Yellow trash bags lining roadsides from Sterling to Nikiski are plump with products carefully picked from ditches and curbs in an annual effort to beautify Central Peninsula communities.
Residents have been using their spare time to clean up around their properties — the proof is in the bags. As of Thursday, there have been about 225 to 250 trash bags collected by Alaska Waste, Berta Baylie, Alaska Waste office and Kenai Peninsula Borough contract manager said. Baylie said there have been a few less bags this year than last year at this time, but she’s confident it will pick up in the coming weeks.
The clean ups are a collaboration between the Kenai and Soldotna Lions Clubs, the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce. Trash bags are available at the chamber offices and Baylie said Alaska Waste will continue to pick up bags as long as they keep showing up.
The Annual Clean Up Week started on Monday and goes through Saturday. The Kenai Lions Club will host a free appreciation barbecue on Saturday for those that participate in the clean up a mile-stretch of the Kenai Spur Highway, with the base being at the old Katmai/406 building on Main Street. There will be free food and kids under 12 years old can enter to win a bicycle.
“It’s very much a good project,” Kenai Lions Club President Phyllis Swarner said. “Especially with this great weather we’ve been having.”
Swarner said after enduring the hard winters, the spring is a beautiful time of year.
“It’s just a good feeling,” she said.
For the under 12 crowd, Swarner said for each bag they bring back to “base” they’ll receive a ticket into a drawing for a boys or girls bicycle.
“It makes them a little bit more responsible,” she said. “And helps them take a little bit more pride in the effort.”
Next Saturday, May 26, the Soldotna Lions Club will be cleaning up the Spruce Grove Cemetery in Kasilof and will enlist the help of the Kenai Central High School Girls Basketball team.
“We rake up under the trees and get all the spruce cones and anything that’s just blowing around in the cemetery,” said Jan See, Soldotna Lions Sight Conservation Chair.
See has been cleaning up the area around her house and has been participating in the clean up effort at the cemetery for two decades.
Each year, she said, there’s a different group that helps the club clean the cemetery.
“They not only get a donation from us for their help, but they work for it, they earn it,” See said. “When you have about 20 people come and help you with the cemetery it doesn’t take that long to get done. So it makes it good for them and good for us too.”
After tourist season in the fall, See said the Soldotna Lions Club will clean up down town Soldotna as well.