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Mike Valletta

Storyteller. Photographer. Traveler.

Date

February 16, 2011

Governor Malloy Announces Shared Sacrifices

Earlier this week, we learned that here in Connecticut things were about to change as governor Dannel Malloy announced the largest tax increase in state history. That’s right. The largest tax increase in state history, which comes at a time when we are all feeling the burden of hard economic times and rising gas prices that are already one of the highest in the nation. On Wednesday, just shortly after noon, the governor spoke at a press conference outlining his budget plan which he hopes will turn our state around and create, not only jobs, but a surplus at the end of the day. The governor warmed the audience up as he spoke on all the positive changes that he has created since taking office, such as consolidating state agencies, and how the residents of Connecticut are such great people.

Then, it happened. The audience became quiet as the governor spoke of his plan to increase taxes across the board, which will impact everything from a basic haircut to what you buy at the store. He said that the taxes here in Connecticut are just not fair, and who among us couldn’t agree with that statement, but now it is about to get fair, but not before it goes up as well. The governor calls this a “shared sacrifice” which he believes the great people of the state of Connecticut will be willing to pay if they know what it is all about and how it will impact their state in the end. Okay. Let me stop before I go on. I got the whole “shared sacrifice” thing and that we all need to do our part to make our state a better place to live and work. What I don’t get, however, is why we just didn’t go ahead and level out the state taxes and just decided to raise them. I understand that we have to be fair and consistent, but it certainly comes with a price, especially for people in my generation, the twenty-something generation, who are moving out by the droves to more affordable states. Correct me if I am wrong, but I was taught all through school that we are the future leaders of America. Yes. We are the future leaders of America…just not in Connecticut. Connecticut was already expensive enough for many of us to live here, now the state is at it again and making it very tough for many of us to survive.

Recently, here in Torrington, we learned that our little corner of the state has an aging population and that we simply do not have a lot of young people in the region. That same news can be said about the vast majority of Connecticut as college graduates find a more affordable life in the southern states. This is certainly alarming as many from the baby boomer generation are now entering retirement age. How can Connecticut move forward if they cannot keep the twenty-something generation in the state? It is a question that is raised quite frequently throughout the social circles.

We are not the only generation to be impacted, however. Everyone across the state is certainly impacted by this news as everyone is now forced to cut even more corners than we were already cutting. That once a day trip to the coffee-house? You may want to cut that out of your budget. Brew it at home! Need gas for your car? I’m struggling myself at nearly $3.40 a gallon. We are all feeling the crunch, no matter what tax bracket you are in. An increase in state taxes is hard news to swallow, but as governor Malloy said, it is a “shared sacrifice” that we all must make in order to become a better Connecticut.

Read more on this story from The Register Citizen: Malloy: “This budget says Connecticut is open for business” (with documents)

World-Class Skiing in Litchfield County

Litchfield County,CT may not be Vermont, but it is certainly our own little piece of Vermont right here in southern New England. With our bucolic hill town villages and  scenic beauty of gentle rolling hills amongst a charming countryside, Litchfield County is unlike any other place in the state of Connecticut. It simply has to be seen to believed, pictures can only do so much. They say life is rediscovered here in the Litchfield Hills as folks from all around the globe come to unwind and bask in the beauty of what mother nature has set before us.

As the seasons change, so too do the tourists. Fall leaf peepers change out for ski enthusiasts as the local ski areas open up for a long Litchfield County winter. Winters, on average, last from late November to early April, but don’t be surprised to see flakes flying before and after those months. The Litchfield Hills are known to be unpredictable thanks to our higher elevations which host many of these ski areas.

Litchfield County is home to three ski areas; Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall, Ski Sundown in New Hartford, and Woodbury Ski Area in Woodbury. All offer a wide range of services as well as different views of our scenic landscape. Mohawk Mountain, located in the charming town of Cornwall in the northern Litchfield Hills, is perhaps the mother of all the ski areas in the state of Connecticut. Mohawk is the home to snow-making, in fact, they invented it back in the 1940’s , and today that same practice is used around the globe. With an elevation of 1,600 feet and a vertical drop of 650 feet, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the views of the surrounding area, including the Taconic Mountains of New York and the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

Mohawk also offers something that many of the other local ski areas do not;

Mohawk Mountain

 mountainside dining. Pine Lodge, located right on the slopes of Mohawk, offers skiers and riders a great place to ski in and out of as they enjoy a hot chocolate or a nice hearty bowl of soup. Pine Lodge is certainly one of the best attractions that Mohawk has going for it, but it also offers base dining located right at the base of the mountain which offers cafeteria style dining.

After you have checked out Mohawk, you’ll want to be sure to check out Ski Sundown, just a half hour to the east in New Hartford. This place is chock-full of adventure and to prove to you that they mean it, they even have their own terrain park, which is a very popular attraction. Ski Sundown may have a lower elevation than Mohawk, coming in at just 1,075 feet, but it is nothing short of fun by any means. With a vertical drop of 625 feet, and a mile long easy trail called Tom’s Treat which offers incredible views along the way as you glide your way with the terrain rather than against it, this mountain is incredibly family friendly and a hit with all age and expertise levels.

After you have had enough of high altitude skiing in the northern Litchfield Hills, which is everything north of the Litchfield town line including Torrington, you can make your way southwest to Woodbury Ski Area in Woodbury. Woodbury is known to be a hit with the New York City crowd as it is a mere 90 minute drive and right off Interstate 84. Though its elevation is only 850 feet, and only offers a 300 foot vertical drop, Woodbury still manages to find a way to pack a world of fun into this little piece of the Litchfield Hills countryside. It is the only ski area in the Litchfield Hills that offers snow tubing, and snow tubers of all ages are treated to over 1 mile of snow tubing trails along with 4 lifts!

Yes, Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills is a great escape for all who are looking to beat those pesky winter blues, and you don’t have to leave when the sun goes down. All ski areas are equipped with lights for night skiing so you can ski your way to happiness all night long while enjoying the sights and sounds of the bucolic Litchfield Hills countryside.

Ride the terrain at Ski Sundown in New Hartford.

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