Northam defends air board move; Charlottesville braces for trial; Embracing the ‘zipper merge;’ Elk plan draws opposition and more headlines

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.


— Gov. Ralph Northam defended his decision to dismiss two members of the air board ahead of a crucial vote on a compressor station for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline — a move that’s drawn criticism from environmentalists, including former Vice President Al Gore. “I think people will be pleased with the choices that we made,” Northam said. “They’re highly qualified and I think they’ll do a great job.” (WCVE)

— Virginia lowered its estimates for how much sales tax revenue it can expect to collect through online retailers from $250 million a year to $165 million, saying most major websites already collect and remit the tax voluntarily. (Associated Press)

— Court officials in Charlottesville are bracing for a heavy media presence when the trial of the man accused in the Charlottesville car attack that killed Heather Heyer begins Monday. (The Daily Progress)

— Leaders in Alexandria City promise Amazon’s HQ2 will not be a traffic nightmare. (WTOP)

— A former Portsmouth police officer released from prison after serving more than two years is continuing to appeal his voluntary manslaughter conviction for shooting an unarmed teen outside a Walmart. (Associated Press)

— New stop and frisk data released by Charlottesville showed white people were slightly more likely than black people to be stopped and arrested. The police chief is planning to present the data monthly going forward amid concerns about racial bias in the police force. (The Daily Progress)

— Roanoke’s police chief is remaining steadfast in his opposition to a proposed needle exchange program. Three have opened elsewhere in the state. “Everyone looks at it differently,” the chief said. “You’ve got two sheriffs in the western part of the state who are apparently OK with turning their heads to potentially felony conduct. I am not.” (The Roanoke Times)

— Someone held up a convenience store in Hopewell on the same block a lawmaker was holding a private fundraiser attended by Gov. Ralph Northam. “As you know, the governor has [a security detail], so everyone felt very safe, and the Hopewell Police were nearby to ensure our safety,” said the fundraiser’s organizer, Del. Lashrecse D. Aird. (The Progress-Index)

— VDOT is planning to test signage around Charlottesville encouraging people to use the “zipper merge,” which is the most efficient approach to lane reductions on highways but can inspire road rage among people who feel like they’re getting cut in line. (The Virginian-Pilot)

— Norfolk International Airport got its first direct flight to the West Coast, with Southwest Airlines now offering weekend flights to San Diego. (The Virginian-Pilot)

— The state’s proposed elk management plan is not going over well in Southwest Virginia, where residents of Wise, Dickenson and Buchanan counties would be prohibited from hunting the animals until a healthy herd is established. Concerns centered around damages to farmland, crops and diseases passed on to cattle. When a board of supervisors member wasn’t allowed to address the entire room at a public hearing the state held in a small group format, he led a dozen people out to have their own meeting. (The Coalfield Progress)

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