Sterling Heights and Utica officials are seeking help from the public to win a statewide contest and preserve part of the past.

This month, the Sterling Heights Public Library, Sterling Heights Historical Commission, Utica Public Library and Utica Heritage Association are teaming up to win the most votes and earn a Michigan Digital Newspaper Project grant, which offers the first-prize contest winner the scanning and online placing of 10,000 pages from a previously microfilmed newspaper, officials said Tuesday.

They’re aiming to digitize 10,000 pages of the historical Utica Sentinel newspaper, which was produced from 1876 through 1971.

The competition involves the public voting three ways Jan. 16-28. Residents can mail hand-drawn postcards depicting Michigan and including “#DigUtica” in the body of the card to Clarke Historical Library, 250 E. Preston St., Mount Pleasant, MI 48859. They also can tweet #DigUtica Jan. 23-28. Then, on Jan. 26, participants can tweet a vote for Best Refrigerator Art or Most Artistic postcard.

The team is competing against four other groups that are seeking to earn a Michigan Digital Newspaper Project grant: The L’Anse Area Schools/Baraga County Public Library, Leelanau Historical Society, MacDonald Public Library and Shelby Area District Library.

“Sterling Heights and Utica have such rich history, but we know not everyone has the time to sift through microfilm to find information about our past,” said Sterling Heights Library Director Tammy Turgeon. “By digitizing the Utica Sentinel, residents of all ages could easily access our history from a computer or tablet. Especially as our city gears up for its 50th anniversary in 2018, it would be wonderful for us to have the ability to showcase our history in this exciting way.”

To help gain votes, the Sterling Heights Public Library is hosting a postcard decorating party from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. Residents can decorate a Michigan-themed postcard.

A similar event is scheduled for Saturday at the Utica Public Library.

“This contest is a great opportunity for Utica and Sterling Heights to collaborate on a project that would serve both communities immensely,” Marsha Doege, director of the Utica Public Library, said in a statement.

The Sterling Heights Senior Center is also hosting an all-day postcard decorating day on Jan. 18.

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