Volunteers Cleaning Up A Cemetery

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SHAMOKIN -- Volunteers are pitching in to spruce up a neglected cemetery in Northumberland County.

Close to 50 people, including prison inmates, spent the day raking, mowing and beautifying the Shamokin Cemetery.

The sounds of lawnmowers and weed whackers filled the Shamokin Cemetery as the large-scale cleanup got underway.

"I've been walking around picking up limbs so that the guys can mow, also raking leaves away from the ground," said Barbara Moyer of Shamokin.

Close to 50 volunteers will spend three days cleaning up the Shamokin Cemetery.  The crew includes 17 inmates from the federal prison near Minersville.

"The inmates are able to come out, do some work, give back to the community while they're still under supervision," said Warden Jeff Krueger, FCI Schuylkill.

Warden Krueger says all of the inmates are low-level offenders who are within two years of release.

The Shamokin Cemetery has been around since the 1800s.

Jeff Fromm lives in Shamokin and organized the cleanup.  He says some of the 16,000 graves are in bad shape.

"We found some that were buried totally.  We found them and trimmed them out and brought them back."

Local officials say the reason why the cemetery was in such bad condition was because of the lack of funding.  There hasn't been a permanent caretaker since the early 1990s.  That's why volunteers are important.

"Clearing out the gravestones so they look nice, Memorial Day is coming up so we'll make things look good for the community," said Dave Brokus of Catawissa.

"Many of my family members are buried here and I love Shamokin so I wanted to come out and volunteer today," Moyer added.

Fromm says around 800 veterans are buried at the Shamokin Cemetery.

"Korea, World War I, World War II, Civil War," Fromm said.

Volunteers honored them by placing flags on their gravesites.

All of the equipment for the cleanup was donated by state and local officials.

The cleanup is scheduled to go on until Friday.