NEW CASTLE, Pa. - An 86-year-old man jailed for a week for not mowing high grass or cleaning trash from his yard has gotten help from prison staff hoping to keep him from going to the slammer again.

John Allen was sent to prison after being convicted of violating a Union Township law mandating that private property be clear of junk, rubbish, garbage or unruly grass.

Union Township Police Chief Joseph Lombardo said Allen didn't heed warnings to clean up his property, which neighbors complained was an eyesore. Allen also refused help from others in the neighborhood and from a group that assists the elderly, Lombardo said.

"I don't want local people in my house," Allen told the New Castle News when asked why he had turned down the help of friends and neighbors. "Ordinarily, I wouldn't let you through the front door."

But after seven days in jail, Allen agreed to accept an offer of help from Lawrence County prison staff.

So, about a dozen corrections officers spent several days this week at the elderly man's house. Working on their own time, they filled a garbage bin to the brim with old furniture and other household goods. They plan to get to the yard - including mowing the high grass - once the recent snow melts.

Allen, a World War II veteran, praised the prison staff for treating him well when he was behind bars and for helping him stay out of more trouble.

"I've got nothing but good to say about the way they treated me," Allen said.

But he has no desire to return to jail. "Whoever wants to be incarcerated?" he asked. *