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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn
Features Writer

The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

U.P. communities good model for rest of state

Michigan is having image problems. Between economic issues in Detroit and political discord in Lansing, all attention is focused on the negative things happening in the Lower Peninsula. The road to recovery is long for the southern half of the L.P., but in the meantime, Marquette may be able to help improve the image and reputation of the state.

Brice Burge: Multimedia Journalism Major
Brice Burge: Multimedia Journalism Major

Marquette’s many accolades combine to create an impressive and well-rounded resume.

The city is an Arbor Day Foundation 31-time “Tree City USA” community, a top-20 town for sportsmen according to Outdoor Life Magazine, one of the most bike-friendly cities by the League of American Bicyclists and Bike Magazine, as well as 34 other national distinctions since 2000, according to the City of Marquette’s website. The Peter White Public Library won the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest award given for public libraries.

Other awards and recognitions involve best places to retire, best small cities to raise a family and best environmental beauty.

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If these outside organizations can see how great Marquette is, the state of Michigan should recognize and use the city to their advantage. Each time Marquette wins an award, the honor is published somewhere, whether it be in the individual publications giving the award or reported on by other forms of media.

But a lot more public relations work will be needed to counteract Detroit’s $20 billion bankruptcy, which shattered the former record of bankruptcy by a municipal government.

Let Marquette counter that with its own records. Marquette is home to five world records ranging from the largest city-owned park — Presque Isle Park — to the world’s tallest trophy. The start and finish line of the second-largest sled-dog race in the United States, second only to the Iditarod in Alaska, goes through downtown Marquette. The city is also home to Olympic gold-medalist boxing coach Al Mitchell and former U.S. Masters Division Marathon Champion Tracy Lokken.

In addition to the regular cultural resources such as art galleries, museums and high school and collegiate competitions, Marquette can best be classified as a special events town. Home to two World Cup and two Olympic qualifying short track speedskating events and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway Conference, Marquette can hold its own compared to other special event cities like Indianapolis and Calgary. The Hiawatha Music Festival is the largest traditional music event in the Midwest and attracts nationally-recognized performers. Blues Fest, U.P. Fall Beer Festival and the Marquette Marathon have reported significant growth every year with people traveling from farther and farther away to make these events.

To function exceptionally as a special events town proves Marquette can handle any extra stress and pressure if the state were to start promoting it more. When efficiency is needed to hold as many events as often as the city does, the citizens of Marquette must rise to the occasion.

Marquette’s diverse dining and lodging options provide an exceptional experience for anyone in town. The award-winning media provides information on how well events are and life in general is in Marquette. The low crime rates means that people can feel safe. Marquette’s success is a group effort by its citizens and it can handle the extra pressure by becoming a flagship city for the state of Michigan.

Not only does good press never hurt, but it also shifts the focus from the Lower Peninsula to the land up north. As the biggest city in the Upper Peninsula, Marquette’s role as an economic hub is heavily reliant on small businesses. That economic model provides bigger urban areas with a substantial example of small-town success. The state could even expand to other urban areas around the U.P. to address other problems, such as urban sprawl studies in the Kingsford and Iron Mountain area.

The controversial emergency manager program has had legal issues since its inception first in 1990, and again after it was extended by Gov. Snyder in 2011. The controversy stems from either the extreme power held by the governor in the appointment of the managers or the fact that 2011’s Public Act 4 was put into law by the Michigan Legislature and subsequently repealed by voters in the 2012 election.

That procedural process caused problems again when the Right-to-Work law earlier this year rushed through Michigan’s legislature while thousands of citizens both for and against the bill were locked out of public comment for the vote.

State Representative John Kivela (D-109) is the former mayor of Marquette. He can relate to the State Legislature that there is an opportunity for Marquette to lead by example on how to straighten Michigan out. It was under his leadership as mayor that Marquette won 15 of the 34 previously-mentioned awards. He also represents the work ethic of  the people of Marquette and how it can benefit the entire state.

Creating a “keep your chin U.P.” plan of focusing on Marquette’s strengths to aid in downstate problems would make the state better as a whole.

An in-state example of municipal success provides a living model to compare and contrast what would work in other areas of Michigan. Positive discussion of  something that works on the public record can relieve some of the negative reputation of the state as a whole. At the very least, the idea of small-town politics to help at the state level is a grass roots approach that creates good public relations.

Let’s get past the negative image that all of Michigan has been unfairly provided by downstate cities, and counter with a new vision of Michigan success. Michigan needs to focus on Marquette, because Marquette won’t let us down.

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