MARCELLUS—Last November 30 was an important day in this southwest lower Michigan (Cass County) village. That's the day that Severn Trent, a private firm, took over management of the village's sewer, water and street services.

DETROIT—Making a point that the lack of market forces and competition may be a big part of the problems at Wayne County's Detroit Metro Airport, Detroit Free Press business columnist Doron Levin wrote this on January 19, 1999: "[Wayne County Executive Ed] McNamara has lots to explain about how we got so far into the 20th Century with an outdated airport. More importantly, he should tell us why he signed a monopoly franchise with Northwest [Airlines] for the new terminal."

GREEN OAK TWP.—Officials in this Livingston County township voted 6-1 in October to seek out a cost/benefit analysis of privatizing all township employees, except for those in the fire and police departments.

MCBAIN—While trends in most places are to take services from the public sector and put them in the private sector, this small Missaukee County town may be headed in the other direction. After losing its last full-time grocery store with the closure of Ashcraft's in May 1998, McBain officials announced in November that they are exploring whether the city should purchase a store and then sell it to the 700 residents.

ITHACA—After rejecting the idea of privatizing custodial services a few years ago, Gratiot County officials said in late November that they want to explore the idea again. It was reported that the inquiry may go beyond custodial services to examine the feasibility of contracting out for other services as well.

DEARBORN—Citing a very successful first-year experience with privatization of the city's animal shelter, the Dearborn city council last year granted a one-year renewal of the contract with Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter.

LANSING—The state Court of Appeals ruled in November that the state had the right to appoint private liquor distributors in 1997 even though it didn't have qualifications in place for them. The ruling keeps in place the partial privatization of liquor distribution instituted by the Engler administration in January 1997.

MIDLAND—County commissioners here recently terminated a contract with a private firm and brought custodial duties in-house, citing problems with both security and the quality of cleaning services. Since January 1, the county has been doing the work with its own staff of two full-time and five part-time custodians.