Lawmakers are back in session dealing with a massive hole in Virginia's budget even as Governor Gilmore prepares to sa
And, the husband of a Lynchburg woman avoids the death penalty by pleading guilty to her murder.
Tonight on News 7 Sports, Billy Wagner signs for $27 million.
Daytona testing rolls on at the beach.
And a former Hokie football coach takes over for Steve Spurrier.
And the Tech women, who are ranked 24th in the nation host equally powerful Boston College tonight at the Cassell.
Jet stream winds will push clouds into the region quickly. Maybe some showers as well. Forecast details are just ahead.
News 7 at Six is next.
[IN Q=Let's roll up our sleeves]
[OUT Q=and get to work.]
State lawmakers return to Capitol Square.
They face a gaping hole in the state budget that overshadows everything else.
Good evening, I'm Keith Humprhy.
And I'm Shannon Young.
The 60-day session will be dominated by the one point three billion dollar budget shortfall, and the ability of a new Democratic Governor and a Republican- controlled legislature to deal with the problem.
[DOUBLE BOXES=Keith-Shannon & JoeD /Starlinkg;]
Joe Dashiell is in Capitol Square tonight where lawmakers took their first steps in that direction this afternoon.
[LIVE=JoeD /FULL Starlink]
Keith and Shannon... the hole in the state budget overshadows everything else.
but it will interesting to watch how lawmkers fill that gap, at a time when the political landscape is changing.
[***ROLLED FROM STARLINK***]
(///// SOT /////)
[SUPER=01-Del. Danny Marshall/(R) Danville; :20]
[SUPER=01-Del. Dave Nutter/(R) Christiansburg; :28]
[SUPER=01-Del. Vance Wilkins/(R) House Speaker; :49]
[OUT Q=and we will deserve every bit of it.]
(([OPENS ON NAT SOUND OF HOUSE GAVEL]
The General Assembly session opened with the familiar traditions... but this year much has changed.
As one governor goes, another prepares to take his place... and two dozen new faces are filling seats in the legislature... including Democrat Creigh Deeds in the Senate, and Republicans Robert Hurt, Dave Nutter, and Danny Marshall in the House.
[IN Q=It's very humbling for myself]
((IT'S VERY HUMBLING FOR MYSELF FOR SOME REDNECK FROM SOUTHSIDE TO BE HERE, IT'S JUST REALLY OVERWHELMING.))
((BUT OBVIOULSY THE BIGGEST THING FACING US IS THE BUDGET, PROTECTING THE INTERESTS OF THE NRV AS MUCH AS WE CAN. IT'S GOING TO BE TOUGH AND IT'S GOING TO REQUIRE SACRIFICE ACROSS THE BOARD.))
With that in mind, House Speaker Vance Wilkins said he's creating a task force to develop a new vison for Virginia.
He urged lawmakers to plan for the future without worrying who gets the credit.
[IN Q=If we reach]
((IF WE REACH JUST HALF OF THE GOALS WE ARE POSSIBLE OF REACHING, THERE WILL BE PRAISE ENOUGH TO GO AROUND. AND IF WE DON'T DO IT, THERE WILL BE ENOUGH BLAME FOR ALL OF US, AND WE WILL DESERVE EVERY BIT OF IT.))
[OUT Q=deserve every bit of it.]))
[LIVE= JoeD /FULL Starlink]
Praise and Blame are two words that may be on lawmakers minds tonight. Keith and Shannon.
[DOUBLE BOXES=Keith-Shannon & JoeD /Starlink;]
Jim Gilmore is in the spotlight tonight for one last time as Governor, as he deliveres his final State of the Commonwealth Address.
A new day in the General Assembly and the annual address of the out-going Governor share the stage this evening.
Here to help us interpret this transfer of power in the Commonwealth is Political Scientist Tom Morris, President of Emory and Henry College.
Dr. Morris, what do you expect from Jim Gilmore tonight, as he addresses lawmakers for the last time as Governor?
[SUPER=01-Dr. Tom Morris/Emory & Henry College;]
Governor-Elect Mark Warner said he'd get rid of them anyway... so today three members of the state Parole Board resigned.
Warner said on Monday that he would replace the Board within a month of taking office, and might work to abolish it completely.
One of the resigning board members says Warner acted prematurely, and says it shows that the incoming governor is ``not experienced with how the government works.''
Johnson and Johnson's Spectacle Lens Group is up and running again.
The company formerly known as Innotech broke ground in 1999, but assembly line problems kept it from manufacturing.
[***NEWS 7 @ 6 MB GRAPHIC***]
[DOUBLE BOXES=Shannon & Jennifer /MB Set;]
Business Reporter Jennifer Miele spoke with the president of The Spectacle Lens Group today.
So today's a different story Jen?
[LIVE=Jennifer /FULL MB Set]
Shannon, company president Val Brunell says all the kinks are worked out and those spectacle lenses are being tested in Eastern Virginia and Washington D.C.
He hopes they'll be available in Roanoke soon.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=That project has]
[SUPER=04-Johnson and Johnson Corporate Video;:00]
[SUPER=01-Val Brunell/The Spectacle Lens Group;:36]
[OUT Q=throughout the United States.]
((VAL BRUNNEL: THAT PROJECT HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL. WE STARTED OPERATING OUR NEW PRODUCTION LINE JUST THIS PAST DECEMBER.))
In 1999, Johnson and Johnson made Roanoke a 125 million dollar promise -- to build an eyeglass lens manufacturing facility that would eventually bring 600 new jobs in the Valley.
At the end of 2000, a production problem forced The Spectacle Lens Group to halt production and re-engineer.
The Group is back and marketing "Difinity Two Dual-add lenses" -- also known as no-line bifocals.
((VAL BRUNELL: PEOPLE THAT NEED THESE PRODUCTS ARE PEOPLE AROUND 40-45 YEARS OLD THAT FIND THEMSELVES NOT ONLY UNABLE TO SEE IN THE DISTANCE BUT NEARER WITH THE SAME KIND OF GLASSES.))
The plant sits on 31 acres just off Interstate 581 near Hershberger Road.
While it doesn't employ 600 people there yet, Johnson and Johnson is hiring -- counting 2 dozen in the last few months.
((AS OUR PRODUCTION CAPACITY INCREASES WE ANTICIPATE WE'RE GOING TO ROLLOUT MORE TEST MARKETS THROUGHOUT THE US.))
[***NEWS 7 @ 6 MB GRAPHIC***]
[LIVE=Jennifer /FULL MB Set]
The creation of The Spectacle Lens Group was one of the largest corporate investments in the Roanoke Valley.
The company says, while it got off to a slow start, things are looking much more positive.
Jennifer Miele, News 7.
Terrorism is the hot topic on college campuses these days.
Find out how one area university is tackling the subject when News 7 returns
And some local school kids get first-hand education in government... as they spend the morning with President Bush.
Family and friends of a former Lynchburg Hillcats secretary were in Circuit Court today as the victim's estranged husband, John Wesley East, pled guilty to her murder.
Prosecutors said East stabbed and strangled Karen Williams East in their home on Campbell Avenue last April.
East pled guilty to murder and a sexual offense.
Defense attorneys said they were prepared to go to trial, but evidence in the case would have likely warranted the death penalty.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=The police department]
((WILLIAM PETTY/COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY: THE POLICE DEPARTMENT DID AN OUTSTANDING JOB. YOU VERY RARELY SEE A CASE WITH THE VOLUME OF EVIDENCE THAT CAME TOGETHER OVER SUCH A LONG PERIOD OF TIME))
[SUPER=01-William Petty/Commonwealth's Attorney]
[OUT Q=long period of time]
Prosecutors told the court East made harassing phone calls to his wife before the murder.
They added forensic evidence found at the crime scene could also be linked to East.
Following today's plea, East was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
At this hour, prosecutors are still laying out their case against a 17-year-old accused of murdering a Martinsville shop owner.
Billy Ray Manns is charged with killing 30 year old Lisa Thomas Muhammed.
In September of 2000, Muhammed was found shot to death inside the downtown clothing store she and her husband owned.
In a preliminary hearing today, a neighboring shop owner said she saw Manns quickly walking away from the area that night.
Attorneys kept Lisa Muhammed's husband Maverick on the stand for one and a half hours.
He told Manns' attorneys he did not kill his wife or hire the teen to kill her, though those same lawyers say Maverick Mohammed tested positive for gunpowder residue.
It's supposed to ease students' fears and concerns about the September 11th attacks.
But a class offered at Washington and Lee may provide more questions than answers.
Richard Lesko explains.
(///// SOT /////)
[SUPER=01-Bob Strong/Political Science Professor; :]
[SUPER=01-William Blanton/VMI Cadet; :]
[SUPER=01-Alexandra Petrof/Washington and Lee Freshman; :]
[OUT Q=RL, N7, Lexington.]
(( The idea for a class about terrorism started right after the September eleventh attacks. Politics professor Bob Strong felt that the university needed to try to explain exactly what terrorism is.
[INQ=Terrorism didn't start...]
((BOB STRONG/POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR; TERRORISM DIDN'T START ON THAT DATE, THOUGH AMERICAN CONSCIOUSNESS DRAMATICALLY CHANGED WITH THOSE EVENTS.))
[OUTQ=with those events.]
Interest in the class has been overwhelming, from students at W-and-L and neighboring V-M-I. The school has turned away countless students from the class.
[SOT - 1:07:27]
[INQ=I'd like to learn...]
((WILLIAM BLANTON/VMI CADET; I'D LIKE TO LEARN WHAT DERIVES TERRORIST AND ALSO WHAT WE CAN DO BECAUSE I THINK THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW.))
[OUTQ=important right now.]
Students say they want to understand why terrorists commit their acts, and they are already thinking about ways to battle terrorism.
[SOT - 1:11:23]
[INQ=Maybe a different]
((ALEXANDRA PETROF/WASHINGTON AND LEE FRESHMAN; MAYBE A DIFFERENT MINDSET. YOU CAN GATHER INFORMATION AS YOU WANT, BUT IF YOU DON'T PUT IT INTO GREATER PICTURE, IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO STAY ONE STEP AHEAD.))
[OUTQ=stay one step ahead.]
The class will focus on not only September's attacks, but also issues dealing with the Irish Republican Army and other nationalist and religious terrorist movements.
[INQ=The course doesn't...]
((RICHARD LESKO/RLESKO@WDBJ7.COM; THE COURSE DOESN'T ATTEMPT TO FIND ANY SOLUTIONS TO TERRORISM, BUT INSTEAD TRIES TO EDUCATE AND INFORM ABOUT THE CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF TERRORIST ACTIVITY, MUCH BEYOND SEPTEMBER ELEVENTH.))
[OUTQ=beyond Sept. 11th.]
[SOT - 47:00]
[INQ=I don't think we...]
((BOB STRONG: I DON'T THINK WE ARE GOING TO FIND SOLUTIONS, WHAT I WANT THE STUDENTS TO APPRECIATE IS HOW COMPLEX THE SUBJECT IS AND HOW OFTEN THE THINGS WE NEED TO DO TO ADDRESS TERRORISM ARE GOING TO INVOLVE SERIOUS TRADE-OFFS.))
[OUTQ=serious trade offs.]
Richard Lesko, News 7, Lexington.))
A fuel spill on Interstate 81 closed a northbound lane for hours today.
The accident occurred just before one o'clock near Lexington when a Northbound semi ran off the road and hit part of an overpass.
The driver overcorrected, crossed both lanes and went down an embankment.
75 gallons of fuel spilled and authorities closed the left lane while HAZMAT crews cleaned the site.
The South Carolina driver was not hurt in the accident.
No other cars were involved.
A rally on Wall Street fizzled late in today's trading session.
[TAKE DOW & NASDAQ PAGE]
The DOW dropped 56 and a half points.
NASDAQ lost eleven.
A group of students from Thaxton Elementary School spent part of the day with the President of the United States.
The local kids particpated in President George W. Bush's signing of a federal education reform bill.
The invitation to sit in on the signing was offered by a friend of their principal who works in the nation's capitol.
Lorrie Manley surprised the kids with news of the one-day trip just yesterday.
(///// SOT at :17 /////)
[IN Q=I think it's really cool.]
((JOHN HATCHER/5TH GRADER: I THINK IT'S REALLY COOL. I'VE NEVER SEEN A PRESIDENT EXCEPT FOR IN , LIKE IN A TEXTBOOK.))
[BUTT BUTT BUTT]
((BRITTANY COLBS/4TH GRADER: I THOUGHT IT WAS NEAT. REPORTER: JUST NEAT? BRITTANY: NEAT, FUN AND COOL.))
[SUPER=01-John Hatcher/5th Grader; :00]
[SUPER=01-Brittany Colbs/4th Grader; :09]
[OUT Q=neat, fun and cool.]
The education bill will require new reading and math tests, and set higher teacher standards.
The students are expected to have a few hours to tour the city before heading home later tonight.
The Tech women play their first game since entering the Top 25.
A former Tech football coach is now in the hot seat at Florida.
Billy Wagner hits the jackpot.
And we'll hear from some of the kings of testing so far this week at Daytona.
The 24th ranked Virginia Tech women's basketball team plays Big East Conference opponents the rest of the season. Tonight at seven at Cassell Coliseum the Lady Hokies battle Boston College.
Both are 11 and 2 overall and 2 and OH in the conference. Both are also chasing defending national champion and Big East power Notre Dame.
(///// SOT /////)
[SUPER=01-Bonnie Henrickson/Virginia Tech Women's Coach; :00]
[OUT Q=......finish that out"]
In men's Big South action, Radford hosts Winthrop. We will have highlights of both at 11.
After getting snubbed by both Bob Stoops and Mike Shanahan, the Florida Gators finally have a man to replace outgoing football coach Steve Spurrier.
Ron Zook, who has ties to Virginia Tech, will make $600 thousand dollars a season less than Spurrier did as coach.
Many of you may remember back in 1987 when Frank Beamer first arrived in Blacksburg, Zook was the Hokies defensive coordinator and assistant head coach during that 87 campaign. That team went 2-and-9 and Zook's defense gave up a very un-Virginia Tech like 224 yards rushing a game.
Most recently Zook spent the past two years in New Orleans as the Saints defensive coordinator.
His ties to Florida go back to the early to mid 90s when he was the Gators' defensive coordinator and special teams coach.
His contract is for 5 years at $1 point 5 million a season.
The NFL's Most valuable player award could have gone to a number of players this season including the Steelers Kordell Stewart and the Patriots' Tom Brady.
Instead another quarterback wins the honor - Kurt Warner.
The Rams signal caller edged out his teammate Marshall Faulk in the balloting done by a nationwide panel of writers and broadcasters.
Warner passes for 48 hundred and 30 yards and 36 touchdowns, but he also threw an NFC high 22 interceptions.
He also was named MVP back in 1999.
The first three day test session of the preseason at Daytona wrapped up today with a rookie posting the fastest time.
[SUPER=03-Daytona Beach, FL; :00]
Jimmie Johnson, who will be driving a Chevy owned by both Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick with sponsorship from Lowe's - has been fast each and every day this week. His fastest circuit was just under 184 miles an hour.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=IT'S BEEN GREAT]
[SUPER=01-Jimmie Johnson/Fastest in Testing 183.816 MPH; ;00]
[SUPER=01-Stacy Compton/Topped 183 MPH in Testing; :17]
[OUT Q=...AND FIND OUT."]
Three mare days of testing for the remaining teams are scheduled for next week.
Tazewell native and former Ferrum College great Billy Wagner has been a Major League all-star, a number one closer, and now he is a multimillionaire.
The Astros signed the 30 year old heat throwing lefty to a three year deal reported to be worth $27 million dollars.
There also is a option year that will add another $8 million to the contract in 2005.
He had a franchise record 39 saves this past season and has 146 saves for his career.
Only the Yankees' Mariano Rivera makes more money as a relief pitcher.
[wipe to eng#!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]
In one other note from the big leagues, highly sought after free agent Juan Gonzalez has turned down the O's and the Mets for a chance to return to Texas.
Gonzalez will get $24 million the next two seasons with the Rangers.
The Mets offered more money, but couldn't sway him.
[GO TO PINNACLE]
And the NFL wildcard situation will put one game on WDBJ-7 this weekend.
Sunday at 3:30 the Miami Dolphins host the Baltimore Ravens. The NFL Today gets the show started at 3 right here on WDBJ-7 - Sunday.