Alaska News Nightly: November 12, 2008

As absentee, questioned and early ballots are counted, Begich inches ahead of Stevens in US Senate race. Also, Bill Weimer is sentenced to 6 months in prison. Plus, the courts deny Sea Hawk Seafood a larger share of Exxon Valdez punitive damages. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Begich inches ahead of Stevens in US Senate race
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich has taken a three vote lead over Senator Ted Stevens in the latest vote count update released this afternoon by the Division of Elections.  More returns are possible this evening.

A busy day counting at the Division of Elections

Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
At the Anchorage Division of Elections Office today, party observers, some campaign staff and the occasional candidate watched through a large plate glass window as workers counted ballots in a separate room.

Bill Weimer sentenced to 6 months in prison

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Another figure in Alaska’s ongoing political corruption scandal is headed to prison. Former Alaska businessman Bill Weimar was sentenced to six months in prison, six months home confinement and fined $75,000 in Anchorage federal court this morning. Weimar used to run profitable halfway houses for Alaska and is now retired and living in Montana. He pleaded guilty in August for his role in a scheme to funnel $20,000 to a state Senate candidate.

Court denies Sea Hawk Seafood a larger share of Exxon Valdez punitive damages
Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak and Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A former Prince William Sound fish processor, Sea Hawk Seafoods of Valdez, has been denied a request for a larger share of the money in the Exxon Valdez punitive damages award.  Sea Hawk filed last month for a larger share of the $507,000,000.

Hydrates show enormous potential as a future energy source
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Alaska contains enough natural gas in the form of hydrates to heat more than 100 million homes for a decade.  That’s according to a report released today by the US Geological Survey.  Accessing Alaska’s natural gas hydrates is a long way off – but federal scientists say they now have a better understanding of their potential.

Study says coal to liquids technolody possible for interior
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A study shows coal to liquids technology could work for the interior. The feasibility study was commissioned by the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation or FEDCO, as a first step toward addressing the region’s dependence on oil.

Board of Game legalized trapping close to Juneau trails
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
The Alaska Board of Game has legalized trapping within 50 yards of many Juneau trails, as long as the traps are five feet off the ground and snow. The traps also have to be no more than five inches across.

Healthy lifestyles program music to village’s ears
Laura Davis, KNOM – Nome
Students in a Western Alaska village—both young and old—have spent the past few months learning how to play the guitar.  It’s part of a larger effort to encourage healthy lifestyles within a community that faces chronic challenges.