Dumoreans of the Month: Sherry’s Royalettes

Sherry’s Royalettes will conduct their spring recital on Friday, May 21. Group members include, first row from left: Mia Irving, graduating senior, and Miss Buck, Isabella Zeller. Second row, same order: Haylie Keating, Kylie Jezorwski, Danielle Decker and Julia Temperino.

By Steve Svetovich

Sherry’s Royalettes will celebrate “40 wonderful years” with its spring recital scheduled Friday, May 21, at Sherwood Park in Dunmore. 

“This year’s recital will be held outdoors,” said Sherry Rubino Nicolais, founder and director of Sherry’s Royalettes, Dunmore.

“It has certainly been a trying year and to remain safe and within CDC guidelines the park is the perfect setting for the recital.”

Nicolais is assisted by Nicole Pizzola. 

There are 35 members of Sherry’s Royalettes ranging from age three to 18. Senior members include Isabella Zeller, a graduating senior who is currently Miss Buck; Mia Irving, Haylie Keating, Kylie Jezorwski, Danielle Decker and Julia Temperino. 

This is actually the 41st year of the organization, but last year’s 40th celebration was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“By holding this outdoors,” said Nicolais, ” we will still be following CDC guidelines but members can invite parents and grandparents. Seating will be six feet apart, of course.

“The girls can showcase their twirling skills outside. There will even be fire baton twirlers.”

Nicolais said it was a tough year due to COVID. Sherry’s Royalettes went virtual for a time before meeting in person again. “Doing it virtually is not an easy thing,” said Nicolais. “It is just like being in school. Being in class with a teacher is much easier for learning.”

Initially at the onset of COVID, Sherry’s Royalettes went virtual with some classes, started back up last September and were shut down this past December due to the pandemic. The group started meeting in person again this past February. 

“We planned a big party and celebration last year, but it was cancelled due to COVID,” said Nicolais.

“We did have a short drive by with trophies last June outside of the Dunmore Community Center. We had cupcakes and balloons. That is about all we could do due to COVID. We followed the guidelines.” 

The group had always met at the Dunmore Community Center. However, the group was forced to stop meeting there due to the pandemic. “We were able to secure the Church of Good Shepherd on North Washington Avenue in Green Ridge,” said Nicolais. “We will stay and meet there as long as we have to. 

“We are very happy to celebrate 40 years. I actually started this 41 years ago. Many of our members have become Miss Buck. Some have gone on to become national champions. Many of our students have gone on to be very successful. One of my former male students, Derrek Lederer, is a men’s national champion and currently featured twirler at East Stroudsburg University.”

Nicolais was twirling instructor at Dunmore High School for 34 years, but resigned after the last twirling season to spend time with her two grandchildren, one a female toddler and the other a three-month-old baby girl, at State College. Her daughter Meredith Freeman, 28, resides at State College. She was once a twirler at Penn State.

Another daughter, Brittany Semion, 32, who twirled at Penn State, is an emergency room doctor in New York City and has been a front line health care worker throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Her youngest daughter Kayleigh Semion, 24, recently received her master’s degree from Penn State where she played on the varsity basketball team. She is a former Dunmore basketball All State and All Regional player. 

All three of her daughters were a part of Sherry’s Royalettes.

“We will follow strict CDC guidelines at our spring recital. We will all wear masks, be six feet apart and there will be temperature checks. But it will be a nice celebration with 40 wonderful years as the theme. And our members can have their parents and grandparents there.

“It has been so nice to see the many successes of our students over the past 40 years.” 

Dunmoreans of the Month: Josh Cantarella, John Keating & David Lopatka

Dunmoreans of the Month include, from left: Josh Cantarella, Shawn Keating, Dave Lopatka and John Keating of DJ2 Lawn Care in Dunmore.

By Steve Svetovich

Having a strong work ethic usually adds up to success.

Such is the case with three Dunmore teens, now young adults in their mid 20’s. 

John Keating, David Lopatka and Josh Cantarella, all members of the Dunmore High School Class of 2014, were three close friends looking to make spending money and save for college. They were sophomores at Dunmore when they decided to mow lawns for some extra cash. 

The teens eventually added trimming bushes, making flower beds and landscaping to their repertoire. 

It all started word of mouth in the Dunmore borough.

The boys were hard working, diligent and trustworthy and soon developed a good reputation adding more and more customers.

Son of Sue and Shawn Keating, John Keating, now 25 and a Penn State business administration graduate, eventually got his dad involved in the business.

“It has now evolved into a lawn care company that is owned and operated by my husband, son and my son’s two friends David and Josh,” said Sue Keating, Dunmore. 

“The business, before it was actually a business, was started by my son and his two friends when they were in the 10th grade at Dunmore. They began doing this for extra money. They started word of mouth in the borough. They worked tirelessly during the summer to make some extra cash for college and to just have some pocket money for themselves. 

“I watched my son and his two friends go out at 8 a.m, and work until dark doing a lot of labor intensive jobs. They never complained or gave up. 

“Eventually all three of these young men went away to college and my husband tried to help out by keeping the regular customers the boys did lawn work for. He got involved in doing the work as a way of helping them out. 

“After returning from college the boys decided this could be something bigger due to all of the inquiries for additional services. 

“After going over all the details they decided to file and apply for an L.L.C. They are now preparing for the upcoming season and are ready to go. 

“I have always been in awe of their work ethic. I saw them at 15 and 16 being so focused and determined to be successful. It is a rarity to see this type of hard work and determination at a young age. And they are all college graduates today.”

Her son John Keating works as a logistics analyst for Leidos. He is a former Eagle Scout with Dunmore Troop No. 66. He has a B.S. degree from the Penn State Smeal College of Business.

Lopatka, 25, is an accountant for Baker and Tilly, Wilkes Barre. He earned an M.B.A. from Bloomsburg University.

Cantarella, 24, has a B.S. degree in marketing from Penn State. He is an insurance auditor for Guard Insurance, Wilkes Barre. He was a member of the Blue Band at Penn State. 

The young men over the years added an assortment of equipment they utilize for their landscaping work.

Access NEPA named the business the best landscaping business in the area for 2020. The business obtained its L.L.C. in 2020. 

“I saw them trimming bushes and doing landscaping work week after week after school and on weekends throughout college,” Sue Keating said. 

“I am very proud of these three young men. They are so hard working. It is very impressive. They added equipment and really enjoy the work. Now my husband is involved in the business with them.

“Even though they are all college graduates and have regular jobs, they still love doing this. They came a long way in the past 10 years.” 

Dunmorean of the Month: Samantha Czankner

By Steve Svetovich

Chocolate anyone? Ask Samantha Czankner. 

Czankner took an idea she derived from her late grandparents and ran with it.

Remember when Lou and Florence Perrella ran the Dunmore Candy Kitchen?

Czankner certainly does.  She was the little child in the back helping her grandparents make the chocolate candy. The Dunmore graduate is 30 now and decided to take on a mini version of the family tradition.

She runs a candy business – Candy Lollipops and More – from her home. She started in 2018 and her little candy operation took off.

“I came up with the idea for this after making chocolates for family birthday parties and events'” she said. “I remember watching my grandparents make candy. I helped out a bit and knew I could do it. So I thought why not?”

Czankner has a Facebook page – Candy Lollipops and More – and a web site listed on the page. 

Her candy products include chocolate lollipops, solid chocolate pieces, peanut butter cups, peanut butter meltaways, Oreo balls, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered pretzel logs, chocolate covered mini pretzels, cake pops, chocolate covered Rice Krispy treats, chocolate covered Swedish Fish, chocolate covered Oreos, chocolate covered chips, chocolate covered marshmallows, Buckeyes, non perils, white and dark chocolate and candy trays starting at $20.

The Dunmore candy maker markets her products through Facebook, her web site and word of mouth. Many of her regular customers live in Dunmore and surrounding areas. 

Orders can be placed by calling 570-691-9516 or via Facebook. Pickup is in Dunmore or free delivery within 10 miles.

There are Easter eggs and Easter candy bouquets available to order. 

Lucky Charms green cocoa bombs and green mint hot cocoa bombs will be available for Saint Patrick’s Day. 

Special orders were taken recently for Valentine’s Day. “I had 55 customers for Valentine’s Day. One came in from Philadelphia to pick up an order.” 

The Dunmore Candy Kitchen, still in operation, was established in 1904 by Jimmy Veras. 

The Dunmore Candy Kitchen was taken over in the early 1960’s by Czankner’s late grandfather Lou Perrella, a long time store employee. Perrella and his wife Florence ran the Dunmore Candy Kitchen for four decades until his passing Nov. 4, 2000.

However, his wife Florence ran it for a short time until she passed and it turned over to Charles Perrella who ran it for two years until 2009. 

Laura Reauther is the current owner of the Dunmore landmark located near Dunmore corners on Drinker Street. She continues to,operate it as the Dunmore Candy Kitchen, still extremely popular and reputable. 

“So there was quite a candy tradition there and I picked up some of the candy making ideas as a young child,” said Czankner.

The young candy maker said she operates out of her home on Somers Street in Dunmore.

“I usually sell by the pound and the prices are kept very reasonable for the customers. I have one helper, but do most of the candy making myself.

“Things really started to pick up when the COVID-19 pandemic began. COVID certainly made us busier. We made over 700 Oreo bombs for Christmas alone.

“I started out making lollipops for family parties and graduation parties. My grandfather made all kinds of chocolate candy, so the thought was I could too.

“Right now I am doing it out of my home, but I am thinking someday a candy store would be nice. The Dunmore Candy Kitchen has been in operation well over 100 years, so my grandparents had the right idea.”

Czankner, very personable, is a 2009 Dunmore graduate. She received an associate’s degree in criminal justice in 2011 from ITT, a technical school. 

She currently works for Keystone Community Resources. 

“I would like to open a candy store in time,” she said. “The public seems to love it and I tell them I am doing what my grandfather did. I am carrying on his tradition. He would have loved this.”