Workers adapt along county border

Allegheny Co. stay-home order having impact

March 25, 2020 Cranberry Local News

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CRANBERRY TWP — While Butler County isn't on Gov. Tom Wolf's “Stay-at-Home” order issued for eight counties statewide, many southern townships bordering Allegheny County have businesses with employees commuting across county lines.

And Cranberry Township is chief among them.

“We have as many people commuting out as commuting in,” said Jerry Andree, township manager.

Andree said the largest percentage of people who work in Cranberry Township are people from Allegheny County, an estimated 24,000 workers.

Most Cranberry Township residents who commute to Allegheny County work in the Oakland-Pittsburgh area, according to Andree.

He believes the stay-at-home mandate is having “an equal impact” on people commuting both ways.

The governor's mandate, which will continue through April 6, prohibits people with nonlife-sustaining jobs from leaving their homes.

“Beginning at 8 p.m., residents of the following counties must stay home unless someone's life depends on it,” Wolf tweeted Monday. “Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, Philadelphia.”

Andree said because the majority of Cranberry Township people work in non-manual professions, many are able to carry on working from home.

“Most of them are white- collar jobs,” Andree said. “Chances are higher that they are continuing to work, but remotely.”

This is not to say the township won't see any financial side effects following the stay-at-home order.

With hospitality and tourism businesses across the state severely limited or completely closed, the township may face losses down the road. Andree said township officials continue to be “realists” about the situation.

“We will see an economic impact from this,” Andree said. “We're very anxious.”

Andree is among the professionals who are working from home.

He said while “essential services” continue to function, the township is physically maintaining a skeleton crew on site with parameters.

For instance, field crews are alternating work schedules: one week on, one week off.

“To reduce their exposure,” Andree said. “We're continuing the operations of the township largely remotely.”

The 14 township department heads participate in an online conference call every morning while the state promotes self-quarantine measures.

“Even on weekends,” Andree said.

He added the township is primarily operating on a day-by-day basis. Officials are trying to field immediate needs while putting many future concerns — like the hiring of seasonal employees — on hold.

Some future decisions are more immediate than others.

“We are making some long-term decisions,” Andree said. “We're trying not to do knee-jerk reactions.”

The township is also becoming a resource of residents. Andree said while township police calls are down, customer service calls are up.

“We are seeing a lot of people call for answers,” Andree said. “There's a lot of confusion out there.”

The township stays up-to-date at the county level, according to Andree, though there's not always clear communication between state and local governments.

Still, Andree says he doesn't fault efforts being made at the state level.

“Things are changing so rapidly,” Andree said. “This is not your typical emergency.”

He encourages people to both practice social distancing and stay socially involved via social media, internet and phone calls.

Andree said the best way for township residents to stay updated is the township website.

Over all, Andree said Cranberry Township is “preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.”

“It's a changing environment out there,” Andree said. “Just be smart.”

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Samantha Beal

Samantha Beal