Alaska News Nightly: November 25, 2008

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Cook Inlet natural gas providers, distributors, regulators and customers playing chicken over contract deadlines
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Anchorage’s Natural Gas Utility, ENSTAR, has until Monday to finish renegotiating a contract with Cook Inlet producers if they want to avoid a gas shutdown to about 400 businesses who have been cut off from their previous supplier.

Environmental and wildlife groups deliver policy ideas to Obama team
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
A group of about 30 environmental and wildlife agencies has delivered a policy recommendation paper to President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team.

House District 7 election completed; Kelly wins by 1 vote
The Associated Press
The final numbers are in and this time state Representative Mike Kelly really is one vote ahead of his rival. Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, has an unofficial total of 5,018 votes after overseas ballots for House District 7 were counted today. Democratic challenger Karl Kassel has 5,017 votes. Officials say election day votes were miscounted in two of the district’s precincts. Elections division director Gail Fenumiai says the discrepancy was later discovered and corrected.

Commission recommends removing Bethel judge from bench
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
The Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct recommends suspending Bethel judge Dennis Cummings from the bench for ethical violations. That’s a sanction that they’ve never requested before.

2009 Yukon Quest field stands at 32 mushing teams
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The field for the Yukon Quest is shaping up to be one of the largest and most competitive in recent years. Thirty-two teams are registered for the 26th running of the 1,000-mile event. Race director Tania Simpson says recent additions include top mushers from across the border.

Sitka college campus called historic, endangered
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
The campus of the former Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka has made the list of the state’s 12 most endangered historic properties. The designation came just ahead of a recent decision by the Sitka planning commission to approve a new plat for the campus that leaves most of the National Historic Landmark intact.

Online reservations system goes live for Inter-Island Ferry riders
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The Inter-Island Ferry Authority (IFA) is now taking reservations online. Tickets can be booked and paid for through the authority’s website, Marketing Manager Len Laurance says the IFA hopes the system will increase ridership for the two ferries based on Prince of Wales Island.

Bowhead whale eyes tell story of life at sea, documenting environmental factors
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, KCAW – Sitka
One way to determine the approximate age of a bowhead whale is by looking at changes in their eye lens. This, combined with other methods can help scientists tell how the whales are doing, and what kinds of environmental changes may be affecting them over the course of the bowhead’s lifetime. Sitka high school students recently had a chance to play scientist and do their own eyeball dissections as part of the Sitka Whalefest science in the schools program.