Federal prisoners will be sought for Shamokin Cemetery cleanup
SHAMOKIN - Federal inmates are being sought to help clean up the Shamokin Cemetery as well as downtown sidewalks and storefronts ahead of the city's 150th anniversary celebration.
Jeffrey Fromm, who is coordinating the efforts, is asking the Federal Bureau of Prisons to allow 20 inmates from the satellite camp of FCI-Schuylkill to mow and trim grass, remove debris and reset headstones that have been toppled. The cemetery cleanup is scheduled for April 23 and 24, and citizen volunteers will also be there to help.
On April 25, 10 inmates have been requested to assist volunteers along Independence Street, mostly using shovels and brooms to clean dirt and trash from the sidewalks. Two volunteers will also use pressure washers to clean the sidewalks and storefronts of participating building owners. City police will provide traffic control, and a street department employee will operate the street sweeper.
Transportation to and from the work sites must be provided along with necessary work and safety equipment, a safety lecture and constant supervision, Fromm said in a letter to a prison official.
Shamokin's 150th anniversary will be celebrated in July with a variety of events. A small group of volunteers operate as an anniversary committee in planning the celebration.
Fromm, the husband of city Councilwoman Barbara Moyer, is also a member of the city's planning commission. He retired in 2012 from the federal prison system after 23 years.
Mayor William D. Milbrand signed a letter in support of the proposal. He said the Shamokin Street Department will make equipment available for the cleanups.
Milbrand is also president of the cemetery committee. He said the lone caretaker does a "good job," but the cemetery is burdened by limited resources.
"Unfortunately, the cemetery committee doesn't have a lot of money to put into this and we're extremely grateful," Milbrand said.
The Shamokin Cemetery officially opened in 1860, according to www.shamokincemetery.com. There are more than 16,000 interments and entombments in the five mausoleums on site, the website states.
In recent years the number of burials has slowed to a halt, and upkeep has become a challenge. There are a handful of descendents who care for their ancestors' gravesites, and some volunteer groups have occasionally assisted in sprucing up the cemetery.