Any employee or visitor to the first floor of the District 5 office knows when Ed is in the office that day. Whether it be the air fried chicken he might be cooking in the morning to maybe even steamed crabs at lunch, Ed "Big G" Baranski leaves an indelible mark on the District office through his culinary skills, a mark that is unmistakably Big G.
In his 9 years with PennDOT's District 5's Human Resource Unit as a HR Assistant II and Management Analyst II if you have had the pleasure to speak with Ed, you would know that his passion for cooking isn't everything to him, in fact it is dwarfed by fondness of cars and his complete devotion to his dogs.
In the arena of automobiles, Ed's first car was a 1964 ½ Mustang. While that car was a lot of fun, the real enjoyment came from his next vehicle. When Ed was 17 a State Constable sold him a 1977 Plymouth Gran Fury Police Interceptor from California. The Magnum 440 4bbl Interceptor clearly demonstrated that an American muscle car could pin someone to the seat as it accelerated. "I still get a chill when I hear the Interceptor open up in one of the cars in Beverly Hills Cop during a chase scene," said Baranski.
Since those early years, Ed has owned many cars including several Broncos and an '82 and '06 Corvette, the latter which he still owns and cruises with. Ed isn't sure about his next vehicle as far as a daily driver, but his love of American muscle cars won't leave him.
Ed's first love however is his dogs. He has had several as a boy in Philadelphia, but his understanding of how to train them properly was developed when he married a police officer in 2004 in Montgomery County. She was a K9 officer and an expert trainer for many years while on duty.
By Ed's count he has raised and loved 19 dogs and while they all have a special place in his heart, none stand out above "K9 Viper," a 12-year-old Dutch Shepherd to which Ed has a special bond. He also has very strong emotions and memories for "K9 Dargo." Dargo was the 7th ranked dog in the country in 2001 and was called by the FBI to report to New York on 9/11. Dargo's work in New York ended up taking his life due to the amount of exposure of the debris. With Ed's ability to reach the right people, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and President Bush both issued citations to honor Dargo and Ed's wife for their work and sacrifice.
Ed loves spending time with his dogs, but he particularly enjoys keeping their skills in tip top shape. Every now and then Ed will put on the bite suit and let the trained K9s have at it. "It's awesome to watch Viper get all amped up when he sees me start to put it on. Even at 12 years old he acts like he is 3 or 4," said Baranski. Ed might get tuned up a little, but he's never been seriously injured. His wife however did have an unfortunate encounter once where one of the dogs literally ripped off her thumb.
While at the age of 56, Ed "Big G" Baranski might be getting closer to retiring to his property in Florida, he's not slowing down yet. He has more cars to buy, more dogs to train and more meals to cook!