May 6, 2015

To the Editor:

Dorothea’s House once again demonstrated on Sunday, May 3, why it’s such a bright star in Princeton’s cultural firmament. In its unique role of furthering the understanding and appreciation of the history and culture of Italy, it hosted a packed house for a discussion of Giuseppe Verdi’s operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth by Joseph Colaneri, the music director of the Glimmerglass Festival, held annually near Cooperstown, N.Y. The production is slated for the 2015 summer season.

Often using Italian words and phrases punctuated by Italian verve, Colaneri said that Verdi’s operas represented the very soul of Italy. While Macbeth depicted Scottish exiles, Italians believe Verdi was really characterizing Italy’s history. Colaneri noted that although Verdi was not religious, he was spiritual, and tinta (color) was very important to him. In Macbeth, Verdi insisted on very dark colors (mood). Colaneri said that the Yale University professor and foremost expert on Shakespeare, Harold Bloom, has written that there are two human icons: William Shakespeare and Giuseppe Verdi because both express the essence of who we are as individuals.

Two talented soloists, Hunter Enoch and Mitra Mastropierto, understudies at Gliimmerglass, sang arias and a duet from Macbeth, bringing the audience to its feet in enthusiastic appreciation.

Linda Sipprelle

Nassau Street

To the Editor:

An event that began eight years ago in Princeton and Trenton — demonstrations for Stand Against Racism day — grew exponentially and is now the signature campaign for the national YWCA. Not in Our Town (NIOT) wishes to thank all those who contributed to the success of Stand Against Racism days, past and present. We remember Nassau Inn employees helping make a human chain around Palmer Square, merchant participation directed by Kathleen Maguire Morolda, and well-attended rallies at Hinds Plaza — all these programs benefited from the YWCA’s leadership.

For this year’s observance, Not in Our Town assembled photos of 100 merchants from Town Topics ad pages sponsored by an anonymous donor. (These merchants were among those who pledged to support this cause by putting up our We Stand Against Racism posters in their stores.) And this year the Princeton YWCA, implementing its motto “eliminating racism,” held an 80-person legislative breakfast, cosponsored by Lori Rabon of the Nassau Inn. After presentations by the CEOs of Trenton and Princeton YWCAs, the mayors of Trenton and Princeton, NIOT’s co-chairs Linda Oppenheim and Larry Spruill, Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, chair of the Latin American Legal Defense Fund (LALDEF), challenged all, saying being against racism is merely good manners. “We should really focus on inclusion, which is a lot harder because it forces us not just to be well-mannered, but to really open our hearts and our spaces to people not like us.” Then everyone clustered in small groups, and NIOT facilitators led discussions of down-to-earth concerns about bias. Thanks to all who helped and participated. This program truly fulfilled the Y’s intention: “to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism.”

Marietta Taylor,

NIOT board member, Hartley Avenue

Howard Hudson

Franklin Park

Joyce Trotman-Jordan

Trenton

To the Editor,

Each year the Arts Council of Princeton’s (ACP) Communiversity brings the Community and University members together to celebrate the things we love about our town. This year was no exception.

In keeping with the Communiversity spirit, Art +10 (a group of Princeton-area artists) wanted to honor our Volunteer Fire Department. In a unique collaboration with the department, the group hosted a joint paint-out and art show at the Chestnut Street Fire House.

Dubbed “Fired-Up,” the event welcomed visitors to view artists painting and learn the rich history of Princeton’s Fire Department.

Members of Art +10, want to thank Bill Shields, president of Princeton Engine Co. #1, the Princeton Fire Department, and the Blue Jersey Band (which provided a festive background), for making this event happen.

Members of Art +10: Priscilla Algava, Heather Barros, Jim Bongartz, Betty Curtiss, Katja De Ruyter, Suzanne Dinger, Johanna Furst, Jeaninne Honstein Ryan Lilienthal, Meg Michael, Tasha O’Neill

To the Editor;

As co-chairs of Planned Parenthood’s 26th annual Spring Benefit, we thank the hundreds of enthusiastic supporters who attended our luncheon on April 24 at The Hyatt Regency Princeton, as well as our benefit committee and the Planned Parenthood staff and volunteers. With 400 guests filling the room, it was a tremendous success in raising funds to support the services and programs of Planned Parenthood.

We were pleased to have as our speaker Alexis McGill Johnson, 2013-15 Chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A true champion for women’s health and rights, Alexis shared her journey and the reasons for getting involved with Planned Parenthood. She described Planned Parenthood as part of a movement not just for reproductive freedom but also to uplift our friends in the fight for justice.

For more than 82 years, Planned Parenthood has worked every day to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and keep women healthy. We urge those who believe that every woman has a right to reproductive health counseling and family planning, regardless of income, to support Planned Parenthood.

Kathy Herring, Reba Orszag

Co-Chairs Spring Benefit

April 29, 2015
UNIQUELY YOUR OWN: “At Toggle Home, we strive to connect the past to the present by creating heirloom monograms with a modern twist. Our luxury monograms are hand-crafted and fully customizable to reflect each individual’s style and aesthetic.” Kate Johnstone-Butcher, owner and founder of Toggle Home, is shown with her sons Henry (left) and Porter.

UNIQUELY YOUR OWN: “At Toggle Home, we strive to connect the past to the present by creating heirloom monograms with a modern twist. Our luxury monograms are hand-crafted and fully customizable to reflect each individual’s style and aesthetic.” Kate Johnstone-Butcher, owner and founder of Toggle Home, is shown with her sons Henry (left) and Porter.Customers have found the latest addition on Chambers Street to be irresistible! Since its opening on April 10th, Toggle Home Monogramming & Design has already sold out of a number of items, and visitors to the shop are selecting a variety of monograms to personalize clothing, accessories, blankets, and furniture, among other items.

Customers are not only delighted by the extensive choices of monograms but also by the bright and cheerful decor of the shop. With its yellow and white color motif and warm welcoming atmosphere, it invites shoppers to linger and look!

“We offer a specific type of high quality monogramming that can be completely personalized for each customer,” explains founder and owner Kate Johnstone-Butcher. “I will do custom design, and the monograms can be any size, all different colors, and many different designs.”

An interior designer with a distinctive eye for design and detail, Ms. Johnstone-Butcher also offers professional design services for people in their homes. In addition, before the space became available at 12 Chambers Street, she also operated Toggle Home as an online business for several years, as well as providing traveling trunk shows and pop-up stores.

Original Concept

“It was always my hope to have my own place, however,” she notes, “and when this location became available, there was a whirlwind of activity to get ready. I love the aspect of having everything here in one place for people. When you come in the shop, you will see me. I am always here to help customers, and we have new things coming in all the time. This is a destination place for shoppers.”

Monogramming had long been a special interest for her, adds Ms. Johnstone-Butcher. “Growing up on the North Shore of Long Island, I was around lots of monogramming. At that time, it had a special kind of meaning to it — a family heritage, for example, a connection to who you are. It seemed that monogramming had gotten away from that in recent years — it had become more frivolous — and I wanted to get back to that original concept.

“That feeling of connection is why I chose the name Toggle for the store. One meaning of toggle is connection. Our monogram collection includes a nod to the classics with a modern twist and a commitment to tasteful simplicity. I also wanted it to be accessible and affordable for people.”

Customers may bring in their own items for monogramming, she adds, but they will also find a wonderful selection of merchandise in the shop. Items include everything from furniture and custom chandeliers to clothing and accessories to linens, tote bags and table skirts, as well as choices, including sweaters, for children and toddlers.

“We have items from around the world, with many from the U.S.,” reports Ms. Johnstone-Butcher. “Some of the favorites with customers are robes, pajamas and sleep shirts, and blankets, including wonderful cotton “pom-pom” blankets available in 22 different colors. We also have soft cashmere ponchos for women.”

Baseball caps, tote bags, wine bags, and cosmetic cases are in demand for monograms, as are neckties, and even Wellington boots! The selection of 100 percent linen hand towels in assorted colors provides opportunities for a welcome hostess gift.

Pagoda Design

“Our pagoda lanterns, chandeliers, and candle holders are very big sellers,” adds Ms. Johnstone-Butcher, “and customers also love the pagoda design for their monograms.”

Furniture includes chairs, beds, sofas, custom upholstery, and X benches (popular for use as an ottoman or at the foot of the bed), and all of these can be monogrammed.

Design choices for monogramming are seemingly limitless. Every type and style of lettering and initial is available and in every color. In addition to initials, many design choices, such as animals (Staffordshire dogs, elephants, and zebras are very popular), feathers, nautical knots, pineapples, and dragons, among many others, are favorites.

In addition, a selection of jewelry includes gold and silver bracelets and pendants, which can be engraved. A very popular necklace includes a chain, featuring small pendant “tags” suitable for engraving of name, initials, or other design. Starting at $40, including engraving, this is a charming graduation gift.

Many of the monogrammed choices will also make wonderful gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, graduations, and other special events. Red, white, and blue themes are popular for Memorial Day and Fourth of July gatherings.

“We also have lots of wedding items, such as beaded bags and robes, that are very popular monogrammed gifts for bridesmaids,” says Ms. Johnstone-Butcher.

Enthusiastic Response

Prices generally range from $25 for jewelry and small cosmetic cases to $45 for hand towels, $65 for tote bags, and $95 for the pom-pom blankets. All prices include monogramming, which typically takes five days for items in stock, somewhat longer for custom designs.

Ms. Johnstone-Butcher is delighted with the enthusiastic customer response, and reports there is never a dull moment. “I have not been bored a single day. I can hardly believe how busy we have been. It is wonderful to start out with an idea, to create something, and then be able to see it through.

“I am so pleased by the warm welcome both from the customers and the other merchants, and I am very humbled by it. I look forward to growing the business and continuing to deliver unique, special monograms. I love to create new designs, and I am also inspired by ideas from the customers.”

And, she adds, “Remember, with monogramming, you are only limited by your imagination, and we are here to help guide you through that imagination!”

The shop is currently open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours may be extended in the summer. (609) 921-6057. Website: www.togglehome.com.

To the Editor:

On behalf of the board, staff, artists, members and volunteers of the Arts Council of Princeton, we would like to thank everyone — including 40,000-plus visitors, 200 vendors, and over 40 performance groups — who helped make the 45th annual Communiversity ArtsFest such a spectacular event on a gorgeous spring day. As a nonprofit, community-based organization that relies on community support, we are very grateful for the collaboration that allowed us to produce another hugely successful event.

When the Arts Council plans the Communiversity ArtsFest, we envision a “town meets gown” celebration with something for everyone: diverse music and dance performances, outstanding artistry and crafts, creative children’s activities, delicious food, and participation from numerous local merchants, artists, nonprofit and campus groups. By all accounts, we achieved our goal. We would like to thank the Arts Council staff and volunteers who gave their time and energy to make the overall event the popular success that it was. We also appreciate the extremely talented artists and performers who participated in many creative activities including the “ACP Atelier,” ceramics and monotype printmaking, “Paint Out Princeton,” children’s art activities, performances on stage and street, sidewalk chalk drawing and all the many forms of creative expression that make the event unique and memorable.

We would also like to express our heartfelt thanks to: the students of Princeton University, University President Christopher Eisgruber, and the Office of Community and Regional Affairs; Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert; Princeton Council and administrative staff; Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman; Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes; Mercer County Freeholder Andrew Koontz; the Princeton Police Department; Princeton Fire Department; Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad; Princeton Regional Health Department; Princeton Public Works Department; the Princeton Clergy Association; the Princeton Merchants Association and Chamber of Commerce; Princeton Public Library; Event Planner Harper McArthur; and our major sponsors: AT&T, Bloomberg, Palmer Square Management, and the Princeton Garden Theatre. A complete list of all our generous event and in-kind sponsors can be found at www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.

Ted Deutsch

President, Board of Trustees

Jeff Nathanson

Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton

To the Editor:

On behalf of the New Jersey AARP State Office staff and volunteers, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald for his leadership on the issue of earned paid sick leave. Considering that over half of AARP members still work either half or full time, earned sick leave is a highly relevant issue for the community.

It goes without saying that the membership of AARP is greatly appreciative of Assemblyman Greenwald for lending his voice in such a worthy matter.

Furthermore, the Assembly Majority Leader and his colleague, Assemblywoman Lampitt, have sponsored the Caregivers Tax Credit, which could provide needed relief for those who unselfishly commit countless hours and resources in order to care for a loved one. This, as well, is deserving of recognition and kudos.

Ryan Lind

Rockingham Row

To the Editor:

As the weather warms, homeowners’ thoughts typically turn to yards and landscaping. Spring is an excellent time to spruce up residential plantings, and what better way to do so than to incorporate native trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses into your home’s outdoor spaces? Native plants bring many benefits.

First and foremost, plants native to this region provide food and habitats to a diverse set of local wildlife; in many cases, plants originating overseas simply cannot substitute. “Planting native” helps insects and birds that are important pollinators, key components of the food chain, or simply beautiful to behold. The most famous example is perhaps the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), caterpillars of which feed on Milkweeds (Asclepias species); loss of native Milkweeds and plantings of non-native Milkweeds may be contributing to the butterfly’s population decline in some states. Another example is the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio troilus); as its name suggests, caterpillars of this spectacular butterfly feed on leaves of Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), sometimes called “Native Forsythia.” This deer-resistant shrub has aromatic leaves, and can grow in a wide range of conditions; its flowers provision bees in spring, and its fat-rich berries help fuel birds migrating south in autumn.

Secondly, native plants can be beautiful and hardy, with colors, shapes, textures, and scents that rival or exceed those of the European and Asian species that are all too commonly encountered in residential landscaping. When established in suitable conditions, many natives grow well with little or no need for watering, pesticides, or fertilizers. You can find native species that love wet soils, others that do well in dry conditions, plenty that thrive in shade and many that are stunning in sun. The rich diversity of plants native to this area is vividly illustrated at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve just south of New Hope, where about 800 species can be seen in just 134 acres. You can purchase native plants for your own yard at the Preserve (their plant sale starts May 9 and continues throughout the growing season); at D&R Greenway’s native plant nursery; at the Mercer County Gardeners Plant Expo; and in good local garden centers and nurseries. All these outlets should also be able to advise on what plants will grow well in the light and soil conditions in your yard.

In short, eschew the imports, and plant native if possible; there are some upcoming sales where you can obtain a wide selection. Your local butterflies, bees, beetles, and birds will thank you.

Catherine Williams

Clover Lane, The writer is a volunteer at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.

April 22, 2015

To the Editor:

If there’s one thing I wish people would let go of on this Earth Day, both locally and nationally, it’s pessimism in all its manifestations. Well, maybe not all. That’s asking too much. But at least a few. Some equate pessimism with seeing trouble ahead, but the entrenched pessimism we face is the sort that casts us as helpless to find and act on solutions. Sometimes one form of pessimism gets piled on another, as in: “We can’t know if climate change is real and risky, or if it is, there’s nothing we can do about it, and if there is something we could do then we couldn’t possibly get other towns, states, and nations to work together.” That’s the kind of pessimism sandwich a lot of people eat for lunch every day.

Locally, pessimism takes the form of resistance to change. There’s some sense in a “look before you leap” approach, but when a solution is offered to a local problem, the tendency is to look and look and look, and never leap.

The paralysis and sense of foreboding that permeates our era is due in part to our capacity to collectively create problems while stubbornly resisting efforts to collectively solve them. The reflexive response to proposed solutions is to search for flaw and fear the negative consequences of any action. We see safety in inaction, but inaction is often the greater risk.

In such a situation, the arts are instructive. My impulse to seek collective solutions comes in part from playing in musical ensembles, where good results can only come from working together. And the cure for that pesky habit of finding flaws in any proposal for change can be found in theater improv, where the actors on stage succeed only if they commit to creating something new, together. I’ve done a little improv, and seen others try it for the first time, and typically our ingrained response is to contradict the acting partner, to take exception to what’s offered, and thereby sabotage the scene. The catchwords of theater improv are “Yes, and…”, which in community problem solving would take the form of greeting proposed solutions not with reflexive negativity but instead with “How can we make this work?”

In a way, we are in an ongoing improv with the earth, too often fighting against nature, resisting its logic, rejecting its offerings, and thereby defeating ourselves in this long-running scene in one corner of the universe. We set the stage, surrounding ourselves with suburban nature, then purge our yards of rainwater and leaves rather than explore how we could use them to advantage. Spring is a time when every tree and flower is saying “Yes, and…” We should try doing the same.

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison Street

To the Editor:

I recently registered to volunteer with the Arts Council of Princeton to help at Communiversity in downtown Princeton on April 26. Doing so reminded me of how much I enjoy volunteering. I truly love the process of meeting new people, lending a hand, giving back, and making a difference. I’m joining more than 1.4 million people who volunteer each year in New Jersey’s schools, nonprofit organizations, and houses of worship and many others who help elderly neighbors or friends in need.

In the last few years, the definition of volunteering has expanded to include those sharing their professional skills. It’s no longer just attorneys who give “pro-bono” service. Volunteering has exploded to include, for example, finance, marketing, communications and IT professionals stepping up to help nonprofit organizations by serving on their boards or sharing their skills in short-term strategic projects.

Whatever type of volunteering you are participating in, I applaud your efforts to make the lives of others a bit brighter. April 12-18, 2015, was National Volunteer Appreciation Week. I encourage any organization using volunteers to thank those who are giving their time, skills, and heart to help your organization succeed. Volunteers are the backbone of any organization.

I would like to publicly thank the many volunteers who have worked with VolunteerConnect to share their skills on boards of area nonprofit groups or by completing a strategic project for a nonprofit organization in need of your talents. Skills-based volunteering not only allows you to contribute your talents and education, but helps nonprofit organizations succeed beyond their expectations.

Amy Klein

Executive Director, VolunteerConnect

To the Editor:

Allow me to introduce us: we’re members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. No, no, please don’t run. We’re not scary. We’re your neighbors. Our kids go to school with yours and you see us mowing the lawn. We drive our cars and heat and cool our homes, just like you. And we want to continue to do so. But we need your help. You see, we read about the drought in California threatening our farmer friends, Glacier National Park losing its glaciers, and our pine forests in Colorado dying because of beetles that no longer go away during the winters. We see our beautiful country changing before our eyes. Even though we don’t all understand how and why, we trust in smart people who study these things and say that fossil fuel use is warming the atmosphere, which causes or exacerbates these issues, and that the changes are happening now and very fast.

Nobody likes excessive regulations, and instead we want to use the biggest force on earth: the power of the American economy, to solve this problem. Our proposal will not increase the size of government, but it will reward good behavior and discourage bad, so it will encourage adaptation. And that is what we do best as Americans: adapt and grow. We do this so well, that independent studies show that we can both reduce fossil fuel use by 50 percent and have a net increase of 2.8 million jobs in 20 years when we act. This means that there is no reason to wait: the best time to act is now.

So please join us. You will not be alone, I promise. We have over 220 local groups in the country, tens in other parts of the world and we’re doubling in size every year. We have people from all faiths, ages, and political denominations and we especially want you. You don’t need to have any special talents or skills, just be a citizen who cares. If enough of us show that we care, and that we are supporting a specific solution that is non-partisan and will work, we will get this done. Go to www.citizensclimatelobby.org and join us now!

Veronique Oomen

Linwood Circle

To the Editor:

Due to the ongoing union negotiations between the Princeton Board of Education and the PREA, the cancellation of the upcoming annual district-wide elementary school orchestra concert on April 23 is imminent. It is a huge loss artistically. This concert is the culmination of the music teachers and children’s entire year of practice and rehearsal. It is a brilliantly orchestrated event that brings together the strings students from all four elementary schools to perform at Princeton High School’s main auditorium. This concert is the pinnacle achievement of the teacher and student’s academic year.

During my 24 years with McCarter Theatre I have seen how a performance experience on our stages can transform a child. Artists practice their craft to ultimately share, perform, and enrich an audience’s hearts and minds. A huge experience is being taken away from over 150 elementary school students in Princeton. The children lose the opportunity to perform in a large venue before an audience in the hundreds. They lose a chance to build their poise, confidence and pride. They lose being part of an extraordinary collaboration with their peers from the other elementary schools and they never get to reach the goal they have practiced for all year, which negatively impacts their motivation.

The children lose.

Taking this concert away from them is equal to telling a winning sports team they cannot play in the championship game; in effect, they never get past the playoffs. A resolution to these negotiations by both sides must be made so that activities such as this concert can take place.

Cheryl Mintz

Franklin Avenue, Parent of a 4th Grade Student,

Resident Stage Manager McCarter Theatre Center

To the Editor:

Princeton was treated to a memorable privilege on Sunday at our public library. US1 Poets’ Cooperative gave their annual celebration in honor of the new volume of US 1 Worksheets. This is, believe it or not, the 60th Issue of their literary journal, featuring skilled poets both national and international.

Our Community Room was Standing Room Only. The first nice day of 2015 gleamed through walls of windows, as life and drama and action and beauty unfolded in that hushed room.

Driving there myself, I had slightly yearned toward the Pole Farm. Suddenly, a great sense of the honor of the afternoon event washed over me: We are a community blessed that US 1 Poets’ Cooperative has been meeting to critique, every Tuesday, in and near Princeton, all those decades.

It is equally remarkable that our fine library supports poetry to such a high degree, including readings sponsored by Delaware Valley Poets with US 1 Poets on the second Monday of every month. Your own Linda Arntzenius is one of the strongest members of US 1, in terms of her art and her service. The Cooperative’s astute editors gave greatly of their time, their judgment, their very art, as well as essential logistical expertise, to bring forth this handsome volume.

But there is more. Poetry is about truth, often truths not easily shared. There is secret love, unspeakable grief, astounding encounters, as well as political truths increasingly overlooked in the prose world. Sunday at the library provided a new perspective on freedom of speech in our time.

Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Juniper Court, Lawrenceville

To the Editor:

The PREA would like to thank the many parents, students, community members, and local businesses supporting us as we continue to seek a fair and equitable agreement with the Princeton Public Board of Education. We are truly fortunate to have such a strong and pro-public-education community!

We are especially grateful to the following individuals and businesses for helping make the April 9 rally a success: The parents and community members who showed up to stand with teachers and celebrate the Princeton Public Schools:

Ms. Shirley Satterfield, PPS parent, retired PPS guidance counselor, and well respected community member, for speaking in support of the PREA members and on the importance of educators everywhere; Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman for generously providing a letter on behalf of the PREA that was read by Ms. Kari Osmond, district director, Office of The Congresswoman; PREA member, and Electric Stingray band member, Bryan McKenna for providing music; Sarthak Parikh and the Princeton University juggling team for providing entertainment and juggling lessons; Jazams for donating picture books for our book drive supporting Princeton Nursery School.

And a special thank you to the following businesses for generously donating food and drink items to feed our rally participants: bai drinks, Bon Appetit, Dunkin Donuts, Hoagie Haven, House of Cupcakes, The Momo Brothers, Olives, Tico’s Eatery & Juice Bar, and Terhune Orchards.

Joanne Ryan

President, PREA

To the Editor:

You know you live in a very special town when not one but several merchants read in the paper that the public high school is hosting 20 foreign exchange students and they contact you to see how they can make the visit a more special experience. On behalf of Princeton High School and the Pettoranello Italian exchange students, we would like to thank Carlo and Raoul Momo, Adriano DiDonato, William Lettier, Angela Baldino and the Baldino family for their enormous generosity and exemplary civic mindedness.

Over 40 students were treated to after school tapas at Mediterra, picnic fixings from Bon Appetit, and a hometown pizza dinner at Contes restaurant.

The students spent a morning touring the Grounds for Sculpture with a special tour of the Foundry thanks to Maria Lo Biondo, Rena Perrone and Charles Haude. They were given private tours of the public library, Engine Company No. 3, and a special welcome from members of the Princeton Council and our esteemed mayor Liz Lempert. They enjoyed tours of the Princeton University Art Museum and campus. Thank you to Princeton University professors Pietro Frassica and Fiorenza Weinapple who took time out of their day to welcome our guests.

Special thanks goes to Ellie Pinelli for her tireless work on behalf of Dorthea’s House, the Princeton/Pettoranello Sister City foundation, and the Italian American Sportsmen Club, which hosted the students for a luncheon and a farewell dinner with a disc jockey. Ellie put her heart and soul into making sure each of the daily itineraries provided our guests with the fullest American experience and we are enormously grateful for all of her work and leadership.

Mary Stange

James Court

To the Editor:

We moved to Princeton for a number of reasons. Top of our lists was the school system. Academic excellence, strong arts programs, and diverse student population — all proved to be true. But in our quests to advocate for our children we found the system sorely lacking in support of academic excellence for their learning styles. So together we are speaking to parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, and more. What we found was that we were not alone.

Student/school/parent communication should be easier! In response, our group Parents Supporting All Learners is reaching out to the community for support. Help us create change in the Princeton Public School System. If you care about:

STUDENTS’ ORGANIZATIONAL BURDEN AND EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS: The executive functions required for a student to manage the antiquated system of paper calendars, daily handouts, binders, notes, and homework are simply not developed by middle school and even high school for a large population of students. There are affordable electronic solutions that many school systems and charter schools have implemented.

TEACHING TO ALL CHILDREN: There are no developed strategies in place to support students who learn better through discussion, interaction, movement, video learning, or some other modern, non-lecture-based teaching. Luckily we have many creative teachers but that is not enough.

TREATMENT OF STUDENTS LABELED WITH ATTENTION DEFICIT: The Center for Disease Control estimates there are potentially 300-400 or more students in the system with an Attention Deficit diagnosis. A sizeable population yet there are no policies to educate teachers or to communicate with parents on the subject.

KNOWING HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR STUDENT: There are no clearly communicated guidelines for parents to navigate student services. Information on applicable laws, programs available, and allocation of relevant funds, are not easily found and should be. In addition, educators and guidance staff should not be recommending medication. They are simply not qualified to do so.

Parents Supporting All Learners is a group of parents working to effect change in the Princeton Public School System. Our schools need to step up to the plate and make structural changes to support all students in learning to their full potential. The Academic Achievement Board has heard us, now we need the leverage of parents.

We teach our children to accept and even celebrate their differences. Their classmates may look different from them, speak different languages, play differently, mature differently, and love differently. Why then can’t we fully embrace that they learn differently?

We are reaching out for your support. Please find information at Parents Supporting All Learners on Facebook and join our group.

Beth Hamilton

Linwood Circle

Jill Burd

Broadripple Drive

April 16, 2015

To the Editor:

Over the past dozen years, this paper has published numerous letters from Princeton residents bemoaning the building of “McMansions” in this community. Typically, the Zoning Board kept out of the fray asserting that, as long as the houses meet the zoning requirements, there’s nothing it can do.

Unfortunately, the Zoning Department uses an overly lax standard for determining the size of a house which allows hundreds of square feet to be excluded. This has allowed the construction of houses significantly larger than permitted by the Zoning Ordinance.

At its monthly meeting on April 22, 2015, the Princeton Zoning Board of Adjustment will be considering how the Zoning Ordinance should be interpreted. I shall be urging the Board to abide by the intent of the Zoning Ordinance and to ensure that an accurate measure of the size of a structure be used.

If any readers are concerned about overbuilding in Princeton, I encourage them to attend this meeting and to voice their opinion. (So far, I only have a verbal commitment from the Zoning Department that this matter will be considered at the April meeting. Please check the agenda for this meeting prior to attending.)

Charles Karney

Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

Why must public school teachers in Princeton “fight” to receive a decent salary contract year after year?

That this occurs in an affluent town dedicated to learning: the University, Graduate College, Rider, Seminary, Institute for Advanced Study, Theological Library, Art Museum, Public Library) is a shame!

Every person reading this letter must agree that there is nothing more important than the training of their kids in education and character as future citizens.

Most teachers I know love the kids, the town, the subjects, despite the fact that they can’t afford to buy a new house in the former Borough or Township or plan to save enough to retire.

William Roufberg

Retired PHS teacher, Kendall Park

To the Editor:

As chair of Trenton Children’s Chorus (TCC) 25th Anniversary committee, I want to thank the Princeton and Trenton communities for helping us hit a high note at our 25th Anniversary Celebration concerts. Audiences were on their feet and clapping to the music at packed performances on March 27 at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Trenton, and on March 28 at Miller Chapel in Princeton. The Trenton Children’s Chorus under the direction of Patricia Thel; the Princeton Seminary Singers, directed by Martin Tel; and guest soloist Rev. William Heard joined voices in a glorious evening of gospel music. Included in the program was the premiere of a work commissioned in honor of the occasion, “One Human Family,” by renowned gospel composer Raymond Wise.

We at TCC are so very grateful for the support of all our Princeton and Trenton friends and families. TCC provides exceptional musical, academic, personal, and social opportunities — choral rehearsal, drumming instruction, music theory, enrichment — for young people after school. TCC’s role in the Trenton community couldn’t be more important than it is today. In an urban area where the high school drop out rate is greater than 50 percent, 100 percent of TCC’s graduates attend college.

The Trenton Children’s Chorus will hold their spring concert on Friday, May 15 at 7 p.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 471 Parkway Avenue, Trenton. A free-will offering will be received. More information is available at www.trentonchildrenschorus.org.

Jane Hynes

Board Member, Trenton Children’s Chorus

April 10, 2015

To the Editor:

Our agreements are the only thing we humans can actually depend on. So, as a Princeton resident who lives off Nassau, I was wondering if this spring we might, as a community, agree on 9 a.m. as the time power tools can be turned on during the week and 10 a.m. on weekends. Currently power tools are turned on any time a person wants to use one — in my neighborhood usually around 8 a.m., any day.

This may seem an insignificant request to consider, yet “sound-noise” can be extremely intense and discordant to one’s whole system — perhaps in the background for many, yet for some, very much heard and noticed, very much a disruption.

Forming win-win agreements offers a truly sustainable benefit now, for all. Perhaps instead of beginning with our power tools in the morning, we can save that part of the project till a bit later? We will thrive with win-win agreements. “More power tool ya!” and everyone else too!

P.S.: Can we also ban squirrel alarms? The intensity of those high-pitched devices also causes incredible discord to the system and, if you live off Nassau, you live in “Squirrel Town.” There really is no keeping a squirrel off your property. They’re everywhere. So how about we agree to consider the possibility of that alarm as an “unsound-solution” to the ridding of squirrels; as actually worse than the “problem” — we’re all connected ….

Dana Lichtstrahl

Moran Avenue

To the Editor:

One stormy evening, pouring rain, maybe seven years ago, I noticed two creatures running along the brush at the rear of my yard. I opened the door, and one ran toward the house, a muddy, rain-soaked beaglish dog. The other kept going. I must have cleaned him (her?) up a bit, and he promptly found a spot for himself under the dining table. I called the Princeton police, knowing this had to be someone’s pet, in case the person had reported the pair missing.

A nice police officer patrolling the area appeared at my door (to wait for the animal control officer), except that he had one of those sticks with a noose on the end. It looked like a scary and totally unnecessary object to use on this shy, innocent-looking beagle who was hanging out under the table. Childhood images of the maligned ‘dogcatcher’ began to multiply in my mind, and I was prepared for the worst when the Animal Control Officer finally arrived at the door. As I anxiously explained how this “stray” dog had to be someone’s pet and should not be treated harshly in any way whatsoever, the beagle ran up and cheerfully greeted Mark Johnson. Mark said, oh yes, I know him and where he lives, and the malingerer happily trotted off to be delivered home safely.

I have had several other occasions to call Mark for information of one kind or another; he has always been professional, courteous, extremely knowledgeable, and helpful. I hope his departure is not related to “cost-saving measures.” If one were to assign a value to all that Mr. Johnson does for the community, at all hours of the day and night, I would guess that it far exceeds his compensation.

Joanne Diez

Leicester Court

April 2, 2015

Enticing aromas emerge from Nina’s Waffles at 31 West Mechanic Street in New Hope, Pa. It gets even better when you step inside! Not only are the aromas irresistible, but the waffles are prepared right before your eyes.

The 18th Century Liège waffle is the inspiration for Nina’s recipes, explains manager Heather Lacey. “Our owner Louis Zanias was born in Greece, but grew up in Brussels. He had the Liège waffle during recess at school, and from the time he was a boy, his dream was to introduce these waffles to the U.S.”

That dream came true in 2012, when Mr. Zanias opened Nina’s Waffles, which is named for his youngest daughter. His experience in the restaurant business has given him insight into achieving success in the food industry, but Nina’s Waffles is really in a class by itself.

“We have a great following. There has been terrific word-of-mouth,” reports Ms. Lacey. “It’s amazing how many people have become so passionate about it and how many customers keep coming again and again. People come in and bring the whole family, as well as guests who visit.”

Wonderful Aroma

Nina’s Waffles is set apart in many ways. To start, there is no other enterprise in the area offering the traditional Liège waffle, notes Ms. Lacey. “You really have to go to Manhattan, and no one has our special recipe.

“We make our own dough in a bakery here, and import pearl sugar from Belgium. Unlike other sugar, it doesn’t burn at high temperatures, but becomes caramelized. This helps provide the wonderful aroma people experience here.

“Sean Lawson is Louis’ partner at Nina’s, and he helped develop the recipe for the dough. He also works on the ice cream recipes. He and Louis invent new flavors every week. It’s Philadelphia-style ice cream, with no eggs. We have 100 flavors, with 16 typically available at any one time.”

A waffle and ice cream combination is a favorite for many, she adds. “Most people like to have ice cream on top of the waffle, but others enjoy the waffle plain with no topping. We call it a ‘Naked Waffle’, and it’s delicious because it has a light sweet flavor due to the caramelized sugar.”

Waffle bites are another very popular choice, especially topped by chocolate ganache sauce. “Five or six bites are in a serving, and chocolate is drizzled on top. Some people add a scoop of ice cream,” says Ms. Lacey,

In addition to chocolate, the variety of waffle toppings includes nutella banana, homemade whipped cream and strawberries, dulce de leche, apple whipped tatin cream, and peanut butter caramel.

Special Favorites

The ice cream, which is made on-site with milk from a local dairy, is equally popular, and is available in cones and pints as well as atop the waffles. New flavors, such as key lime pie and blushing cheese cake, are added all the time. Special favorites include vanilla (still number one!), double chocolate, double espresso crunch, mint chocolate chip, sea salt caramel, orange honey blossom, roasted raspberry, and toasted coconut — to mention just some!

“Our small batch ice cream has something for everyone,” points out Ms. Lacey. “Our motto is ‘a little sugar and a lot of love’. We want to be sure that people taste the flavor and not the sugar.”

Nina’s Waffles offers take-out, sit-down for 20 as well as catering, and Ms. Lacey is enthusiastic about the waffle and ice cream truck, which is available for parties and corporate events.

“We have done parties for the eating clubs at Princeton University, and we will be adding a second truck this fall. It’s a vintage 1971 British truck, and we’ll be able to handle even more events. We really look forward to watching the business grow.”

Best Waffles

A second Nina’s Waffles opened in Doylestown, Pa. recently at 30 East State Street, she reports, and this, too, is enjoying a very positive customer response.

“And here in New Hope, we get people from all over, including lots from Princeton. On weekends, many come from Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, and in addition to the great word-of-mouth, many find us on-line. We were also voted the best waffles in the entire area in ‘The Best of Philly’ in Piladelphia Magazine.

Assorted pastries, including small individual tarts and cakes, are also available at Nina’s, as are gluten-free products.

Waffles are priced at $3 for plain and $5.50 with a scoop of ice cream. Ice cream cones are $2.95 and up, starting with kiddie size (available for all ages).

In addition to the tasty waffles and ice cream, customers enjoy the friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere at Nina’s. The staff has a good time, as does Ms. Lacey. Elizabeth Duane, points out that “Heather goes out of her way to explain to the staff how everything should be done, and in a very fun and nice way. We all enjoy sharing information about the waffles and ice cream with the customers.”

Adds Ms. Lacey: “We really look forward to greeting the people. I’ve been in the restaurant business a long time, and it still touches my heart to hand a little girl an ice cream cone and watch her eyes light up or to see someone’s face when they taste our waffles for the first time. I think we spread happiness!”

Nina’s Waffles is open Wednesday and Thursday 1 to 9 p.m., Friday 1 to 10 p.m.,  Saturday noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. After Memorial Day, hours will be extended to seven days through the summer and fall. (215) 862-1660.

Website: www.ninaswaffles.com.

 

March 31, 2015

To the Editor:

It is time we challenge our municipal government to reduce taxes and lower annual operating expenses. The recent “news” that taxes are going up again is disappointing, yet not entirely surprising. We’ve seen property taxes increase steadily for quite some time — and here, I mean the actual bottom-line amount we’re paying each year, not partial figures that are reported as stable with or lower than previous years. We should be concerned with the total dollars we provide quarterly to the town — not the misleading jargon of bureaucracy which makes it seem that things are costing less.

First, let me say that I find it interesting how Council breaks down the expenses (municipal, school, library, etc.), but it really doesn’t matter — more is more if you shave a little here and lard up over there then tweak it a little next year for the same result. So I reject any clever explanations about this or that type of spending that makes it seem like there is some valiant effort underway to trim costs. We get one property tax bill and pay it to the same place before they divvy it up.

It seems our elected officials continually wedge themselves between a rock and a hard place such that when it comes time to do the accounting, they have no options left but to raise taxes and cut services and then blame the usual bogeymen (Oh, that Christie!). They like to claim the rock (sometimes the state of New Jersey) and the hard place (legally binding expenses, obligations, lawsuits) are just the way it is and if we don’t surrender more money every year, then, well — the children or somebody will suffer. By this, I recall discussion about the recent school budget with comments regarding it, ‘for only a few dollars more kids can have ….’ For the smart folks in this town, I’m surprised this blunt tactic and obviously slippery slope approach is acceptable and has been for so long.

So, my challenge to our town’s elected officials is this: try living within or below your means for one year. If we, as residents, don’t do that, we can lose our homes. “Your means” are the total taxes we pay that should not go up more than inflation since most incomes haven’t been going up since the financial crisis. No excuses either — you’re smart folks, and we’re a smart community — we expect (and entrust) you to figure it out. So please figure it out.

Lastly, I want to say that this is not a personal attack against anyone in our local government. We’ve got some sharp folks with big hearts looking out for the best interests of our community. Their hard work is what keeps our streets safe and schools topnotch. Part of the problem seems to be that the taxpayers have been lax in voicing concern about rising taxes and this has allowed some pernicious groupthink to settle in — it’s time to challenge that too!

Aaron Bennett

Markham Road

To the Editor:

The June 2 primary election may seem far in the future, but to be sure you’re ready to vote as you choose, please review the following procedures and deadlines. Forms can be downloaded from the League of Women Voters’ website.

Go to www.lwvprinceton.org and, on the home page, click on whatever form you need.

In New Jersey, only Democrats and Republicans are allowed to vote in a primary election and then only for candidates in their own party. If you are now registered as Unaffiliated, you may declare yourself either a Democrat or Republican at the polls. You will then be allowed to vote. If you wish to change your party affiliation — from Democrat to Republican or vice-versa — or to become unaffiliated so that you can declare your party at the time of the election, you must submit a Party Affiliation Declaration Form by April 8.

May 12 is the deadline to register to vote in the primary election or to file your new name or address if either has changed since the November election. For high school seniors who have turned 18, the primary will be their first chance to vote!

May 26 is the deadline to apply to Vote by Mail — whether you’ll be away on June 2 or simply don’t want to take the time to go to the polls. By applying early, you can have your ballot sent whenever it’s convenient.

Please be prepared, and please remember to vote.

Chrystal Schivell

Monroe Lane, 

Voter Service Chair, League of Women Voters 

of the Princeton Area

To the Editor:

On November 14, 1964, Alice Kent came to work for my dad at Nelson Glass Company. Fifty years later, we wanted to find a meaningful way for Alice’s friends and associates to honor her service not only to the company but also to the community. We decided that, due to Alice’s passion for animals, a perfect way to do that would be to promote donations to SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals, in her honor.

To date, donations to SAVE in honor of Alice exceed $2,000! What makes this even more exciting, The Sands Foundation will match the amount, helping SAVE move closer to their campaign building goal for their new facility. Nelson Glass would like to thank and acknowledge the generosity of those in the community who have contributed. You have truly made this milestone anniversary both memorable and worthwhile.

Robbie Nelson, 

President Nelson Glass Company, Spring Street