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Local inventors make the cut

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --  Products invented by West Virginians may be headed to Walmart shelves nationwide. Two local inventions made it to the second round of Walmart's "Get On The Shelf" contest.

Beckley-based Vaught, Inc. and Teays Valley resident Kermit Monk uploaded videos explaining their products and must now wait to see if they advance to the final round. In the current audition round, products are voted on by visitors to Walmart's website. People can continue to vote until Sept. 2.

Monk, 93, a building contractor who prides himself on making any job easier, wants to make sure people don't get scalded while showering.

His product called Scald Me Not, invented with the help of his son, Gary, adopts the same principle as a thermostat in a car.

The small piece attaches to a showerhead. When a person showers and another household appliance such as a clothes washer or bathroom toilet uses a large amount of cold water to function, the Scald Me Not attachment will block the flow of water that exceeds 112 degrees.

"I said I'm going to find some way to not get scalded," said Monk. "You have to find a need for something. You can't just invent something there's no need for."

Currently, Monk advertises and sells his product in person. Winning the competition would enable him to reach a broader consumer base. His product would sell for about $20 or $30.

In 2010, Vaught started brainstorming about its product, the Element Medication Disposal System. The idea was to give folks more options for safely and effectively disposing of expired or unwanted medications.

"It's an answer to a problem nationwide," said Daniel Keaton, director of business development for Vaught. "It's kind of a one stop to get rid of everything you have."

In six steps, people can dispose of solid or liquid medicines. Consumers place unwanted medicine into a 32-ounce or a 17-ounce bottle. Next, they add the powder pack into the bottle.

After adding water and shaking the bottle's contents, the unwanted medication is ready to be disposed of. The product complies with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recommendations for drug disposal.

The company first tested its product at Hospice of Southern West Virginia in Beckley. Keaton said the feedback has been phenomenal. Since initial testing, the company engaged with community collations, solid waste authorities, watersheds, law enforcement agencies and funeral homes. 

Right now the product is available to purchase online. The larger kit sells for $10 and the smaller $7.

"We'd love to get our product in front of the entire United States," Keaton said.

After the audition voting round, finalists will participate in a web series during the fall. Voting will then select winners to have products sold on Walmart shelves nationwide. Walmart officials did not respond about further contest information before publication.  Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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