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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.

Jul 18

Diversification: Cranberry in a multicultural world

Posted on July 18, 2016 at 12:32 PM by Jerry Andree

Earlier this month I received an online inquiry from someone living in Texas.  He said that he and his family were considering a move to the Cranberry area – maybe in connection with the Shell ethane cracker plant being built in Beaver County, but that’s just my speculation.  What particularly concerned him was that he and his wife were of different races, and he wanted to know how they and their three bi-racial children would be received here. 

America, as we are frequently reminded by the news, has entered a particularly difficult period with respect to race relations in general, and in particular, to the role of law enforcement agencies in that mix.  It’s a touchy subject, and anyone who talks about it is presumed to be biased along the lines of their own ethnicity or career; no one is excluded from that presumption.  So what is the real truth?

The problem is that there are so many ‘facts’ out there – including actual events, rumors, wishes, perceptions, interpretations, urban myths and Internet-enabled misinformation – that by being selective, you can ‘prove’ pretty much anything.  So, while I would like to persuade the man who wrote to me that Cranberry is largely exempt from the tensions we keep hearing so much about, I also believe that proving it would never be completely convincing.  Stuff happens – and some of it happens here. 

But what I can say for sure is that we value diversity and we have been working hard to make people of all backgrounds feel welcome and valued.  Our residents expressed that value loud and clear during the preparation of our comprehensive plan, and it continues to be a high priority of The Cranberry Plan. 

To help, we have engaged two residents of our community who are passionate about their love for Cranberry and about the diversity goals of The Cranberry Plan.  They have facilitated discussion with hundreds of residents.  They have organized a number multicultural events to celebrate and support diversity.  They are forming an Envoy program to mentor new arrivals.  And they’ve convened a leadership forum, including local police, to look at diversity issues countywide.  Beyond that, we have worked with the Sister Cities organization, supported Seneca Valley School District’s Diversity Initiative, and we expect to do more.

At the same time, however, simply working hard doesn’t guarantee complete success.  Even if Cranberry never has an incident that rises to the level of making the evening news, awkward or uncomfortable situations are still bound to arise from time to time.  So here’s part of what I said to the man who contacted me: 

“We are thrilled you are considering Cranberry Township to be your family’s new home.  Yes, western PA may still have some old hang-overs that exhibit biases and bigotry.  As a person born and raised in western PA I can certainly say I knew a few of those characters in my early life. 

“I will not promise that you will never experience bad behavior, but I can promise any bad behavior results in an overwhelming response from our community who will say that such conduct does not reflect 99.9% of our community.  My family has flourished in this community for over 25 years and I can tell you for certain that this community exhibits more love and compassion than anyone could imagine for a community.”  

I concluded by saying that if the writer decides to come here for a visit, I would welcome the opportunity to meet him and to share our excitement about life in Cranberry Township.  
I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.  Write to me at jerry.andree@cranberrytownship.org

Mar 07

Cranberry’s growing school spirit

Posted on March 7, 2016 at 3:15 PM by Jerry Andree

Like every other homeowner in Cranberry, I spend a lot more on school taxes than on my Township or County taxes.  So, like everyone else in Cranberry, I’ve wanted to make sure I’m getting value for it. 

Fifteen years ago, my own three kids were enrolled in Seneca Valley.  It was a positive experience for them.  The system worked – serving my children well, preparing them for college and grooming them for lives as responsible adults.  At the same time, as engaged parents, my wife and I went to school open houses, came to parent-teacher meetings, attended school events, and became acquainted with a number of the district’s staff, faculty, and administration members.  That reinforced our feeling that we were getting real value from Seneca Valley. 

My kids are grown now, but so has my appreciation for the school district.  Over the years my kids were students, Seneca Valley worked steadily to raise the bar of achievement.  That effort has continued, and it’s been noticed by third-parties – by people who don’t have kids in the district.  Pittsburgh Business Times has ranked Seneca Valley in the top fifth of its regional rankings for several years now, part of a long upward progression that the district has experienced.  In effect, it has gone from being a good school district to being a very good district.

I’d like to believe that Cranberry Township has played a part in that progress.  Every year, dozens of high school students come asking for some form of Township support for their senior projects, and we do our best to accommodate them.  Girls from the district’s STEM-FEMS program have come into our parks and neighborhoods to stencil caution signs on our catch basins.  And just last week, a class from Haine Middle School came to our Board of Supervisors meeting with a PowerPoint presentation about protecting our region’s watershed.

On a more personal note, my wife and I continue to attend academic, sporting, art, and musical events put on by our school district.  At each event, we are impressed with the passion and talent of the students and staff we see there.  Just this past weekend, we attended the high school’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, and we were blown away, as were many of the other parents, grandparents and friends of the cast who came there.

If you have kids in the district’s schools, you already know what I’m talking about.  But if you don’t, I would encourage you to attend some of the many events mounted by Seneca Valley, whether they’re theatrical, athletic, scientific or social, and see what I mean.  After all, you’re already paying for them.  The full calendar of events is available on the district’s website, www.svsd.net

Seneca Valley provides important support to our community and we are delighted to cheer them on.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experiences with our schools.  You can reach me at jerry.andree@cranberrytownship.org
Feb 16

Welcome Genco

Posted on February 16, 2016 at 2:13 PM by Jerry Andree

Two years ago, Verizon Wireless moved out of a building in Cranberry Woods which had been used to house one of its call centers over the previous ten years.  At the time they left, I remember there was considerable hand wringing and anguish, driven by a belief that the loss of such a major corporate resident would do irreparable damage to Cranberry’s economy.  

Yet somehow, the sky didn’t fall.  Verizon, like every other company, has evolving needs. And over the course of its time in Cranberry, those needs changed.  However that doesn’t worry me.  In fact, if the business environment here were static and never-changed, that would be a source of much greater concern.  

During my 25 years in Cranberry, I have seen lots of companies arrive, expand, merge, divest, upsize, downsize, move laterally, and do just about everything else you would expect in a dynamic economy.  That’s normal.  And it’s not just the business-to-business giants and technology companies here.  The same thing applies to our retail community; stores come and stores go.  Markets change.  And new companies step in to capitalize on the opportunity. 

For decades, our Board has worked to make Cranberry the sort of community that businesses of all sorts – but particularly technology firms and knowledge-based companies – would find attractive.  That includes creating appealing work sites, convenient highway access, an educated workforce, rapid access to Pittsburgh International, and a strong consumer market as well as a premier residential community. 

We thought it was only a matter of time until another capable company would move into the space that Verizon vacated.  Now we’ve learned that one has, in fact, leased that building. The company is Genco, a division of FedEx, which describes its business as a third-party logistics provider.  That involves handling merchandise returns for hundreds of vendors and hundreds of thousands of customers throughout North America.  

We are delighted to welcome Genco to Cranberry Township.  Its decision to come here further confirms the vision of our Board and the hard work of our staff in making Cranberry one of the nation’s premier business communities.  It is also a tribute to MSA Safety which concurred in that vision and worked to create this outstanding, world-class business park.

I would love to hear your thoughts about our growing business community.  You can reach me at Jerry.Andree@cranberrytownship.org