Volunteers Clean-up Johnston City Cemetery

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By Hilary LeHew

JOHNSTON CITY - Johnston City's budget troubles have left some city workers without a paycheck. City leaders have made several layoffs in recent months in an attempt to make a dent in the city's million dollar budget deficit.

Now, volunteers are doing what they can to make up for the city's losses.

Some people spent their Sunday afternoon enjoying Arrowhead Lake. But just across the street, a handful of volunteers spent the afternoon working.

"I would pretty well be relaxing today, probably mowing my own yard so I was like, I'll just do it first and then go home and mow my own," said organizer Tina Stepek.

Stepek and her daughter gave up their Sunday afternoon to clean up Lakeview Cemetery.

Two months ago, cash-crunched Johnston City laid off several city workers. So community members grabbed their lawn mowers and brooms and got to work.

Stepek said she thinks the town needs any extra help it can get right now.

"Just some initiative and just show that we still care a about our town just because the financial side's not doing that great," said Stepek. She went on to say that there are some people that still care about Johnston City.

One of the city's cemetery workers lost his job in the cuts earlier this summer. Without the position, there's only one person to care for all the grave sites at Lakeview.

Now families and volunteers are stepping in to pick up the slack.

"We need all the volunteers out to keep it looking nice," said volunteer Mark Hofferd. "It's always been a well kept cemetery in all the years that I've known," he continued.

Hofferd is a lifelong Johnston City resident. His entire family is buried at Lakeview Cemetery.

"This is the first time in my 78 years that the city hasn't take care of the cemetery that I know of," said Hofferd.

The city is currently facing a million dollar budget deficit; spreading city workers thin, and leaving the cemetery to suffer.

"My biggest hope is that they city can get some money and get back to keeping it like they always have," explained Hofferd.

Despite the city's financial troubles-officials say it's volunteers like Stepek and Hofferd that help keep the city running.

"We're trying to keep the positive side of Johnston City," proclaimed Stepek.

The cemetery isn't the only place Johnston City is making cuts. Four firemen and two other utility workers were also laid off to help cut costs.
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