July 15, 2020

One swimmer takes flight while others look on at the Community Park Pool on Monday, the opening day of the summer pool season. Things went smoothly as patrons adjusted to the Daily Admission Card (DAC) procedure and safety protocols necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and executive orders issued by Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council voted Monday in favor of the town’s Third Round Housing Plan and Fair Share Plan. The governing body also approved zoning ordinances allowing for the construction of additional affordable housing, including rezoning of portions of Nassau Street, Route 206, a parcel at Terhune Road and Harrison Street, and Princeton Community Village.

Council also approved the introduction of a zoning ordinance for additional housing at Franklin Avenue and Witherspoon Street, voted in favor of a bond ordinance for police body cameras, and funding for road projects with grant monies attached.

The approval of the housing plan is significant because it is the first that combines elements of plans from the former Borough and Township. Princeton entered into a settlement agreement with Fair Share Housing Center late last year to establish the town’s third round affordable housing obligations. The preliminary compliance efforts were approved by Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson in February. The final hearing before the judge is August 12.

Mayor Liz Lempert called the plan an important milestone. “In our country, unfortunately, your zip code determines your destiny,” she said. “Princeton’s is the kind where if you live here, it can really change your life. We talk about affordable housing in really sterile terms. But every unit is someone’s future home, and in that home is a family, and that family’s life can be transformed. For sure, our community is not perfect, and we have a lot of work to do. And all of us here at the meeting know that. But it is also true that living in a place like Princeton opens up opportunities that are life-changing.” more

By Donald Gilpin

In unofficial, incomplete results reported by the Mercer County Clerk’s Office on July 14, as the counting continues, incumbents Leticia Fraga with 3,255 votes (40.43 percent) and David Cohen with 2,871 votes (35.66 percent) appear to have won positions on the November ballot as Democratic nominees for two available three-year terms on Princeton Council. Contender Dina Shaw has received 1,903 votes (23.64 percent).

Mark Freda, running unopposed, won the Democratic nomination for a four-year term as mayor to replace Liz Lempert, who will step down at the expiration of her term at the end of 2020.  No Republican candidates have filed for the mayoral or council election in Princeton.

The July 7 primary election, postponed from June 2, was conducted mostly by mail, and the Mercer County Board of Elections is still counting the paper ballots, which include provisional ballots and a few more vote-by-mail ballots that were postmarked by election day and arrived by July 14.

The November election now becomes the focal point on everybody’s radar.  “My office is already gearing up for the general election in November,” said Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello. “As soon as this election is certified on July 24, we will begin preparations for November’s election.”

School board candidates must file their petitions by July 27, with three seats up for grabs on the Princeton Public School Board of Education, and on August 10 the Clerk’s Office draws for ballot position for the general election.  Ballot prep and printing follow soon afterwards. “There really is no down time this year,” Sollami-Covello said. more

By Donald Gilpin

No new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Princeton over the past two and a half weeks, as the town continues to focus on opening up in the most effective ways without jeopardizing the safety of residents and visitors. The state has also succeeded in maintaining relatively stable numbers of new cases, deaths, and hospitalizations in recent weeks, with the numbers having fallen significantly from their peaks in April.

“We are working hard to maintain our lower incidence but must remind ourselves that we arrived at this place of lower incidence in large part because of massive changes to our daily lives of social distancing, masking, and being mindful of our own health,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser.

Grosser warned of possible dangers in the coming weeks. “New Jersey is one of just a couple of states that continue to see lower and lower daily incidence rates,” he said. “Unfortunately New Jersey is beginning to see an increase in younger adults testing positive for COVID-19, mainly attributed to social gatherings and, specifically, beach-related activity.”

He added, “At the Princeton Health Department we are monitoring nationwide and global incidence of COVID-19, and unfortunately there is exponential growth in a number of states.”

Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros commented on the increasing pace of activity in downtown Princeton as outdoor dining flourishes and more people visit local restaurants and businesses.  “We have reimagined our restaurant dining spaces, which has helped them to reopen and offer a new experience for patrons,” she said. “So much feedback has been positive on how this could in years to come be an ongoing warm weather option.  We also hear that this is having a positive impact on the neighboring retailers, bringing patrons back in, safely, to their stores and salons.” more

NIGHT OUT AT THE DRIVE-IN: Fans of the Acme Screening Room are enthusiastic about the Saturday night “Carpool Cinema” events taking place this summer in a parking lot near the theater in Lambertville. The film series runs through the end of August.

By Anne Levin

Since taking over the former Acme market on South Union Street in Lambertville eight years ago, the Acme Screening Room has been hosting documentaries, discussions, and related events for a devoted audience of film fans. While the pandemic has put a stop to in-person events inside the building, organizers have come up with a way to keep patrons engaged.

“Carpool Cinema” has relocated the action to a parking lot behind the Spokeworks building at 204 North Union Street, just a few blocks away. The summer series has been hosting filmgoers who watch a big screen from inside, or just outside their vehicles, while practicing social distancing. The convivial gatherings begin with a half hour of live music and continue with screenings once the sky grows dark. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own food, but refreshments for sale go beyond popcorn. Thai Tida is providing Thai street food of chicken, tofu, or port satay, plus Thai iced tea and sodas.

“It’s an alternative way to get to the movies,” said Donna Muchnicki, Acme Screening Room’s executive director. “We’ve been seeing pop-up drive-ins around the country, and we’ve had some requests over the years to have some outdoor screenings. We’ve grown a lot in the past few years, so we’re finally able to do it. And with the pandemic, it just made sense.”

Judging from comments made by patrons in their cars in a short video advertising the program on the organization’s website, acmescreeningroom.org, the series is a hit. Last Saturday’s film was Yesterday; future titles include The Blues Brothers, Bohemian Rhapsody, and more to be announced. The series runs through the end of August. more

By Donald Gilpin

Jim McCloskey (Photo by Diane Bladecki)

Two of America’s most powerful criminal justice reform advocates, Centurion Ministries founder Jim McCloskey and best-selling author John Grisham, will be conversing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening, July 16 in a virtual event sponsored by Princeton Public Library in partnership with Doubleday and Labyrinth Books.

McCloskey conjectured that the topics they discuss will include his just-published memoir When Truth Is All You Have;  Grisham’s 2019 best-selling novel The Guardians, inspired by McCloskey about a minister-turned-prisoner-advocate; “as well as our views of America’s criminal justice system, especially as it relates to the wrongly convicted and its treatment of the African American communities.”

McCloskey added, “Since both of us are huge baseball fans — he has been a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan as I am with the Philadelphia Phillies— I expect that subject might be touched upon too. Who knows what other topics might come up!”

Princeton-based Centurion, named for the Roman soldier in the Bible who said of the crucified Jesus, “Certainly, this man was innocent,” was the first organization in the United States committed to freeing the wrongly imprisoned.  Since its founding almost 40 years ago, Centurion has freed 63 prisoners while they were serving life in prison or death sentences for crimes they did not commit.

Grisham joined McCloskey in 2010 for a Centurion Ministries’ fundraiser at the Nassau Presbyterian Church, where McCloskey is a member.  Grisham returned to Princeton in March 2019, visiting McCloskey and the offices of Centurion as he was conducting research for The Guardians.  At that point he volunteered to write the foreword to When Truth Is All You Have.  In that foreword Grisham emphasizes how it is “virtually impossible” to exonerate a convicted defendant.  more

By Anne Levin

The Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF) recently awarded over $90,000 in scholarships to area high school and college students. Late last month, the organization announced that more than $1 million had been given to over 50 nonprofits, and more than $2.4 million had been donated to its COVID-19 Recovery Fund.

When it comes to local philanthropy, PACF figures prominently. The organization has more than $170 million in assets, which they invest and administer as grants and scholarships. PACF, which operates from offices on Princess Road in Lawrence Township, has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the country’s largest independent charity evaluator, for the 10th consecutive year.

Key elements of the Foundation’s success include its focus on the local area, and its ability to match philanthropists with specific organizations that are meaningful to them.

“We really care about this region,” said Nelida Valentin, PACF’s vice president, grants and programs. “We have so many different populations and different issues, and they differ throughout the state. What helps us be successful at this is that we make linkages between individuals who are donors and organizations that want to set up charitable activities. We bring the people together to actually make that happen, and we do it in so many different ways.”

PACF awarded $39,350 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors, and renewed another $53,400 in scholarships for college students who are scheduled to be resuming classes in the fall. Additionally, the $5,000 Thomas George Artist Fund Award went to Kyle Lang, who recently completed his studies at Mercer County Community College. more

Held Sunday afternoon at the Princeton Family YMCA, the march was followed by a rally featuring speakers, music, and performances. The event was organized by Princeton resident Shariese Katrell, a disabled social justice activist, student, and musician; and co-organized by Sam Shweisky of the Princeton University Athletic Department. (Photos by Charles R. Plohn)

By Stuart Mitchner

I’m on my way to Lambertville after half a year staying close to home, and nothing looks quite right. The road ahead is unwinding like a film that’s been subtly altered by forces beyond my control. The problem may be the music on the stereo. If this is a movie, I’ve picked the wrong soundtrack. The CD of Schubert lieder sounds too confined and wintry for a sunny early Sunday morning in July.

Maybe what I need is a nice rousing jolt from Ennio Morricone. Ever since he died last week, I’ve been revisiting the films he scored for Sergio Leone and reading about his relationship with his old fifth grade schoolmate in Christopher Frayling’s biography, Something To Do With Death. The title, taken from a line of dialogue in Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, has something to do with my own state of mind after discovering that two old friends of mine have died, one last month in Indiana, the other two years ago in Zurich.

The view down the long stretch of empty track at the railroad crossing outside Hopewell reminds me of the opening sequence of Once Upon a Time in the West, but more than that, it flashes me back to the hours my friend Bob and I spent playing catch in a lot next to the Illinois Central tracks. When he moved to a town upstate, we signed our letters “your everlasting friend,” no doubt using the same leaky ballpoint pens with which we copied down stats in baseball scrapbooks on long winter afternoons. The last time I saw him in person was — 1960.

Sharing Music

While waiting for the light to change at the junction of 518 and NJ 31, I take the Schubert Lieder out of the CD player and replace it with the Beach Boys’ Sunflower. Why Schubert on a pandemic-haunted morning in July? Because the other old friend I’m mourning is Irwin Gage, the pianist accompanying Gundula Janowitz on this Deutsche Grammophon recording from 1977. I’ve had closer friends over the years, but the friendship with Irwin developed on a summer student tour of Europe, giving it an kind of shipboard romance unreality. Bob and I bonded over books and baseball in Bloomington, Indiana. Irwin and I shared great music in Vienna, Salzburg, Venice, and Rome. If he hadn’t urged me to go, I’d have missed a stirring outdoor concert of Respighi’s Pines of Rome in Venice, the trumpet-glorious March of the Roman legions on the Appian Way like a preview of Morricone’s great showdown fanfare in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. It was thanks to Irwin that I saw a performance of Turandot at the Baths of Caracalla, five rows behind Orson Welles. We also shared a Mozart program in Salzburg and visits to Beethoven’s house and Schubert’s birthplace in Vienna.  more

DANCE FANS, DON’T DESPAIR: Theaters are closed, but virtual programming, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s production of “Juba,” is in full swing.

By Anne Levin

Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, fans of ballet and modern dance are missing out on the usual live performances that take place during the spring and summer months. But there are several online events to experience, from archival performances to podcasts, interviews, and inventive videos. Most can be viewed on youtube.com or through dance company websites.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been streaming multiple videos since the pandemic began. Currently available is Artistic Director Robert Battle’s Juba, along with some bonus content. The program runs through July 16 at 6:30 p.m. Next, from July 16-23, is choreographer Camille A. Brown’s City of Rain. Visit alvinailey.org.

City Center, on New York’s 55th Street, is a major presenter of dance companies and was the original home of the New York City Ballet. The organization has recently launched two online programs that will continue through the fall.

First is “Ayodele Casel’s Diary of a Tap Dancer V.6: Us.” Casel and frequent collaborator Torya Beard have conceived and curated a series of seven different video performances of solos and duets, created and performed by a multigenerational and multicultural group of artists. The virtual events are Tuesdays at 12 p.m. through August 25.

The organization is providing up-close visits with ballet stars including Misty Copeland, Sara Mearns, and Tiler Peck, along with ballerinas of the past, in “Studio 5/Great Ballerinas,” five programs starting Thursday, July 16 and running through September. The host is Alastair Macaulay, former dance critic of The New York Times. more

“STILLNESS”: This painting by artist Joe Kazimierczyk is featured in “Trail of Breadcrumbs: Nature in Fairy Tales,” D&R Greenway Land Trust’s current exhibit, now on view via a virtual tour at drgreenway.org/art-galleries. The artist will participate in an interactive talk on July 15 from 5 to 6 p.m.    

D&R Greenway Land Trust is hosting a free virtual “Art & Nature Happy Hour” on Wednesday, July 15, from 5-6 p.m. Settle in with your beverage of choice and enjoy an interactive talk with four artists, all featured in D&R Greenway’s current exhibition and virtual gallery. Moderating the conversation will be Marie L. Matthews Gallery Curator Diana Moore. Exhibited to honor Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary, “Trail of Breadcrumbs: Nature in Fairy Tales” features fine artists and children’s book illustrators Silvère Boureau, Barbara DiLorenzo, Jada Fabrizio, and Joe Kazimierczyk. To sign up and receive instructions for the free Zoom conversation, email dkilmer@drgreenway.org.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, a virtual tour of D&R Greenway Land Trust’s “Trail of Breadcrumbs, Nature in Fairy Tales” has been available to the public on D&R Greenway’s website at https://drgreenway.org/art-galleries/.    

“This enchanting art exhibit is the perfect way to celebrate the beauty of the only planet we shall ever inhabit, while inspiring a love of nature in adults and children alike,” said D&R Greenway CEO Linda Mead. “At D&R Greenway, we celebrate Earth Day every day of the year by preserving and caring for land, and making it accessible with outdoor trails.”

Since 2011, Moore has brought her talents and wit to the curation of environmental exhibitions for the Marie L. Matthews Galleries at D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center in Princeton. She chooses artists who represent, “the evolving intersection of ecology, art, and activism.” Her themed nature exhibits over the years have demonstrated the importance of nature to artists and artists to nature.

Recipient of a BA in medieval art from Princeton University, Moore serves on several art boards including the Arts Council of Princeton. She holds a master’s degree in contemporary art from Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Intensely engaged in the regional arts community, Moore’s multi-leveled background includes biotechnology. She admits to being “a bioartist working at the overlap of science, ethics, and spirituality.” more

“AS THE SEA RISES – BLUE CRYSTALS REVISITED NO. 9”: This painting by Janet Filomeno is featured in “Rising Tides: Contemporary Art and the Ecology of Water,” on view at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., July 23 through January 10, 2021.

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., is reopening to the public on July 23 with the exhibit “Rising Tides: Contemporary Art and the Ecology of Water,” on view through January 10, 2021.

The exhibit commemorates the  50th anniversary of Earth Day, established on April 22, 1970 to educate the public about environmental issues impacting our planet. “Rising Tides” will feature work by contemporary artists from the Bucks County and greater Philadelphia region that are investigating the effects of global warming, climate change, pollution, and related environmental concerns on bodies of water and aquatic species, including large-scale painting, works on paper, sculpture and installation. The exhibition will celebrate the power of art to visualize ecological crisis and global change through the eyes of seven area artists.

Emily Brown’s delicate renderings of water elicit emotion and consideration for the element that nurtures all life on Earth. While water permeates our world, we rarely study its subtleties. Brown’s large drawings allow close observation of its surface, composed of simple gray and white lines that swirl in alluring, abstracted arrangements. She has replicated this imagery on painted glass cylinders, which will also be included in the exhibition. more

ELECTRICAL EXPERTISE: “The needs of every customer are important to us at Cifelli Electrical Inc. We do every kind of job, including residential and commercial, and customers know they can rely on our knowledge and service.”Co-owners Mike Twarkusky and Anthony Tallone and office manager Carole Twarkusky look forward to continuing to serve clients throughout the Princeton area. (Photo courtesy of Cifelli Electrical Inc.)

By Jean Stratton

Always important, peace of mind in one’s home is especially crucial today as so many of us are spending many more hours home-bound during the coronavirus pandemic.

Making sure that the electrical system, including the home wiring, plugs and switches, fuse panel, circuit breaker, etc. are all in good repair is essential to home safety.

Cifelli Electrical Inc. has been providing reliable service to Princeton area customers since 2004, when Mike Twarkusky and Anthony Tallone established the company. Even before, dating back 50 years, it was a Princeton mainstay under the auspices of owner and founder John Cifelli.

“Both my co-owner Mike Twarkusky and I started at Cifelli in 1986,” says Tallone. “We were still in high school when we began working for John as apprentices. Then we both went on to further our education and become electricians.” more

SEEING RED: Connor Fletcher heads upfield for the Cornell University men’s lacrosse team. Senior star midfielder and team co-captain Fletcher, a former Princeton Day School standout, tallied six goals and five assists this spring, helping Cornell go 5-0 and rise to No. 2 in the Inside Lacrosse Maverik Division I Media Poll before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fletcher was named an Inside Lacrosse/Maverik Media Honorable Mention All-American in 2020 and totaled 89 career points on 56 goals and 33 assists while starting all 50 contests for the Big Red in his four years. (Photo provided courtesy of Cornell Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

By early March, Connor Fletcher was headed to a dream season in his final campaign for the Cornell University men’s lacrosse team.

Star midfielder and team co-captain Fletcher, a former Princeton Day School standout, had tallied six goals and five assists, helping Cornell go 5-0 and rise to No. 2 in the Inside Lacrosse/Maverik Division I Media Poll.

“We were doing really well, we felt like we had gotten back to the kind of Cornell lacrosse that made teams in the past here be so successful,” said the 6’3, 230-pound Fletcher, who starred in ice hockey and soccer in addition to lacrosse at PDS.

“We were doing the kind of things that we thought would put us as one of the top teams in the country. We were really hitting our stride. We were really confident in the way we were playing and the team that we had.”

But then the season turned into a nightmare as the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of the spring sports season in mid-March.

“It was a pretty emotional experience, there were a lot of tears and a lot of hugging,” said Fletcher, recalling the team meeting where the players found out about the cancellation.

“There wasn’t really that much to be said. We just wanted to be there for each other; making sure that we were supporting each other going forward. It was definitely an emotional moment.” more

BACK IN THE SWING: Anders Hedin makes contact last week in opening day action at Hilltop Park for the Orange team in the WWP Babe Ruth League. Overcoming hurdles on and off the field to get its summer season up and running during the COVID-19 pandemic, the league features four teams and will play a 10-game schedule over five weeks. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It would have been easy for the WWP Babe Ruth League to throw in the towel on its 2020 season.

With schools going to virtual learning in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the spring sports campaign being subsequently canceled, youth sports leagues were struggling to get their seasons up and running.

The Little League World Series, the signature youth sports event of the summer, was canceled, among many others.

But sensing that players and their families wanted and needed an athletic outlet, the WWP Babe Ruth League pressed on, aiming to put together a summer season.

“A big motivating factor for the WWP Babe Ruth Board to try to make some kind of season happen was hearing the growing concerns from parents that the kids were heavily focused on their remote learning and playing video games and they were not getting outdoors to exercise,” said league president Jon Durbin.

“After witnessing this in our own families, and hearing from so many others, we continued to keep the possibility of playing alive, while also beginning to think hard and concretely about what it would take to make the playing environment as safe as possible if we did return to the field.” more

July 8, 2020

The Arts Council of Princeton’s inspiring new mural, “Stronger Together,” can be found on the corner of Witherspoon and Spring streets in downtown Princeton. (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Anne Levin

Princeton and Rutgers universities are among the institutions of higher education that have announced altered academic schedules for the 2020-21 academic year. Due to the continuing fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton will reopen at half capacity in the fall, while Rutgers plans to deliver most courses remotely, with a limited number of in-person classes.

“Over the last two months, my colleagues and I have been studying the pandemic and identifying measures we can take to accommodate students on campus,” Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a July 6 message to the University community. “COVID-19 is still a very new disease, and much remains unknown about it. Several points have, however, become clear. Based on the information now available to us, we believe Princeton will be able to offer all of our undergraduate students at least one semester of on-campus education this academic year, but we will need to do much of our teaching online and remotely.”

“We have wanted very fervently to be able to resume some version of a normal semester,” Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said in a message to the Rutgers community, which takes courses in New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark. However, “because of the ongoing requirements for social distancing and guided by our paramount priority of safeguarding the people of our university community, we determined that most courses this fall will have to rely on remote methods of instruction – delivered both in real time and asynchronously.”

Princeton will have first- and third-year students on campus for the fall semester, while sophomores and seniors will be welcomed for the spring term. Most academic instruction will continue to be online. All undergraduates can complete the entire academic year remotely if they wish. Graduate programs will be held either in person or virtually.

Students can live in dormitories. But the social aspect of undergraduate campus life will be limited by public health guidelines and state rules. That means no big parties, and social distancing in classrooms and public spaces. Students will have to sign a social contract describing their responsibilities. “Our collective success will depend on all of our individual actions,” wrote Eisgruber. more

By Anne Levin

An appeal by the Sunrise Corporation regarding denial of a variance application by the Princeton Zoning Board of Adjustment was resolved last last month in the municipality’s favor by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey.

Sunrise has been seeking approval to build a senior living facility at the corner of North Harrison Street and Terhune Road, and was trying to reverse the denial of its application to the Zoning Board by arguing that the Board failed to properly apply the test to determine if a variance for an inherently beneficial use, which is one that is considered to serve the public good and promote general welfare, should be granted.

The 4.5-acre corner lot was formerly part of the Princeton Shopping Center, which was subdivided when the complex was sold to Edens in 2012. The parcel was rezoned for Residential Senior Market (RSM) housing in 2015. Princeton’s Master Plan identifies the property as suitable for senior housing because of its proximity to the shopping center, public transportation, and medical offices.

Three years ago, Sunrise submitted plans to build an assisted living complex, which is not a permitted use in the RSM zone. The company had initially proposed to build a three-story building of more than 82,000 square feet, but proposed two alternatives while the application was pending. There was some opposition from residents who live near the site, mostly based on size. more

By Donald Gilpin

In the face of unprecedented food insecurities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton University is teaming up with Princeton Public Schools (PPS) and three Mercer County nonprofits this summer to provide thousands of meals to local communities.

In launching its six-week Summer Food and Nutrition Program this week, the University is collaborating with PPS,  HomeFront, the Rescue Mission of Trenton, and Meals on Wheels of Mercer County to help feed hungry individuals in Princeton; on the Route 1 corridor near Princeton; and in Trenton, Lawrenceville, East Windsor, West Windsor, and Hightstown.

“All of our hearts are lifted at the Mission by the University’s generosity, compassion, and commitment to address food insecurity, particularly during this pandemic which is challenging us like never before,” said Rescue Mission of Trenton Chief Operating Officer Barrett Young.

Princeton University’s Campus Dining, Office of Community and Regional Affairs, and John H. Pace, Jr. ’39 Center for Civic Engagement are working together to provide more than 14,000 meals in the coming weeks to those who are homeless and those in recovery and treatment at the Rescue Mission.

”The food we prepare will be serving toddlers at HomeFront to seniors in their 90s through Meals on Wheels,” said Princeton University Campus Dining Assistant Vice President Smitha Haneef.  “This is a highly diverse population in and around Princeton. We are going to partner with them to serve people in need in the area with healthy, nutritious, freshly prepared meals.” more

POLITICS IN REAL TIME: At an upcoming Zoom discussion, The College of New Jersey’s Sarnoff Center tells the story of the vital role radio and television have played in political conventions. The first Republican convention to be televised, shown here, was in 1940.

By Anne Levin

“Look Before You Vote: Televising the Presidential Conventions” was originally conceived as a pop-up exhibit at the Sarnoff Collection, which is on the campus of The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing. But with the pandemic shuttering museums through the summer at least, plans had to be changed.

The exhibit has been replaced with a digital discussion. On July 26 at 1:30 p.m., Sarnoff curator Firoencia Pierri will host a program on the history of broadcasting the conventions, focusing on the technologies that were invented to cover the events.

“Using technology for politics has a long and intertwined history,” said Pierri, a doctoral candidate who has been curator of the collection for two years. “The first commercial radio broadcast was on election day of the Harding/Cox race in 1920, allowing people to hear the results before they read about it in the newspaper. It proved the power of radio. By 1924, the whole convention process was being aired over two stations run by RCA and AT&T.” more

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Health Department has seen 195 cases of COVID-19 this year, more than all other diseases investigated by the town, but prior to this pandemic the most prevalent disease investigated by the Health Department was Lyme disease, which averages almost 70 cases per year.

The Princeton Health Department pointed out that the threat posed by ticks goes far beyond Lyme.  “Almost every Princetonian knows about Lyme disease caused by the bite of the black legged (aka deer) tick, but not all of us know that deer ticks in New Jersey can also carry such diseases as anaplasmosis and babesiosis, and that there are other ticks such as dog ticks and the lone-star ticks that cause their own misery, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and Powassan disease,” Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser and Princeton Health Department Educator Volunteer Francesca Calderone-Steichen wrote in a collaborative email.

They went on to note that mild winters, wet springs, and global warming increase tick infestations and that local residents should take precautions:

Grass should be cut short to about three inches. “Ticks prefer woodlands and high grass over open lawns because they prefer moist shade over dry sunny environments,” Grosser and Calderone-Steichen noted.

Field mice are a vector for ticks, and the Health Department recommends the use of “tick tubes,” cardboard tubes stuffed with cotton treated with permethrin, a tick-killing chemical.  Mice collect the cotton and take it back to their nests, and the permethrin in the cotton kills the ticks. more

By Donald Gilpin

Angela Siso Stentz

Angela Siso Stentz, who became the acting principal at Johnson Park Elementary School (JP) on July 1, brings to the job experience from more than 20 years in the Princeton Public Schools, along with a love of children, a desire to help make decisions on behalf of all students, and an eagerness to build relationships with the JP community.

Starting in the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) in 1999 as a special education teacher in math and Spanish, Siso Stentz became supervisor of student activities in 2005, supervisor of guidance in 2008, and since 2017 she has served as assistant principal at Princeton High School (PHS).

“Angela was an outstanding assistant principal,” said PHS Principal Jessica Baxter. “She always put the students first and has a genuine care for kids, families, and staff.  The students, families, and staff at JP are lucky to have her and will form positive relationships with her very quickly. Angela will be greatly missed at PHS, but we are thrilled for her to have this incredible opportunity.” more

Technology Upgrades Coming to PPS

Princeton Public Schools (PPS) announced two technology purchases last week, a one-to-one computer and tablet initiative and a new Learning Management System (LMS), providing needed upgrades for its existing devices and delivery systems.

Students in Pre-K and first grade will be provided with iPads; students in second to fifth grades will receive HP Chromebooks; and students in sixth to 12th grades will be issued MacBooks that are compatible with the programs the district currently uses.

PPS currently provides iPads, Chromebooks, and Apple laptops for shared student use, but with sharing devices among students in the COVID-19 era considered a health risk, sharing will no longer be practiced in the district.

The plan to move to one-to-one, with a device for every student, was based on equity for all students, affordability, and practicality in terms of what applications PPS teachers use in the classroom.

The $2.6 million price tag for the purchases reflects costs over the next five years, and, with low-interest financing, is essentially ”budget neutral,” according to a PPS press release.  Yearly payments are equal to what PPS had budgeted for technology on a yearly basis.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

What greater gift than the love of a cat.

—Charles Dickens

For the first time since Saddam invaded Kuwait there are no cats in the house. I’ve been adjusting to that enormous absence with the help of In the Company of Cats (British Library 2014), featuring “illustrations through the ages” and choice quotations from poets, writers, and philosophers celebrating feline “mystery and magnificence.”

I’m thinking about two generations of tuxedo cats dating back to Dizzy (1990-2003), the runt of the litter brought into the world against all odds by the ill-fated, small but mighty tabby Tess (1989-1999), followed after Dizzy’s demise by the adopted twins Nick (2003-2018), and Nora (2003-2020), who died June 25.

Like her namesake in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, tawny Tess had seen a novel’s worth of adversity when she first showed up at the back door. Because my wife was severely allergic at the time, we fed and housed the little vagabond in a make-shift shelter on the deck. After disappearing for more than a week (we feared we’d seen the last of her), she showed up pregnant and fiercely determined; now there was no keeping her outside. Our household version of Saddam’s “mother of all battles” was an invasion by the feline force of nature storming from the deck into the kitchen, through two strongbox barricades and up the stairs to this room, where she accomplished her mission on the evening of August 2, 1990, in the same roomy tartan plaid canvas suitcase I’d used on my first summer in Europe.

Tess still haunts this space. A few feet to my left is the spot where she delivered Dizzy and his four siblings, all of whom eventually found homes in the community, except for the jaunty male tuxedo whose place in our family had never really been in doubt. It was for love of Dizzy that my wife finally overcame the allergy that had doomed every previous attempt. Since none of the statements in Company of Cats applies to Tess and her plight, I’m borrowing a line from Mark Twain: “If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” more

By Nancy Plum

Despite the closing of performance halls in the area, Princeton Summer Chamber Concerts was not about to let its 53rd season go by. The long-standing presenting organization, which usually stages four chamber concerts in the month of July, has designed a series of “Chamber Music Wednesdays,” in which the performers scheduled for Richardson Auditorium this summer are featured in online mini-concerts. 

In the interest of giving area audiences something to look forward to each week, Chamber Concerts has created five Wednesday night offerings which include not only musical presentation, but also the additional elements of history, analysis, and demonstration. The first of these online performances took place last Wednesday night, featuring the young and innovative Diderot String Quartet.   

Founded in 2012, the Diderot String Quartet was named after 18th-century French philosopher Denis Diderot, also an enthusiast of the courtly and galante music of the Baroque Italian composer Luigi Boccherini. The ensemble prides itself on taking a “fresh approach to the works of the 18th and 19th centuries,” bringing a shared background for historically informed performance and a passion for the string quartet genre to every concert. For Wednesday evening’s online concert/demonstration, violinists Adriane Post and Johanna Novom, violist Kyle Miller, and cellist Paul Dwyer shared with listeners how the ensemble came together; Post, Novom, and Dwyer met at Oberlin Conservatory, later adding Miller to the Quartet via the Juilliard Historical Performance program. All four of these musicians were interested early on in period stringed instruments, historically informed performance, and whether music from any time period could be played on instruments made in the 18th century.   more