Since Pete Geis moved to Cranberry in July, one thing has become abundantly clear to the 42-year-old: the township's parks and recreation program is clearly a top priority for municipal officials.
As a father of a 14-year-old boy and a resident who makes use of the facilities, that's a good thing. And, as the new director of the township's parks and recreation program, it's even better.
"I'm walking into a situation that's already fantastic. I can't wait to make it even better," said Mr. Geis, who left a corresponding post in Ross to take the Cranberry position. His first day on the new job will be Monday.
Supervisors approved his hiring last Thursday. The job pays $75,500 annually.
One of his first goals in the new post will be to seek national certification of the department. Mr. Geis said it's a way of designating the program as "elite in that it's meeting all the national standards in terms of staffing and meeting the needs of the community."
He also wants to work closely with local sports associations to attract more tournaments.
Cranberry manager Jerry Andree said Mr. Geis will be a welcome addition to the staff. He was selected from more than 50 applicants -- about 18 of those made it to the interviewing stage.
The township has been without a full-time director since November 2010 when Mike Diehl resigned as part of an agreement. Mr. Andree said then that it was "time for new leadership." Mr. Diehl had been hired in September 2000.
Former Moon manager Greg Smith had served as a part-time interim director since May 2012, working about 20 hours a week.
Mr. Andree called the process of recruiting a new director "lengthy and exhausting. We were committed to finding the right person." Mr. Geis interviewed five times with township representatives and was required to make a presentation to a group of township department managers as part of the process.
Mr. Andree said the township was impressed with Mr. Geis' accomplishments during his 11-year tenure with Ross, noting that he made "significant enhancements and improvements" there and led the Ross department to achieve professional recognition from the statewide recreation and parks society.
"Pete exhibits the level of professionalism, leadership and passion that we have been seeking," Mr. Andree said.
Mr. Geis, a graduate of Slippery Rock University, said he is excited to be working in a place he calls home. He and his family moved to Cranberry from Ross in July. A graduate of Hampton High School, he has relatives in Cranberry, so he has been familiar with its attributes for many years.
"Cranberry is very innovative. They're the way you would hope it would be. They clearly put a lot of resources into parks and recreation," he said. The township has three major parks, a swimming complex, a skateboard park, a dog park and a golf course.
"I'm extremely excited about the potential. I think I can reach my potential there, and I believe I have the ability to help the program be the best it can be," he said. He praised Cranberry's parks and recreation staff of a half-dozen people. He said his staff in Ross consisted of himself and one other full-time person.
"Ross was wonderful and we did a lot with the resources we had," said Mr. Geis, who notified Ross of his pending resignation Feb. 22. "But Cranberry is still growing and there's a lot of potential there for change."
Karen Kane: email@example.com or 724-772-9180.