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story.lead_photo.caption John Mertens is a native of Fulton and lived in Mexico, Missouri, after his family moved there when he was 7 years old. Photo by Quinn Wilson / Fulton Sun.

This column serves as a spotlight, highlighting the everyday people who work and live in Callaway County. The Fulton Sun takes a moment with someone who is not usually featured in the news, but is just as instrumental in making our community the strong and beautiful place we all know and love.

John Mertens was born in Fulton and grew up in Mexico, Missouri, after his family moved there when he was 7 years old. Mertens attended Westminster College. He currently works at the Fulton State Hospital as a forensic rehabilitation specialist.

Q. What was your first job?

A. I worked at my dad's rock quarry, Mertens Construction. I did that every summer since I was 12. I started out cleaning up, sweeping, cutting weeds and other general ground maintenance, and then I worked my way up to driving trucks. I basically made the place look better, which people don't usually appreciate, besides my dad.

Q. Who most inspires you (living or dead)?

A. "Inspires" is a hard one to think of, but if there's one person that I want to meet living or dead, it would be Douglas Adams. He wrote "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." He died when he was like 50 or something, which was way too early because he was a genius.

Q. What have you done in life that was most fulfilling?

A. This summer I shot a short film that I've been working a while to make. I'm still working on it now, but that actual filming (part) was very fulfilling. It's a psychological horror movie about a woman who has insomnia. She gets a sleep-hypnosis thing, and it kind of gets creepy from there.

Q. What is something you are proud of that you have been recognized for?

A. I placed second in a speech competition in high school. I gave a speech about aliens, and the person who won did his on voting, so he obviously won.

Q. What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?

A. Definitely movie making.

Q. What profession would you not like to do?

A. Working in a rock quarry for sure. After doing that I know I wouldn't want to do it. My dad doesn't do that anymore, so it's fine.

Q. What is something that nobody would be able to assume about you?

A. I don't know. You probably wouldn't know I was homeschooled, but I think if people talk to me for too long, they'll begin to realize I was.

Q. What is your favorite thing about Callaway County?

A. I really like how small it is. I like how you can park wherever you want. I like being able to walk places. The people are nice, even though there aren't too many of them.