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Jerry Andree, Township Manager

Jerry Andree, Township Manager

No level of government has more impact on daily life than local government. That’s why my colleagues and I at Cranberry Township are passionate about pushing the limits of excellence to provide the best possible services to our residents and customers. However, being well-served is not a passive achievement; it is a collective undertaking. Through this blog, we offer our personal reflections on that assignment. And we hope it will help engage you in joining us on that same collaborative mission.

Jun 23

Maintaining altitude

Posted on June 23, 2014 at 9:56 AM by Jerry Andree

Several patterns of local government are common in Pennsylvania.  One is that the community’s elected officials are often the same people who are on the payroll of their municipal public works or police or administrative departments. 

There’s nothing dishonest about that.  But there’s a drawback: the perspectives of those officials tend to be fairly narrow and mired in detail.  It’s hard to maintain a broad outlook on a community and its future when your day-to-day life is spent down in the weeds, dealing with its most tedious technical issues.  Creating vision and community direction are a whole lot easier if there’s a bit of daylight between setting policy and digging trenches.

The other typical pattern is for decisions to be made on political rather than professional bases.  So, for example, street repairs are prioritized by the political influence of the people who live there.  Playground sites are chosen to earn the votes of specific constituents.  And bus routes, where they exist at all, are established to serve the elderly relative of a powerful local resident. 

Cranberry, I’m pleased to say, is not a typical community in either respect.  Nobody on our Board of Supervisors is on the Township’s payroll.  And maintenance decisions here are made by professional staff members consistent with policies established by that Board.  In other words, Cranberry’s Board of Supervisors is able to look at the Township from a higher altitude and see the Big Picture.

As a result, our Board is often viewed as an anomaly in local government.  They are not caught up in political squabbles over which streets to repave, or reviewing political registrations to determine who the Township hires, or kicking difficult financial decisions off to the next Board of Supervisors or the next generation of residents. 

Instead, you will find them engaged in establishing standards about how the Township is to maintain its 120 miles of public roads, or how we are to maintain nearly a thousand miles of sanitary sewer, water and storm drain lines.  Their direction is that we hire the best and brightest onto our staff, that we incorporate quality of life standards, that we apply sound financial principles to all aspects of our operation and, above all, that we provide the highest level of public service to our current residents and businesses.

What it means is that there’s no confusion in our organization on what’s important and where we’re headed.  The Board made that abundantly clear through our 1995 comprehensive plan, and reiterated again it in detail through our 2009 Cranberry plan: it is to provide unequaled service to our residents and businesses. 

Cranberry’s staff is accountable for ensuring that the Board’s goals are met, not only for current residents and businesses, but for future generations as well.  It’s really that simple.
Jun 19

It takes a whole township

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 9:42 AM by Jerry Andree

Cranberry’s Graham Park was recently host to several high profile athletic events: an Eastern U.S. soccer tournament and the Seneca Valley Lacrosse Fest.  Together, the two gatherings attracted more than 10,000 visitors.  Our hotels were sold out.  And, according to the Butler County Convention and Tourism Bureau, the soccer tournament alone pumped approximately $2 million into our local economy. 

If you were there, you saw how smoothly everything ran.  As a guest there myself, I was approached by a number of residents telling me how much they enjoyed it and how well they thought the Township was doing in maintaining its parks, controlling its growth, and managing its events, in addition to carrying out its other responsibilities. 

Of course, I was flattered to hear that, and I would sincerely like to believe that Cranberry’s government plays an important role our community’s success.  But it is equally clear to me that the success of the recent sports weekend, and of so much else, is something that no unit of government could do alone.  Nobody has the resources, the authority, or the skill to pull that off all by themselves. 

Instead, it is a cooperative effort, one requiring goodwill and collaboration among a number of entities – each of whom had a stake in its success.  In this case, they included the Seneca Valley Soccer Association, the Seneca Valley Lacrosse Association, the Cranberry Township Athletic Association (CTAA), the Miracle League, and the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau, as well as various Township departments. 

Planning for the weekend actually began months ago.  It required resolving a number of tough issues and balancing conflicting needs and wants.  But in the end, they got it done.  And I’m convinced that this amazing sense of cooperation is why so many consider Cranberry to be a model community.  It’s also why I expect our local athletic associations and their leaders will be key to Cranberry’s success for years to come.

At essentially the same time that the soccer tournament and lacrosse fest were taking place, another milestone of cooperation was also going on – the opening of four open-air fitness stations in Graham and North Boundary Parks.  Spearheaded by CTCC – the Cranberry Township Community Chest – the fitness stations are just the latest in a series of awesome projects delivered by CTCC to advance our community’s quality of life consistent with its strategic plan.

As with the recent athletic events and so many other high-value projects in Cranberry, these fitness stations could not have come about except for the support from thousands of local individuals, organizations and businesses.  They provide tangible evidence of the collaborative culture which makes Cranberry the vibrant community it has become and which will position it for success well into the future.

I give thanks every day for being part of this amazing community.
Jun 17

Memory, mortality, community

Posted on June 17, 2014 at 10:41 AM by Jerry Andree

2014 is my 23rd year as Manager of Cranberry Township.  In the municipal management business, that’s an unusually long run; the average tenure is only around five years. 

It has been an amazing experience.  And it has given me sufficient time to feel the rhythm of our community’s life cycle and to appreciate more deeply the impact that one individual’s life can have on his or her adopted home town.

I found myself reflecting on that recently when my wife and I attended the funeral for Patricia O’Brien. Pat, and her late husband George, did a tremendous amount for this community.  For years, George was Commander of the local VFW post, whose members presented the colors at countless Township events and dedications.

Perhaps the most tangible part of the O’Brien’s legacy was the creation of the Veterans’ Memorial at North Boundary Park.  But the spirit of loyalty, devotion and service they engendered is just as real. 

Pat and George moved to Cranberry Township many years ago and grew to be incredibly proud of their new home town.  The couple attended every Township event and always brought along friends – many of whom were invited from their former community.  And they were never bashful about showing off their pride in Cranberry. 

The memory of the O’Briens put me in mind of so many others who had died before them after years of helping shape Cranberry Township into the community it has become today.  And it reinforced the idea that no one is immortal; each of us is somewhere along in our own finite cycle of life.

At the funeral service, that realization came forcefully to me when I learned that Pat had asked a young man -- someone who was not even born when Pat and George moved to Cranberry – to play and sing at her funeral.  That young man is the son of a Township staff member – someone my wife and I have known since he was a child.
His name is Nick Marzock.  He is a rising and nationally recognized musician.  Although he currently lives in New York City, he made a point of returning home to fulfill his promise to Pat.  Nick not only honored Pat, he continued the tradition of love for community and its people that Pat and George and so many before them had demonstrated so brilliantly.

One of the songs Pat requested was “Let There Be Peace.”  Its lyrics, which articulate her final wish, call on all of us to live together in harmony:

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.