County supports GHS clinic project

MARQUETTE – The Marquette County Board voted to approve a $500,000 Health and Human Services School-Based Health Center Capital Improvement Grant at its meeting earlier this week.

The board also designated the Marquette County Health Department as the grant project manager and fiduciary on behalf of the county board.

The grant will be used to expand the Gwinn School-Based Health Center, which runs out of the Gwinn High School, from 425 square feet to 1,375 square feet. Renovation of the existing clinic along with new construction that will attach to the high school will be included.

The project is tentatively slated to break ground in the spring, with work completed by February 2014.

“This is good news,” Commissioner Greg Seppanen said. “There’s no getting around it.”

However, Seppanen did have some concerns over the cost of construction, saying those types of projects often come in over budget.

Fred Benzie, director of the health department, said the amount requested kept in mind unforeseen construction costs and that the health department would monitor the funds closely.

“It’s a very happy day,” Benzie said to the board. “It’s great. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, it’s a half a million dollar grant courtesy of the Affordable Care Act.

“That clinic is doing very, very well. It was very well received by the school. The children out there find it a stable safe haven to come to.”

The Gwinn board must approve the grant as well. Its next meeting is Jan. 21.

Gwinn Area Community Schools Superintendent Kim Tufnell said she was looking forward to the health department’s presentation.

“(We) are hopeful that this project can get under way very soon,” she said.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is