Dunmorean of the Month: Betsy McGrath Ardizoni

By Steve Svetovich

Some individuals like to give back to the community.

Betsy McGrath Ardizoni wanted to do something to honor her late dad, Atty. Harry McGrath.

So she decided to run a golf tournament to honor him and also support programs for children at the YMCA in Dunmore.

She chaired the golf tournament, named after her late dad, this past May 21, to support programs at the local YMCA.

“My dad was just a huge part of the YMCA, so that is why I chose to help the programs there,” Betsy said.

The second annual Harry P. McGrath Memorial Golf Tournament and Celebration was held Friday, May 21, at Glen Oak Country Club. 

Proceeds went to benefit the Greater YMCA Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program through literacy instruction, enrichment activities and positive youth development opportunities. 

Harry P. McGrath

Betsy, 32, who lives her her husband Guy in Dunmore, is also development director at the Scranton Cultural Center. 

Her dad died in September of 2018. Her mom’s name is Joell. Betsy has three brothers: Harry, Bob and Joe.

“We held the golf tournament in his memory, but because of my dad’s connection throughout the years with the YMCA in Dunmore we decided to raise funds to help children get back on track in school. 

“The YMCA runs a six-week summer program that helps grade school children who have fallen behind get back on track for their next grade level.

“My dad was a lifetime member of the YMCA. As an attorney, he specialized in education law. He was a big supporter of children and education. He was a good man, with great values who led a good life. He also held the YMCA in high regard and was a big supporter of the programs there.”

Betsy said 144 people attended the golf event and over $45,000 was raised to support the YMCA summer program for the school age children.

“This money raised will help kids in school while also honoring my father’s legacy.”

Betsy said over 150 school age children have been served since the start of the program. 

The program currently serves incoming first, second and third graders in the Dunmore and Mid Valley School Districts.

“Our goal is to expand even more and offer the program to more school districts,” she said. 

“The goal regarding the program is to get a child’s reading level on track for the next grade level.”

Betsy graduated from Scranton High School in 2007 and Penn State in 2011 where she earned a bachelor of science degree in Labor and Employment Relations. 

She worked in marketing at the Wright Center for three and one-half years before taking the position as development director for the Scranton Cultural Center in January 2020. “I love my job there,” she said.

This McGrath family photo includes, from left: Michele McGrath, Bob McGrath, Joe McGrath, Harry McGrath Jr., Stephanie McGrath holding Ella, Betsy McGrath Ardizoni holding Maeve, Guy Ardizoni, and Joell McGrath holding Harry P. McGrath.

Her husband is a 2000 Dunmore graduate. The couple has a baby on the way, with Betsy expected to deliver this August. “We are so happy and can’t  wait for the baby to come,” she said.

Betsy, who was a cheerleader and played basketball in high school, said she is thrilled money raised from the golf tournament will help younger school age children. “My dad would have liked that since he was such a strong supporter of children and education. It is something he would fight for in his law practice. So in my dad’s name, we feel privileged to help out with this great YMCA program.”

Betsy is on the Board of Directors at the YMCA in Dunmore.

Committee members for the golf tournament included Betsy, Harry McGrath, Jr.; Bill McGrath, Janet Brier, Jeanie McGrath, Lorraine Perry, Matt Haggerty, Kelly Hadley, Chad Vinansky, Brian Loughney, YMCA Board President Bill Dempsey, CEO of the Greater YMCA Trish Fisher, YMCA staff member Robert Dubila and YMCA staff member Meghan Carnevale. 

The late Atty. Harry McGrath was a proud member of the Greater YMCA who specialized in education law, advocating for the rights of students, particularly those with special needs. It became his passion to improve the quality of education in Northeast PA.

The Greater Scranton YMCA is honored to host this annual event in his memory.

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: Jeff Mallas

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore’s Jeff Mallas and Penn State Scranton have gone hand in hand for the past 42 years.

Mallas, a 1971 Dunmore High graduate who lettered in track and football,, has been a major part of the athletic department at the Scranton Penn State campus, located on Ridgeview Drive, Dunmore, since 1979. 

He has served as athletic director since 2000. In 2018, Mallas received the prestigious Robert J. Scannell Roll of Honor Award at University Park. The honor is bestowed upon an athletics administrator, coach, faculty or staff member who has served Penn State Commonwealth Campus athletics, intramurals and recreation programs with distinction.

Below is an excerpt from Mallas’ nomination, submitted by athletic department staff at Scranton:

“If there is one person at Penn State Scranton who truly ‘Bleeds Blue and White’ it’s Athletic Director, Jeff Mallas.  As a 1975 graduate of Penn State University, Jeff has been a strong supporter of Penn State and athletics, serving the university through non-profit work, coaching, teaching, and administration.” 

He was the assistant athletic director under Joe Simoncelli from 1980 through 1999. “I learned a lot under Joe Simoncelli,” he said. “You learn from good people. He was my cross country coach and advisor when I attended Penn State Scranton as a freshman.”

Mallas is married 35 years to the former Karen Phillips. The couple has a son, Doug, a 2012 Penn State graduate who teaches biology at North Pocono High School. 

Mallas is credited with starting the baseball program at Penn State Scranton in 1981. He coached baseball at the Dunmore campus for 25 years. 

Penn State Scranton’s athletic director Jeff Mallas, center, is shown in 2018 receiving the Robert J. Scannell Honor Roll Award at University Park. Shown with him are Maureen Cooper, left, and Ryan Ehrie, right.

He named Dunmore graduate Dave Rubino, Dwayne Broad of Mid Valley and Kevin Yanul and Jerry Calpin of Scranton Tech as a few of his key players on the first Penn State Scranton baseball team in 1981. 

“Our home games were initially played at Schautz Stadium in Dunmore,” he said. “We used to practice at Weston Field. 

“In 1982 and 1983 I helped put our baseball field together at the school. Herb Rogers, the Penn State Scranton maintenance foreman at the time, did most of the work. He was the expert. I helped put the infield in. The Army Corps of Engineers did the landscaping.

“Of course our baseball field was totally renovated a few years ago and was named after Matt McGloin.

“Gino Tempesta of Dunmore, who still coaches baseball at North Pocono, helped me coach baseball for many years. He was great with the kids and a huge asset.” 

Mallas, always enthusiastic and an optimist when it comes to Penn State, also coached soccer for 20 years at the Dunmore campus. He ran a soccer camp at the local college for kids ages 7-13 for 16 years. He credits Dunmore’s Joe Baltrusaitis, who currently coaches soccer at the local campus, for his assistance helping him with the soccer program.

Penn State Scranton won a soccer championship in 1990 with Mallas at the helm.

Mallas has been involved with the Greater Scranton Penn State Alumni Chapter for the past 35 years. He has served as president for seven years, including the past five years.

 “We raise scholarships for students,” he said. “We invite  speakers from the State College main campus and had Joe Paterno five times for the event.”

Mallas played football under coach Lou Costanzo at Dunmore. “He made boys into men. He was tough, but a real gentleman off the field. He played football at Michigan State and was a great running back at Dunmore. What an honor to play for him. Our 1970 team went 7-2 and had some tremendous players.”

Mallas also ran track at Dunmore and played Legion baseball. Dunmore won the Lackawanna League track title in his senior year. 

He graduated from Penn State with a bachelor of science degree. in education in 1975 and went on to receive an M.Ed in Health and Physical Education from East Stroudsburg University in 1984. 

Mallas began coaching tennis and soccer at Penn State Scranton in 1979 and started a lengthy career teaching the physical education activity classes which he continues to do to this day. “I have been teaching activity classes at Penn State for 42 years.”

Well-rounded in  all sports, Mallas coached the Penn State Scranton bowling team, leading it to many championships.

As athletic director, Mallas is responsible for 11 men and women’s sports, including baseball, basketball, cross country, softball, soccer, golf and volleyball. He praised every single coach in all of the programs.

“You are only as good as your coaches and the people who surround you,” he said. “And we have great people. We have the best.”

He is credited with bringing women’s basketball back to the Dunmore campus in 2002.

“We try to get as many kids as possible involved in our sports programs,” he said. “We make sure they have a positive experience and graduate. We try to retain every kid.”

There are a little more than 1,000 students in the local college and 162 are active in sports. “That’s a better than 12 percent rate and that’s pretty good,” he said.

Vito Ruggiero, Dunmore borough manager, was recently named the new baseball coach at Penn State Scranton. 

Mallas said the local campus is looking to add tennis as a future sport.

The sports teams at the Dunmore campus participate in the Penn State University Athletic Conference, with championships played at University Park at State College. Title teams then go on to participate in the United States Athletic Conference playoffs.

Mallas credits Dr. Marwan Waffa, the school chancellor, for doing great things at the local campus. “I cannot say enough for what he has done and is doing,” he said. “He does so much for this community here.”

Well-versed, Mallas has also been a PIAA basketball and soccer official since the early 1990’s. 

He is assisted in his athletic director duties by Sara Rinkunas who coaches men and women’s cross country and serves as sports information director at the local college. 

“My life basically has been Penn State,” Mallas said. “And I love it.”