July 18, 2018

THREE ALARMS: Two firefighters sustained minor injuries in the three-alarm blaze at 140 Hodge Road on Monday night. But damage to the nine-bedroom mansion, which was empty and has been on and off the market for years, was considerable. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Anne Levin

A three-alarm fire caused significant damage and minor injuries to two firefighters at a house on Hodge Road in Princeton’s Western Section late Monday night. No one was inside the 5,802-square-foot home at 140 Hodge Road when the fire was reported at about 11:50 p.m. more

By Donald Gilpin

An equity audit of Princeton Public Schools (PPS) has cited significant strengths along with a range of issues and disparities that the district needs to address.

Initiated by PPS “in response to known and suspected educational inequities and gaps between the district’s mission and students’ day-to-day school experiences,” the audit noted continuing “racially-predictable disparities in achievement data, a perception of disparities in discipline and academic expectations, a difference between various identities’ sense of welcoming and belonging, challenges in addressing incidents of oppression and bias, and a strong sense of academic pressure and competition.” more

By Donald Gilpin

At last night’s meeting, which took place after press time, the Princeton Board of Education (BOE) seemed prepared to support the latest referendum proposal from its facilities committee, calling for two questions on the ballot.

Question No. 1 would include improvements at all the elementary schools; construction of a new 5/6 school at Valley Road; the purchase of property at Thanet Road for central administration, transportation, and maintenance; security improvements; HVAC and other infrastructure improvements; an athletic field at Valley Road; a few additional high school classrooms; a second floor over the high school fitness center; and renovations to the guidance area — at a projected cost of $82,528,490. more

LEARNING ABOUT LEADERSHIP: At the closing ceremony of last year’s “At the Well” session on the campus of Princeton University, girls who completed the motivational program posed for a group portrait. This summer’s session, which begins July 22, inaugurates a companion program for boys.

By Anne Levin

For the past eight years, a week-long summer leadership academy designed to motivate teenaged girls of color has been held on the campus of Princeton University. “At the Well” has focused on critical reading, critical writing, and activities for leadership development, bringing in speakers from the worlds of business, education, and entertainment.  more

By Anne Levin

Princeton University is seeking approval from Princeton’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to turn Bainbridge House, the historic building at 158 Nassau Street that most recently housed the Historical Society of Princeton, into office space for the educational programming staff of the Princeton University Art Museum, as well as a gallery and gathering space. more

TAKING CARE OF LEGACIES: Friends of Herrontown Woods (FOHW) volunteers installed plant labels, with QR codes that connect to native plant information on the group’s website, at a rain garden designed to catch runoff. Princeton Council last week agreed to accept ownership of the Herrontown Woods property from Mercer County and is currently working on a formal agreement with FOHW to proceed with work on the grounds and renovations of the buildings that used to be the Veblen homestead. (Photo Courtesy of FOHW)

By Donald Gilpin

Friends of Herrontown Woods (FOHW) held a picnic last month with games, food, and presentations to celebrate Oswald Veblen’s 138th birthday. There’s a lot to celebrate, with Princeton Council agreeing last week to accept the property from Mercer County and the FOHW stepping up work on various environmental projects and looking to renovate the Veblen House and Cottage. more

Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic! —Walt Whitman, April 1889

By Stuart Mitchner

The Good Grey Poet was speaking to his Boswell, Horace L. Traubel, whose notes of conversations between 1888 and Whitman’s death in 1892 were eventually published in the multi-volume series, With Walt Whitman in Camden. Walt went on to call baseball “America’s game.” It has “the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere — belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.” more

“UNCOMMON WOMEN AND OTHERS”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Uncommon Women and Others.” Directed by Daniel Krane, the play runs through July 22 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Mrs. Plumm (Carol Lee, center) serves tea to residents of North Stimson Hall, from left: Rita (Allison Spann), Kate (Kat Giordano), Susie (E Harper Nora Jerimijenko-Conley), and Leilah  (Michelle Navis). Photo by Sarah Golobish.

By Donald Sanborn III

Princeton Summer Theater is delivering a polished production of Uncommon Women and Others at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. A press release for this season’s previous production, Tick, Tick…Boom!, states that it “sets the stage for a summer of performances that center around self-discovery as seen through critical turning points in our characters’ lives.” That theme — as well as pressure to succeed with personal and professional accomplishments by the time one reaches a certain age — is shared by this play, which was written by Wendy Wasserstein (1950-2006). more

By Nancy Plum

No matter how much doubt is shed on the future of orchestral music, it is clear that there will always be composers looking for opportunities to present newly-created musical works. In Princeton, thanks to a collaboration among the Edward T. Cone Foundation, Princeton University, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, four emerging composers have had the chance to explore in depth symphonic composition as part of the Fifth Annual NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute. Conductor David Robertson, Institute director and composer Steven Mackey and members of the New Jersey Symphony mentored four composers in creating significant musical pieces, as well as learning the business aspects of the field. This year’s Institute culminated last Saturday night in a public performance of four new one-movement works at Richardson Auditorium to an audience which has continued to grow over the five years of the Institute. Composers Jonathan Cziner, Brian Shank, Aaron Hendrix, and Natalie Dietterich spent last week in Princeton receiving an invaluable experience and education as a huge stepping stone in already successful careers. more

By Kam Williams

Since 1950, Rucker Park has been home to a popular basketball tournament that takes place on an outdoor court located at 155th Street in Harlem. Many promising prospects have honed their skills on the world famous proving ground en route to NBA careers: Kevin Durant, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, “Dr. J” (Julius Erving), and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, to name a few.

Uncle Drew is a hilarious hoops movie that pays tribute to Rucker Park as well as to the athletes who have mesmerized generations of fans who have attended the annual summer classic. Directed by Charles Stone III (Drumline), the picture stars the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving as the title character, but don’t expect to be able to recognize him under all the plastic makeup that turns him into a senior citizen. more

“FISHING ON CARNEGIE LAKE”: This painting by Helene Mazur is featured in “Plein-Air Painters of Princeton,” on view through July 25 at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Evelyne V. Johnson Gallery at 1 Preservation Place in Princeton.

What does Princeton have in common with Giverny? Its own corps of plein-air painters actively immortalizing natural scenes in and around the town. D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Evelyne V. Johnson Gallery shimmers with plein-air art just completed, on view through July 25. more

“Anywhere But Here: Mixed Media Works” by Ilene Dube is on view through August 9 at Northfield Bank, 280 Route 31 in Hopewell. Gallery and bank hours are Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fri 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

“WANDERINGS & WONDERINGS”: Landscape paintings including “Autumn Memories” by Joe Kazimierczyk, above, and “Red Shed and American Boathouse” by Michael Schweigart, below, are featured in a joint exhibit at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. It runs August 9 through September 2, with an opening reception on August 11 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville presents new landscape paintings by artists Joe Kazimierczyk and Michael Schweigart in an exhibition of their “Wanderings & Wonderings.” The exhibit runs August 9 through September 2, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 11, from 5 to 8 pm.  more

July 11, 2018

At a recent Princeton Council meeting, Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS) Board President Wendy Mager, left, presented Mayor Liz Lempert with a check for $200,000 as reimbursement of funds for the acquisition of 20-plus acres for the Mt. Lucas Preserve and 35 acres for the Tusculum property, originally the farm of John Witherspoon. FOPOS is a nonprofit devoted to preservation and stewardship of land in Princeton. (Photo Courtesy of FOPOS)

By Donald Gilpin

In response to public concerns about the $130M price tag and its effect on local property taxes, the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education is considering dividing its facilities referendum proposal into two parts, with the two questions to be voted on separately.

“I think the entire proposed referendum is a sound plan,” said Board President Patrick Sullivan. “but we’ve gotten feedback from the community that it’s a big bite. We wanted to give people another option to postpone part of the plan for two — three years.” more

By Anne Levin

Following a work session on parking and the financial modeling workbook being prepared by the consulting firm Dixon Resources Unlimited, Princeton Council voted Monday to introduce a parking contract agreement with the IPS Group for single space smart meters.

Last month, the Council approved a contract with PassportParking, Inc., for a new app that allows payment for parking through mobile phones. Monday’s vote was the next step in the revamping of the town’s parking system, and consultant Julie Dixon said she is hoping to schedule a kickoff meeting soon. She is hopeful that a rollout of the multi-layered plan can take place in mid-September. The public hearing on the agreement with IPS Group will be at the Council meeting on August 1. more

By Anne Levin

Now that Reed Gusciora has been elected mayor of Trenton, his 15th District New Jersey Assembly seat is up for grabs. Kevin Kuchinski, mayor of Hopewell Township, has issued a statement saying he is pursuing the post.

“Our district has a long history of strong representation and innovative leadership, most recently with Reed Gusciora,” he said. “Reed led the charge to bring fairness back to New Jersey, including a major victory on gay marriage several years ago. My goal is to build on Reed’s accomplishments in the Fighting 15th.” more

“TUSKEGEE OF THE NORTH”: On a 400-acre campus in Bordentown, African American high school students received quality academic and practical educations between 1886 and 1955. This illustration shows the Georgian buildings and acres of open land that made the school a haven for generations of students. (Courtesy of John Medley, Class of 1954)

By Anne Levin

John Medley had just graduated from junior high school in rural Blackwood when his stepmother heard about a boarding academy located not far away. The Bordentown School, also known as the Manual Training and Industrial School of Colored Youth, sounded almost too good to be true — especially in the early 1950s, when the education of African Americans was hardly a national priority. more

Local Teachers Collaborate With University Researchers

Teachers from Princeton Public Schools, The Hun School, YingHua International School, Montgomery, West Windsor-Plainsboro, and other districts throughout New Jersey are collaborating with science researchers to enhance their knowledge of science, math, and technology through the QUEST professional development program at Princeton University this summer. more

Enjoy everything peach on August 4 and 5 at Terhune Orchards from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The weekend will include cooking demonstrations, a traveling zoo, a ride through the orchards on tractor-drawn wagons, pony rides, duck races, face painting, and Pam’s Everything Peachy Food Tent offering summer fare like peach pie, barbecue chicken, homemade gazpacho, and apple cider donuts.

The Princeton Area Community Foundation has been awarded a $150,000 grant from NJM Insurance Group. The five-year grant will be paid in annual installments of $30,000, and will help fund the Community Foundation’s new All Kids Thrive initiative.

“We are grateful for this tremendous support from NJM, which has been a longtime partner to nonprofits throughout New Jersey, including the Mercer County region,” said Jeffrey M. Vega, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Our All Kids Thrive program is a bold, new initiative designed to improve the lives of young people living in poverty in our region, but we know we cannot tackle this problem alone. That’s why supporters like NJM are so important. We hope this inspires other funders to collaborate with us, as we work to ensure that All Kids Thrive.” more

By Donald Gilpin

“Witherspoon-Jackson Community: Stories Lived, But Seldom Heard” will be the theme of the 2018 Joint Effort Princeton Safe Streets Summer Program (JEPWJ) from August 2-12, with this year’s celebration dedicated “to all of our ancestors who passed this year, especially Jim Floyd,” said lead organizer John Bailey.

Started more than a decade ago by Bailey and Witherspoon-Jackson (WJ) resident and historian Shirley Satterfield, the JEPWJ program this year will retain its focus on community, history, personalities, and families in Princeton’s 20th historic district, but a number of new events will take place during the 10-day celebration, including the first Jim Floyd Memorial Lecture delivered on Saturday morning, August 11 by black futurist Chet Sisk, who will discuss the recent world paradigm shift and its impact on Princeton.  more

“THE JOB THAT WAS MADE FOR ME:” After 50 years as an educator, Anne Soos retired last month from The Hun School of Princeton, where she taught science for five years. For the first 45 years of her career she taught at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, also chairing the science department for 16 years and serving as Upper School head for 12 years. (Photo courtesy of The Hun School)

By Donald Gilpin

This fall will be different for science teacher Anne Soos, who just retired after five years at The Hun School of Princeton and 45 years before that at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. “This will probably be the first September since I was 4 that I won’t be thinking about school,” she said. more

Acorn Glen Assisted Living resident Mr. Shih Tsun Lin turned 101 on Saturday, July 7, 2018. Mr. Lin along with his family and friends celebrated his birthday on Friday at his residence at Acorn Glen in Princeton. As part of the celebration, Mr. Lin’s talented family performed for the community. Shih Tsun was born in China, the third among a total of 8 children. He studied to become a chemical engineer and first came to the United States on a year-long scholarship to pursue his Master’s Degree and eventually moved to the U.S. permanently in 1971. Throughout his life he worked as a professor and enjoyed leisure activities such as bridge, reading, and tennis (which he played into his 80s). He has three children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Mr. Lin says the secret to his long and happy life are two things: family and faith. Congratulations to Mr. Lin on this wonderful milestone!

Mercer County has announced the launch of a stigma-free campaign to help those impacted by mental illness and addiction. The county acknowledges that many people remain unserved in part because of the stigma of seeking help.

The goal is to bring mental illness and addiction out of the shadows and encourage treatment and support. Greater public awareness about these conditions can change negative attitudes and behaviors. The county seeks to promote a message of hope and the belief that healing and recovery are attainable.  more