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American Red Cross employee Teresa Barton assists Buster Bush, Jonesboro, in donating blood Wednesday morning at the annual “Be the Hero” Blood Drive at St. Bernards Senior Life Center in Jonesboro. Bush said he has donated blood ever since he joined the military and has received his 12-gallon pin. The event will continue from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Friday.

‘Be the Hero’

Dakota Ryan removes a 42-inch drill bit from a crane while Antonio Givan adjusts the torque after drilling holes into the pavement Wednesday morning at the intersection of Highland Drive and Caraway Road. The duo work for Construction Management and Maintenance, of Little Rock, which has been upgrading the intersection for the state highway department.

road upgrade

Trump impeached after Capitol riot in historic second charge

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time Wednesday, charged with “incitement of insurrection” over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.

With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump. The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, egged on by the president’s calls for them to “fight like hell” against the election results.

Ten Republicans fled Trump, joining Democrats who said he needed to be held accountable and warned ominously of a “clear and present danger” if Congress should leave him unchecked before Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20.

Trump is the only U.S. president to be twice impeached. It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, more so than against Bill Clinton in 1998.

The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered lawmakers, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation’s history of peaceful transfers of power. The riot also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, imploring lawmakers to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign “and domestic.”

She said of Trump: “He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

Holed up at the White House, watching the proceedings on TV, Trump later released a video statement in which he made no mention at all of the impeachment but appealed to his supporters to refrain from any further violence or disruption of Biden’s inauguration.

“Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week,” he said, his first condemnation of the attack. He appealed for unity “to move forward” and said, “Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. ... No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement.”

Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 acquit. He is the first president to be impeached twice. None has been convicted by the Senate, but Republicans said Wednesday that could change in the rapidly shifting political environment as officeholders, donors, big business and others peel away from the defeated president.

Biden said in a statement after the vote that it was his hope the Senate leadership “will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”

The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell’s office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.

McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats’ impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president’s hold on the GOP, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell’s conversations.

In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had “not made a final decision on how I will vote.”

Unlike his first time, Trump faces this impeachment as a weakened leader, having lost his own reelection as well as the Senate Republican majority.

Even Trump ally Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, shifted his position and said Wednesday the president bears responsibility for the horrifying day at the Capitol.

In making a case for the “high crimes and misdemeanors” demanded in the Constitution, the four-page impeachment resolution approved Wednesday relies on Trump’s own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden’s election victory, including at a rally near the White House on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden’s victory.

Ten Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted to impeach Trump, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.

Cheney, whose father is the former Republican vice president, said of Trump’s actions summoning the mob that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a President” of his office.

Trump was said to be livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney.

With the team around Trump hollowed out and his Twitter account silenced by the social media company, the president was deeply frustrated that he could not hit back, according to White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

From the White House, Trump leaned on Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to push Republican senators to resist, while chief of staff Mark Meadows called some of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill.

The president’s sturdy popularity with the GOP lawmakers’ constituents still had some sway, and most House Republicans voted not to impeach.

Security was exceptionally tight at the Capitol, with tall fences around the complex. Metal-detector screenings were required for lawmakers entering the House chamber, where a week earlier lawmakers huddled inside as police, guns drawn, barricaded the door from rioters.

“We are debating this historic measure at a crime scene,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

During the debate, some Republicans repeated the falsehoods spread by Trump about the election and argued that the president has been treated unfairly by Democrats from the day he took office.

Other Republicans argued the impeachment was a rushed sham and complained about a double standard applied to his supporters but not to the liberal left. Some simply appealed for the nation to move on.

Rep. Tom McClintock of California said, “Every movement has a lunatic fringe.”

Jonesboro School District accepts $12.1 million facility bid

JONESBORO — Jonesboro School Board members heard a facilities update Tuesday night for the new addition to Jonesboro High School.

Facilities Director Monroe Pointer said there was were many bids on the project.

“This is the largest project in Jonesboro taking place at this time,” Pointer said, noting construction has slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The winning bid went to Bailey Contractors. The construction company submitted a bid with a gross maximum price of $12,159,446.38 to complete the project.

Kara Mayfield, school district disbursing officer, asked if the cafeteria was about to be demolished, how would the school feed students and staff.

“We have moved the cafeteria to the home economics building,” Pointer said. “We have moved the freezers, stoves and warmers.”

Pointer noted that space is larger than the actual kitchen.

Dr. Archie Ryan asked if the solar arrays for the roof of the new building had been considered.

“Not yet,” said Pointer, “but that is not to say we won’t.”

School board members also approved two action items on the agenda.

A resolution to approve COVID-19 leave for contracted educators was passed unanimously.

“We are able to continue with a procedure that mirrors last semester,” Superintendent Kim Wilbanks said. “This semester we will have Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.”

Wilbanks said she was pleased to be able to offer employees the 10 additional days of sick leave without taking away from their regularly allotted 10 days.

Board members also approved a revision to the ESSER funds budget.

Karleen Sheets, assistant superintendent, said due to a lawsuit, the way ESSER fund allocations were made changed.

“The federal government came back and said we will calculate the funds the same way we calculate Title 1 funding,” she said.

Sheets said the originally budget was just an estimation of what funds were anticipated, so the administration wanted to submit a budget reflecting what was actually received for school board approval.

“We actually estimated it would be $2.1 million, but received $2.2,” she said. “That was an increase of about $95,202,” she said.

During final discussions, Jonesboro Assistant Superintendent William Cheatham told board members about the updates regarding COVID-19 cases in the school district.

“There are positive things going on,” he said. “The numbers are steady. We had a fear they would (increase).”

Cheatham said the district is still offering the option for JPS staff to be tested on Sundays.

“We screen about 15 to 20 staff members every Sunday,” he said.

Cheatham said the district also received word that Phase 1b of the vaccine roll-out plan that includes educators begins Monday.

Wilbanks told board members the district has been preparing and has sent out a survey to staff members.

“We have had 500-plus who have responded,” she said. “We will be prepared when we receive a phone call saying the vaccine has arrived.”

Crawford votes 'Nay'

WASHINGTON, D.C. — First District Congressmen Rick Crawford of Jonesboro voted against impeaching President Donald Trump Wednesday, citing implications for the future.

The House voted 232-197 to impeach the president for “incitement of insurrection” over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Ten of Crawford’s fellow Republicans voted in favor of impeachment.

The riot occurred as the House and Senate were about to confirm Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner. Congress reconvened after the riot was ended and completed the task. Crawford was the only member of the all Republican Arkansas delegation to vote against accepting the Electoral College tally of votes.

While Crawford didn’t respond directly to The Sun on his decision to vote against impeachment, his press secretary forwarded the congressman’s Tweets.

“I do not support this impeachment because rushing and short-circuiting the process of a serious criminal investigation by the House of Representatives would be a risky precedent that could lead to widespread abuse by both parties,” Crawford said in the Tweet. “We have a responsibility to investigate and present findings and that has not been done. I strongly support immediately appointing a bipartisan commission to investigate all events surrounding the attack on our Capitol. There appears to be evidence that some of the violent protestors came with the intent of doing harm against our government. If so, then those who chose the path of insurrection should be punished to the fullest extent of the law because that behavior should never be tolerated.”

Conviction and removal of Trump would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which will be evenly divided at the time of the vote.

65 virus deaths reported

JONESBORO — Arkansas recorded 65 new coronavirus-connected deaths on Wednesday, including one each in Craighead, Lawrence, Poinsett and Mississippi counties.

The Arkansas Department of Health also reported a total of 2,467 new cases, based on the results of more than 13,000 tests statewide. That brings the cumulative total since March to 262,020.

The statewide death toll now stands at 4,186.

The health department said there are 25,095 active cases.

The number of people hospitalized as a result of the virus rose by eight to 1,362, including 432 patients who were in intensive care units, a drop of 22; and 255 who were on ventilators, an increase of four.

In Northeast Arkansas, 188 were hospitalized, down five; 42 were in ICUs, down one; and 22 were on ventilators, an increase of one.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said, “We continue to see the devastating results of COVID-19 across Arkansas.”

The four most populous counties in Arkansas reported the highest number of cases Wednesday: Pulaski, 378; Benton, 284; Washington, 269; Sebastian, 152. Faulkner County, with 108, was fifth. Craighead had a total of 83 new cases.

Craighead County, which ranks seventh in population among the state’s 75 counties, for months had ranked fourth in virus cases, until Sebastian County recently moved up.

Northeast Arkansas COVID-19 cases by county through Wednesday:

Craighead – 9,945 confirmed (up 72 since Tuesday) , 1,307 probable (up 11), 880 active cases (down 24); 133 confirmed deaths, 14 probable.

Greene – 3,989 confirmed (up 22), 971 probable (up 15); 367 active (down 8); 49 confirmed deaths, 10 probable.

Lawrence – 1,457 confirmed (up 5), 305 probable (up 4); 117 active (down 17); 37 confirmed deaths, 3 probable.

Poinsett – 2,366 confirmed (up 6), 295 probable (up 3); 202 active (down 12); 55 confirmed deaths, 13 probable.

Mississippi – 4,331 confirmed (up 21), 466 probable (up 5); 252 active cases (down 9); 86 confirmed deaths, 15 probable.

Jackson – 2,337 confirmed (up 3), 626 probable (down 2); 55 active cases (down 25); 20 confirmed deaths, 7 probable.

Randolph – 1,309 confirmed (up 15), 355 probable (up 3); 140 active cases (up 1); 32 confirmed deaths, 12 probable.

Cross – 1,301 confirmed (up 9), 334 probable (up 8); 170 active cases (down 3); 36 confirmed deaths (unchanged), 2 probable, unchanged).

Clay – 1,117 confirmed (up 10), 330 probable (unchanged); 112 active cases (down 2); 26 confirmed deaths, 10 probable.