September 2, 2014

Tourism and the tribes

Photo: NATOW

A pow wow in Wisconsin. (Photo: NATOW)

When thinking of Wisconsin tourism, you might not necessarily think of the state’s 11 sovereign tribal nations. However, Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett says Native American tourism in the Badger State is a lot more than just gaming and pow wows. While she says those are important to Native American culture and tourism, she says bison farms, fish hatcheries, and apple festivals are just a few of the many other activities Wisconsin’s tribes offer to visitors. Klett says those activities provide a fun and exciting way to learn about Native American culture, landscapes, and heritage.

Tribal tourism operates separate from Wisconsin tourism, but does work in partnership with the state and gets a yearly grant to support tourism on its reservations. Klett says only one tribe in the entire state has a tourism department and that’s the Oneida Nation. All 11 tribes are part of an organization known as Native American Tourism of Wisconsin, or NATOW. The group works together and with the state Department of Tourism, which Klett says helps promote events on Indian reservations so everyone can experience native Wisconsin.

The reservations occupy over a half million acres of forest and marsh lands, lakes and rivers in Wisconisn, according to their website. Tourism is one of the ways tribes can be self-sufficient and boost their economies.

Klett recently met with tribal leaders during the annual Tribal Consultation.

Labor Day offers some vacation savings

Noah's Ark Waterpark (Photo: wisdells.com)

Noah’s Ark Waterpark (Photo: wisdells.com)

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, and those looking for some last minute getaways before the warm weather is completely gone could benefit from businesses that are competing for your dollar.

By going online to the sites of the places you may be thinking about visiting, state Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett says you can often find coupon deals or other deep discounts. She says that often makes the Labor Day weekend a good time to “get out and travel Wisconsin.”

Klett says, if you haven’t already, you really need to get your fill of the Water Capital of the World before the summer actually ends. It might be cliché, she says, but there’s a reason everyone does the Dells. She notes that water parks there recently claimed two of the top 11 spots in a national list.

After this weekend, many tourism destinations will start to wind down for the year. Students with summer tourism jobs are going back to school, and many business owners will get back to a normal routine or start shutting down for the season.

Officials urge customers to ‘shop smart’ for back-to-school

School supplies

School supplies

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) offers up tips for back-to-school shopping, so you’ll get your money’s worth. Sandy Chalmers, Division Administrator with the agency, says the most important thing to remember is that Wisconsin law requires stores to charge the lowest advertised price.

“If there is an overcharge and your item rings up at the register higher than that lowest advertised price, the store is required by law to refund you that overcharged amount.”

It’s always a good idea to watch as the clerk is ringing up the items, she says, but also check your receipts closely. That’s why it’s so important, Chalmers says, to take copies of the ads with you to the store … so you have proof of the sale price. If you do see a discrepancy, take it up with management right then and there. She says it’s the quickest way to resolve the issue.

Despite the warnings, Chalmers says Wisconsin businesses are really good at charging consumers the advertised prices. “Our inspectors consistently find that about 99 percent of the time in Wisconsin shoppers are charged the accurate price. So you can have a high degree of confidence at the cash register.”

A recent national survey found that the average family spends nearly $690 on K-12 back-to-school shopping, so it’s important to account for every penny spent. The majority of back to school spending goes toward clothing, and then electronics, followed by school supplies.

Before visiting a store, make sure to closely review the company’s advertisements for restrictions involving quantities, returns or rain checks. Customers can report pricing errors to state or local inspectors. To file a weights and measures complaint with DATCP’s Weights and Measures Bureau, send an e-mail  or call the office at 608-224-4942.

Mock DMV websites charge for free forms

(Keyboard)

(Keyboard)

Officials at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are concerned Wisconsin citizens are being duped by private firms or marketers who created websites that look official but misrepresent the DMV.

Kristina Boardman is deputy administrator for the department. “There are nonofficial websites out there. They’re not affiliated with the government. They have a disclaimer on them. They’re perfectly legal. They don’t always have the up-to-date most accurate information. They are ‘for profit’ organizations and they charge for forms.”

While the mock websites are not illegal, Boardman says, the information they’re selling is actually available for free from the state DMV. She urges consumers to check closely for the correct Internet domain suffix. The address should end with the ‘.gov’ extension.

Boardman says they aren’t aware of motorists being specifically solicited by anyone, but marketers hope people inadvertently stumble upon the wrong website. “If you do a search for Wisconsin DMV, you’ll get a number of results,” she says, and people do “stumble upon these (mock sites) by clicking on the wrong link.”

The for profit commercial websites usually contain a ‘.com’ extension. They charge added fees and Boardman says they might not offer the most up-to-date accurate information.

UW-Platteville ready for students, 2 months after tornadoes touch down

UW Platteville tornado damage (PHOTO: UW Platteville)

UW Platteville tornado damage (PHOTO: UW Platteville)

There’s a lot of progress in the recovery effort after two tornadoes hit the UW-Platteville campus on the night of June 16th, causing at least $10 million worth of damage. “The campus, I’m pleased to say, is ready for the students. We’re not done. It’s an important distinction. The goal is to be ready,” says Rob Cramer, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services at the university.

The big challenge is Pioneer stadium and all the debris. Cramer says there’s a mixture of rock and glass strewn about the landscaping. He says school officials sought advice from other colleges that had experienced similar issues. “One of those institutions had removed 90 percent of the sod and top soil in the area where they had debris and that was about 15 years ago. They regret not having done 100 percent because they’re still getting people with lacerations in those areas.”

Pioneer Stadium at UW Platteville is damaged after tornadoes storm through the campus. (PHOTO: UW Platteville)

Pioneer Stadium at UW Platteville is damaged after tornadoes storm through the campus. (PHOTO: UW Platteville)

University officials are working with the insurance company to get 100 percent remediation, he says, so they won’t have to be dealing with cuts in the future from remaining shards of glass.  Some students have already moved into dorms unaffected by the storm. The official move-in day is this Friday.

UW-Platteville officials addressed the UW System Board at their meeting in Oshkosh last Friday, 22nd.

On June 16th, two tornadoes damaged three residence halls, the engineering building, the stadium, and took out 1,000 very old trees in the 57-acre memorial park. The Pioneer Stadium turf was scheduled to be removed this past weekend, with the new turf installation beginning this week. The completion date is early to mid-September.

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross and UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields will hold a press conference and grand re-opening of campus on Friday, Aug. 29 at 11:30 a.m. in the back patio of Engineering Hall.

Related:

UW Platteville photo gallery of storm damage.