This past weekend, congressmen returned home to their districts following a tumultuous week in Washington.
But when Dutch Ruppersberger made his first stop in his congressional district, in Dundalk in Eastern Baltimore County, people he talked to had something other than the impeachment inquiry against President Trump on their minds.
Ruppersberger made his way to the Friday night practice of the Dundalk Dynasty youth football teams at Merritt Point Park. The program got thrown for a big loss weekend before last when its concession stand was destroyed by fire, along with everything inside like football gear, snacks, drinks, a refrigerator and a microwave.
Chrissy Rossi, who coaches the youngest of five teams, the four to seven year olds, said there was about $10,000 worth of stuff in there.
“Not counting what we’re not making every practice in concession stands to keep the program going,” Rossi said.
The biggest expense the program has is paying the referees around $800 every weekend the Dynasty play at home.
Friday night’s practice turned into a rally to help raise money for a new concession stand. Donated food and drinks were stored in a nearby shed.
Ruppersberger is a Democrat, and Dundalk is in a conservative part of his district. There is strong support for the president. But after talking to people for more than an hour, Ruppersberger was asked what his constituents had to say to him about the impeachment inquiry unfolding in Washington.
“Not one person talked to me about it at this event,” Ruppersberger said.
Ruppersberger said he coached for the Baltimore County Recreation Council for 17 years. Ruppersberger said one positive thing about the fire is that it’s bringing the community together to help the football program.
“We’ve got to sometimes, stop focusing on all the things that are happening nationally and all of the negativity on either side, whether it’s left or right of whatever and start focusing on communities. We’ll be a lot better off,” Ruppersberger said.
Ruppersberger supports the impeachment inquiry. Republican State Senator Johnny Ray Salling does not. Salling wants to challenge Ruppersberger for his seat next year. But when the two met, on this occasion, Ruppersberger and Salling put politics aside.
“We’re doing all that we can to try to help them out,” Salling said. “That’s what it’s about. It’s helping our kids.”
As the Dunalk Dynasty teams went through their drills, Karen Rossi was watching her eight year old nephew William from the sidelines. She said William and his friend Braeden have been playing football together since they were four. She said they call each other brother.
“They take care of one another on the field,” Rossi said. “You know. They really do. It’s surprising they’re so small and they feel that way.”
Nearly 100 children from Dundalk and Essex make up the five Dundalk Dynasty football teams.
They are about half way through their season. Michael Klinedinst, who is the head coach for the 10 year olds team, said the games will go on.
“We’re absolutely going to continue with our season,” Klinedinst said. “It’s not going to stop us.”
The Dundalk Dynasty set up a Go Fund Me page. They have already eclipsed their goal of raising $5,000.
The Baltimore County Fire Department did not return a phone call requesting information regarding the investigation into the concession stand fire.