Fort Ritchie Community Center chief keeps eye on area

September 10, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

CASCADE -- As the executive director of the Fort Ritchie Community Center for the past year, Joe Jacobs has found himself explaining just what that means to a lot of curious people.

"We created the Fort Ritchie Community Center board a year ago on the former fort property," Jacobs said.

The "community" part of the center's mission encompasses the residents of Cascade, Smithsburg and Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., Jacobs said.

"We serve them and are trying to reach them," Jacobs said. "It is what the community needs."

After the military base was deactivated, the land and buildings became the property of Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) of Columbia, Md.

"They wanted programs ... recreational, sporting, arts and crafts, social networking and activities for seniors," Jacobs said.

COPT splits the cost of the community center operations with the Pen Mar Development Authority. Together, they renovated the gym and created a fitness center, aerobics space and meeting rooms.


Membership costs $155 a year for an individual. There are also plans for families, couples and youth.

The center is open Monday to Thursday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Sunday.

Jacobs said people still come at all hours to use the outdoor settings for walking, running and bicycling.

"I'm very impressed with the response from the community," Jacobs said.

He said he hasn't had to do much marketing because the word has been spreading.

Jacobs was born in Texas, the child of a military family, and traveled across the U.S. and abroad. He earned his undergraduate degree in coaching and physical education from the University of Maryland, though he never taught in public schools.

He received his master's and doctoral degrees, also from Maryland, and teaches courses at McDaniel College and Penn State Mont Alto.

Before taking the communty center job a year ago, Jacobs was director of the Denton Cooley Center at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute in Baltimore for eight years.

Jacobs and his wife, Pam, live in Waynesboro, Pa., with their two children.

"I've always kept an eye on Fort Ritchie and that kept me in this area," Jacobs said.

For information

Information about the Fort Ritchie Community Center can be obtained by calling 1-301-241-5085 or going to on the Web.

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