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Fort Ritchie Community Center marks second anniversary

September 18, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
  • Paige Jensen, of Fairfield, Pa. ,runs acorss the gym floor at the Fort Ritchie Community Center Saturday during an open house.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

CASCADE -- It wasn't what you would call a "happening place."

Just a couple of years ago, residents of the Cascade area say if they were looking for a nearby place to go, they had basically one option -- nowhere.

Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008, marked a turning point with the grand opening celebration of the Fort Ritchie Community Center.

"Before the center opened, there was nothing around, nothing for people in the community to do," said Beverly Coyle, the community center's public relations manager.

The opening of the center brought 20,000 square feet of space from meeting rooms to a gymnasium where community members could engage in education, arts, cultural enrichment and fitness activities. Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) had purchased the closed-down Fort Ritchie U.S. Army Base and started a mixed-use development of the site.

The community center hosted a second anniversary celebration Saturday afternoon. Inside the center, a painter provided demonstrations and a representative of a healing arts center offered free massages. Outside, live musicians, food vendors and a moon bounce were scattered across the center's sprawling green, mountaintop lawn. In the visible distance, visitors took boat rides on Lake Royer.

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Program manager Angela Kershner said about 1,200 people from Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland and Franklin and Adams counties in Pennsylvania have become members of the center.

Kirsten Harmon, 21, of Cascade, browsed the Internet in the serene setting of the computer room Saturday while she waited for a massage. Harmon said she purchased a membership to the center shortly after it opened. She exercises at the gym's fitness center and takes a hip-hop dance class there.

"This center is a really good thing for the community," Harmon said. "There used to be nothing to do. When the center opened its doors, it brought things to the area. It's nice and it's not expensive."

Individual membership rates are $15 per month. In addition to a wide range of fitness classes from children's gymnastics to yoga for 50-plus, the center hosts events such as holiday parties, health expos, pet fairs, blood drives, craft bazaars and a triathlon.

Anne Scott of Cascade took her three children, Katelynn, 8, Isabella, 6, and Steven, 4, to the anniversary celebration. Scott works out at the center and her children attended camp there during the summer and loved it, she said.

"(The center) is close to home," Scott said. "The people are really nice. Basically, it has everything we need. I like it."

William D. Hofmann, COPT's senior property and environmental services manager, said the residents of Cascade and surrounding communities have been "very supportive" of the center and its activities and events.

"Hopefully, events like today's, that are open to the community at large, will continue to draw more people and encourage membership," Hofmann said.

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