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Pelosi: House 'will proceed' to impeachment of Trump

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday the House will proceed with legislation to impeach President Donald Trump, calling him a threat to democracy after the deadly assault on the Capitol.

Pelosi made the announcement in a letter to colleagues. She said the House will act with solemnity but also urgency with just days remaining before Trump is to leave office on Jan. 20.

“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” she said.

“The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Pelosi said that first the House will try to force Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to oust Trump by invoking the 25th Amendment.

On Monday, House leaders will work to swiftly pass legislation to do that. If it is blocked by Republicans, which is almost certain, the House will convene for a full House vote Tuesday.

Pelosi explained that the resolution calls on Pence “to convene and mobilize the Cabinet to activate the 25th Amendment to declare the President incapable of executing the duties of his office.” Under the procedure, the vice president “would immediately exercise powers as acting President,” she wrote.

Pence is not expected to take the lead in forcing Trump out, although talk has been circulating about the 25th Amendment option for days in Washington.

Next, the House would move to consider the articles of impeachment, Pelosi said. The day for an impeachment vote was not set.

With impeachment planning intensifying, two Republican senators said they want Trump to resign immediately as efforts mount to prevent Trump from ever again holding elective office in the wake of deadly riots at the Capitol.

House Democrats were expected to introduce articles of impeachment on Monday. The strategy would be to condemn the president’s actions swiftly but delay an impeachment trial in the Senate for 100 days. That would allow President-elect Joe Biden to focus on other priorities as soon as he is inaugurated Jan. 20.

Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat and a top Biden ally, laid out the ideas Sunday as the country came to grips with the siege at the Capitol by Trump loyalists trying to overturn the election results.

“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” Clyburn said.

Pressure was mounting for Trump to leave office even before his term ended amid alarming concerns of more unrest ahead of the inauguration. The president whipped up the mob that stormed the Capitol, sent lawmakers into hiding and left five dead.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania on Sunday joined Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in calling for Trump to “resign and go away as soon as possible.”

“I think the president has disqualified himself from ever, certainly, serving in office again,” Toomey said. “I don’t think he is electable in any way.”

Murkowski, who has long voiced her exasperation with Trump’s conduct in office, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that Trump simply “needs to get out.” A third Republican, Sen. Roy Blunt, of Missouri, did not go that far, but on Sunday he warned Trump to be “very careful” in his final days in office.

Corporate America began to tie its reaction to the Capitol riots by tying them to campaign contributions.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s CEO and President Kim Keck said it will not contribute to those lawmakers — all Republicans — who supported challenges to Biden’s Electoral College win. The group “will suspend contributions to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy,” Kim said.

Citigroup did not single out lawmakers aligned with Trump’s effort to overturn the election, but said it would be pausing all federal political donations for the first three months of the year. Citi’s head of global government affairs, Candi Wolff, said in a Friday memo to employees, “We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law.”

House leaders, furious after the insurrection, appear determined to act against Trump despite the short timeline.

Late Saturday, Pelosi, D-Calif., convened a conference call with her leadership team and sent a letter to her colleagues reiterating that Trump must be held accountable. She told her caucus, now scattered across the country on a two-week recess, to “be prepared to return to Washington this week” but did not say outright that there would be a vote on impeachment.

“It is absolutely essential that those who perpetrated the assault on our democracy be held accountable,” Pelosi wrote. “There must be a recognition that this desecration was instigated by the President.”

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said an impeachment trial could not begin under the current calendar before Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.

Clyburn said that Pelosi “will make the determination as when is the best time” to send articles of impeachment to the Senate if and when they are passed by the House.

Another idea being considered was to have a separate vote that would prevent Trump from ever holding office again. That could potentially only need a simple majority vote of 51 senators, unlike impeachment, in which two-thirds of the 100-member Senate must support a conviction.

The Senate was set to be split evenly at 50-50, but under Democratic control once Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and the two Democrats who won Georgia’s Senate runoff elections last week are sworn in. Harris would be the Senate’s tie-breaking vote.

While many have criticized Trump, Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive in a time of unity.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that instead of coming together, Democrats want to “talk about ridiculous things like ‘Let’s impeach a president’” with just days left in office.

Still, some Republicans might be supportive.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said he would take a look at any articles that the House sent over. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, said he would “vote the right way” if the matter were put in front of him.

The Democratic effort to stamp Trump’s presidential record — for the second time — with the indelible mark of impeachment had advanced rapidly since the riot. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I, a leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, said Sunday that his group had 200-plus co-sponsors.

The articles, if passed by the House, could then be transmitted to the Senate for a trial, with senators acting as jurors to acquit or convict Trump. If convicted, Trump would be removed from office and succeeded by the vice president. It would be the first time a U.S. president had been impeached twice.

Potentially complicating Pelosi’s decision about impeachment was what it meant for Biden and the beginning of his presidency. While reiterating that he had long viewed Trump as unfit for office, Biden on Friday sidestepped a question about impeachment, saying what Congress did “is for them to decide.”

A violent and largely white mob of Trump supporters overpowered police, broke through security lines and windows and rampaged through the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were finalizing Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College.

Toomey appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Clyburn was on “Fox News Sunday” and CNN. Kinzinger was on ABC’s “This Week,” Blunt was on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and Rubio was on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

A dusting of snow-covered Enon Baptist Church, in Nicholas County, last week. The church, located in Enon, was founded in 1861.

The snow and the steeple

Public input sought to update Beech Fork, East Lynn lakes master plan

HUNTINGTON — A virtual public meeting has been scheduled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Huntington District to obtain input for preparation of a new regional master plan and integrated environmental assessment for Beech Fork and East Lynn lakes in Wayne County.

The virtual meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Jan. 26 and the key topics to be addressed in the revised master plans include land classifications, natural, cultural and recreational resource management objectives, recreation facility needs, and special topics such as invasive species management and threatened and endangered species habitat.

Chuck Minsker, public affairs specialist for the Huntington District, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) defines a master plan as the strategic land use management document that guides the comprehensive management and development of all recreational, natural and cultural resources throughout the life of the water resource development projects.

“A general renewal and update to the master plan is required to reflect current conditions and prescribe an overall land use management plan, resource objectives, and associated design and management concepts,” he said.

USACE generally expects master plans to have an effective lifespan of 15 to 25 years, Minsker added.

“The master plans are a vital tool produced and used by USACE to guide the responsible stewardship of USACE-administered lands and resources for the benefit of present and future generations,” Minsker said. “Public participation is critical to the successful revision of the master plan.”

The public can review the master plan, propose revisions, find additional information about the meeting and view instructions at https://www.lrh.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Current-Projects/BeechFork-EastLynn-Lakes-Regional-Master-Plan/.

The website contains a presentation describing the master planning process and instructions for submitting comments to USACE for each of the lakes. All members of the public are encouraged to submit written comments and suggestions before March 12.

Comments can also be submitted via email to BeechForkEastLynnMP@USACE.ARMY.MIL or mailed to ATTN: Rebecca Rutherford, 502 8th St., Huntington, WV 25701.

To join the meeting, visit online at https://drreedinc.webex.com/drreedinc/j.php?MTID=mc3f61eb52a5a0cb28e879fa520975d8d or call the toll-free number at 844-621-3956 and use the access code 1469394960.

“Callers will be prompted to enter the access code and security code upon calling the phone number,” the corps said in a statement. “Additionally, although not required to hear the call, a webinar will be held during the same time so that callers can visually see the presentation. Users will be prompted to enter their name and email address. This webinar has a call-me feature that will call the telephone number you enter, and this allows you to listen to the call while viewing the information.”

Both lakes are tourist attractions that draw thousands of visitors each year to the region.

The lakes provide flood protection, recreation, and preservation of fish and wildlife habitat. They also provide flood protection to the areas immediately downstream, but also contribute to flood control on the Ohio River.

Both lakes are located in the Twelvepole Creek watershed, which is a tributary to the Ohio River, and have marinas, fishing, campgrounds, hiking and biking trails, swimming beaches and hunting opportunities.

At Beech Fork Lake, the dam is 86 feet high and 1,100 feet long. There are 720 acres of water surface in the summer. The Corps of Engineers owns 12,608 acres and 3,144 acres is leased to West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) for Beech Fork State Park. Another 8,247 acres is leased to WVDNR for Beech Fork Wildlife Management Area.

At East Lynn Lake, the dam is 113 feet high and 652 feet long. There are 1,005 acres of water surface in the summer. The Corps of Engineers owns 24,821 acres of land and 22,928 acres is leased to WVDNR for East Lynn Wildlife Management Area.

City committee advances request for Garrison Avenue to be given honorary name for CPD's Johnson

A city committee advanced a request by Charleston police officers to give Garrison Avenue the honorary name of Patrolman Cassie Johnson Avenue.

Johnson, 28, was shot on Garrison Avenue on Dec. 1 and died in the hospital two days later. Johnson grew up in Charleston’s Westmoreland neighborhood, which includes most of Garrison Avenue, and was assigned to patrol the neighborhood as a city police officer.

City council member Shannon Snodgrass submitted the request to the Municipal Planning Commission on behalf of Charleston Police Department’s D Shift, or day shift, of which Johnson was a member. The commission advanced the request unanimously last week.

Snodgrass said Charleston Police Lt. Jamey Noland called her on Dec. 3, saying members of D Shift wanted to get the process started on renaming the street for Johnson.

“Lt. Noland informed me that Patrolman Johnson not only grew up in and around Garrison Avenue, she protected this area as part of her patrol as part of D Shift,” Snodgrass said during the meeting.

Noland said officers gathered the night Johnson died, trying to settle on the proper way to honor her. They decided on the street renaming, he said, because they felt it would be the best way to honor Johnson for decades to come.

“It was unanimous across D Shift that we wanted to propose this to the city and to get this done, and we thought that this was a wonderful way to honor our fallen sister by trying to make this happen,” Noland said.

Noland said he was grateful Snodgrass filed the request. Snodgrass said she wants to see the city fulfill the request in honor of Johnson.

“Patrolman Johnson gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty while being shot and ultimately killed,” she said. “By continuing her dedication and keeping Charleston safe, I respectfully ask that we initiate and give Garrison Avenue the additional honorary naming to reflect Patrolman Cassie Johnson.”

Dawn Ashworth, who lives on Garrison Avenue, said during the committee meeting she fully supported the renaming. Ashworth said she had lived on the street for nearly her entire life, and believes the move will appropriately honor Johnson for her bravery.

“Cassie watched all over Garrison Avenue … I think this would be a great reminder to everyone of Garrison Avenue that Cassie did not die in vain, and she died protecting us as she did every day,” Ashworth said.

Council member Adam Knauff, who represents the ward that includes Garrison Avenue, said various Westmoreland neighborhood groups support the renaming. He said residents have recalled seeing Johnson regularly, whether on patrol or visiting with her family.

Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said during the meeting she was thrilled D Shift proposed the idea, and she fully supports the request. The request now moves to the city committee on planning, streets and traffic. If it’s advanced, it will go before the full council for a vote.

Garrison Avenue begins at Crescent Road, near the Bigley Avenue Little League Fields, where it splits through the hill on Charleston’s West Side. It stretches almost 2 miles before turning into a dirt road near the west side of Interstate 77.

The Gazette-Mail profiled Johnson’s life the week following her death, where her mother shared stories about her daughter’s childhood in the Westmoreland neighborhood. Johnson held a deep commitment to serving her home neighborhood, her mother said, and did not take the assignment lightly.

Project tracks final resting place of West Virginians lost during Vietnam War

WAYNE — More than a half-century after small-arms fire killed Sgt. Archie Melvin Ellyson in a Vietnam battlefield southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Linda Whaley found him in England.

The soldier from Richwood was the last of 734 servicemen Whaley tracked to ensure they had a grave marker in remembrance of their sacrifice. All died in the Vietnam War, and all were from West Virginia.

Their gravesites were scattered across the country and, in Ellyson’s case, across the pond.

Registrar and chaplain of the Huntington chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Whaley and fellow member Patricia Haught spent the past year searching for the markers. Whaley’s personal goal: Finish by the end of 2020.

In the week before Christmas, five were left, some buried in Kentucky and some in northern West Virginia. And finally there was Ellyson.

“The one that we were struggling with is actually buried in England with his British wife. A niece confirmed this with Linda just this past week,” Haught said. “Once Linda visits Wyoming and Mingo counties and we get verification of a marker for the West Virginia soldier buried in Kentucky, we will have covered all of the 734 soldiers. Hallelujah! It is really a big deal, worth celebrating.”

About two years ago, Whaley said, she learned about the Virtual Wall of Faces, a website founded by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

That group is responsible for the famed black granite wall in Washington listing the more than 58,000 names of every service member who died in the Vietnam War. The Wall of Faces website displays names, photos and biographies.

But Whaley found missing pieces for the servicemen from West Virginia. Ninety-seven profiles lacked photographs.

Whaley decided to work with Haught and others to find pictures.

Helpers researched online, checked old newspapers and contacted relatives of the fallen veterans.

In less than a year, the group found photos for all West Virginia’s servicemen, Whaley said.

“Giving people a name and a face and a little bit about them brings people to life,” Whaley said. “It really helps make it so you can start thinking about what the person may have been like, and it can be very powerful.”

After finishing that project, Whaley decided there was more to do. She began the work of researching and documenting grave markers.

She and Haught spent hours researching servicemen online, in newspapers and in conversations with relatives to track down headstones, cemetery documents, family burial sites or grave marker applications.

For Whaley, it “was an emotional journey.”

“Some of the stories just break your heart, especially when you look at those young faces and you know what they went through,” Whaley said.

One story stayed with her. A soldier began drowning crossing a river. Another tried to help. Both soldiers drowned. Only one body was recovered.

Other servicemen died in crashes or from dehydration.

Ellyson was 31 when he died. Others were still in their teens.

“I’m sure that none of these soldiers wanted to give their lives but when it came down to it, they were in the midst of battle, and that’s what happened,” Whaley said. “Most of them were not men but teenage boys, 18 and 19 years old. They never had a chance at life, but they experienced the end of life.”

Most markers were found in West Virginia. Some were in Arlington National Cemetery east of the Pentagon, and others were in military cemeteries throughout the country.

“Personally, I have gotten to learn about many of these young men and their families,” Haught said. She recalled a soldier’s sister emailing three photos of her brother. “I really got to know him and his family through our email exchanges.”

Haught said she also learned something about West Virginians.

“We care about our military,” Haught said. “We care about those who don’t come home alive. We care that they are honored and respected, even 50-plus years later.”