March 26, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

Anticipated community spread and increased testing have pushed New Jersey’s total of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases to at least 6,876, with 2,492 new positive tests announced today, March 26, by Gov. Phil Murphy in his daily coronavirus press briefing. There have been at least 81 deaths from coronavirus in the state, with 19 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

Mercer County has reported 111 cases, an increase of 29 since Wednesday. The majority of the  cases in the state so far have occurred in counties in the northern half of the state.

In measures designed to slow the spread of the virus, Murphy has ordered all non-essential businesses to close, all schools to close, and people to stay at home except for work and necessary travel. Supermarkets and pharmacies are open. Restaurants are permitted to offer takeout and delivery only. Social gatherings are banned, and officials have announced that those who violate the orders will be prosecuted.

As of Wednesday evening, the Princeton Health Department (PHD) reported 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Princeton, nine males and five females. It is impossible to keep a precise tally, the PHD noted, because of widespread testing throughout the region, but they are continuing to investigate and highlight the most critical exposures and disease events. more

March 23, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

With 935 new cases announced today, March 23, New Jersey now has 2,844 COVID-19 cases, the second highest total in the nation. Governor Phil Murphy also reported seven new deaths today for a total of 27 deaths in the state.  Health officials expect the numbers to continue to climb rapidly as testing expands and the spread accelerates. New York State has the most cases in the country with more than 20,000.

The Princeton Health Department (PHD) on Sunday night reported a total of nine confirmed cases, with 12 negative test results.  “We have documented several instances of community exposure,” the PHD stated. “We must presume there is some possibility for exposure in ANY community situation, and protect ourselves accordingly.”

The PHD noted that with expanded testing through many different testing facilities throughout the region, precise case counts for Princeton may not be available. “While our ability to keep a precise tally will be impossible, it will also be less important,” the PHD report stated. “Instead we will continue to investigate and highlight the most critical exposures and disease events that happen in our community, allowing us to offer specific information on where individuals may have been exposed, and what actions they can take to take care of themselves and protect others they may come in contact with.” more

March 22, 2020

Dear Princeton Community,

This has been another challenging and heartbreaking week. Your daily life has undoubtedly been upended by coronavirus, and you are likely making painful economic and personal sacrifices in the interest of public health. We know from the experience in other countries that staying at home and practicing social distancing will work. They are our best existing tools to slow the spread of this disease. “Flattening the curve” is necessary to give our first responders and medical care system the time they need to gear up to deal with the incoming volume of sick people, and to give our scientists the time, hopefully, to invent an effective treatment.

The next few weeks are going to put our patience to the test. Everyone should prepare themselves for what the experts tell us is going to happen: even though we are at home, washing our hands, keeping our distance, watching our favorite businesses close, losing our jobs, not going to school or work, and not visiting with friends, the number of cases in Princeton is going to go up. The number of cases is likely to go up exponentially during this time. This is for a number of reasons: 1) more testing kits and testing facilities are coming online. More tests will produce more confirmed cases; 2) coronavirus is extremely contagious and has been spreading in our community. Recent research from a team of scientists including those at Princeton University has shown that the virus can live in the air and on surfaces for hours; and 3) the virus can lay dormant for up to two weeks before making you sick. We should not expect to see any evidence of our collective sacrifice until after more than two weeks of staying at home and practicing social distancing. We must have faith that our efforts are working even when we will not immediately be seeing results.

While this pandemic is like nothing we’ve ever experienced as a country, like other challenges it has brought out the best in the Princeton community. I am especially thankful this week to our entire municipal team, our Health Department led by Jeff Grosser, our Board of Health led by George DiFerdinando, our first responder team led by Chief Sutter, the Princeton Public Library, especially the new Executive Director Jennifer Podolsky, Tim Quinn, and the entire team putting together the princetoncovid.org site, the front-line workers at our grocery and drug stores, and everyone who has stepped forward to help deliver food, run errands, and donate money and supplies. We are all in this together, and we will all pull through together.

LIZ LEMPERT
Mayor

March 20, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

With officials expecting numbers to surge as testing expands and the coronavirus spreads, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced today, March 20, that there were 155 new positive tests for COVID-19, bringing the total to 890 in the state, with 11 deaths. Murphy urged residents not to be alarmed by rising numbers of cases, and to continue practicing social distancing measures.

In his daily coronavirus press briefing, Murphy said that further restrictions would be implemented in the next 24 hours, including shutting down nonessential businesses in order to “‘further tighten screws in terms of social distancing,” according to nj.com.

The Princeton Health Department (PHD) announced late this afternoon the sixth and seventh cases of coronavirus identified in Princeton. more

March 19, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

With increased testing and the accelerating spread of the coronavirus, New Jersey officials announced 318 new positive tests for COVID-19 today, March 19, bringing the state total to 742. Four new deaths were announced for a total of nine deaths in New Jersey.

The Princeton Health Department (PHD) today announced a fifth confirmed COVID-19 case in Princeton, with the individual identified as “a close contact of an attendee of the February 29th house party. The infected individual has been advised of the exposure and was self-isolating in advance of developing symptoms.”

In addition, the PHD and the Princeton Public Schools announced today that a Riverside Elementary School teacher has tested positive for COVID-19.  PPS reported that the teacher is currently in the hospital and beginning to feel better. PPS Superintendent Steve Cochrane wrote in an email to staff and families, “The Department of Health will be reaching out to students, parents, and staff who may have had more prolonged contact with this particular staff member.”  A separate letter was sent to the Riverside community providing guidance. more

March 18, 2020

Princeton Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser released the following information in an update on March 18:

Princeton has four positive laboratory confirmed coronavirus cases, and seven negative laboratory confirmed coronavirus cases. Four tests are awaiting results. Six persons are currently under investigation due to travel or close contact to a confirmed case (not symptomatic), all are quarantined. Three persons are isolated due to being symptomatic and did not receive testing. Twenty persons under investigation have been cleared from quarantine or monitoring (this number includes seven that were not tested from the party and were asymptomatic).

Grosser notes that the number of confirmed cases will continue to rise exponentially as more people get tested and gain access to testing throughout our region. He said that is expected and is not an indicator that social distancing does not work. Social distancing works, but it has only been in effect for three days.

Childcare and daycare centers  are still in operation.

Senior living sites have been requested to reduce or end non-essential visitation and increase health screening of worker and essential visitors.

Food trucks have been cleared for operation, but they must be from an existing Princeton business and have been provided instruction from the Princeton Health Department on what they should be doing to keep residents safe, but fed.

The Princeton Health Department has also released local guidance on how retail food establishments should be operating.

Police Chief Nicholas Sutter notes that gatherings of 50 or more persons, and other such COVID-19 curfew and social distancing infractions, do not require use of the 911 emergency system. Please call the police department phone line at (609) 921-2100 for rules violations. The non-emergency lines are answered by trained communications officers who will answer and assist you.

In addition, a new website, princetoncovid.org, provides the latest information from the municipality, Princeton Public Library, and Princeton Public Schools.

March 16, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

As the number of positive tests for COVID-19 rose to 178 in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy has announced the closure of all schools, movie theaters, casinos, gyms, nightclubs, and racetracks beginning tonight at  8 p.m. They must remain closed until further notice from the state.

In ongoing efforts to halt the spread of the virus, the governor also banned dining in restaurants,  and gatherings of more than 50 people. He recommended a curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for emergencies and essential travel. Restaurants can still offer delivery, curbside pickup, and takeout.

Murphy also said that he is mobilizing the New Jersey National Guard to assist in any way possible in handling this emergency.

For local information go to princetonnj.gov or mercercounty.org/covid-19, or call the New Jersey Department of Health hotline at (800) 222-1222.

March 12, 2020

By Anne Levin

In an ever-changing situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton University announced Wednesday that all undergraduate classes will be held online for the rest of the semester, and that students should not return to campus following spring break. And Communiversity, originally scheduled for April 26, has now been postponed until Sunday, October 11.

“All students who are able to must return home and stay home for the rest of the semester,” reads a message to the University community from Jill Dolan, dean of the University, and W. Rochelle Calhoun, vice president for Campus Life. “University settings like Princeton present unique challenges during a pandemic, because of the density of students living and studying in close quarters. Large, highly concentrated numbers of students living on campus will increase the chance of rapid transmission of the coronavirus. Furthermore, our capacity to quarantine those who are sick and those who have been exposed is extremely limited.”  more

August 15, 2018

By Anne Levin

A 23-year-old man died Friday after jumping into Lake Carnegie off the dock near the boat launch. Talven Page, of Trenton, swam a few moments before disappearing under the water and failed to resurface, according to the Princeton Police Department.

The matter remains under investigation by the department’s Detective Bureau. Police were notified at 2:52 p.m. Friday, August 10, by a friend of Page, who said he saw him enter the water. The police arrived three minutes later, and two officers entered the water and searched the area. more

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

May 16, 2018

PILLAR OF THE COMMUNITY: James Floyd’s influence on Princeton, especially the Witherspoon-Jackson district, touched many over several decades.

By Anne Levin

James Floyd, Princeton’s first African American mayor and longtime civil servant, died Monday morning. A community activist who worked tirelessly to promote civil rights, he was a mentor to many and a familiar figure to anyone involved in local politics. He was instrumental in getting the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood designated a historic district.

“Jim Floyd was a change agent,” said Princeton Councilman Lance Liverman, who grew up in Princeton and knew Floyd nearly his whole life. “This is my definition of someone who truly has changed the direction or path others may have gone. Jim was a mover and shaker in the area of affordable housing in Princeton. This was his passion.” more

April 11, 2018

By Anne Levin

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office released footage Monday related to the March 20 shooting incident at the Panera Bread restaurant on Nassau Street. The surveillance video shows state troopers firing the shots that killed Scott L. Mielentz, the 56-year-old Lawrenceville man who entered the eatery that morning, wielding a BB pistol. more

March 28, 2018

By Donald Gilpin

Optimistic organizers anticipated hundreds, but thousands of people showed up in Hinds Plaza Saturday to join Princeton’s March for Our Lives rally, one of more than 800 across the country in support of the national march in Washington, D.C., demanding that lawmakers take action against gun violence.

Estimated at more than 4,000, the crowd overflowed the Plaza. Witherspoon and Hulfish streets were closed to traffic.  more

By Anne Levin

With the New Jersey Attorney General’s office in charge of investigating the shooting at the Panera Bread restaurant on Nassau Street last week, Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter is limited in how much he can share about the incident until the investigation is completed. But Sutter wants to keep the public as informed as he can about the events surrounding the death of 56-year-old Scott Mielentz, who was fatally shot after an armed standoff involving local, county, and state police; the FBI; and Princeton University police. more

March 21, 2018

By Donald Gilpin and Anne Levin

A four and a half-hour standoff between police and an armed gunman at Panera Bread on Nassau Street ended shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday when the man was fatally shot by police.

The man entered Panera Bread on Nassau Street with a handgun around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and made threats as customers and employees fled. Police secured the perimeter of the restaurant.  more

February 22, 2018

By Anne Levin

Rider University’s Board of Trustees has revealed the identity of the company with which they have been negotiating to buy Westminster Choir College, Westminster Conservatory of Music, and Westminster Continuing Education, for $40 million.

The board has signed a non-binding term sheet with Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Co., Ltd, a Chinese firm that owns the Kaiwen Academies, two K-12 international schools in Beijing, for the transfer of ownership of the three entities. “This major step forward will ensure that the choir college and its entities remain open in Princeton, NJ,” reads a press release from Rider president Gregory Dell’Omo. more

February 21, 2018

By Anne Levin

Since the tragic murder of 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last week, area public and private schools have had to reconsider how to best provide a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff.

Based on security audits last month, several changes had already been put in place throughout the Princeton Public Schools (PPS). But the Parkland shootings, and a recent incident in which a former student entered and later left the Princeton High School building, prompted more changes be made.  more

January 17, 2018

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber and Microsoft President Bradford L. Smith have teamed up to send letters to top leaders and other members of Congress urging them to act quickly to provide long-term protection, including a path to citizenship, for DREAMers.

“The time has come for immediate and urgent action by Congress,” wrote Eisgruber and Smith, as the future of DREAMers hangs in the balance against a backdrop of ongoing negotiations on Capitol Hill and President Trump’s Sunday tweet that “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it.”  more

January 10, 2018

By Anne Levin

Since the December 27 fire at the Griggs Farm complex that took one life and displaced 35 residents, the local community has rallied to donate funds, food, clothing, and household items. An anonymous couple offered to make a matching gift of $36,000.

Now, the call is out for housing options. more

December 28, 2017

A two-alarm fire that started Wednesday night, December 27, in a three-story apartment building at the Griggs Farm complex on Billie Ellis Lane, took the life of a 73-year-old woman and displaced 35 residents. Larisa Bartone, who lived in an apartment at 21 Billie Ellis Lane, died in the fire. An investigation into the cause of the blaze is ongoing.

The Princeton Police Department, Princeton Fire Department, Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, and multiple fire departments from the area responded to the scene. The American Red Cross and Princeton’s Human Services department are assisting the residents, some of whom spent Wednesday night at The Nassau Inn. more

November 8, 2017

By Donald Gilpin

Voters elected Beth Behrend with 3,199 votes, Jess Deutsch with 2,983 votes, and Michele Tuck-Ponder with 2,773 votes on Tuesday to fill available seats for three-year terms on the Princeton Board of Education, according to unofficial results at press time.

Joining the Princeton Municipal Council in January for three-year terms will be Democrats David Cohen and Leticia Fraga, winning 5,604 and 5,570 votes respectively in their unopposed campaigns. Current Council members Bernie Miller and Jo Butler will be stepping down on January 1. more

October 4, 2017

By Anne Levin

In two separate incidents that occurred two days apart, two people were struck and killed by Amtrak trains near the Princeton Junction station.

The first, on Thursday afternoon, September 28, involved a Princeton High School sophomore and is believed to have been a suicide. The Crescent train 20 was on its way from New Orleans to New York when it struck the student at about 2:45 p.m., according to an Amtrak spokesman. The second incident took place Saturday evening, September 30, when Amtrak train 92 hit an individual at about 8:30 p.m. more

September 20, 2017

By Donald Gilpin

About 200 professors, colleagues, friends, their families, and other supporters gathered in Princeton University’s East Pyne Courtyard Friday evening to hold a candlelight vigil in support of Xiyue Wang, a graduate student who has been imprisoned in Iran for the past 13 months.

Speakers, who included Wang’s wife, two of his professors, and several of his colleagues and friends, focused mostly on Wang’s qualities as a person, a scholar, a husband, and father to a 4-year-old son. Those closest to Wang, 37, described him as a talented, ambitious, dedicated scholar, full of intellectual curiosity and interest in Iranian culture, a steadfast friend and a loving family man with a distinct flair for cooking.  more

September 13, 2017

By Donald Gilpin

Widespread criticism, along with a barrage of political, legal, and proposed legislative action, has arisen in response to last week’s Trump administration announcement of the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, that protected some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, also known as DREAMers, from deportation. more

By Anne Levin

With President Trump’s recent announcement ordering the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Princeton’s second annual Welcoming Week could hardly be celebrated at a more appropriate time. Starting this Friday, the town’s Human Services Department is collaborating with Princeton Public Library, the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Historical Society of Princeton, and other community partners on this series of events designed to promote contributions made by those who come from other places. more