Posted in Features


St. Johns Grad’s Big Film Goal – Tuesday, September 19

Sam Coffman, a 1991 graduate of St. Johns High School, has always dreamed of being part of the entertainment industry. With his latest script and the right people on board, Sam is making that happen with his animated feature film, The Great Mystery.

Sam will be talking about his film in a special presentation in the Wilson Center Auditorium on Tuesday, September 19 at 7:30 p.m., giving people a chance to learn more about his project. Video will also be included during the event. There will be a Q & A session at the end of the presentation – there is no admission charge.

After networking in Los Angeles for over five years, Sam was recently able to set up a meeting with Stan Lee’s anime film and series producer to pitch his script. The producer loved the story and gave Coffman the green light to start creating pre-production media in October with her and the #1 animation studio in Japan.

“Stan Lee is an amazing American comic-book writer and executive producer,” says Coffman. “He is the genius behind Marvel Comics – including Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and Iron Man. It is huge to have his name affiliated with my film!”

“Sam always displayed a high level of creativity while in high school,” explains Bill Tennant, a former teacher at SJHS. “I particularly remember his fantastic performance in the 1991 State Championship winning musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – outstanding!”

Since graduating from high school, Sam pursued his creative interests in Kalamazoo and North Carolina, eventually ending up in Chicago for 10 years where he attended Northeastern Illinois University, graduating with a degree in Sociology.

While in Chicago, Sam was involved in a variety of creative experiences in the entertainment industry including work on a Keanu Reeves film, performing with various bands, and a stint with Chicago’s famed Second City.

Sam then headed to Japan where he spent 2 ½ years acting in a variety of films and TV shows, while also getting deeply involved in the production process itself. In 2012, he decided to take his creative momentum to Los Angeles where he booked several TV and film jobs – all the while working on his own film ideas and scripts.

“I’m glad that Sam has this fine opportunity to bring his wonderful script to the big screen,” says Tennant. “He has the talent – has worked hard through the years – this is the leap he has dreamed of!”

If you can’t make the presentation and would like additional information, please visit Sam’s website at

A Look Back – Phillips Implement Co.

by Barry Clark Bauer

Phillips Implement was located at 313 N. Lansing St. in St. Johns. This was later the location of Dennis Distributing.

Standing on the right next to this Oliver Tractor is the owner, Harold Phillips, in the middle is Bob Lange, and the guy on the left is identified.

Phillips Implement no longer exists and the building was recently torn down.

Benny and Jessie’s Pet Info – How to Stop Your Dog From Pulling on the Leash

We all have that friend, relative, or rival who walks their dog with expert leash-wielding skills. They aren’t being pulled down the block, tied ’round trees, or tangled up with the friendly neighbor dog who’s also out for an afternoon stroll. I don’t know about you, but I silently envy the person and pet that can walk side-by-side without breaking a sweat.

And I have to admit, good leash walking skills are important for more than just showing off your pet-parent talents.

“From a relationship perspective,” explains Sarah Fraser, a certified professional dog trainer and co-founder of Instinct Behavior & Training in New York City, “if your dog is walking nicely on a leash, it likely means that your dog is paying more attention to you, making it easier for you to provide direction and guidance as needed along your walk.”

A leash-puller can also run the risk of accidentally breaking away from your grip, which can pose multiple dangers to your pet if he or she continues to run, not to mention the danger for yourself if you end up face-first on the sidewalk. Having proper leash manners minimizes the risk that you will be pulled over in a moment of overzealous leash yanking and will make the time more about walking and less about tug-of-war.

“Teaching your dog to walk nicely on a leash allows you to take her more places and for longer walks, because it’s more comfortable and enjoyable for the both of you,” Fraser says.

Tips for Better Walking Behavior

Whether your dog is big or small, here are six ways to improve your dog’s behavior on a leash:

Adjust your attitude.

First, ask yourself: “What would I like him or her to do instead?” Instead of teaching a dog to stop pulling, think of it as teaching your dog how to walk nicely beside you.

Remember it’s all about the rewards.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to start teaching a dog to walk properly on a leash is to reward the dog for paying attention to you and for being in the desired position (next to you or close to you) when out for a walk.

“As the dog learns that walking next to you is a pleasant, rewarding experience, she’ll spend less time pulling and more time walking nicely beside you,” says Fraser. Try using very special treats in the beginning, like small pieces of boiled chicken or roast beef, to really get your dog’s attention, she advises.

Play the “follow me” game.

Hold on to your leash and take several backward steps away from your dog. The backward movement is inviting, so your dog is likely to turn and follow you. Say “yes!” as your dog approaches you, then immediately reward him or her with a treat.

“The game helps your dog focus and move with you,” says Fraser. Then back away several steps in another direction. Once again, says “yes!” as your dog approaches and reward him or her with a treat. Repeat this pattern eight to 12 times, until your dog is actively pursuing you when you move away.

Practice on your regular walks.

Once you’ve started your stride, each time your dog looks up at you or walks next to you, says “yes!” and immediately reward him or her with a treat.

Reward often.

“Frequent rewards will help your dog figure out more quickly what behavior you’re looking for and make the learning process easier for her,” Fraser explains.

“The trick to making this work is using very special treats at first, and keeping your rate of reinforcement high, which just means that you are marking and rewarding often — maybe every 4-5 steps at first — for any and all ‘good’ leash behavior.”

Over time, you can thin out your rate of reinforcement, rewarding your dog less frequently throughout the course of the walk, Fraser adds.

Consider additional assistance.

“If your dog is already a practiced puller, consider purchasing a quality front clip harness to provide extra control on walks,” Fraser recommends. But if your dog already pulls hard on a front clip harness, consider working with a certified, positive reinforcement-based trainer.

Finally, remember that walking on a leash is a skill that takes time and practice for both the pet parent and dog, so celebrate incremental improvements and successes.

Letters – Readers work out photo puzzle and a corn test

After reading last week’s A Look Back, several readers set about trying to identify the students in the photo.

I am starting to think the second boy from the back in the plaid pants is Scott Tiedt. I am also wondering if the girl in the plaid jacket behind Chrissy Dedyne is me. I can only see half of the face so I’m not sure.
– Barbie Downing Heibeck

The girls that I recognize are Chrissy Dedyne in the very front, Shelly Low on her bike, Lori Hogan, Dawn Bakita Dawn Bakita Mee, Cathy Feeman Fick and Kellie Kellie Bissell Seman. I think there are a couple of Ward and Fedewa boys.
– Melissa Martis Fowler

I see Cathy Feeman and Dawn Bakita on the right.
– Jamie Foster

I can remember lining up on this corner every morning of elementary school, unless of course, you were on Safety Patrol duty in 5th grade! Boys and girls always had to line up separately!!
– Kellie Bissell Seman

So in an effort to summarize

Chrissy Dedyne in the very front, Shelly Low on her bike, Lori Hogan, Dawn Bakita Mee, Cathy Feeman Fick and Kellie Bissell Seman


Carrollton Farmers Exchange in Carrollton Ohio has sent me pictures of a field split with their normal AgroLiquid Program and one with PrimAgro Products. The first picture was taken 30 days after planting the second one was taken 9-7-17. as Fred said; This stuff is awesome, that’s all I have to say!

Kurt Fisher
Sales Account Manager

Maralyn’s Pet Corner – Cat Hairball Problems?

Hairballs are the bane of cat ownership. These clumps of hair bond together in the stomach and then are vomited up in our shoes, carpets and floors. But are cat hairballs normal, and is there any way to prevent them in the first place? Let’s take a look.

Are Cat Hairballs Normal?

Technically speaking, cat hairballs are not normal. Cats have been grooming themselves for thousands of years and their digestive tracts are built to handle the hair that is inevitably swallowed. Hairballs should move through the digestive system and come out the other end. However, when this process goes awry, the hair can clump together in the stomach and does not pass into the intestinal tract. It causes enough irritation that a cat will usually vomit up the wad, and voila … you have a hairball.

When I’m presented with a cat that brings up the occasional hairball and absolutely everything else appears to be perfectly normal, I don’t initially recommend an exhaustive work-up (that would take gastrointestinal biopsies). I will perform a physical (looking for both GI problems and dermatological conditions that could increase shedding), run a fecal exam, and if I feel they’re warranted (or the owner wants to be especially thorough), recommend a comprehensive panel of blood work (including a check of thyroid levels) and a urinalysis.

Why Do Hairballs Occur?

Cat hairballs can occur for a few reasons, but the vast majority of cases can be attributed to:

1. Ingesting more hair than normal.

Skin diseases (e.g., external parasites, infections, and allergies) can all cause cats to shed and/or groom themselves excessively, which in turn may lead to hairball issues. Extreme grooming can also be associated with stress, boredom, compulsive behaviors, and concurrent illness that is seemingly unrelated to the skin or gastrointestinal system. For example, a cat with osteoarthritis may attempt to soothe herself by stimulating the release of pain-relieving endorphins through repetitive grooming behaviors.

2. Altered gastrointestinal motility.

When a cat’s gastrointestinal tract is not functioning correctly, it may not be able to process even a normal amount of hair in the way that it should. Hairballs can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease, internal parasites, pancreatitis, hernias, foreign bodies, cancers, and other potentially serious diseases.

What are the Best Ways to Prevent Cat Hairballs?

If your cat is having an issue with hairballs, consult a veterinarian. Assuming your cat’s veterinarian finds nothing unusual during an exam, the following is typically recommended:

1. Add fiber to the diet.

The bulk of additional dietary fiber essentially “sweeps” hair through the digestive tract, preventing it from clumping together in the stomach. Discuss with your veterinarian on the best method to add fiber to your cat’s diet. One option is to choose a diet specially formulated with soluble and insoluble fibers to increase digestive activity.

2. Changing diets to a formula with fewer potential allergens.

Gastrointestinal inflammation (often caused by food allergies and/or inflammatory bowel disease) is at the bottom of many chronic cases of hairballs. A prescription, hypoallergenic diet is ideal, but over-the-counter limited antigen foods can be tried as long as owners understand that if a cat’s response isn’t ideal, a more restrictive food trial will still be necessary.

3. Take on some of the grooming ritual yourself

Increasing the number of times per week the cat is brushed will help any of the above solutions work better since any hair that is removed during the brushing sessions are not swallowed by the cat.

As long as your cat is not losing weight or vomiting up hair more than once a week or so, feel free to try some or all of these recommendations before calling your veterinarian. But if they don’t work, it’s time to make an appointment. Your veterinarian can look closely for any health conditions that may be playing a role in the formation of hairballs and make appropriate treatment and dietary recommendations.