Posted in Features


Arts Around St. Johns – with an album

by Maralyn Fink

More color coming to downtown St. Johns. The City of St. Johns, MI, the DDA and the fire department have unleashed three wild artists to paint our downtown fire hydrants.

Mary Ablao from Studio Retreat is in charge of the hydrant at Clinton and Higham. Saralee Howard of The Art of Saralee Howard has Clinton and Walker, and Tracie Davis from Tiny by Design takes on the hydrant at Clinton and State.

They expect to have the hydrants finished for the Mint Festival this weekend, so come downtown and check them out!

They are striving to bring the arts here to St Johns through some art innovations called Creative Placement. They hope that people can enjoy working here, playing here and giving it a hometown feeling.

Random Notes: Ed Mikula: a man of many talents

by Rhonda Dedyne

It’s not unusual for an individual to receive recognition for accomplishments at work or with civic organizations. That’s certainly true for the late Ed Mikula. But, what is unique about “Mr. Ed,” – a gentleman with the friendly smile and helping hands – is the extent of his involvement in a wide range of endeavors that spanned a lifetime of service. A man of many talents, Mr. Ed was always ready, willing and able to share those gifts with people he’d known for decades and with new-found friends like a neighbor, Pam Novak-Smith. Her comments at the funeral service provide a good example of Ed’s giving attitude.

“If there is such a thing as a personality resume, Ed’s would not make the one page requirement,” she said. “After his long list of professional accomplishments and community service, I’d like to see written in boldface: “wonderful neighbor.” I’ll think lovingly of Ed’s patience, his unfailing courtesy, his role in the care of this planet and be grateful for his lasting influence on us all.”

As Pam noted, the list of organizations on Ed’s “personality resume” are many and varied, but a few stand out: St. Johns Lions Club, where he was instrumental in the Club beginning a community recycling program in 1978 and where he still volunteered on a regular basis; Briggs District Library Board of Directors for 19 years; St. Peter Lutheran Church where he served as an Elder and visited shut-ins up until the time of his passing; Friends of the Maple River Board of Directors, and Ducks Unlimited for 36 years where his artistic talents were on display in the variety of paintings he donated for DU fundraisers. An avid outdoorsman, Mr. Ed thoroughly enjoyed taking friends and relatives on hunting and fishing excursions, helping them understand and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.

Ed and fellow Lion, Roger Feeman, helped begin a recycling center in St. Johns.

The Lions Club Recycling Center is another way Ed demonstrated his respect for the earth. Roger Feeman, a long-time friend, hunting companion and fellow Lion recalls the early years at the Center. “Ed and I worked as a team, going to the drop-off site nearly every day to empty the recycling containers, grind glass and clean up the area,” he says, adding that his friend’s talents in writing and photography helped spread the word about the project and other Lion activities. “Ed was editor of the newsletter for more than 20 years, putting his skill in communication and photography to good use. He was a down-to-earth guy who was always interested in helping people.”

Similar comments come from Briggs District Library Director, Sara Morrison. “Mr. Ed was part of the team of individuals who were instrumental in relocating the library to its current location,” she says. “For 11 years he led the library as its Board President. Mr. Ed was a wonderful, compassionate, dedicated individual who always put others first. It was a pleasure to know him. He will be greatly missed.”

There’s no doubt that sentiment is shared by many, many people who will try to model the example of service that he demonstrated throughout the years – even to his final day. Ed passed away July 2, after helping set up and prepare the Lions Club concession trailer for July 4th events at the St. Johns City Park. The date is significant for another reason. His wife, Adelaide, passed away July 4, 1994.

Ducks Unliited benefited from Ed’s years of service to the organization.

“Dad retired in 1989 from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources after 39 years of service, and he took care of Mom for many years when she was ill with COPD,” a son, Chris, says about his father’s care and concern, noting that the family gathered for “Mr. Ed’s-almost-made-it-to-90” birthday that was August 7. “He was a wonderful role model for our family members, and we were happy to share him with others in our community.”

SJHS grad couples his ambition with passion

St. Johns High School graduate Jarrod Eaton became certain that health science was the right field for him after the earthquake in Nepal in April, 2015 literally shook the ground beneath his feet. Eaton was in the Asian country as the lone student to accompany several SVSU faculty in the Nepal aid efforts.

In the wake of the April, 2015 Nepal earthquake, Jarrod Eaton felt the world shake beneath his feet. Literally and figuratively.

Literally, the Saginaw Valley State University student was on the ground in the Asian nation — helping those affected by an initial earthquake that registered a whopping 7.9 on the Richter scale — when an aftershock that registered 6.7 rattled his world.

Figuratively, those ongoing tremors and the resulting damage he witnessed inspired Eaton to solidify his commitment to develop as a servant leader and help people whose health is in peril, as he did for those in Nepal.

“We saw a lot of roads cut off from fallen buildings in these highly-populated cities, where people were in need and the likelihood of the spread of disease was increased because of their isolation,” said Eaton, the lone SVSU student who accompanied a team of faculty from the university in helping the Nepal aid efforts.

“People were really struggling to control the spread of diseases. That really sparked my interest in the study of the spreading of diseases.”

He coupled his ambition with passion that fueled a remarkable two-year finish to an already-notable SVSU undergraduate experience that included his election as president of the student government body, Student Association, in 2015.

Eaton earned his bachelor’s degree in health science in May 2017, and plans to carry that momentum with him this fall to the University of Michigan School of Public Health. There, he will pursue a master’s degree in global health epidemiology en route to a career studying the spread of diseases.

Eaton already has earned international praise for his work.

In March 2017, he presented research at the 2nd World Congress on Public Health and Nutrition in Rome, Italy.? Eaton discussed his study on the contributing factors surrounding influenza vaccination rate disparities among college-aged populations. His project was titled, “Vaccination of Influenza on College Campuses: A study to identify the correlation of determinants on influenza vaccination rate disparities.”

James Collins, Ph.D., SVSU executive-in-residence for health sciences, served as the faculty mentor and adviser for Eaton’s study. Collins said it was unusual for an undergraduate to be invited to present at such an international conference.

“Jarrod had to compete with people in the public health field with professional and advanced degrees,” Collins said. “He wrote a fine summary of his proposed research.”

If it was unusual for an undergraduate to be invited once to present at an international conference, it was almost unimaginable for that same student to be invited to a second international conference to present on a completely different topic. Less than a month after the Rome trip, Eaton flew to London, England for the Student Global Leadership Conference.

Alongside Rene Hernandez, SVSU assistant professor of health sciences and one of the faculty members who joined him in Nepal, they discussed their relief work from two years earlier. The elapsed time has not dulled the images Eaton witnessed in the reeling nation.

“One of the hardest scenes was at a tent village we visited near the end of our week there,” he said. “We came across this girl whose school, we learned, had collapsed. Her friends and teachers had passed away. That was daunting to me; that these people lost everything. A lot of that was hard to grasp until I came back home.”

Before Nepal, Eaton had never traveled outside of the United States. SVSU provided the support that empowered him to travel across the ocean three times in the span of two years. The experiences helped him better appreciate his close relationships with professors, and the many opportunities SVSU offered him.

“My advice to students would be this: Never think you aren’t good enough to apply yourself, or that you aren’t experienced enough to engage in all the opportunities at SVSU,” Eaton said, “because maybe you are more qualified than you think you are.”

A Look Back – St. Johns Band

by Barry Clark Bauer

John Speck is going over the musical score from Romeo & Juliet with two members of the band.

John was also noted for being a CCW instructor. This photo was taken in 1971.

Letters – Soap Box Derby participant identified

The boy with the glasses is Steve Jacobus. He has been identified by his brother, Allen Jacobus. Steve currently lives in the Upper Peninsula in Pickford, Michigan. The family lived on North Ottawa at the time the photo was taken.

Glenn Schultz