SHAMOKIN - The chairman of the Shamokin Planning Commission says a request was approved by a federal prison official to have inmates assist in two cleanup projects in April.

Jeffrey Fromm said the warden of FCI Schuylkill will allow inmates to work at the Shamokin Cemetery and in the downtown, sprucing up ahead of the city's 150th anniversary celebration this summer.

Twenty inmates will be at the cemetery on April 23 and 24 to mow and trim grass, remove debris and reset toppled headstones. They'll be assisted by citizen volunteers.

Ten inmates along with citizen volunteers will work April 25 to clean along Independence Street, using pressure washers on sidewalks and storefronts of participating building owners.

The Shamokin Street Department will assist at both projects and provide some equipment, and power washers have also been secured, Fromm said. But he is asking for the public's help in providing gas-powered lawn mowers or weed wackers, and also to volunteer. Contact City Hall at 570-644-0876 for information.

Fromm, the husband of city Councilwoman Barbara Moyer, retired in 2012 from the federal prison system after 23 years.

Mayor William D. Milbrand, president of the cemetery committee, had signed a letter in support of his cleanup proposal.

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 cleaning up the cemetery.