Posted in Features


National Honor Society Induction

by Maralyn Fink

On Tuesday evening, I attended the Induction in the National Honor Society at St. Johns High School.

The membership is around 75-80 students, however 72 new students were inducted that evening.

There are qualifications to reach that goal. To be inducted the students are looked at as almost a college applicant. 18 hours of community service are one of the many requirements. Grades are looked at by an anonymous committee of teachers, beginning with the Freshman year. By Junior year there must be 3.5 grade average. Extra curricular activities are also noted.

The members of the teacher committee evaluate the student with the above things, and each student must have two to three letters of recommendation from teachers, employers or reputable adults. Last , the student needs to write a personal essay on why they should be a member.

There are 50,000 chapters of the NHS in the US. NHS has been in our school since 1932.

Many proud parents and family and friends were on hand for this event. Following the ceremony, refreshments were served which were my favorite thing, cookies.

I enjoyed meeting the students and talking with Mr. Stukey who is the Advisor. Congratulations to all the members on your achievement.

Now to the cookies; I always need one for the road.

Random Notes – When Scott finally received his Bronze Star

by Rhonda Dedyne [From February, 2002]

It’s fitting that Dennis Scott learned he had received a Bronze Star in the course of helping other local veterans check for their own service commendations.

After all, it was the same sort of unquestioned response Feb. 9, 1968, that helped save the lives of his fellow soldiers in Vietnam and earned him the prestigious medal of valor.

The fact that it took 33 years for the medal to arrive is of little consequence to the low-key and truly humble veteran.
“I was just trying to help some other local vets get their discharge papers updated and thought I’d apply for corrections on my own at the same time,” Scott says of the process that began this past June and resulted in his receipt of a ‘surprise’ package that included the Bronze Star.

“Through contacts with other veterans over the years, I had learned about a number of things my unit had received that weren’t part of my discharge papers – a Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry,” Scott says of the treasures the package contained – along with the unexpected Bronze Star.

“Obviously, I was very surprised – and very, very happy.”

While the veteran was content to keep the story about the decorations to himself, other members of VFW Post 4113 believed Scott deserved the formal recognition that goes with the award.

“I should have never told Dale (Brown) about it,” Scott says with a laugh.

State Senator Valde Garcia, Dennis Scott and wife Janet, and Rep. Scott Hummel

The formal ceremony this past week at the Posthome included remarks by State Sen. Valde Garcia and State Rep. Scott Hummel, along with the presentation of resolutions by the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Engler.

The combat action that led to Scott’s receipt of the Bronze Star and other citations was the result of a “routine” assignment that his unit undertook on a frequent basis. Scott was part of Armored Scout Division of the 2nd Squadron, First Cavalry Regiment during his tour ‘in country’ from August 1967 to July 1968.

Stationed near Pleiku in the Central Highlands, Scott’s division ran convoys during the day from the camp to the Mang Yang pass, Kon Tum and Dac To. After dark, units within the division had the assignment of patrolling roads and guarding key bridges which the North Vietnamese Army targeted for “removal.”

It was during a patrol like that 33 years ago that Scott and his unit of two armed personnel carriers and a tank located a contingent of NVA attempting to sneak in and blow a bridge.

“We discovered them before they were ready – and kicked their butt,” Scott says. “They didn’t get the bridge – and they didn’t get any of our people either.”

When the troop commander came out in the morning to survey the mission, Scott recalls him mentioning a “pending valor award” for the entire squad. At the time, the soldier had other things to occupy his mind and time with beside thinking about what sort of “valor award” that might be.

There was no mention of the award in Scott’s discharge papers, but again, given the circumstances and being anxious to return home, he didn’t question it at the time.

As it turned out, the valor award was the Bronze Star which had been added to Scott’s paperwork at a later date.
“It was there all along – I just didn’t know about it until I made the request to have my discharge papers updated when I was helping the other guys do theirs,” Scott says.

Like many veterans from the era, it remains difficult for Scott to talk with “civilians” about the war – but it’s never far from his mind.

“I think about it every day – some pretty serious things happened there,” he says, his usually smiling eyes dimmed by those memories.

He recalls what happened the week following his unit’s mission that saved the bridge and resulted in NVA casualties.
“Another unit from our division was set up at that same bridge – it got targeted for a mortar attack and two of our guys were killed,” Scott says of the “payback.”

While the horror of war remains seared in his mind, the sense of comradery and fellowship created among the men and women who served is a bright spot for Scott and all other Vietnam vets.

“In a way, I was fortunate because our whole unit trained together and shipped out together – that was pretty unusual at the time,” Scott says of the Armored Scout Infantry unit he was part of that advanced from basic training at Ft. Knox through jungle warfare training at Ft. Polk before shipping out from Ft. Hood.

“Training with the same guys for six or seven months, you knew how everyone would react – or not – when you were in a combat situation,” Scott says.

He keeps track of many of his comrades through a reunion association he helped organize in 1985 that is open to the entire division. The group meets bi-annually at various locations around the country, and keeps tabs on current happenings on veteran issues through a newsletter that Scott produces in both print and on-line versions,
Making sure veterans update their discharge papers is a key part of that information.

“It’s important that discharge papers are accurate and reflect the time of service,” Scott says, using his own recent experience as an example of additions and corrections that are often made to the documents after the initial discharge.

A Look Back – Clinton National Bank Post Office display

by Barry Clark Bauer

This photo was taken at Clinton National Bank in their Safe Deposit Department located inside the Walker Street entrance. The occasion was the opening of a display honoring the St. Johns Post Office

Postal worker Sonny Estes, a direct descendant of the first postmaster, George Estes, is joined by Postmaster George Osgood and the then Assistant Postmaster J.D. Robinson.

Benny and Jessie’s Pet Info – Nervous Dog? Your Behavior Might Be the Cause

What makes a dog nervous? Some dogs are very anxious and nervous to begin with, while others are nervous due to their owners being stressed and anxious themselves. The environment that a dog is raised in can have a tremendous impact on their behavior and how they handle stressful situations.

Dogs don’t understand why their owners are stressed, sad, or angry, but they will react in many different ways. Some will bark, some will try to hide, while others may whine or even become aggressive out of fear. Let’s take a look at how to better handle these situations when they come up in your home:

How to Properly Handle Nervous Energy

I come across nervous dogs on a daily basis, and most of the time it is the owner who needs to be calmed down, not the dog! The way pet parents handle themselves can have a direct impact on how their dogs react to their surroundings. For example, when an owner drops off her animal for a procedure such as a dental cleaning and she is nervous—talking fast and generally acting anxiously—this nervous energy is definitely coming along with the pet.

What we must realize is that dogs are very intuitive, and our body language alone can show stress without us even saying a word. They notice when our body tenses up, and rapid movements (like moving your hands quickly, shaking your leg, or being unable to stand still because you’re nervous) will catch their eye and let them know that something is wrong. Dogs can also sense stress or fear by using their keen sense of smell (they can detect when a person is sweating due to being anxious or afraid).

The best way to handle this situation is to try to calm yourself down and relax a little bit—sometimes easier said that done. In a veterinary office, your technician will likely try to help you do this by reassuring you that everything will be okay (listen to them!). Then, the technician will let your dog calm down, either by placing him or her in a cage or putting him or her in one of the exam rooms. This gives them time to relax and to realize that they are not going to be harmed. Dogs that feed off of their owners’ nervous energy can be dangerous, because once left alone with a technician or veterinarian (or groomer, dog-walker, etc.), they may become aggressive out of fear.

The simplest procedures, such as nail trims, can turn ugly fast if not approached properly. Some dogs are really good for their nail trims, while others have to be fed an entire bag of treats to get even one paw done. If the owners are present and they are stressed about their dog getting a nail trim, the dog will feel their nervous energy. It may work best for owners to step out of the exam room or have their dog taken to the treatment room to have his or her nails done. Most of the time, this will work and the dog will cooperate.

Creating the Right Environment

A veterinary hospital is already a frightening place to most dogs, so creating a relaxed environment with calm voices and quiet places for them to rest when they are hospitalized will help them properly handle their stress.

Owners can also work to create a calming environment at home, which will help keep their dog calm when going to the vet or another high-stress environment. Most stress for owners comes from the fact that their dog doesn’t listen and can quickly spiral out of their control. They don’t know how to approach the situation, so they have anxiety that they pass on to their dog.

If your dog has a hard time with commands, you need to change your training approach. Recognize the tone of voice that you use when training your dog and gauge their reaction to it. If you’re unable to adjust your training relationship with your dog on your own, bringing a trainer into the situation can do wonders. The trainer will show you how to properly train your dog. Training is important, as it lets our pets know that we are in control and that they are safe (and, therefore, have nothing to be nervous about). But you have to approach it in a way that will make your pet feel comfortable and safe.

When we have control of our own emotions, our pets will have better control as well. This is a behavior that needs to be learned through repetition. It takes patience as an owner to talk and act calmly around our animals, regardless of how frustrated we may become. The keys to dealing with a nervous dog are slow movements and talking to them to let them know you are on their side. In the end, if we learn to control our own stress and anxiety, our pets will be healthier and happier as a result.

Letters – Indivisible Michigan and Local prices for dog teeth cleaning

A Beginner’s Guide to the Resistance

I have never been a person I would consider to be politically involved. I have always had opinions. I have just never felt the need to express them beyond the dinner table. I have always let my vote be my voice.

Recent events in our nation have shaken me to the core. I have found that I can no longer sit idly by in good conscience and gripe amongst my friends The time has come for action.

Perhaps you, too, are thinking that it is time to do something; but you are at a loss for what that something should be. You are not alone. The problems facing our country are numerous. It is hard to know where to even begin the fight. Maybe you have wondered what you can contribute to the cause.

The first step is in examining what issues need your focus. There are a vast number of worthy causes that need voices. What are the top three you feel the most ardent about? What topics are you well-versed in?

The second is to look deep inside yourself and honestly evaluate the level of involvement you’re capable of committing. Can you call your representatives and vocalize your stance on important issues? Can you write letters or postcards? These actions may seem trivial, but your comments count. Literally. They count the number of people who call and write in for or against any legislation.

Are you searching for a group or groups of like-minded individuals to organize and align your resistance goals? You may be surprised to learn that you are not alone. Facebook is a great place to find these groups.

Are you willing to collect signatures for a petition? Are you interested in helping elect someone with shared values to office? There is plenty of work to be done, and opportunities are available for every skill set and comfort level.

Finally, just plug your nose and dive in. The only wrong choice is no choice. Do not let fear and indecision hold you back.

I am just one person. You are just one person. Together WE are a movement.

– Kateri Konik of Indivisible Michigan – 4th District South


Dog teeth cleaning prices

Why did you have an article on dogs teeth cleaning with a vet quoting prices on the east coast? $500 to $1000 for teeth cleaning is outrageous and could scare off people who want to get their dogs teeth cleaned.

I’d use a local source for quoting prices.

– Mary Enochs

Maralyn’s Pet Corner – The Science Behind Your Cat’s Scratchy Tongue

Anyone who has ever received a loving lick from a cat knows quite well that scratchy, sandpaper feeling. Recently, PBS explored the science behind the unique texture of a feline’s tongue—and it’s bound to fascinate every cat parent.

Researchers took a deeper look at the cat tongue, which is covered in tiny spines called papillae. “They’re made of keratin, just like human fingernails . . . The individual spines are even shaped like miniature cat claws with a very sharp end,” explained Georgia Tech researcher Alexis Noel. “They’re able to penetrate any sort of tangle or knot, and tease it apart.”

Noel took an interest in learning more about cat tongues when, as she told PBS, her family’s cat got his own tongue stuck on a blanket while he was grooming himself.

After that incident, she conducted her research by creating a 3D-printed cat tongue model. In her experiments, she dragged the tongue across a patch of fake fur, and discovered that a tongue was easier to clean when it went in the same direction as the papillae. The hairs would come off easily, as opposed to, say, a brush, which requires you to pull hairs out.

The most surprising thing the researchers found in their studies was “how flexible the cat tongue spines are when grooming,” Noel told petMD. “When the spine encounters a snag, the spine rotates and teases that tangle apart. We are also surprised to discover the unique shape of the cat tongue spines and their similarity to claws. Our 3D-printed cat tongue mimic helps us visualize the detangling mechanics between spine and fur at a much larger scale.”

The research also allowed Noel to figure out exactly why her family’s cat got stuck in the blanket. “Cats are used to grooming their own fur, which is secured at the hair root to their skin and free at the other end,” she described. “The microfiber blanket which Murphy licked was composed of small loops, where each thread was secured at both ends. When cats encounter a tangle in their own fur, their saliva and the spine flexibility helps to loosen and break any snag. I think Murphy was expecting that he could ‘groom’ the loops but couldn’t.”

Noel—who, along with fellow researchers, is currently studying bobcat and tiger tongues—noted that a cat’s tongue is a “multipurpose tool” that is used not only for grooming purposes but also eating. (She added that, like fingernails, the tips of the spines are slightly curved, and the keratin in them helps strengthen them for various uses.)

“The micro-spines on the tongue allow cats to clean their fur of unwanted scents (such as blood), redistribute protective oils, and remove any matting,” Noel said. “We hypothesize that the spines are uniquely shaped to penetrate muscle and tear chunks of meat, much like a cheese grater.”

So, the next time you see your cat grooming himself, other cats, or even you, remember that there’s not only a trust there, but also a downright amazing function.

Now and Then – Farewell to F.C. Mason Company

by Jean Martin

The majority of the F.C. Mason Company assets are now owned by Forge Resources Group (FRG). The change in ownership was finalized on December 30, 2016.

The F.C. Mason Company sprang from a blacksmith shop started on Spring Street at Railroad in 1898 by Frank C. Mason. Mason had come to St. Johns in 1888 and started to manufacture harrow and handle rake and harrow teeth. Eventually the company developed into a prosperous business with a plant valued at $20,000.

From that time until 1920 the company made cultivator points and sweeps, plow landsides, points, hand sleighs and other small items used as agricultural replacement parts. Twenty to thirty people were employed during the greater part of the year.

The first addition to the original blacksmith shop was made in 1908. This is the two-story brick building that housed the company offices. Part of it had to be rebuilt after the 1920 tornado that also demolished the original depot across the street. The new building measured 40 x 148 feet with brick walls and a tile roof. A wing 30 x 40 feet connected the south end of the building and the shop was 60 x 100 feet.

John T. Millman, who joined the company in 1915, was president before and after the firm was reorganized in 1920. W.V. Gay became secretary-treasurer. It was at that time that the firm started selling replacement parts wholesale. It also started manufacturing automobile frames until 1923.

Millman continued as president until 1938. He died in January, 1939. He was succeeded in August, 1939 by Calvin M. Rice who had the office until 1952. He was succeeded by C.M. Valentine who had been with the firm since the early 1930s. J.R. Pennell, the vice president under Valentine, joined the company in the early 1920s. W.V. Gay remain secretary-treasurer until is death in 1946. His son, Robert Gay, became associated with the company during the 1950s.

In the spring of 2012 the company moved from the Spring Street location to the vacant Federal-Mogul property. The Federal-Mogul plant had been shuttered in 2008 when the last of 600 employees at the plant site lost their jobs. At the time the Southfield based company, which manufactures automotive bearings, was in bankruptcy protection.

At the time of the move the F.C. Mason Company had 62 employees, and it expected to add the 40 additional employees over the next five years. Alas, it was not to be.