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Hagerstown planner has his future all mapped out

September 21, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Alex Rohrbaugh said his childhood hobby was mapmaking.

Now, the 22-year-old creates maps for a living.

The Hagerstown Planning Department hired Rohrbaugh in August to design maps of the city's layout and work on other things, including long-term planning projects.

Rohrbaugh said he grew up in Chambersburg, Pa., and still lives there.

But he wanted to work in Hagerstown because the city is growing rapidly.

"I felt this is a place where I could use those planning principles," he said.

Rohrbaugh said he graduated magna cum laude in May from Shippensburg University with a bachelor's degree in geography.

His goal is to earn a master's degree in planning by using the city's tuition assistance program and to learn as much as he can from Hagerstown Planning Director Kathleen Maher and the rest of the staff.

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"We hope that we can develop him as a planner and launch him into a successful career," Maher said.

Rohrbaugh said he doesn't plan to use the knowledge that he gains in Hagerstown to find a job elsewhere.

"I'm in for the long run," he said. "This is essentially my backyard. This is where I want to be. Chambersburg ... Hagerstown ... We're all part of the community we call the Cumberland Valley."

He said the area's rich history was another factor that kept him from moving away from home.

"I'm interested professionally and personally in historic preservation," he said.

Rohrbaugh was hired to replace Melissa Hynes, who left the city in July to become a comprehensive planner in Westminster, Md.

During her tenure in Hagerstown, Hynes oversaw the Hagerstown Beautification Advisory Committee, a group that encourages residents to beautify their homes and surrounding property.

Rohrbaugh said he will take over where Hynes left off.

"We're going to focus on making Hagerstown a more beautiful place to live," he said.

Up to this point, Rohrbaugh said he has gained most of his experience from internships.

He worked for contractors in Pennsylvania and helped gather data at Shippensburg University for a six-month study that estimated future development trends in Adams County, Pa., he said.

In his spare time, Rohrbaugh said he wants to become a student of aviation and learn to fly airplanes.

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