s regional grouping categorizes Los Angeles County within an 11-county area that also includes Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The 11 Southern California counties and 12 counties in the Central Valley could be required to implement the new restrictions on Friday, based on current projections of the rising number of patients who have been admitted to intensive care units.

VisitCalifornia.com, the state’s tourism website, puts the new rules in blunt terms: The state, it says, has “banned non-essential travel in most of the state beginning Dec. 4.”

In a widely circulated letter to industry professionals, Visit California President and Chief Executive Caroline Beteta wrote that in the 23 counties immediately affected, “hotels can remain open, although the order announced today bans non-essential travel statewide.”

She also noted that ski resorts can stay open (but must close their food and beverage services) and that campgrounds must close, along with wineries, breweries, museums, zoos, family entertainment centers and aquariums.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area spokesman Tim LeRoy confirmed the information about ski operations. California State Parks did not respond to questions about how the governor’s order would affect its campgrounds. As of Wednesday, 83 state campgrounds were at least partly open.

Other details of the state’s plan for enforcing the tighter limits remained unclear Thursday afternoon.

In a web Q&A explaining the new travel guidelines, state officials said: “Stay in your county if you can. Don’t drive more than 2-3 hours.”

“You can

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The plan for a new aquatics and recreation center in Great Falls has hit a snag





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The plan for a new aquatics and recreation center in Great Falls has hit a snag

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