Cranberry Township’s reputation for success is widely known, at least within Pennsylvania. So it’s no surprise that we are frequently contacted by other local governments who want to discover the secrets behind our vitality so they can replicate them back home. And we’re always happy to oblige them. But most of the time, they fail to grasp what’s really behind it.
Take for example our fire company – one of the finest in the state. I recently had the pleasure of meeting a group of first responders from another Butler County community as they were training, along with our own firefighters, in Cranberry’s new Public Safety Training classroom. They confided in me how frustrated they were over their declining number of volunteers and the unending conflict between their organization and its local government.
So I told them about Cranberry’s culture, which recognizes that while differing personalities and opinions are a reality – they can also result in better decisions. However, once a decision is made, we place an even higher value on their ongoing collaboration. And we regard conflict between the organizations that serve our residents as intolerable.
Thirty years ago, Cranberry’s fire company faced exactly that sort of difficult decision. In essence, it was a choice between having the fire company continue as an independent, self-supporting organization, or making the Township financially responsible for the fire company’s capital and operating expenses. Feelings were strong on both sides, but in the end, we formed a partnership which has provided Cranberry’s residents and businesses with professional-grade fire and rescue services, while saving millions of taxpayer dollars by maintaining an all-volunteer organization.
As a result, despite both statewide and nationwide declines, the number of volunteers in our Fire Company is growing substantially. And all of them receive consistently high levels of training and expert guidance.
Something similar happened recently when another local government visited our parks. They wanted to figure out how they could achieve quality recreational areas for their own residents. And they assumed it was a technical reason – the type of grass seed we use, our watering system, or the size of our programming staff, for instance. Of course, those are all important. But the real reason is the long-term partnerships Cranberry’s government has formed with our local sports associations. Hundreds of volunteers from those associations provide a quality of youth sports programming that is unmatched in western Pennsylvania.
And right now, a similar partnership is occurring with the construction of Cranberry’s new Kids Castle playground in Community Park. Thousands of residents and businesses are coming together under the stewardship of the Cranberry Township Community Chest and the Cranberry CUP organization to create a great playground for another generation of local residents.
Of course, none of this easy. Our community’s commitment to sustainable partnerships requires a lot of hard work, and personality differences will always exist. But we also know that long-term relationships are built on a foundation of sincere respect for one another. So while I am always pleased to share Cranberry’s organizational savvy and technical know-how with leaders from other communities, the most powerful elements of our success are actually a lot more straightforward.
Cooperation, partnership and respect are fundamental human qualities. And they can be difficult to sustain. But learning to apply those concepts to local government has been the key to Cranberry’s success. And that is the message I’d like to share with our visitors.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, too. Contact me at email@example.com