Supreme Court Asked to Review Controversial Healthy Kids Dental Contract

March 29, 2018

Cliff Taylor, John Bursch join legal team to argue before state’s highest court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 29, 2018

MQT., MICHIGAN – MCNA, a national provider of dental benefits, today filed an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court seeking to reverse an appeals court decision dismissing a lawsuit against the state over the unlawful award of a $659 million Healthy Kids Dental contract to an unqualified bidder with political clout.

“We are taking this fight to the state’s highest court because the citizens of Michigan deserve a full accounting of how taxpayer dollars are being spent, and to shine a light on a deeply flawed and highly political bidding process that has undermined Michigan’s stated commitment to transparency and competitive bidding,” said Carlos Lacasa, Vice President and General Counsel of MCNA. “It is our hope that when Supreme Court Justices review the facts of this case, they’ll see the fatal flaws in the state’s procurement process, which favors political clout over experience and results.”

MCNA has added prominent lawyers Clifford Taylor and John Bursch to its legal team as it prepares to argue its case before the state Supreme Court. Mr. Taylor is a former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, and Mr. Bursch is a former Michigan Solicitor General with a storied track record of successfully arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and Michigan Supreme Court.

“Our appeal to the state Supreme Court and the additions to our legal team should send a strong message to the state and its elected leaders that we’re not backing down and refuse to see taxpayer dollars squandered on a program so critical to children in underserved areas of the state,” Lacasa said.

MCNA filed two lawsuits in January, one over the wrongful award of the contract and another over the state’s multiple violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In February, an Ingham County Judge ordered a state official to be deposed over the contract award after an attorney for the state admitted the state allowed a preferred bidder to change its bid, but then could not explain why that bidder was given preferential treatment over MCNA and others. Earlier this month, an Appeals Court summarily struck down that order and dismissed the case, without allowing MCNA to even brief or argue the merits of the case.

“The primary legal issue is straightforward and of great importance to Michigan taxpayers,” said Bursch. “The Court of Appeals said that MCNA has no right to seek judicial review of state procurement decisions. But Michigan law says that an aggrieved party may appeal ‘any’ decision of ‘any’ state agency. MCNA simply wants its day in court. Without that day, no court will ever be able to look beyond the curtain in a procurement decision. Taxpayers are entitled to that transparency.”

April 8th Through April 14th is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan

March 29, 2018


Marquette, Mich.03/29/2018– Despite winter’s grip lasting well into April this year, the warmth of spring and summer will eventually be making a return to Upper Michigan. With the arrival of the new seasons, come the threats from spring and summertime severe weather. As another severe weather season approaches, Governor Rick Snyder has declared April 8 – April 14, 2018, as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan.

While the overall number of severe weather events were below average last year, severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, and tornadoes were still responsible for five deaths and over $220 million in damages across the state of Michigan. The biggest severe weather event for the U.P. occurred during the early morning hours of April 10th. A severe thunderstorm developed east of Iron River and raced northeastward towards Marquette producing large hail up to golf ball size and wind gusts approaching 90 mph. Thousands of trees were blown down from Republic through Ishpeming and Negaunee. In addition, several structures sustained roof damage and many power lines were blown down. Unlike 2016 where there were a record six tornadoes confirmed across the U.P., there were zero tornadoes confirmed across the U.P. in 2017. Despite some very close calls, there were, fortunately, no serious severe weather-related injuries across the U.P. last year.

In the weeks following Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, meteorologists from the National Weather Service in Marquette will be visiting several counties across Upper Michigan providing storm spotter training. The presentations are a great way for residents to be significantly involved in the weather warning process by relaying important, potentially lifesaving, weather information to the National Weather Service during times of active weather. A schedule of presentations can be found at The presentations are free and open to all.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan, the National Weather Service is encouraging residents across the state to review severe weather safety procedures. Plan ahead. Be sure everyone in your household knows where to go and what to do when severe weather threatens. The best time to prepare for severe weather is before it happens. Being weather ready is a collective effort. It takes the whole community to effectively prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against damages caused by severe weather. Additional severe weather awareness week and weather safety information can be found at

National Register of Historic Places Historic District for the City of Negaunee

March 29, 2018

Marquette, Mich.March 29, 2018– The Department of Talent and Economic Development has approved funding for technical assistance to the City of Negaunee for the pursuit of a National Register of Historic Places Historic District Designation. Technical assistance will also include education for community members and city staff on historic preservation as a tool for economic development. In addition, the City of Negaunee will have the opportunity to work directly with a historic preservation professional who will assist the City with a strategic plan for its historic resources as a catalyst for future reinvestment within the downtown. Funds will derive through the Project Empire initiative with the total investment around $45 thousand dollars.

Jessica Flores of Preservation Forward, a historic preservation professional who specializes in the rehabilitation of the historic built environment, will facilitate this initiative on behalf of the City of Negaunee in order to achieve the City’s goal to have the downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The National Park Service administers the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. Listing in the National Register of Historic Places provides formal recognition of a property’s historical, architectural, or archeological significance based on national standards used by every state. In addition to honorific recognition, listing in the National Register has the following results for historic properties:

• Becoming part of the National Register Archives, a public, searchable database that provides a wealth of research information.

• Encouraging preservation of historic resources by documenting a property’s historic significance. National Register designation also provides opportunities for specific preservation incentives, such as: federal preservation grants for planning and rehabilitation, federal investment tax credits, preservation easements to nonprofit organizations, International Building Code fire, and life safety code alternatives, and possible state tax benefit and grant opportunities. City Manager Nate Heffron is excited to work with members of the community, downtown property owners, and local stakeholders involved and will be establishing a committee to partner with Jessica Flores throughout this lengthy process. Jessica Flores has worked with hundreds of local governments and community members in order to strengthen the role of historic preservation in communities across Michigan. She understands the importance of a place and easily connects with the folks who love their place. At this time neither the boundaries of the district or parameters for establishing this district have been determined. More information concerning this committee will be forthcoming.

Questions concerning this release may be directed to the attention of the City Manager, Nate Heffron at (906) 475-7700 ext. 11.

Further contacts provided:

  • Michelle Parkkonen
    Michigan Economic Development Corporation
    300 N. Washington Square
    Lansing, MI  48913
  • Jessica Flores
    Principal, Preservation Forward
    PO Box 4490
    East Lansing, MI 48826

NMU Among Top Furniture Design Schools

March 29, 2018

Marquette, MICH.03/29/2018–  Northern Michigan University ranks ninth among accredited U.S. colleges and universities with furniture design programs, according to The Art Career Project, a national online resource for art students and professionals.

The ranking methodology combines information from student data, published surveys and other data collected from government agencies, including the National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

To qualify for The Art Career Project’s rankings, a school program must be certified in good standing with its regional accrediting body. Schools are scored based on multiple metrics including tuition cost, graduation rate, transfer out rate and other factors. All eligible schools are scored and compared to create the “The Best Furniture Design Schools in the U.S. 2018” list. The complete Top 10 rankings can be found here.

The Art Career Project provides resources for career exploration, including profiles for hundreds of art careers, art jobs, scholarships, financial aid resources and professional development.

NMU student work.

The full story can be found at

Model School Library Program 2018 nominations Due March 30th

March 29, 2018

Marquette, Mich.– The Model School Library program is now going into the 3rd year! Please consider nominating one of our great school libraries to be the 2018/2019 Model SL 21 School Library program!

This is an opportunity to promote quality K-12 school libraries and provide mentorship to other schools throughout the state. Libraries interested in serving as models for the school library community are welcome to nominate themselves. Each year, a school library program is highlighted as the Model SL 21 School Library Program of the Year by the Library of Michigan. The expectations for the selected school library is that the staff will meet with other school library staff and serve as a mentor during their term as the Model library to help promote and encourage quality K-12 school library programs across the state.

Nominations are accepted open now through the end of March at If you know of an outstanding school library, nominate them now!

Kathy Lester at East Middle School in the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools is the current Model School Library and continues her term through May. We will then announce the Model Library for 2018-2019 school year at the end of May. You can find more information and the nomination survey at in the SL 21 program section.

Please contact me with any questions you may have.

Karren Reish
Library Grants Coordinator
Library of Michigan

Calendar – Holidays – Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly Easter Dinners – Apr. 1

March 29, 2018

Houghton, Hancock, South Range, Tapiola, Mohawk, Calumet, Ontonagon, Baraga, Marquette – Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly will be hosting Easter Dinners for those 60 and older on April 1 at 9 locations in the U.P.

A delicious Ham dinner will be served for those elders that have no family and will be alone for the Holiday. They will also be preparing and delivery hot meals to seniors who will be alone and cannot attend the parties. If you would like to attend or have a hot meal delivered to your home, please call 482-6944.

Calendar – Films/Documentaries – Screening of Royal Ballet’s “The Rite of Spring/The Firebird” – Apr. 1

March 29, 2018

Marquette – The Northern Michigan University Music Department will host a screening of the Royal Ballet production of “The Rite of Spring/The Firebird” on Sunday, April 1 at 5 p.m. in Forest Roberts Theatre. The event is presented as part of the Siril Cinema Series.

The premiere of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” in 1913 was a defining moment in 20th century art. The piece challenged the era’s traditional music and prompted rioting in the audience. The original choreography was created by Vaslav Nijinsky. Over the last century, many versions of “The Rite of Spring” have been created. In 1962, Kenneth MacMillan created his own choreography for the Royal Ballet. His distinctive version explores elements of human concern: birth and death, sacrifice and renewal.

The event is free for NMU students, faculty and staff with an ID. Tickets are available to the general public for $10. They can be purchased at