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Jerry Andree, Township Manager

Jerry Andree, Township Manager

Sep 11

Reflections on September 11

Posted on September 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Jerry Andree

Early this morning, September 11, on the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the aborted assault which ended in Shanksville, more than 15 Cranberry Township Volunteer Firefighters gathered in a light rain to pay their respects.  The most visible part of their commemoration was a very large American flag hoisted from the Company’s 100-foot aerial ladder truck over US Route 19, in front of their Park Fire Station.

Recollections of that horrific morning are burned deep into the memory of everyone who was old enough to understand the gravity of what had just happened.  But as I observed this morning’s respectful and solemn process, I was struck by the range of ages of those participating.  Junior firefighters who were only three or four years old that day, were there, learning about an event that changed our world.  And then there were those – myself included – who had lived through those days experiencing, anger, sadness, disgust and the full range of human emotions. 

By hoisting their flag, the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company was proclaiming that our community will never forget the thousands of lives that were lost to terrorism on that day 13 years ago.  But for firefighters, perhaps more than for any other part of our community, the loss was particularly poignant.  Firefighters everywhere see themselves as a brotherhood – a family whose joys and sorrows are shared, no matter where they live.  The 343 firefighters whose lives were lost in New York while attempting to rescue others, was a devastating blow to firefighters everywhere.

Several years ago, the Fire Company created a permanent memorial to the 9/11 victims at the Park Fire Station.  It includes a torturously twisted steel girder recovered from one of the Trade Center Towers, along with a scaled version of the World Trade Center Grounds.  It is a place of reflection and sadness, but also one that shows the resilient American spirit. 

That 9/11 Memorial is open to the public, 24/7.  It can be accessed from the parking lot at the rear of the Park Fire Station by following the sidewalk to the front of the building.  Even after dark, it is appropriately lighted for nighttime viewing. 

Each of us should take a moment to thank our first responders and all of our uniformed service men and women for their efforts to keep us safe in times of crisis and for the sacrifices they make in providing that essential public service, every day.
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.