State awards $1.58 million in grants to small meat and poultry processors 

Warren County Meats, home to Cabin Hollow Butcher Shop in Dillsburg, York County, where Very Small Meat and Poultry Processors Reimbursement Grants were awarded Wednesday – PHOTO/PROVIDED 
Warren County Meats, home to Cabin Hollow Butcher Shop in Dillsburg, York County, where Very Small Meat and Poultry Processors Reimbursement Grants were awarded Wednesday – PHOTO/PROVIDED

Six area small meat and poultry processors were among 20 across the state to receive part of $1.58 million in grants to help build capacity to meet the demand for local foods. 

 Agriculture Deputy Secretary Cheryl Cook was in Dillsburg, York County Wednesday to announce the recipients of the 2022-23 Very Small Meat and Poultry Processors Reimbursement Grants which were created under the state Farm Bill in 2019. 

 “This crucial grant helps small processors feed local demand,” said Cook. “We saw vividly during the pandemic that shorter supply chains not only give customers the local products they crave, but help small producers beef up their bottom lines and stay in business when large, multi-state operations may struggle.” 

The announcement was made at Cabin Hollow Butcher Shop in Dillsburg, with owner and president Darryl Jones accepting a $100,000 grant. Since its inception, the Very Small Meat and Poultry Processors Grant has reimbursed $2 million to support the expansion of 35 businesses. 

This is the fourth year the grant has been offered through the efforts of the Wolf Administration and the General Assembly in creating the first-in-the-nation state Farm Bill. 

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been buying more food to keep at home, which has created large backlogs of jobs for processors like us,” said Jones. “Through the grant, our facility can purchase high-efficient equipment that will increase production by 500%, shortening wait times, serving more customers, and allowing us to share more with our community.” 

“In times of hardship, we turn to partnerships, including charitable food organizations like our Feeding Pennsylvania partners, to sustain us and see us through. With grants like the Very Small Meat and Poultry Processors Grant, we’re building a firm bedrock to support our communities and commonwealth for the future,” Cook said. 

Following are the local grant recipients, by county and amount received: 


Chapel Ford Farm, $99,300 

Rettland Farm LLC, $100,000 


Route 174 Roadside Market, $39,000 


Lehigh Valley Meats, $100,000 

Slate Belt Butchery, $43,000 


Cabin Hollow Butcher Shop Inc, DBA Warrington Farm Meats, $100,000 

Cumberland County awards more than $5 million in Recovery Grants 

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners voted last week to approve $5,0496,757 in additional Cumberland County Recovery Grants. 

Commissioners Jean Foschi and Vince DiFilippo voted 2-1 to approve grants for P25 radios. Funding for the Cumberland County Housing & Redevelopment Authorities and Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation was also approved. 

Funding in the amount of $3,783,557 was approved for the purchase of P25 Radios for Cumberland County EMS, fire, police, and municipal emergency management departments. 

Allocated to the Cumberland County Housing & Redevelopment Authorities was $873,000, $500,000 of which will be used to address affordable housing, and $250,000 for the creation of a land bank. The remaining $123,000 is allocated for gap funding to cover administration of community development block grants and the 2023 community business development subsidy. 

Approved for the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) is an additional $750,000 in grants. This includes $500,000 for tourism product development grants and $250,000 for a small business revolving loan fund. 

Cumberland County has granted a total of $22,664,618 in Recovery Grants and has allocated $25 million for county revenue replacement. The remaining $3,172,534 will be allocated later. 

Most recently, on Nov. 9 the Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 with Commissioners Foschi and DiFilippo voting to approve $1.2 million in Cumberland County Recovery Grants for Business/Non-profit and COVID-19 recovery, and $25 million for county revenue replacement. 

On Oct. 26, Cumberland County Commissioners voted 2-1 to approve $6,434,235 million in Cumberland County Recovery Grants for infrastructure projects in the county. Twenty-one municipalities were awarded funding for improvement projects.  

On Oct. 12, Cumberland County Commissioners unanimously voted to approve $7,112,908 million in Cumberland County Recovery Grants for mental health and physical health organizations across the county. Funding was awarded to 17 organizations to improve the physical and mental health of residents directly and indirectly impacted by COVID-19. 

Lancaster City Council approves $7.4M for affordable housing

In Lancaster, nine organizations will create 85 affordable housing units and preserve 443 more through renovation, thanks to a $7.4 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation approved Nov. 22 by Lancaster City Council.

“This historic investment in affordable housing is exactly what our city needs,” Mayor Danene Sorace said in a release. “While Lancaster has seen so much progress, our path forward must include a comprehensive strategy around creating and maintaining affordable housing. Today, we are taking a big step closer to meeting the need and that is worth celebrating.”

The projects funded include:

· Chestnut Housing Corp., $550,000 for construction of eight units, and restoration and remodeling of 607-609 Rockland Ave. into affordable housing.

· Community Basics Inc., $500,000 for construction of nine units, and the building of transitional housing with supportive services at 759 Manor St. for homeless young adults and those aging out of foster care.

· Lancaster City Housing Authority, $1.05 million for rehabilitation of 270 units, and renovations including a roof replacement and new HVAC.

· Lancaster/Lebanon Habitat for Humanity, $450,000 to support seven new units, land development for owner-occupied housing at 913 Wheatland Ave. and property rehabilitation on Fremont, Poplar and St. Joseph streets.

· Partners with Purpose, $500,000 for rehabilitation of 97 units, and renovation of scattered site units.

· SACA Development Corp., $850,000 for rehabilitation of 30 units, and renovation of housing at the General Cigar Place property at 453 S. Lime St.

· SDL DEVCO LLC, $2 million for construction of 45 units, and incorporating 45 affordable units to the Stockyards project.

· Tenfold, $1 million for rehabilitation of 46 units, and renovation of the Transitional Living Center at 105 E. King St.

· YWCA Lancaster, $500,000 for construction of 16 units, and renovations to add transitional living units at YWCA’s North Lime Street headquarters.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

York County receives $12.5M in state redevelopment money

State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, announced Tuesday that York County received $12.5 million in grants from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program that will benefit the 95th Legislative District.

Grant recipients, award amounts and the projects being funded include:

· City of York Health and Safety Complex ($1.5 million): The Pine Street School (Sylvia Newcome Center) will be renovated to house the consolidated operations of the Bureau of Health. A public health clinic is planned within the renovated space as well as the addition of a mental health division in conjunction with the police department. A multipurpose room will offer activities for students in grades 3 through 12. Classroom space will be provided for theater, dance, photography, cosmetology and physical fitness education and activities.

· Community Progress Council Integrated Services Building ($5 million): The council will use these funds to support the construction of a new, integrated services building that’s more cost effective to operate. Construction, land acquisition and parking improvements as well as soft costs such as design, legal services, permitting, inspections and construction management are included in the funding, too.

· York County Agricultural Society Redevelopment ($4 million): The funds are for renovations and upgrades and overall modernization of the buildings and venues throughout the York Fairgrounds. Numerous improvements are needed to the grandstand and buildings. Perimeter fencing around the fairgrounds will be constructed and/or upgraded to provide additional security.

· Newberry Township ($2 million): This grant are part of a project for a multiuse emergency services building.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Lancaster Science Factory in the running for $1M prize

The Lancaster Science Factory was selected from more than 2,000 national applicants as one of 64 quarterfinalists for the 2022 Yass Prize.

All quarterfinalists will receive a $100,000 award and move into the next phase to compete for up to $1 million before the end of the year.

The award highlights education providers that strive to offer instruction that is sustainable, transformational, outstanding and permissionless (STOP).

“The Lancaster Science Factory is thrilled to be a quarterfinalist for the 2022 Yass Prize among so many innovative education organizations. We are experiencing a peak in community demand for our hands-on STEM programs, exhibits and facility,” Lancaster Science Factory Executive Director Emily Landis said in a release. “This funding will help us grow our capacity to successfully meet the needs of local students and families.”

The quarterfinalists were announced Oct. 11 at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Detroit. They come from 33 states and the District of Columbia and represent eight kinds of education providers.

In conjunction with the $1 million Yass Prize, which will be announced Dec. 14, the STOP Awards Initiative will distribute over $10 million to the remaining education innovators, providers and entrepreneurs through the course of the competition.

The quarterfinalists now move into the next phase to determine the 32 semifinalists who have the ability to receive a $200,000 STOP Award and will take part in a four-week hybrid accelerator program.

At the end of that process, seven finalists will be chosen from which the $1 million prize winner will be selected. The other six finalists will receive a $250,000 STOP Award.

The Yass Prize for Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless Education is powered by the Center for Education Reform in partnership with Forbes.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Bank of Bird-in-Hand reaches $1 billion in assets

Bank of Bird-in-Hand surpassed $1 billion in assets as of Sept. 1, its board of directors announced Tuesday.

Speaking on behalf of the board and the bank, President and CEO Lori A. Maley said in a release, “We are extremely humbled and simultaneously inspired by our community, customers, employees and shareholders who have all played an instrumental role in achieving this latest milestone.”

“It seems like only yesterday we opened the bank, when in reality it has been almost nine years,” she added. “Achieving this threshold so quickly would be considered impossible in many places, but only here can we be so blessed to have everyone working together to truly create a unique and successful community bank.”

Bank of Bird-in-Hand serves Lancaster County, western Chester County and upper Dauphin County with a strong focus on agricultural, small business and consumer lending. Earlier this year, Maley was quoted as saying that the Plain community makes up about 50% of the bank’s customer base.

According to its website, when it was established in 2013, Bank of Bird-in-Hand was the first bank in the U.S. to gain a charter since 2010, and remains the only bank in Pennsylvania to open since 2008.

“The opportunities before this bank are numerous,” said Kevin J. McClarigan, chairman of the board. “We continue to execute our strategic plan to profitably grow our bank and enhance shareholder value while placing our customers as our top priority.”

Bank of Bird-in-Hand has its main branch and office in Bird-in-Hand and operates additional branches in Intercourse, Paradise and Ephrata as well as four mobile bank branches.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Inflation rises less than expected in July

Helped by falling gasoline prices, inflation eased a bit in July, giving American consumers some relief from surging costs. However, overall price increases slowed only modestly from the four-decade high of 9.1% recorded in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest Consumer Price Index.

Consumer prices climbed 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, and on a monthly basis, prices were unchanged from June to July, which hasn’t happened in more than two years.

The gasoline index fell 7.7% in July, the largest month-over-month drop since April 2020, while energy prices fell 4.6%.

Also declining in price from June to July were airfares, which decreased nearly 8%, hotel room costs, which declined 2.7%, and used cars, which dipped 0.4%.

Core inflation, a measure that excludes the more volatile food and energy sectors, rose just 0.3%, the smallest month-to-month increase since April. Year over year, core inflation was 5.9% in July, the same as June.

The CPI report for July showed a 1.3% month-to-month rise in the food at home index, as all six major grocery store food group indexes increased.

The index for nonalcoholic beverages rose the most, increasing 2.3% as the index for coffee jumped 3.5%. The index for cereals and bakery products climbed 1.8%.

The Associated Press noted that the inflation numbers, which were lower than anticipated, could mean the Federal Reserve raises short-term interest rates by a lesser margin when it meets in September.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Ollie’s collects $580,000 to help 114 food banks

Harrisburg-based Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Inc. announced Tuesday that it raised more than $580,000 to benefit 114 Feeding America member food banks in the communities Ollie’s serves.

The money was donated through an in-store fundraising campaign the closeout retailer conducted from April 10 to May 7 at 438 participating stores.

“With inflation at an all-time high, we are proud to be continuing our partnership with Feeding America for a third year to help the communities we serve provide food for their families,” John Swygert, Ollie’s president and CEO, said in a release. “With the help of our generous customers, we are able to support thousands of people in need across the 29 states we operate our business.”

“More than 38 million people, including 12 million children, experience hunger in the U.S.,” added Lauren Biedron, vice president of corporate partnerships at Feeding America. “Communities across the country are feeling the impact of rising food prices and many neighbors are turning to their local food banks for assistance. Feeding America is grateful to provide even more meals to neighbors in need thanks to our partnership with Ollie’s.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer.

Pennsylvania gaming industry reports revenue for January 2022 

Pennsylvania’s gaming and fantasy contests brought in over $393 million in revenue in January 2022, a 26% increase over January 2021. 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported the combined total revenue generated from all forms of gaming in January 2021 last week. 

The report includes a list of Pennsylvania casinos and their revenue in January. It also compares those earnings with January 2021. 

Casinos listed in the report include Hollywood Casino at Penn National in Dauphin County, which had a total revenue of $57.2 million in January 2022 and $43.5 million in January 2021—a change of 31.36%. 

Wind Creek Bethlehem brought in a total revenue of $38.4 million last month compared to $26.3 million in January 2021- a jump of 46.17%. 

Others included Hollywood Casino York, which brought in $6.6 million last month and had no recorded revenue in January 2021 and Hollywood Casino Morgantown, which saw a 965.71% increase from $414,300 to $4.4 million. 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board also reported record-breaking revenue from Internet Casino Type Gaming of $108.3 million—eclipsing October 2021’s previous record of $102.8 million. 

Fantasy Contests, which include betting on platforms such as DraftKings, FanDuel and Underdog Sports, made $2.8 million in revenue in January. 

Pennsylvania’s land-based casino industry is currently made up of six racetrack casinos, five stand-alone casinos, two resort casinos and three mini casinos. Two additional mini casinos are planned for completion in the coming years. 

Gov. Wolf’s 2022-23 budget proposes $4.5 billion spending increase 

In his final budget speech before the General Assembly on Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf looked back at how the state has recovered from the budget deficit it was in during his first budget address in 2015 and highlighted plans for a $43.7 billion budget that he says can leverage the state’s current surplus. 

Wolf’s budget looks to invest in job training and employee retention with a series of provisions including increasing the minimum wage, reducing the corporate net income tax, funding childcare options for state employees and more. 

It also includes a significant emphasis on pre-k through college education with $1.9 billion in allocated funds. 

“Over the past seven years, we’ve turned a $2-3 billion structural budget deficit into a $2-3 billion budget surplus. We’ve built our Rainy Day Fund to more than $2.8 billion—more than 12,000 times what it was when I took office,” Wolf said in his address on Tuesday. “We are no longer digging out of a hole. We’re ready to build. And this year’s budget does exactly that, by making new investments that will build a brighter future for Pennsylvania families.” 

The budget would increase spending by $4.5 billion and would come at the expense of Pennsylvania’s long-term financial security, according to a statement released by Senate Republican Leaders, who said the budget was less about Pennsylvania and more about Wolf’s legacy. 

“While this year’s revenues continue to outpace estimates, the long-term financial picture for the Commonwealth remains uncertain. The Governor’s revenue and spending projections over the next several years are unrealistic, do not align with traditional rates of growth and will make worse our existing structural imbalance,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne, R-Lehigh. 

The budget continues an effort by the Wolf Administration to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, which would increase to $12 per hour on July 1, 2022, with annual increases of $0.50 until reaching $15 in 2028. 

Wolf’s annual push for increases to the minimum wage has been met with scrutiny by business associations that say that a minimum wage would harm small businesses in rural regions and that the majority of Pennsylvania businesses have moved away from the state minimum of $7.25 an hour. 

“Governor Wolf again called for increasing the minimum wage to an eventual $15/hour. The median wage in Pennsylvania increased from $16.50 in 2020 to $17.00 in 2021. The market continues to move wages far beyond $7.25/hour, demonstrating little need for new government wage mandates,” the National Federation of Independent Businesses wrote in a statement on Tuesday. 

The budget also seeks to decrease the state’s corporate net income tax rate from 9.99% to 4.99% “as quickly as possible.” Pennsylvania’s historically high corporate net income tax has been pointed to as a harm to Pennsylvania’s competitiveness in the business sector and could drive additional business into the region if it were to fall. 

Funding for Pennsylvania’s businesses and workforce through the budget would also include $1.5 million for Industrial Resource Centers and $8 million for job training through the Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania. 

The $1.9 billion in educational funding pledged through the budget would be parsed across pre-k and through colleges with $70 million going to early education, $1.75 billion for general investments in K-12 schools and over $475 million for higher education. 

Regarding health care and long-term care funding, the budget sets aside $91.25 million to increase Medical Assistance rates for skilled nursing facility providers and $14 million for state veteran’s homes. 

Further investments include $50 million to increase the supplementary payment rates for personal care homes, a $36.6 million increase in county mental health base funds and a $14.3 million increase to the SNAP benefit for low-income older adults. 

The Pennsylvania Health Care Association, a statewide advocacy organization for long term care providers, said that the budget was “not enough.” 

“The Governor’s proposed Medicaid funding increase would be a critical step toward sustainability for long-term care – but it’s simply not enough,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the association. “At a time when nursing home providers are questioning their operational viability due to inflation and continued COVID-19 expenses, a workforce shortage has become a full-blown crisis, which has created bottlenecks in hospitals and access to care issues in long-term care facilities.” 

Companies continue to maintain health plans into the pandemic’s third year 

During the second year of the pandemic, area businesses continued to steer away from making large changes to their health plans while trying to minimize increasing benefit costs for employees. 

This month, the Lancaster-based Central Penn Business Group on Health (CPBGH) released its annual Healthcare Benefits Survey. The survey features participating employers from 86 companies spanning Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties. 

The survey found that this year that the average cost for health care coverage was slightly lower for single coverage and slightly higher for family coverage, but both individual employees and covered families paid slightly more for their coverage in 2021. 

“We have been watching health care costs increase for the last four decades – everyone is paying more, yet most of the strategies utilized to help control costs have not worked,” said Diane Hess, advisor to and former executive director of the CPBGH. “I do believe though that being in the middle of a pandemic is not the time to make the drastic changes necessary to affect costs and quality, so I do not expect to see major changes in plan offerings or plan costs next year either.” 

The most prominent way to manage cost among the survey’s respondents was increasing employee premiums with 73% of participating companies noting that they had increased employee cost share for coverage. Hess said that for an employer looking for an immediate impact on the company’s bottom line, increasing premiums continues to be an easy to implement option. 

“Strategies such as employee education and plans to improve employee health through wellness initiatives may or may not have the desired impact and you also do not see immediate results,” she said. 

The average out-of-pocket costs for both a single person and a family were up from 2020 with the average out-of-pocket for an individual being $5,723 and $11,559 for a family. 

The average deductible among the survey’s respondents was $2,315 for an individual and $4,608 for a family. Those deductibles were higher among smaller employers and lower among larger employers with over 200 employees. 

Employers also reported an average medical plan cost increase by 5.07% this year and predict a higher rate of increase of 9.2% next year. 

Lancaster-based High Company’s, one of the respondents on the survey and an employer of over 1,500 people, has managed to avoid cost increases on its health plans since 2019, but is looking at a 4% increase in 2022, said Liz Ford, compensation and benefits director at High Company. 

“For us, [cost savings] is really about understanding our data—it’s a lot of small changes that add up over time,” said Ford. “There is no big magic silver bullet for cost savings for us. It’s about being smart about plan design, prescription formulary and educating employees about where to go.” 

The survey’s respondents employ over 26,000 people. 43% of respondents had between 50 to 199 employees, 27% had between 1 and 49 employees and the remaining 30% had over 200. 

A large majority, 96%, of companies with over 200 employees self-insured their plans. For High, this allows the company to have better access to employee health data. It also means that it is up to the company to educate employees on how to save on out-of-pocket expenses. 

“Like all employers, our deductibles have gotten higher,” said Ford. “Being self-funded, it’s about making them aware of the things they can do to reduce expenses. We communicate to them to get their lab work done in an independent lab and use more virtual care.” 

PERSPECTIVE: Doctors’ retirement strategies need to evolve during their careers

The road to financial security mirrors many types of journeys. It’s filled with twists and turns, unexpected forks, and detours. This road is different for each person and even medical doctors need the right map to guide them to financial security. In fact, the traditional road to financial security for many doctors has changed in recent years. Your original set of directions likely needs an update.

How will doctors know if they’re following the best route or need a course correction when it comes to their retirement? The best place to start is by evaluating where you are in your career. There are typically four distinct phases in the careers of doctors.

The first phase of a doctor’s career begins in medical school. Soon-to-be doctors should try to secure medical school loans with the lowest rates possible because interest adds up quickly. The lower the rate locked in, the less those loans will cost in the long run.

Medical school students don’t have to rely solely on debt. Explore scholarship and grant opportunities to help decrease

debt load during medical school years. Finally, keep living expenses low. These steps will help set up a strong retirement strategy once these doctors enter the workforce.

The second phase of a doctor’s career is typically dominated by residency. As in the medical school phase of their career, it’s important to keep living expenses low during residency. Pay off high interest medical school loans as soon as possible because that debt can become overwhelming and incredibly expensive.

The third phase begins with a doctor’s first job out of residency. In this stage of their careers, doctors should continue to pay off high interest debt. This debt should always be prioritized first because it’s the costliest. Also, these doctors should prioritize paying down private loans versus those issued by the federal government. The latter are currently on deferral while private loans are not.

In addition, doctors just starting out should establish an emergency fund with three-to-six months of living expenses. This fund provides a crucial safety net that can bring financial security and peace of mind. At this stage of their career, doctors, like most individuals, are more likely to become disabled than die, so it is imperative that you protect yourself and your loved ones by purchasing disability insurance. Doctors also should consider life insurance policies — but prioritize disability coverage. This financial protection will help you create a strong foundation for future financial security.

Finally, take an important two-track approach to your early retirement planning. Pay down lower interest medical school debt (after the high interest debt is eliminated) and contribute to retirement accounts. Paying down debt and contributing to retirement accounts is vital for doctors early in their career. They’re often playing retirement catch up with peers because the additional years of school and residency mean they need to wait longer before they begin contributing to retirement accounts.

As doctors progress in their careers, they enter the fourth phase, the wealth-building years. This is the stage where they can supercharge their retirement savings and create a pathway for future financial security. There are several retirement strategies that doctors should pursue in this phase of their career. Among the most effective are contributing the maximum amount possible to employer tax-deferred retirement accounts. Utilize Health Saving Accounts for their tax benefits and be sure to invest in 529 college savings plans for children.

Diversifying your investment strategy is a powerful way to ensure long-term financial security. Doctors are well positioned for a variety of investment vehicles, including brokerage accounts, alternative investments, and cash balance plans. Finally, doctors in the wealth-building phase of their careers would be wise to save 15 – 20 percent of income annually. This money should be used to fund the retirement strategies outlined.

By the time doctors arrive at retirement, the directions may look different and the road that lies behind them is likely twisty. Yet, with the proper guideposts and adjustments during various phases of their career, medical doctors can enjoy a retirement defined by financial security.

Marilee FalcoCFP®, ChFC, is a principal and financial strategist at Agili, responsible for client financial strategy and counsel, comprehensive financial planning and investment management as well as managing the firm’s Bethlehem officeShe can be reached at [email protected]

Michael Joyce, CFA, CFP®, founder and president of Agili in Bethlehem, PA and Richmond, VA is responsible for overall investment strategy, management of investment portfolios and financial planning services. He can be reached at [email protected]