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.” 

Athlete of the Month: Maddie Healey

By Steve Svetovich

Work harder than your competition. 

That is how you become an All Regional swimmer three years in a row.

Dunmore senior swimmer Maddie Healey is that swimmer. 

Daughter of Georgia and Joseph Healey, Dunmore, Maddie, 17, had the top qualifying time in the 100-yard backstroke with her school record (58.58) and seeded fourth in the 200 free (2:02:14), but could not compete in the post season due to a shutdown of athletics at school because of COVID-19. 

Maddie was expected to compete at a high level in districts and state competition, so the shutdown was a disappointment. 

However, she was honored with her third consecutive All Regional selection. 

She will attend Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York in the fall on a scholarship. She will study chemistry and be a member of the swimming team at Marist College.

“I’m excited about it,” Maddie said. “I am excited to see what the next four years will bring. I will see if all of my hard work pays off.

“I can’t wait to be a part of the swimming team there. Chemistry is a broad major. I am not sure what I will eventually do with it, but it is a strong academic major and it will provide me with a range of decisions.”

Well spoken and personable, Maddie has a 3.65 grade point average at Dunmore. Not surprisingly, her best and favorite academic subject is chemistry. She is a member of the National Honor Society. 

Maddie said her parents teach her a lot. “They teach me to always work very hard and respect my elders.”

The senior stalwart swimmer said she likes listening to music in her spare time and would like to see Post Malone in concert.

She talked about what it takes to be a good swimmer.

“It takes a lot of hard work. There is a lot of talent out there, but you need to put in the work and out work the competition. 

“You need to work harder than anyone else.”

Maddie is a four-year member of the Dunmore swimming team. She has been swimming competitively since age 11 in the Dunmore Middle School. She is also a member of the Dunmore cross country team. She has been participating in cross country since seventh grade and was named “Runner of the Year” at Dunmore the past four years.

She was named MVP of the Dunmore swimming team the past three years.

Maddie this past February scored the 1,000th point of her career as a swimmer. With a time of 58.58 seconds, she broke the school backstroke record set by Coleen Brown in 2019. The previous record was 01.01.03. 

“It was an incredible feeling,” she said. 

Maddie said she and her teammates were heartbroken when a COVID-19 outbreak cancelled Dunmore’s post season.,”All of our hard work was just taken away from us. We were all heartbroken. We were so much looking forward to it.”

Last year the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the state playoffs for Dunmore. Maddie had placed fourth in the 200 freestyle and third in the 500 freestyle in districts as a junior.

Her swimming coach at Dunmore is John Andreoli. “He teaches us a lot of life lessons,” Maddie said. “He tells us to always be there for each other and the team is most important.”

The articulate, hard working senior talked about what it takes to excel as a swimmer.

“You need to dedicate yourself to swimming and put in the time. You need to work hard in and out of the pool. You need to work on both your training and diet. Diet and eating the right food is a big factor. Plus your training out of the pool is a big aspect of it.”

Maddie talked about her Dunmore experience. “Well, due to the COVID pandemic the past year and a half is not what I expected. None of us did. But it has been a great four years to be a part of Dunmore High School and the swimming team. Dunmore is a great school. We are all obviously disappointed in not being able to compete in the post season. I am looking forward to attending Marist in the fall.” 

Doin’ Dunmore: Gary Duncan Named PA Council on Aging Chairman

By Steve Svetovich

Gary Duncan, 68, is not afraid of challenges.

Last month the Dunmore resident took on one of his biggest challenges as he was made the new Chairman of the Pennsylvania Council on Aging.

During a recent symposium, he followed Governor Thomas Wolf and Secretary of Aging Robert Torres in opening remarks.

Not too shabby.

“I was appreciative of the nomination,” Duncan said. “Like all things,” he said, “when serving as the chair of a group you are simultaneously excited for the challenges leadership presents as well as for the opportunity to be part of a team that can increase services to the citizens of our great Commonwealth. 

“In the midst of a pandemic, we had to develop new strategies and platforms for service delivery. I am very pleased to now chair the group and deliver our message across the commonwealth.”

Duncan is a semi retired educator, nurse and occupational therapist. He still teaches in the continuing education department at Marywood University. He teaches the rehabilitation component of the nursing home administration course.

Duncan has been a member of the Dunmore Planning Commission since 2018. He has been head of the Dunmore Neighborhood Crime Watch since 2013. He is a member of the Lackawanna County Suicide Prevention Alliance. He is a member of the Lackawanna County Elder Technology Committee. He is on the advisory board of the Pennsylvania Council on Aging. As a nurse and occupational therapist, he has 44 years of experience in health care.

His wife Lynne is a speech pathologist at Allied Services, Scranton. The couple has two daughters. Annie, 27, has an M.B.A. from Marywood University. Claire, 23, is a graduate student at West Chester University where she studies English and Digital Communications. She received her B.S. In both English and Digital Communications from Immaculata University. 

As chairman of the PA Council on Aging, Duncan cannot attend meetings at the Capitol as previous chairmans did. “This is due to the current pandemic world we live in now,” said Duncan. “The guidelines tell us we cannot meet at the Capitol, so we must explore a new platform.”

As the new chairman, Duncan wants to set goals regarding dementia, elder abuse/neglect and social isolation. “These are three areas we want to address in the pandemic world,” he said. “We have not seen a pandemic this wide spread in 100 years. And it is effecting the elderly in many ways.

“I am proud of this group. It is an honor and I am so excited to do this. It is a chance to serve as an advocate for elder individuals.

“Last year we started a state-wide survey for older adults in response to the state wide pandemic. The survey was available in English and Spanish. This was put out in 67 counties. We got 3,700 responses in the course of one week. It was a great snapshot of the needs of the state.

“We saw in these surveys the loneliness and isolation the elderly face. Social isolation can even result in abuse. 

“We put together a social isolation task force that led us to our second goal. We then released an interactive guide, information and resources to help elderly adults create a healthy mind, body and spirit.

“Now the whole purpose is to mitigate social isolation among our seniors.

“We have now produced informative videos that seniors can access on line.” 

Duncan said his number one role is to advise the Governor and the Department on Aging on the planning and coordination of services for older individuals and advocating for older individuals. 

“What we do has implications to older residents of 67 counties,” he said.

Duncan said the 67 counties represent 17 in Northeast PA, 13 in Northwest PA, eight in Southeast PA, 13 in Southwest PA and 16 in Central PA.

Duncan said his appointment came as a nomination to the Governor from 16 members of Council and was subject to Senate confirmation. 

“We are living in a pandemic world and we must address and are addressing issues seniors face which are primarily dementia, elder abuse and neglect and social isolation. My goal is to plan and coordinate these programs, advise the Governor and the PA Council on Aging regarding the programs and serve as an advocate for the elderly.

“I am very much looking forward to the work ahead.”