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AK Beat: Alaska teacher earns $50,000 for finishing second on 'Jeopardy!'

Alaska Dispatch
Dimond High teacher Mary Beth Hammerstrom with 'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek. Courtesy Jeopardy Productions Inc.

Anchorage teacher wins $50,000 on 'Jeopardy!': Dimond High School teacher Mary Beth Hammerstrom took second at the nationally televised "Jeopardy!" Teachers Tournament and brought $50,000 back to her Alaska home. Hammerstrom, a Harvard University graduate, teaches economics, sociology and criminology teacher at the Anchorage high school.

$500,000 arrest warrent for Kodiak man: Alaska State Troopers in Kodiak – the main city on an island of the same name in the Gulf of Alaska – are asking residents statewide to be on the lookout for a 23-year-old from the community. Brandon Eliott Timpke is wanted on a $500,000 arrest warrant for weapons and drug charges, which include various degrees of misconduct with controlled substances, using a weapon during a drug-related crime and giving a false report to an officer, according to online court records. Troopers arrested Timpke on November 14 for failing to appear in court on misdemeanor charges of driving with a revoked license and violating bail conditions. He immediately posted bail and was released. But during a follow-up investigation, the additional charges were tacked on. Timpke is 5-foot-10 inches tall and weighs 175 pounds. Troopers say they believe the young man is on Kodiak Island, but there’s a chance he may be elsewhere in the state. Anyone with info about Timpke is asked to call troopers at 486-4121, the Kodiak Police Department at 486-8000 or Kodiak Crime Stoppers at 486-3113. The man is not considered a threat to the public, but troopers are asking people to avoid directly contacting Tempke as he may be armed.

Speedy Alaska skier not named Kikkan or Holly: Another Nordic skier from Alaska Pacific University is tasting World Cup success, and her name isn't Kikkan or Holly. This time it's Sadie Bjornsen, who a day after her 24th birthday powered to a fifth-place finish in a top FIS race in Beitostolen, Norway. Bjornsen started 45th of 53 women out of the gate, reported FasterSkier.com, but steadily moved up the leader board as the race progressed. Still, she had some concerns about those behind her. APU's Kikkan Randall, the state's most successful and best-known cross-country skier, started last. She closed on most of the racers ahead of her but eventually ended up 10th. She and Bjornsen were the only non-Norwegians in the top 10.

Red King Crab caught in camera during dramatic wardrobe change: A sped-up time-lapse video of the molting process for a female red king crab is making the rounds on the internet. Red king crabs, one of the largest species of crab, are heavily fished throughout Alaska waters. Crabs carry their bones on the outside of their bodies -- called exoskeletons. This means when a crab grows, it must shed its old shell and grow a new, bigger one. The weeks-long process was caught on video. The big moment happens at about :50 into the clip, where the crab can be seen curling up and rolling itself out of its old shell -- legs, eyes, and lungs included. Red king crabs can molt up to 20 times in their life, and have a lifespan of between 10-20 years.

Whooping cough warning for Juneau parents: Letters went home Thursday with students of the Juneau School District, warning parents of a resurgence in whooping cough. A district spokeswoman told KTOO there have been two confirmed cases and three suspected cases at downtown Juneau schools. Whooping cough, better known as pertussis, has seen a resurgence in recent years. A public health nurse in Juneau encouraged families to keep infected children at home and to make sure they are up to date in their vaccinations.

What's new in religious wildlife: First it was Alaska Native fishermen in the Bethel area of Western Alaska who argued they have a religious right to kill king salmon without regard to state or federal fishing laws. Now, a Tennessee preacher contends he has a religious right to handle venomous snakes no matter what the laws of that state might dictate. Twenty-two-year-old Andrew Hamblin, pastor of the Tabernacle Church of God and a star of “Snake Salvation,” a series on the National Geographic Channel, has been charged with violating a Tennessee law requiring owners of venomous snakes to get a permit, according to the New York Times. But Hamblin intends to fight the charge as a violation of religious freedom. "'This ain’t no longer just a fight for snake handling,' Mr. Hamblin, the father of five, told a group of supporters wearing red — to symbolize the blood of Christ — before his arraignment on a misdemeanor wildlife possession charge. "'This is a fight for freedom of religion,'" The Times reported. The Bethel judge ruled the rights of the salmon to survive trump any religious protections, but his ruling is being appealed.