Local government is where the decisions that affect citizens most directly are made – and it is important to share the good work of municipalities and local elected officials. These people – often volunteers – give countless hours to their communities and toward making their places of residence better for all citizens.
Aleppo Township is a suburb of Northwest Allegheny County with nearly 2,000 residents and often goes unnoticed. However, this small township has a huge vision and has been making significant strides to engage its residents and keep them informed in Township operations.
The local elected and appointed officials in Aleppo are most proud of transforming the process that involves residents in local government. Leaders in Aleppo recognize that most citizens want to be involved but they need tools to do so, because they have limited time and information. By taking advantage of technology tools like YouTube, the Township has been streaming their Board of Commissioners meetings since 2015.
By breaking down the meetings into small digests based on specific topics, residents can watch only the portions of the meetings that are of interest to them. This allows residents to participate without demanding their attention for an entire meeting. Not only is it a helpful tool to keep citizens informed, but it also allows the Board of Commissioners to receive more feedback from residents and to understand varied viewpoints that may have been missed otherwise.
This effort has also allowed for an exploration of how the township meetings are organized to increase efficacy. Topic-centered meetings are held as “workshops” where language is crafted for motions. Communications then take place between the local government and the local residents, sharing the video digests and asking for feedback and input. Then, at the “legislative” meetings, motions are voted on. This system creates an atmosphere of well-informed residents and local elected officials who are truly responding to their constituents.
The Aleppo Board of Commissioners Present is Matthew Doebler, who is also a member of the ALOM sister association AC&WPATC. When asked about what he finds most valuable about his participation in the associations, he responded: “connecting with great vendors is crucial, as is the opportunity to learn about what other communities are doing. Membership in AC&WPATC as well as ALOM allows me to share thoughts, gain connections and facilitate professional development.”
Butler Township, Butler County is a large township with over 17,000 residents and contains a rich history dating back to the 1800s. Modern day Butler Township is the only first-class township in Butler County, and is a hub of activity with a strong local government presence. Local elected officials and municipal staff work together on several programs to build a sense of community for both current and future generations of Butler Township residents.
An example of such efforts is the newly implemented Student Representative Program. The program was started through partnership between the Butler Township Board of Commissioners and the Butler Area School District and allows a designated member of the high school to sit in on the board meetings as a non-voting member. These youth participate in discussions, represent student interests to the board, and take information back to their peers at school. The goal is to cultivate the next generation of local leaders by getting students involved in local government.
Another notable example of Butler Township sense of community is shown through volunteerism at Preston Park. Called the “Jewel of Butler Township” this 88-acre estate willed to the township requires extensive maintenance. Every single week up to 20 volunteers attend park cleanup and maintenance efforts coordinated by the township.
Furthermore, even in times of tragedy the local government officials and community of Butler Township work toward common goals. Recent flooding in 2017 left many residents and properties in need of clean up and assistance. Township officials worked with local construction companies and shared equipment to clean properties, haul debris and clear waterways.
Dave Zarnick who is President of the Butler Township Board of Commissioners, is President of the AC&WPATC and is an ALOM Board Member had this to say about his experiences with ALOM and its affiliate associations: “I find that the association staff are knowledgeable and networking with colleagues from around the region is very helpful and a critical resource when questions or needs arise. The Spring and Fall conferences also provide essential professional development on relevant topics that I can often bring back to my community.”
Associate Member Vendor – C.S. McKee
C.S. McKee, L.P. is an institutional investment management firm that operates from a single office location in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 100% owned by employees, managing institutional assets is their only business, and they have approximately $10 billion* under management in equity, fixed income, and balanced portfolios.
C.S. McKee works with 51 public entities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, many of which are ALOM members. The firm believes in transparency and strives to provide honest, helpful information to municipal representatives – not just a sales pitch.
C.S McKee consistently supports ALOM members in several ways from education to event sponsorship. In particular, they provide perennial support to the ALOM Spring Educational Conference, sponsorship of the ALOM Annual Golf Outing and participation in a host of other association events throughout the year. Additionally, CS McKee professionals have provided pro bono educational to our membership in the areas of Defensive Trends for Pension Management, Passive vs. Active Management of Pension Assets and Understanding the Impact of Interest Rates on Pension Plans.
Leaders of C. S. McKee had positive feedback about their own Associate Membership in ALOM and are quoted as stating that “participating in ALOM has been a rewarding opportunity for C.S. McKee. The organization has such a strong commitment to education and networking, with experts from all facets of local government represented and working together. The dedication of ALOM’s members to improving their communities through shared knowledge, focus on current and future issues, and implementation of best practices demonstrates why municipal officials should participate.”
Associate Member Vendor – Senate Engineering
The community of Aspinwall is often referred to as “Mayberry” by the residents of this borough that sits along the Allegheny River and has a population of around 3,000 people. The municipality boasts a dedicated group of elected officials and community members and has had several notable accomplishments over the past few years. These include the unveiling of Aspinwall Riverfront Park, the Junior Council Program, and a successful Neighborhood Watch program.
Similarly, the formation of a Shade Tree Commission started 9 years ago by Council President Joe Noro has grown into a huge community-building program for Aspinwall that is beneficial to businesses and residents. With the help of grants from TreeVitalize, Aspinwall has planted 125 new trees throughout their borough. It takes over 30 volunteers to plant each group of trees, and businesses come together to offer food and refreshments to the volunteers after a long and hard morning of tree-planting. The volunteers of the Shade Tree Commission also help to maximize borough dollars by bidding out tree trimming and other services related to tree maintenance.
Regarding their membership in Allegheny League of Municipalities (ALOM) and the Allegheny County Boroughs Association (ACBA), ACBA Board Member and Aspinwall Council Member Ann Pawlikowski had this to say: “I’m impressed with the group’s dedication to their communities and their length of service. Being part of ALOM and the ACBA allows me to remain knowledgeable and engaged with local colleagues as well as with Harrisburg.”
Castle Shannon is a well-known borough in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with a population of around 8,500 people. Like so many local communities, the level of public service and volunteerism among the local elected officials and other residents in Castle Shannon is extraordinary. Just a few of the many examples of this include food giving programs, a community garden, stream clean-up programs and more.
The borough designates part of the communities’ millage to serve the local library, which is very active. They hold an annual Community Day and Fall Fest and have initiated a group called “Futures Forum” to engage local youth in borough activities.
One of their most recent and most successful endeavors is called “Third Fridays” sponsored by Borough in partnership with the Community Revitalization Corporation. Over this summer these events have featured live bands, local restaurants, and other local businesses. Each event is themed, and the August event will be focused around the notorious 1917 Bank Robbery which is a very famous piece of Castle Shannon history.
Nancy Kovach serves as a Council President in Castle Shannon and also sits on the board of directors of the Allegheny County Boroughs Association (ACBA). When asked what she finds most valuable about her participation in our association her response was: “I find that the educational and networking opportunities provided by ALOM and ACBA are invaluable. The association provides settings for professional development and interfacing with legislative leaders that are essential to being an elected official in Allegheny County.”
Associate Member Vendor – HRG Engineering
Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG) is dedicated to helping municipal leaders improve their communities through better infrastructure like roads, bridges, parks, and water systems.
ALOM’s member municipalities are run by dedicated public servants who know the value of good infrastructure, and HRG is proud to work with so many of them.
The leaders of these municipalities have a strong desire to make their communities great, and HRG helps them do that from the initial planning phases through financing, consensus building, design and construction. HRG professionals are by their side through the whole process, acting as a partner.
The consulting firm also helps ALOM member municipalities make sense of changing regulations and find creative ways to meet them under the tight financial constraints so many communities face.
Dan Santoro of HRG had this to say about their partnership with ALOM: “ALOM has historically provided invaluable resources to the communities in which we work. HRG sees our partnership and support of the Banner Community program as an enhancement of ALOM’s mission to provide resources to the communities in which we work and live, while giving them the recognition they deserve for their hard work and dedication to local government.
We are honored to have such a great relationship with ALOM and look forward to continuing to watch Allegheny County, and neighbors, grow and succeed.”