Boater rescued in Cook Inlet: According to the U.S. Coast Guard, personnel from three agencies combined forces to rescue a boater whose excursion in Cook Inlet took a turn for the worse on Tuesday. Alaska State Troopers called the Coast Guard for assistance at 7:03 p.m. in rescuing a man wearing a brown life vest and floating between Anchorage and Fire Island in an unpowered raft that was losing air. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders sent a broadcast for urgent help from other agencies or mariners in the area, and directed the launch of an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Kodiak. Personnel at the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson responded, and an Air Force HC-130 airplane and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter were first to the scene. The Black Hawk crew ended the situation by pushing the man to shore using the aircraft's rotor wash. Troopers met him at the shore at 8:19 p.m. and flew him to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage for further evaluation. "This was a complex case that was only successful because of the close coordination with our partners in the Air Force and Alaska State Troopers," said Lt. Matthew Mitchell, Sector Anchorage search and rescue mission controller. "We frequently work with our search and rescue partners throughout the state to respond to distress cases as quickly and efficiently as possible."
Love the Earth back today: Earth Day smiled on Alaska's largest city. No matter what Alaskans may have done to the Earth over more than 100 years of ripping gold and other precious materials out of the ground, the Earth seemed to be happy with them Tuesday. Spring temperatures were more than 50 degrees by noon in many parts of Anchorage and pushing up toward record highs for a second-consecutive day. The normal average high is about 45. The skies were blue and clear. The sun was out. It was a radical change from a year ago when Earth Day seriously frowned on the state with temperatures running 10 to 20 degrees below the normal average high. April 2013 ended up one of the coldest in 74 years in Alaska, and then it snowed in May. What a difference a year makes.
Free vaccines during National Infant Immunization Week: From April 26 to May 3, Alaskans can get vaccinated at no cost at Alaska's public health centers. Infants can receive immunizations for 14 vaccine-preventable diseases, and adults can get up-to-date on their vaccines free of charge, as well. State public health centers, the Municipality of Anchorage and Maniilaq Association in Kotzebue are all participating in the week-long fee waiver. Public health centers are located in Alaska's cities of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau and many smaller communities across Alaska.
Winners and losers in the ballot initiative move to November: Because the Alaska Legislature failed to finish business by Monday, a provision in state law automatically bumps ballot initiatives from the August primary ballot to the November general election ballot. As Politico notes in a short piece on the situation, that includes the state's nationally-watched initiative to legalize the recreation use of marijuana. "The move of the ballot initiative," the political news site notes "could spur liberal voters to turn out in the fall" -- which could benefit incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich. Meanwhile the Washington Post noted both the pot measure and one to raise the minimum wage, which could also bring out more liberal voters -- and potentially increase support for the embattled Begich (unless its pre-empted by legislation). Neither outlet noted talk within the state that the moving the initiatives could reduce turnout in August for a vote to repeal the controversial new oil tax regime, commonly known as SB 21. But unlike other Alaska Democrats, Begich hasn't embraced the movement to repeal SB 21, so a boost at the polls for him might seem a worthwhile tradeoff for backers of the new tax system.