Dunmorean of the Month: Mike Judge

By Steve Svetovich

Mike “Didge” Judge is the kind of guy who loves getting up and going to work everyday.

And the Borough of Dunmore and its people are lucky for that.

A Dunmore DPW employee for 34 years and head of the department for the past 20, Didge is diligently at work everyday at 6 a.m. 

He has 25 full time DPW employees under him and they all share his work ethic. 

“I love Dunmore,” he said. “I don’t mind doing what I do for a living. In fact, I love it. Not too many people can say that about their job. My day flies by because I love my job.

“I like to stay involved as much as possible and help the people of Dunmore. I love helping people, especially in this town. Our DPW employees are all like that. We try to make Dunmore a great place to live. And it is.”

Judge said his department has been following all COVID precautions right from the get go. “We do not go into the building other than to punch in and punch out,” he said. “We go right to our trucks. We don’t even use the lunch room. We stay out of the building as much as possible. We sanitize the trucks, wear masks, wash our hands and follow all COVID precautions. It has certainly been a different kind of year.

“Not one member of our crew has contacted COVID or been sick all year. And I run the garbage collection too. I can’t believe through all of this that no one has been sick, but that is a good thing.”

Didge said the DPW crew will be busy decorating all of the poles at and around Dunmore corners with Christmas lights and decorations Friday and Saturday, Dec. 4 and 5. A new Christmas tree with lights will be placed by the clock at Dunmore Corners, he added. 

“It’s going to look real nice,” he said.

Didge said the Dunmore DPW department is already prepared for the winter season. “We have seven trucks filled with salt ready to go,” he said. “Plus we have a full barn with 500 tons of salt in the DPW building. 

“We already had a trial run one morning last month at the higher elevations like Mount Margaret and the Boulevard. We are set and ready to go for the winter.”

Didge, 63, a 1975 Dunmore graduate, is married to the former Lisa Coccicci. His wife is a Valley View graduate. The couple has three boys: Michael, 28, a heavy equipment operator for the Lackawanna County Roads and Bridges Department; Patrick, 25, and Robert, 23, both full time employees for the Dunmore DPW. 

“My boys and I are in the same line of work and two of them work for me,” said Didge. “We all like helping the public and doing what we do.” 

Judge worked for almost 15 years at RCA in the Keystone Industrial Park prior to going full time with the Dunmore DPW department. 

“I’ve had only two full time jobs my whole life and loved them both,” Didge said. “I guess I’ve been pretty lucky.” 

Well known and highly respected in Dunmore Borough, Didge is looking forward to continuing to serve the public.

“We have a great DPW crew here in Dunmore,” Judge said. “It makes it easy coming to work everyday at 6 a.m. The guys do a great job and like what they do for a living. I can’t wait to get up and go to work everyday.” 

Dunmorean of the Month: LeeAnn Perry

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore native LeeAnn Perry always knew she wanted to help children.

That is her primary motivation in life. 

And soon she will be opening up her third children’s learning center.

LeeAnn, 51, a 1987 Dunmore High School graduate, received a bachelor of science degree in early childhood education from Keystone College in 2008 and then earned a Pennsylvania Director’s Credential. She is working towards a master’s degree in education. 

She is currently the owner of Perry’s Academy of Learning Centers, located at both 104 and 114 Prospect St., Dunmore.

And she is about to own and operate a third Perry’s Academy of Learning Center at the site where Heil’s Place used to be located, on the corner of Wheeler Avenue and Ash Street, Scranton.

LeeAnn bought the building, had it torn down, and will build on the site through the help of her husband John, a prominent Dunmore contractor. 

“We hope to break ground on the site of the 5,000 square foot facility next year,” she said. 

LeeAnn used to work for the Dunmore School District, but always knew she wanted to work with children so she started a day care center at home and it built from there. Today there is a long waiting list for her two current centers.

“She is busy operating two centers on the same street and soon will be operating a third where Heil’s Place used to be,” said Valerie Amico, Dunmore. “She is well known in the community and has a waiting list.

“There is so much to say about this wonderful, petite, giving lady.”

LeeAnn and her husband John have three children: Marla Decker, R.N., 33, married to Dr. Robert Decker, MD; Dr. Taylor Perry, D.C., married to Dr. Jack McWilliams, D.C.; and John Perry, 23, a recent University of Scranton Business Management graduate who now works for his dad’s contracting business. 

The couple has two grandchildren: Robbie, 4, and Olivia, 2, children of Marla and Robert Decker.

“I always loved children, so I decided to start a day care center at my house,” said LeeAnn. “Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to work with young children. I knew this is what I wanted, so I did it. Eventually, it grew and continued to grow.

“I do a lot of the front end work now. I have a great staff of 28. We make sure everything is running well and above standards. The classrooms and curriculum are always updated and we employ administrative directors.”

LeeAnn worked as a classroom assistant for special education in the Dunmore School District while attending Keystone in a Weekender program. “I was working full time, managing a family and going to school on weekends,” she said. “It was hard, but I did it. I was 38 when I graduated. It was well worth it.”

LeeAnn said she enjoys cooking and running in her spare time. “I love to cook,” she said. “It is very relaxing for me.”

She tries to give back to the community by serving children. “We try to keep it personal with the families.”

LeeAnn said she might not stop yet with a third learning center in the making. “Who knows? We might keep going after we get the third center running.”

And it is the children who keep her motivated.

“Children are healers,” she said. “The laughter of children is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.” 

Dunmorean of the Month: Robert Mancuso

Robert J.Mancuso, a life-long and third generation Dunmorean, is the epitome of Dunmore Pride.

His late grandfather Bruno Mancuso settled in Dunmore from Nicastro, Italy in the late 1800’s and was a master tailor at the former Bonds Sportwear, Scranton.  

His late father Ralph, a graduate of Dunmore High School, was a civil engineer and built numerous buildings throughout Northeastern PA, including several classroom/dormitory buildings at the University of Scranton.  

His sons, both graduates of Dunmore High School, excelled in both the classroom and football field/basketball court.  His oldest son Bobby graduated from Colgate University with a bachelor of arts degree in Economics where he was a four-year member of the football team.  Bobby also graduated with an MBA in Finance from the University of Scranton and a Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University School of Law.  He is currently a Partner in the New York City Office of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP. 

His youngest son Rick graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a bachelor of science degree. in Computer Science & Engineering He was a member of the football team and set numerous quarterback school records that still stand today.  

Rick also graduated with a Master of Science in Software Engineering from the University of Scranton.  He is currently a Senior Software Engineer at EA Sports, Tiburon Florida Studio, where he develops the Madden NFL game.

Bob himself is a 1975 graduate of Dunmore High School where he was an outstanding All-Regional basketball player on several District Championship teams.  He also participated in baseball while in high school and played two years of college basketball before a career-ending injury ended his college playing days.  

He then graduated with a bachelor of science degree. & MBA in Accounting from the University of Scranton and the BAI Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He is currently the Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Wayne Bank, a $1.9 billion regional Community Bank with 31 offices throughout Northeastern PA, Southern New York Catskills, Cooperstown New York Region and the New York Finger Lakes Region.

For the past 43 years, Bob is proud to have provided banking services to the Dunmore community, as well as his years coaching at the Dunmore Little League/Dunmore Biddy Basketball and serving as treasurer for the Dunmore Biddy Basketball Program.

In addition to his parents and wife Lorraine, Bob credits his Dunmore upbringing and the education and athletics from the Dunmore School District for the excellent academic and career preparation for not only himself, but his father and sons who are all graduates of the Dunmore School District.

To say Bob is Dunmore Proud would be an understatement.