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.

Aug 19

Storm Damage - How Cranberry is preparing for bad weather

Posted on August 19, 2019 at 11:02 AM by Jerry Andree

Waiting for the deluge

There’s hardly been a TV newscast in the past few years that doesn’t include at least one bad weather story.  Hurricanes, tornadoes and hail storms have battered extensive areas up and down the east and gulf coasts.  Flooding has plagued the Great Plains and Midwest.  Drought and wildfires have scorched the west coast and mountain states.  Hurricane and fire seasons have extended into nearly year-round events.

Cranberry has been tremendously fortunate in that any bad weather we’ve experienced so far has been manageable.  But that’s by no means a guarantee that we can’t get clobbered by a new wind, rain or snow storm.  I realize, of course, that there are special risks associated with living along a coastline.  But there are areas of the country even farther inland than we are that have had disastrous weather events.  Even in the Pittsburgh area, we have seen landslides along with flooding just this year.

The property costs of these weather disasters have been staggering.  And there’s no reasonable building code we could adopt that would safeguard homes against the sort of hurricane damage we’ve seen in Florida or the widespread flooding that took place in the Carolinas.  On top of the damage to homes and businesses, there is major damage to the public infrastructure.  Roads, bridges, treatment plants, and more have sustained tremendous losses, and the cost of repairing or replacing them is immense.  Beyond that, the risks to public health are potentially lethal.

FEMA and Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection are taking modest steps to bolster our protections.  But mostly their initiatives have to do with reassigning the costs of flood damage and stormwater maintenance to homeowners and units of local government.  To be sure, Cranberry isn’t alone in having to pay those costs.  Other municipalities in Pennsylvania, and even entire states like Maryland, have imposed fees on residents, businesses and even nonprofit organizations to offset those costs.  Cranberry is also exploring how to pay for these increased responsibilities.  I anticipate a decision on this issue by early November.

No matter what we finally decide to do, it won’t remove the risk of severe storm damage.  Normal homeowner’s policies don’t cover flooding.  But you can buy flood coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program.  The Township recently worked with FEMA to update Cranberry’s floodplain maps.  That effort significantly enhanced our residents’ ability residents to accurately assess their need for flood coverage.  This website includes the details in the following link [https://www.cranberrytownship.org/2143/FEMA-flood-plain-maps].  

There are, however, plenty of low-cost and no-cost things you can do on your own.  For example, learn and practice an evacuation route.  Figure out in advance what supplies to collect such as medications, pet needs, batteries, and charging devices.  Put important documents in waterproof containers.  Create digital copies for cloud storage.  Move valuables to higher levels.  Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local alerts for current emergency information and instructions. 

Of course, there’s a lot more information available online, and I would encourage you to take advantage of our normally pleasant weather to familiarize yourself with the steps that apply to keeping you and your family safe in case things turn sour.

I would welcome hearing your thoughts about our emergency preparedness.  You can reach me at jerry.andree@cranberrytownship.org


Aug 13

Keeping our heads above water

Posted on August 13, 2019 at 2:18 PM by Jerry Andree

When most of us think about someone drowning in a pool, we visualize that person flailing their arms and calling for help.  But I recently saw a TV news report about drowning that used actual surveillance video to show what people in trouble really look like in the water.  And it’s not the Hollywood treatment we would expect.  Instead, it’s something that can happen quickly, without thrashing or calls for help.  But unless you know what to look for, it’s easy to miss the signs, and the results can be disastrous; more than 3,500 Americans drown in pools each year, and two-thirds of them are under three years of age. 

Cranberry’s Waterpark, now in its twentieth year, has never had a person drown.  But the very possibility is something that motivates our Parks & Recreation staff’s commitment to safety.  That’s because they know that despite the presence of highly trained lifeguards, children drown every year, including some in guarded pools.  So our Waterpark personnel have gone to great lengths to make sure that one of Cranberry’s greatest attractions continues its generation-long history of safety.  

Part of that involves extensive training of its lifeguards, whose work shifts include 16 lifeguards on duty at any given time – even more on especially busy days.  This year alone, more than 60 rescues have taken place in the pool, and that was only during the first half of its three-month season.  However, that isn’t necessarily a bad sign; not all of those rescued were actually in trouble.  Instead, lifeguards are instructed to take action if they even suspect that someone could be struggling.  

Yet even with a top-notch lifeguard staff, the key to child safety is parental supervision of children.  It is particularly important for parents of children younger than seven to recognize that they are the first line of defense against drowning accidents.  To help, Waterpark staff members strongly recommend that parents join their children in the water, regardless of their swimming abilities, and keep non-swimmers within arms-reach at all times.  

In addition, the Waterpark staff has re-named the 15-minutes each hour formerly designated as “adult swim” as “safety break.”  The idea behind it is to keep children from becoming exhausted in the pool, which can be deadly.  New informational signs are being posted around the pools and in the changing rooms.  Guests are requested to sign a non-binding safety pledge as they enter the Waterpark.  Temporary tattoos with safety messages are available for children.  And pool staff members are being encouraged to share safety messages with guests. 

That said, however, three-quarters of all the pool drownings occur in backyard pools.  So making sure that Cranberry’s private pools are as safe as possible is an integral part of our municipal code.  Central to that effort are barrier requirements including fencing and design features that make it difficult for someone to access the pool without the owner’s permission.  Children who don’t know how to swim but manage to sneak into private pools, are a major source of drowning victims. 

What it all means is that vigilance, knowing how to swim, taking frequent breaks, and staying in the water with your young children are all keys to having a safe, fun pool experience this summer. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about water safety as well.  Contact me at: jerry.andree@cranberrytownship.org 

Jul 08

Breaking News

Posted on July 8, 2019 at 10:08 AM by Jerry Andree

After almost 30 years as a Cranberry resident, I’m more excited than ever to be part of this amazing community.  And I recently put my finger on why that is, although no one would ever find out just by watching TV.

If a visitor from some far-away land were to watch the morning news here, they would be horrified.  The shootings, the crashes, the fires and assorted mayhem that fill the news leave viewers with an image of Western Pennsylvania as a scene of terrible events – one that would prompt any sane visitor to leave at once and stay away. 

Problem is, that’s not an accurate picture, nor is it the way most of us see ourselves or our community.  Instead, it presents a seriously unbalanced view of life in the region, especially here in Cranberry Township.  That disconnect was driven home to me Big Time on a recent weekend. 

Saturday morning, for example, I attended the official opening of our new Disc Golf Course and Nature Trail in North Boundary Park.  It was a great event.  In addition to inaugurating a tournament-level facility that will be free for everyone to use, we were able to celebrate the fruit of a communitywide effort, led by CTCC, that was built on contributions from hundreds of residents and local businesses. 

Saturday afternoon was another celebration, but not quite as joyous.  Instead, it memorialized the life of a longtime Cranberry resident who had been instrumental in forming the Cranberry Area Diversity Network.  The turnout was huge – a tribute to the work that Gary Winterhalter and co-founder Charles Hawkins had brought to our community.  As Hawkins put it in his eulogy, “this is a celebration of the amazing work that Gary did to ensure that Cranberry continues to be an accepting and inclusive community.” 

Later that same afternoon, my wife and I attended the high school graduation for Jacob, a remarkable young man from Seneca Valley who we have known for a long time.  The class celebration was held in Community Park and it was filled with people talking, playing, and singing along with their classmates.  But that wasn’t the only celebration going on in the park; as I looked around, people everywhere there were also gathering, talking, playing and having a good time. 

The next morning, despite the rain, I took a bike ride through Graham Park.  There, too, I came across dozens of people who were walking, running and biking through the park’s beautiful wetlands, enjoying its creekside, its gardens and woodlands. 

Sadly, there were no TV crews on hand to document the energy, the joy and the community spirit I kept encountering throughout the weekend.  If they had, perhaps our visitor from a distant land might have decided to stay around for a while.

It would be great to hear from you! If you have any feedback, please feel free to contact me at 
mailto:jerry.andree@cranberrytownhip.org