The Monday after Thanksgiving is part of a holiday tradition for millions of Pennsylvania hunters who head for the woods for the opening of the state’s two-week rifle deer season.
It’s also a big day for meat processors.
“It’s an extremely busy time of year,” said Brad Wenger, owner of Wenger Meats and Ice, 511 E. Louther St., Carlisle. “It’s the backbone of our fall business.”
The rifle season opened just before sunrise on Monday and continues through Dec. 9. Schools in Cumberland County were off for the day.
Wenger said he was already busy by 10 a.m. Monday, and he expected to remain busy throughout the day.
“They’ve started to come in already,” he said. “With archery season, we don’t get the rush that we used to … but we’ll still be busy. We’ll have deer in the parking lot. One pulled in right now.”
Byron Magee, owner of Mountain Man Custom Butchering, 10125 Mountain Road, Orrstown, agrees.
“It’s a typical first day of rifle season,” he said Monday afternoon. “We’ve had 33 in already, and we expect another 30 to 40 before we close at 6.”
Monday was also a typical opening day at North Mountain Butcher Shop, 4722 Enola Road, Newville, where 20 hunters had brought their deer by 3 p.m.
“It’s early yet for some hunters,” a spokeswoman said, adding that she expects business to be “steady over the next two weeks.”
Wenger said his busy season begins in October with the opening of archery season.
“Rifle season used to be the beginning. … Now it begins with archery the first of October,” he said.
Wenger said deer steaks, roasts and burger are the most popular cuts of meat for his customers, “although we sell 26 different products … (and) about 10,000 pounds of sweet bologna.”
Business also picks up during archery season for Magee and remains busy through the end of rifle season.
“We’ve already processed 225 deer in archery,” he said. “We’ll probably process another 225 to 250 in the next two weeks.
“We process beef and hogs throughout the year, but we don’t do any beef or hogs the whole month of December.”
In fact, deer season brings in so much additional business that most meat processors need extra help.
“We hire extra people and work extra hours,” Wenger said. “I have some very good seasonal help that I can depend on.”
“I have a few guys who help,” Magee said. “I bring in two or three extra people this time of year.”
Hunters are allowed to harvest one buck, as well as an antlerless deer for each antlerless permit they hold.
Experts believe the deer population is up due to last year’s milder temperatures. As a result, there has been more food for the deer. However, it also means the deer are not moving as much so hunters are being asked to be patient.
In terms of total deer harvest numbers, Pennsylvania ranked third in the country in 2016. Only Texas and Michigan had higher harvest totals.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
HARRISBURG — Former Cumberland County District Attorney David J. Freed was sworn in Monday as U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania administered the oath of office in Harrisburg.
“It is a true honor to be sworn in to work alongside of the excellent career prosecutors, civil attorneys and staff of the Middle District,” Freed said. “I look forward to continuing the great work of the office on behalf of our citizens.”
Freed was nominated to serve as U.S. attorney by President Donald Trump on Sept. 8, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Nov. 15. He replaces Bruce D. Brandler, who was appointed U.S. attorney on an interim basis on Oct. 2, 2016, upon the resignation of Peter J. Smith, who had served in that capacity since 2010.
Freed, 47, of Camp Hill, will serve a four-year term and preside over an area that covers 33 Pennsylvania counties in central and northeast Pennsylvania. He has been Cumberland County district attorney since 2006, and also has served as first assistant district attorney in Cumberland County and as an assistant district attorney in York County.
Freed also served as president of the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association in 2013-14 and was a law clerk for Judge Harold Sheely of the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas. He is a graduate of Washington and Lee University and received his law degree from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle.
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans are considering a trigger that would automatically increase taxes if their sweeping legislation fails to generate as much revenue as they expect. It’s an effort to mollify deficit hawks who worry that tax cuts for businesses and individuals will add to the nation’s already mounting debt.
The effort comes as a second Republican senator, Steve Daines of Montana, announced Monday that he opposes the tax bill in its current form. Previously, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said he opposed the bill, leaving Senate Republicans no room for error as they hope to vote on the bill this week.
Both senators complained that the tax bill favors large corporations over small businesses. Republicans have only two votes to spare in the Senate, where they hold a 52-48 edge and anticipate Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie.
At the White House, President Donald Trump maintained that the bill would help all Americans.
“I think it’s going to benefit everybody,” the president said. “It’s going to mostly benefit people looking for jobs more than anything else, because we’re giving great incentives.”
A new congressional estimate says the Senate tax bill would add $1.4 trillion to the budget deficit over the next decade. But GOP leaders dispute the estimate, saying tax cuts will spur economic growth, reducing the hit on the deficit.
Many economists disagree with such optimistic projections. The trigger would be a way for senators to test their economic assumptions, with real consequences if they are wrong.
“Do we have realistic numbers and is there a backstop in the process just in case we don’t?” asked Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.
“We should build in the ‘What if?’ What if this doesn’t work?” Lankford said. “What changes might be needed in the tax code in the days ahead to be able to adjust in what scenario?”
“If the revenue’s not coming in, should the rates change?” he asked.
Lankford didn’t spell out exactly how the trigger would work, noting that senators are still working on the proposal.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the trigger is possible. But, he said, the proposal could run afoul of the Senate’s byzantine budget rules.
Trump and Senate Republicans scrambled Monday to make changes to the bill in an effort to win over holdout GOP senators and pass a tax package by the end of the year.
“I think the tax bill is going very well,” Trump said.
Trump and Senate leaders are trying to balance competing demands. While some senators fear the package’s debt consequences, others want more generous tax breaks for businesses. In a boost for the legislation, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he would back the measure.
Trump hosted Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee at the White House on Monday. Afterward, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said the plan is to vote on the current tax bill this week, then work out the differences between the Senate bill and one passed by the House earlier this month.
But as of Monday, GOP leaders were still trying to round up the votes in the Senate to pass the bill.
“We always have to deal with everybody. It’s not any one particular person,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Finance Committee. “These are tough times, these are tough issues. They’re hard to deal with and we’ve had to deal with them.”
Trump suggested he is open to making unspecified changes to the way millions of “pass-through” businesses are taxed, a sticking point for some lawmakers. These are businesses in which profits are passed onto the owners, who report the income on their individual tax returns. The vast majority of U.S. businesses, big and small, are taxed this way.
Both Daines and Johnson said the current bill doesn’t cut business taxes enough for these types of partnerships and corporations. Johnson gets substantial income from such companies, including a manufacturer he helped found in Wisconsin and a commercial real estate company, according to his financial disclosure statements.
Johnson is set to vote Tuesday in the Senate Budget Committee on the measure. He told Wisconsin reporters on Monday, “If we develop a fix prior to committee, I’ll probably support it, but if we don’t I’ll vote against it.”
Johnson said Trump has assured lawmakers there will be changes. Trump is to travel to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to lobby Republican senators personally.
The overall tax package blends a sharp reduction in top corporate and business tax rates with more modest relief for individuals.
In signaling his support, Paul wrote in an op-ed on Fox News: “I’m not getting everything I want — far from it. But I’ve been immersed in this process. I’ve fought for and received major changes for the better — and I plan to vote for this bill as it stands right now.”
No doubt about it, Donald Trump has a knack for standing out in a crowd.
That was the effect Susan Roller was counting on when she put on a sad face mask of the chief executive and matched it up with a dress suit.
“He’s a crybaby who is extremely dangerous,” Roller said of the president. “I oppose his tax break for the rich and the damage it will do for most of the rest of us.”
She was one of about 50 Midstate residents who participated in a rally on the Square in Carlisle Monday afternoon against a tax reform bill that could go to a Senate vote this week.
Organized locally by Cumberland Valley Rising, the demonstration was one of 60 nationwide called for by Indivisible, a progressive grassroots network of local groups to resist what they call “the Trump agenda.”
Indivisible referred to Monday as the National Day of Action to defeat the #TrumpTaxScam and timed the rallies to the first day Congress returned to session from its Thanksgiving break.
Roller portrayed Trump as a money grubbing child out for every penny from the lower class and middle class so that the very rich and corporations could benefit.
“That’s the trickle-down theory and it has never worked,” Roller said. She said most corporations do not reinvest money from tax breaks and profits back into the economy. Instead, they increase the salaries of their chief executive officers, she said.
Passersby in the busy intersection were met with shouts of “Kill the bill,” “Not one more penny for the 1 percent” and “This is what democracy looks like.”
Several motorists honked their support and, for a brief period, a police cruiser was parked with its lights on in the Square. There were no signs of a disturbance.
Mark Whitmoyer came to Carlisle from New Bloomfield, Perry County, to add his voice to the rally. “We all need to speak out as much as we can against this scam they are calling a tax cut,” he said.
“It’s the same old thing,” Whitmoyer said. “By cutting taxes on the rich, it’s going to help everyone, but that has never worked before and it’s not going to work this time. It’s just a way to give people who have an advantage more of an advantage and the rest of us to pay for it.”
Lonna Malmsheimer of Carlisle is on the steering committee of Cumberland Valley Rising, which formed in late November 2016, a few weeks after Trump was elected president.
“It’s going to hurt a lot of people,” she said of the bill. “It’s going to slap the whole economy.”
While the bill may act to stimulate the economy in the first two years, the language suggests that money will be taken away from the middle class and from programs that help the lower class starting the third year on, Malmsheimer said.
Mark Laser of West Pennsboro Township is also on the committee. He said Cumberland Valley Rising was formed not only in response to the election of Trump, but in response to other issues in society.
“Trump is a symptom and not the cause,” Laser said. “We have much bigger problems than him to deal with.” His hope was the rally would get the word out to lawmakers and other Midstate residents that this bill is a bad idea.
“We want the process to slow down,” Laser said. “We want our legislators to work together to come up with smart legislation that is going to benefit all Americans.
“I don’t see anything good about this,” he said of the bill. “It seems like it is being jammed down our throats. It seems that our representatives are not listening to us. We want to get our voices heard.”
Sherwood McGinnis of Carlisle is a retired diplomat and an adjunct professor at both the Army War College and Dickinson College. He serves on the economic justice subcommittee of Cumberland Valley Rising.
“I hope the message goes out to our representatives that this bill is not a just bill,” McGinnis said. He said that while the bill calls for tax breaks for the very wealthy, those sponsoring the bill portray it as a middle class tax cut in order to win votes.
“What we really need is a very solid and focused look at reform,” McGinnis said. “We need a system where there is some equity and we have compassion for elements of society that need help and assistance.”
Ben Geesaman is a senior at Shippensburg High School and a leader in a newly formed club calling itself Social Activism. Its goal is to engage and inform students through activities that include hosting guest speakers and candidate forums.
As part of its effort to raise awareness, the Shippensburg club has reached out to students in other high schools including Big Spring, Carlisle, Chambersburg and Milton Hershey with the goal of establishing a youth version of Cumberland Valley Rising.
“The decisions that are being passed now … they are going to affect my generation the most,” said Geesaman, who is 17. “I don’t think people my age realize that yet. … That is why I’m trying to spread awareness.
“I can’t vote, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have a voice,” he said. “I can still get people old enough to vote to make an informed choice, and that’s what I aim to do.”