Dunmorean of the Month: Jim Barrett

By Steve Svetovich

Jim Barrett, 71, has been involved in the trucking business as long as he can remember.

The Dunmore native graduated from Scranton Prep in 1969 and the University of Scranton in 1973.

A couple years later he began working for Fowler and Williams, Scranton, before deciding to venture into his own business.

He and his wife, the former Debra Fowler, formed Road Scholar Transport in 1988. The business is located at 130 Monahan Ave., Dunmore.

Road Scholar Transport has grown into a large asset based carrier serving the Truckload LTL and specialty service needs of businesses in the northeast and mid Atlantic United States.

Over the past 34 years, the business has grown from one owner operator to a fleet of over 105 tractors, 300 trailers and 65 refrigerated units. The technology and methods evolved over the years, but the mission is the same.

“We approach every customer and every customer’s customer with the same dignity, respect and professionalism we would afford our own family. We employ only experienced drivers who are always uniformed, clean-cut and courteous.”

Road Scholar Transport combines its experience and culture with its Northeast and Mid-Atlantic footprints and is always considered to be a local trucking company.

Barrett said he thought of the company’s eventual name while traveling through Philadelphia. “I wanted to put a positive spin on it,” he said. “I came up with the name and called my wife. She agreed to it.”

Barrett and his wife started with very little and gradually built up the business.

“I learned how to drive a truck and I liked it,” Barrett said. “So I decided to start my own business.”

Barrett said the purpose of the company is to provide first class transportation products and creative solutions while delighting the traditional and digital customer.

Road Scholar Transport is a carrier with vast pharmaceutical transportation experience and a complete understanding of the regulations, security protocols and equipment requirements.

Charity work as part of an “Awareness Campaign” is also a part of Road Scholar Transport. “We don’t only deliver freight, but we deliver awareness,” said Barrett.

It all started with the pink tractor trailer.

Barrett was unable to attend a walk with his family to support breast cancer, so he promised them he would do something “big” to make up for it.

A week later, a pink trailer rolled into his business lot. It was the birth of a program to partner with organizations and customers to raise awareness with “rolling billboards” on trucks for dozens of affiliations, groups and causes.

Barrett has a particular fondness for children’s causes. Road Scholar Transport created a truck to promote the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation. The goal each year is to support as many children and families as possible.

A single awareness trailer on the road receives between 30,000 to 80,000 impressions in a single day, said Barrett.

Road Scholar Transport’s temperature controlled trucks also provide high security shipping, food grade transport, beer and liquor transport, hazmat and chemical transport, storage trailer rental, expedited and emergency shipping, dimensional freight, cross docking, warehousing, and Road Scholar relay.

“We have 170 temperature controlled trailers, 350 van trailers, and run 125 tractors,” said Barrett. “We operate in 12 states.”

There are 55 “decorated” tractors used for the Awareness Campaign.

“We do it to spread awareness to the less fortunate and for different causes, especially for children,” said Barrett.

Barrett and his wife have four children: Mary Beth, 47; Kathie, 44; Bridget, 43; and Matthew, 40. All of the children work in the business.

The couple has eight grandchildren.

“I love what I do,” said Barrett. “It’s a tidal business. There is an incoming tide and an outgoing tide.

“I don’t look at it as work. When things are going well, it’s addictive.”

Dunmorean of the Month: Gianna Muracco

By Steve Svetovich

Fitness is the name of the game for Dunmore School District health and physical education teacher Gianna Muracco.

Daughter of Joe and Jean Muracco, Dunmore, Gianna, 34, competes in multiple half marathons and numerous triathlons which she wins or places in her age group almost every time.

Last year Gianna was voted best Zumba instructor in Northeast PA through a public vote in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

She is currently a local Zumba instructor and cycling instructor.,

Gianna is head girls’ varsity track coach for the Dunmore Lady Bucks. She teaches health and physical education at Dunmore Elementary School for grades kindergarten through sixth and health education to the seventh grade in the school district.

As a student at Dunmore, she was a member of the track and field team, both as a runner and javelin thrower. She was also a member of the swimming team. She made districts in both sports all four years.

She has been a Zumba instructor for 13 years and cycling instructor for nine years.

The Dunmore graduate received a bachelor of science degree in health and physical education from Marywood University in 2011. She received a master’s degree in secondary education K-12 from Marywood in 2013.

Gianna also teaches hot yoga and strength training. She started teaching cycling nine years ago at Studio LA and now at E Mobile Gym, Dunmore.

“I love being a school teacher,” she said. “It’s inspiring. I’m very passionate about it. I tell kids they can do anything. You can do a lot of things well. You don’t have to be great at everything. You just start with little steps and little goals. I can teach Zumba in school and the students connect with it.

“It’s a roller coaster ride. I believe in building both mental and physical strength. You need determination in life.”

Gianna made nationals twice in her age group in triathlons which she started competing in beginning in 2017. She also competes in sprint triathlons,

Gianna said she lives her life with fitness as her mantra. “I believe in determination and building strength and endurance. I try to get better and faster. I am super competitive. Running relieves stress and keeps you in shape mentally and physically. It has come naturally to me. I try to push myself beyond my limits and build up endurance.”

Confident and highly energetic, Gianna said she has been a member of Scranton Ballet Theatre since age four.

“I’ve been dancing my whole life,” she said.

Gianna’s strong beliefs in fitness help her see the world. As a Zumba instructor, she has traveled the world teaching. She has taught Zumba for audiences of as many 500 people.

“I travel the world doing events,” she said. “I have the time in the summer months when not teaching in school. I love teaching Zumba. I love Latin music. I just love the beats and different cultures and backgrounds.

“Zumba has made me a more multi-cultural person. Now I have multiple diversities.”

Gianna most recently placed first in a triathlon in Hazleton. She placed sixth in her age group recently in Lancaster. She places in the top five percent of all the half marathons she competes in. She ran in several 5K marathons and placed in all of them.

Gianna has been the Dunmore girls’ track and field coach for the past five years after serving four years as an assistant.

If you meet Gianna when she is not teaching, it will most likely be during or after a workout. “I love working out,” she said.

“I work out all the time.”

Dunmorean of the Month: The late “King Joe” Amendolaro

By Steve Svetovich

If you grew up in Dunmore, you knew King Joe.

He is a Dunmore legend.

“King Joe” Amendolaro died this past July 29 at 94.

For decades, he ran a mom and pop store at three different Drinker Street locations in Dunmore.

King Joe earned numerous weightlifting titles on the world stage.

He helped countless Dunmore football players with strengthening and weight lifting programs for about three decades in his basic Drinker Street gym.

His family helped him run the store. And that was 365 days a year. That meant Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and the Fourth of July.

He was open every single day for his customers. Just in case they needed anything.

The third and final location of the business was at 622-624 E. Drinker St., Dunmore. King Joe occupied that location from 1971 through 1995, but was in business since 1954.

“The large gamut of inventory in the 2,400 square feet came to be because if a customer asked for something my dad didn’t have, he told them he would do his best to get it,” said his son Joe.

The cross section of inventory you could purchase at King Joe’s included aspergum,.22 bullets, Gravy Train dog food, Progresso soup, Sports Illustrated, spools of yarn, a dozen eggs, gallon of milk, Parodi cigars, packs of Marlboros, Hershey’s ice cream bars, bags of coal, cases of water, blocks of ice, Matchbox cars, boxes of Life cereal, shoelaces, a watch battery, Oscar Mayer hot dogs, a road flare, Tastykakes, get-well cards, bottles of Pepsi, a key made, baby formula, Silence is Golden cough syrup, pieces of Profera’s pizza, a plastic model of a 1970 Chevy Camaro, or even developing for your Kodak Instamatic pictures.

If you needed it, King Joe had it.

“My brother Tony is fond of telling the story about when a customer came in looking for a pair of drum sticks for a drum kit,” recalls his son Joe. “My dad bought a drum kit for one of us at Christmas. My dad wasn’t sure, but he came back behind the counter, rummaged through all the stuff and, sure enough, came up with a pair of drum sticks. When asked how much he was going to charge for them, my dad told the customer, “‘How can I charge for something I didn’t know I had?'”

His son Joe shared another story.

“Dad had a doll of a newborn baby wrapped in a blanket hidden behind the counter. If a toddler was acting up in the store, he would go behind the counter and start making sounds of a crying newborn. As he came out from behind the counter, he would lift his head from the doll, look at the child and say, ‘Shhh, you will wake the baby.’ The toddler would then become silent. It worked every time.”

King Joe was often misunderstood for promoting healthy living and exercise, but he did not want people to miss the opportunity or privilege of being well.

He had his rituals.

“On a Friday or Saturday night during the summer,” his son said, “after we closed the store at midnight, Dad would grab a creamsickle out of the ice cream freezer and tell my brother and me to throw the the ice tongs in the cab and we would drive to Moosic in a truck to a place that made block ice.

“The keys and access were at the rear of the building for after-hours business. Stored inside and upright were nearly 300 pound cakes of ice at five-feet tall. We would take at least a dozen with the help of a hydraulic platform and load them on the truck.

“Through the honor system, dad would slide the cash or check in a slot in a wooden box. To stop melting, we would cover the ice with a tarp and hope the wooden planks and cinder blocks on top would keep it from blowing away.

“When we got to the top of Drinker Street, we would hear the water dripping off the back of the truck. It was a reminder we were working against the clock. Once we got there at 1 a.m, someone would be in the truck cutting the blocks into manageable pieces. Another would take the blocks to the door of the ice house. And someone else would be hunched over inside in charge of storage.

“The three of us loved it and whoever came along made it that much more special.

“We would sell the ice in denominations of 25 pounds and had a crusher on the dock if the customer wanted it so.

“My dad always put on a clinic in customer satisfaction.”

King Joe was raised in Dunmore and left school in the 10th grade because he had to help his immigrant dad with his business, the Gold Medal Bakery in Scranton. He had to help out on the baker truck. King Joe’s dad had one leg and raised six kids on his own during the Depression after his wife died. King Joe was only 11 when his mom died. His parents were from Italy.

King Joe enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Alaska for two years before coming back to Dunmore and beginning his lifelong business ventures.

King Joe’s originated in 1956 as a general store/newsstand.

At the final location, King Joe had a gym in the back of the store where Dunmore football players were welcome to lift weights and train. He would bring thermoses of juice for the Dunmore football team to drink at halftime during home games. He filled up Dixie cups of juice for each player as he promoted healthy hydration. He showed Dunmore football players the benefits of Olympic weigh-lifting as opposed to power-lifting.

“He had great pride in football and Dunmore High School,” his son said.

King Joe is survived by his wife of 61 years, the former Annette “Tootsie” Scartelli, and his sons Joe, 61, and Tony, 59, both graduates of Scranton Prep.