NEWS TO KNOW
Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.
♦ A jury is expected to hand down a sentence today in the James Fields trial. Psychologists told the jury yesterday Fields has a history of mental illness and bipolar disorder, for which he was twice hospitalized. Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, testified that “Heather was full of love, justice and fairness. Mr. Fields tried to silence her. I refuse to allow that.” (The Daily Progress)
♦ The Interstate 66 express lane tolls – the ones that go as high as $40 or more during peak rush-hour for single occupancy vehicles (two-passenger vehicles are free) – have been a bit of a mixed bag, increasing carpooling 25 percent but also inadvertently extending rush-hour traffic deeper into the morning as drivers start their commutes later to try to avoid the tolls, which end at 9 a.m. (The Washington Post)
♦ The chairwoman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors says she’s having second thoughts about the county’s decision to accept $5 million in Atlantic Coast Pipeline mitigation funding. The pipeline project won’t enter the county. “It makes me grievously uncomfortable that we are being paid off to be silent and not stand up and protect our neighbors,” board Chairwoman Ann H. Mallek said. (The Daily Progress)
♦ Stafford County Public Schools is considering a policy that would allow transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identities. The policy would be a first of its kind in the state. (The Free Lance-Star)
♦ Students at Christopher Newport University are calling on the school to provide free menstrual products on campus. (The Virginian-Pilot)
♦ Congresswoman-elect Elaine Luria, a Democrat, spent more than double her GOP opponent, Rep. Scott Taylor, in the final weeks of the race, dominating digital and broadcast advertising. (The Daily Press)
♦ Southwest Virginia leads the state in cigarette smoking, according to a new health department survey, which found 18 percent of people in the region smoke, compared to 17 percent in central Virginia, 14 percent in eastern Virginia and seven percent in Northern Virginia. (The Coalfield Progress)
♦ State police responded to 1,177 traffic crashes during and after Sunday’s snowfall. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
♦ A 20-mile backup that left some drivers stranded for 18 hours on Interstate 81 near Bristol was caused by cars and trucks getting stuck in the snow, not crashes, authorities said. “As soon as the wreckers would get the stuck vehicles freed and the troopers would let more vehicles move through, the next group of vehicles would lose control and get stuck … and the process would start all over again.” (Bristol Herald Courier)
♦ Former Democratic Del. Joe Morrissey and a former client at his now-shuttered law firm filed assault charges against each other following an altercation in Morrissey’s office. The former client is being represented by David Baugh, himself a participant in a 1991 courthouse fistfight with Morrissey, who was then serving as commonwealth’s attorney. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
♦ The wild ponies of Chincoteague had a bad year: Two died from swamp cancer, two died after getting stuck in the mud and one died in a freak accident. To boost the herd’s numbers, the fire department that manages them has returned three mares to the island. (The Daily Times of Salisbury)
CORRECTION: A News to Know item yesterday contained incorrect information. The lengthy backup on Interstate 81 was between Abingdon and Bristol, nowhere near Danville.