The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

June 23, 2013

‘I do it out of respect’: Jerome man volunteers to cut grass at neglected cemetery

JOHNSTOWN — Every week or so, Pete Clawson of Jerome can be seen driving his tractor and trailer to the Russian Orthodox cemetery outside of Jerome to mow the grass.

In addition to the tractor that he uses to cut the grass on the hilly cemetery, he also hauls a lawn mower and other equipment to trim the grass.

The church that buried its parishioners at the cemetery has been closed for about 50 years, a local funeral director said. The grass was mowed only once or twice a year since then, said Joseph Hoffman, a funeral director with Hoffman Funeral Homes in Davidsville and Boswell.

There are 18 World War I veterans, one World War II veteran and one Desert Storm veteran resting in peace at the cemetery.

Clawson said he was driving past the cemetery four years ago when he noticed that the grass was as high as his waist.

“I just started cutting it down little by little and got it back into shape,” Clawson said.

He then cleaned debris from the roadside ditch in front of the cemetery.

“I do it out of respect,” Clawson said. “You have to have respect for the people who are buried there.”

It takes Clawson about two to three hours to cut the grass, weed the cemetery and reset the holders for American flags on the graves of veterans.

“It is self-satisfying,” he said about the rewards that volunteering brings.

Clawson, a carpenter and retired owner of Clawson Carpentry, has built and remodeled homes throughout the United States. Although retired, he still does some remodeling in the local area.

For his efforts, Clawson is the Person of the Week.

Hoffman said the last funeral he had at the cemetery was in the 1960s, with the church closing a short time later.

“This man (Clawson) has been cutting it the last couple of years, using his own gasoline and equipment,” Hoffman said.

Clawson is not a member of a Russian Orthodox Church nor does he have a family member buried there, said Hoffman, who has helped Clawson to repair flag holders for veterans buried at the cemetery.

“He saw something that needed to be done, took the bull by the horns, and did it. That speaks of his character.

“He does an excellent job. It’s nice to see that volunteerism is not dead.”

Tribune-Democrat editors select a Person of the Week from nominations made by readers. To nominate someone, call 532-5058, 24 hours a day.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local briefs 4/20/2014

    April 19, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 19, 2014

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 19, 2014


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads