The Kenai city council adopted a resolution at its meeting this week that helps pay for one of the city’s newest tools, beach magnets.
The city already had beach rakes that it uses to sweep debris down the beach where the tide will carry it away. But for years, left in that wake, were nails, screws and other bits of metal. It had become such a problem that last year, the city banned the burning of pallets on the beach. This is where Kenai Central sophomore Riley Graves saw an opportunity. As part of the annual Caring for the Kenai Project, he developed a system that attaches a powerful magnet to those rakes so metal debris can be picked out of the sand and collected at the same time. At the conclusion of this year’s dipnetting season, Graves thanked the council for helping get his project online.
“I’m glad to be part of this process in helping you guys fix this community and become a better society and protect our feet, our tires and our animals. I’m glad the city was able to help with a mini-grant to help pay for this. It’s all been a great process and thank you for giving me the opportunity to help our community.”
The magnets cost about $2,500. City manager Paul Ostrander says after a demonstration earlier this summer, the city was sold. Pass after pass collected pound after pound of nails and other sharp stuff that’s otherwise tough to get off the beach.
“They ran it along the tide line where there’s not a lot of folks burning stuff and not much was picked up. But there was a spot right off the South Beach entrance that was obvious that there had been burning going on there for a number of years. Our parks crew ran through there one time and you could hear that thing popping as it picked up nails and every time we ran through there we would pick up at least a pound of nails. It was impressive.”
Graves applied for a grant from the city for $500 and Enstar provided the final $2,000 through the Caring for the Kenai Project. Ostrander says after some trial and error in the city’s shop, the new tools are ready to go to work on both sides of the river mouth.
“From Riley’s original idea to now, the execution from our shops department, we have something I think we’ll be able to use for many years. We do have plans to take it and do a more thorough cleaning of the beach now that the dipnet fishery is over to see if we can pick up even more, which I’m confident that we can. We’ve also committed to track the poundage of nails we pick up over the course of the year. (It’s a) great project and great idea.”
Graves’ idea earned him sixth place in this year’s Caring for the Kenai.