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      Marquette County gets funding to remove blight

      The Marquette County Land Bank could soon get $486,000 to eliminate blight in K.I. Sawyer.

      The land bank applied for grant money through the State of Michigan to get rid of blighted buildings. The former Air Force base closed in 1995 and left a number of buildings vacant.

      Buildings along Stratofort and Panther streets have peeling paint, broken windows and, in some cases, fire damage. The blighted buildings' proximity to the K.I. Sawyer Elementary School likely played a part in the grant's approval.

      "The biggest selling point, though, for getting this funding was that it was right next door to the K.I. Sawyer Elementary School, literally 100 feet away from their playground. When these kids are out playing on the playground; that's the landscape that they're looking at are these blighted buildings," said Marquette County Treasurer Anne Giroux.

      The City of Marquette also filed a grant application to have the former orphanage demolished. That application was denied.

      About 94 housing units would be demolished and the area returned to a green field. Other communities in the Upper Peninsula are receiving funding, including Newberry and Houghton County.