I love the great out of doors. And sometimes it loves me back. But not always. Today, for example, is the first full day of winter. So far, at least, the weather here has been amazingly kind to us. Our road salt use for the season has been zero up to this point.
At the same time, though, I realize that we’ve been fortunate; there are cities and towns throughout the country which have already been hammered by weather extremes. Just watch the nightly news. It’s created a huge struggle for the affected local governments. That’s because, unless there’s a truly catastrophic weather event like a hurricane or major flood, the federal government doesn’t get involved in weather-related troubles. Those are left to smaller, more local units of government, with municipalities leading the way. And not all local governments are prepared or resourced to effectively deal with it.
Cranberry is lucky in that respect – or maybe I should say that Cranberry is well-prepared. We know that keeping our fingers crossed in the hope that bad weather stays away isn’t a satisfactory plan. Sooner or later, everyone gets hit, and sometimes they get hit quite hard.
So while we’re enjoying the nice weather, we’ve also used the occasion to outfit our fleet of 14 winter-ready trucks and prep them to hit their preset routes on an hour’s notice. We have a storage building that can hold a full season’s worth of rock salt. We have a brine-making plant that cranks out de-icing fluid we can put down ahead of an advancing storm. We’ve identified contractors with graders and front loaders to supplement our Public Works crews, if needed. We’ve got standby plans that involve essentially every Township department and employee in case things get really bad. And Cranberry’s first responders have coordinated with our road crews in case there’s an emergency somewhere that hasn’t been plowed yet.
But just as important, we have an ordinance that brings our residents into the effort as well. It requires the owners of homes and businesses to clear away snow from any sidewalks that pass by their property within 48 hours of a snow event. In effect, it becomes a joint effort: PennDOT clears the state highways, the Township clears local roads, and residents clear the sidewalks adjacent to where they live or work.
When everyone does their part and sees that we’re all on the same team, even a major snowstorm won’t be able to keep Cranberry down for very long.
I’d love to hear your thoughts as we approach the winter season. You can reach me at: Jerry.Andree@CranberryTownship.org