Dunmorean of the Month: Bridget Walsh

Bridget Walsh recently received the Grant Burger Media Award in Division III Sports Information category. She is a Sports Information Graduate Assistant at King’s College, Wilkes-Barre. (Photo courtesy: Tom Weishaar/One More Shot Photography)

By Steve Svetovich

Bridget Walsh, 24, Dunmore, recently received the Grant Burger Media Award in Division III Sports Information category.

Daughter of Mike and Cathy Walsh, Dunmore, the Scranton Prep graduate is a King’s College Sports Information Graduate Assistant. She is scheduled to receive an M.S. in Sports Administrators this May from Canisius College, Buffalo, New York. 

Walsh received her B.S. in Communications Cum Laude in 2019 from DeSales University where she was a four-year member of the basketball team. She was a key player for the DeSales basketball team helping the squad to an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance as a senior.

She played four years of both basketball and softball at Scranton Prep. She was a Lackawanna League first-team Division I all-star in both sports as a senior and for softball as a sophomore. 

The Grant Burger Media Award is a national honor provided on an annual basis to an individual who has been involved in the advancement of the sport of volleyball through consistent coverage of all mediums. It is presented by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). 

Grant Burger was former Director of Sports Information and Associate Director of the AVCA from 1988 through 1992. 

King’s College head men’s volleyball coach Bernie Kachinko called Walsh “highly motivated, well rounded, very organized in taking pride at getting the job done right.” He said Walsh is “a winner who sets very high standards for herself.”

Walsh, during her assistantship, is in charge of media contact for both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams at King’s. 

With the women’s volleyball team, she helped promote a team with 21 wins. She assisted in promoting Becca Goldberg and Taylor Mueller, All-MAC Freedom Award winners, and also nominated two Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom Players of the Week.

She was the head contact for the inaugural varsity season of King’s College men’s volleyball. She helped promote five MAC Players of the Week before the season was halted due to COVID-19.

James Chagnon, King’s College Director of Sports Information, said there is no more deserving individual than Bridget Walsh. He added Walsh has become one of the leaders in coverage of college volleyball. He praised the Dunmore resident’s connection with student-athletes, adding she has a strong work ethic second to none and a bright future in sports information. 

Walsh was also a four-year student worker in the sports information department during her time at DeSales University. 

She became a graduate assistant in the sports information department at King’s College in the summer of 2019. And she has remained there since, covering home games of several sports and daily sports related events. 

“Three of us are department contacts for a handful of sports,” she said. “I have seven of them to cover. I do pre game reports, lineups, press releases, contacts for game day, game recaps, nominate players for honors and awards. And that is just a small aspect of the job. It is definitely a busy job and over 40 hours of work a week, but I love it. It’s a very big job. There is a lot involved. I love every second of it.

“I love being in sports information on the college level. My goal after graduation is to go full time into an assistant role in sports information and then move into a sports information director position on the college level. And then the goal down the road someday would be moving into a sports administration position.”

Walsh, while at DeSales, completed an internship in the sports department of The Scranton Times in the summer of 2017. She worked under Scranton Times sports editor Chris Imperiale and learned from the likes of Marty Myers, Joby Fawcett, Donnie Collins, Scott Walsh and other notable sports writers. “They are a great group of guys and I learned a lot,” she said.

“I even had the opportunity of doing a big feature on the Scranton Wilkes Barre RailRiders.”

The hard working graduate student said her parents have always been an inspiration. “Growing up, I was not always confident about choosing a career path,” she said. “But we grew up with sports and my parents knew I loved it. My dad loves Notre Dame and watches all the games. I was admiring the work of the Notre Dame sideline reporter, Alex Flanagan. My parents told me I can do that. And they made me believe it.

“Initially, I wanted to get into sports broadcast journalism and then I leaned towards print journalism. I found out it is not a wide open field now. I did an internship in sports information as a college junior and fell in love with it. So it all fell into place. But my mom and dad gave me the inspiration.

“My parents always taught me about hard work and dedication. Both were always extremely hard workers and they taught me that.”

Walsh said there is nothing like the experience of playing four years of college basketball. “It will always be one of the most memorable, rewarding experiences of my life. I made friends to last a lifetime. The teamwork skills you learn take you through life. The teammates you have create a special bond that lasts a lifetime. My dad came to every single one of my games.” 

Walsh is enjoying the contacts and friends she is making in the sports information world. “I have met so many people. I will be able to network when graduation comes along. I have learned so much and am enjoying every minute of it.”

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.”