February 26, 2014
GROUP THINKING: Members of the Princeton High School team competing in the Science Bowl seem cool, calm, and collected as they figure out the answer to a bonus question in the round against the Bergen County High School team on Saturday. The PHS team reached the 10th round of the U.S. Department of Energy’s New Jersey Regional High School Science Bowl on Saturday at the Princeton Plasma Laboratory before their defeat. From left: Alexander Jin, Stephanie Ren, Rye Anderson, and Enric Boix.(Photo by Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications)

GROUP THINKING: Members of the Princeton High School team competing in the Science Bowl seem cool, calm, and collected as they figure out the answer to a bonus question in the round against the Bergen County High School team on Saturday. The PHS team reached the 10th round of the U.S. Department of Energy’s New Jersey Regional High School Science Bowl on Saturday at the Princeton Plasma Laboratory before their defeat. From left: Alexander Jin, Stephanie Ren, Rye Anderson, and Enric Boix. (Photo by Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications)

Teams of middle and high school students from Princeton and across the state took part in the U.S. Department of Energy’s New Jersey Regional Science Bowl on Friday and Saturday at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). 

Thirty-two teams competed in a University Challenge-like competition, buzzing their answers against the clock.

On Friday, 16 middle school teams of four to five students participated. John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) placed second and took home the “School Spirit Award” for staying on after they were knocked out to cheer on others. The J Droids of Warren, will go to the National Science Bowl finals in Washington D.C., in April.

On Saturday, 32 teams of 200 high school students competed. At around 1 p.m., Princeton High School took on Bergen County High School. But before the two teams faced-off against one another in what would be a fast-paced, question and answer format, testing their ability to solve mathematical problems as well as their knowledge in the categories of earth science, energy, general science, mathematics, physics and life science, they first had to check their buzzers.

The round began with multiple choice questions. In a nod to the techno, the choices were listed not as the usual A B, C, or D, but as W, X, Y, or Z.

For those too quick on the buzzer a penalty gave points to opposition, but only for a wrong answer. So there was an incentive to buzz quickly if you were sure of the answer and a disincentive if you were not entirely sure. Such judgment on the part of the players is what differentiates winners and losers.

Questions ranged from the understandable to the mathematical. An example of the former is “Which of the following is a deciduous conifer: Norfolk Pine, Western Hemlock, Southern American Larch, or White Cedar?” An example of the latter is: “Solve for x: 27 to the power of 6-x equals 9 to the power of x-1.” Algebra to some, Aaargh to others. A correct answer to a multiple choice question earned a bonus knowledge question.

In spite of the fast pace, the atmosphere in the PPPL auditorium was relaxed, even festive, with student participants at ease with the competitive environment. What at first sight seemed a recipe for stress, turned out to be high schoolers enjoying themselves. They were having fun with sometimes mystifying questions.

As the PHS team score advanced from 8-0, 8-8, 40-32, 94-68 and finally 112-68, there was a degree of mounting tension, but mostly there was fun. On several occasions Bergen County HS gained four penalty points because of interrupts by members of the Princeton team.

PHS Coach Tim Anderson, who teaches Advancement Placement (AP) environmental science, as well as astronomy and oceanography, was astonished when his team faltered on one oceanography question. “They should have gotten that one,” he said.

Mr. Anderson reported his pride in their performance overall. He has reason to be happy since PHS students taking part in last week’s “Shore Bowl,” the regional competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, held at the Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Science, triumphed and will move on to compete with other regional champions in May.

Of the local teams at the PPPL on Saturday, PHS went the furthest before their defeat in the 10th round. In the final 13th round the winner was State College, Pa., which receives all-expenses-paid trips to Washington, D.C. to compete in the finals.

Besides JWMS, a team from the Princeton Charter School also competed at the middle school level. Other high schools competing were Princeton Day School, Trenton Catholic Academy, East Brunswick High School, The Lawrenceville School, Montgomery High School, Lawrence High School, Stuart Country Day School, West Windsor Plainsboro North, West Windsor-Plainsboro South, and South Brunswick High School.

Now in its 24th year, the National Science Bowl is one of the nation’s largest science competitions. It aims to support interest in science and mathematics and more than 225,000 students have participated in the annual event since it began. This year, it was expected to draw about 9,000 high school and about 5,000 middle school students from across the nation.

 

Responding to a statement issued Tuesday that they have failed to produce accurate mapping of the construction path for the proposed Princeton Ridge Transco Pipeline project, the Williams Company said that “incomplete survey permissions” prevented them from having access to the area of concern until recently. The company responded further that they have provided mapping for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to the agency’s satisfaction “for the Letter of Interpretation process.”

Williams wants to expand its natural gas pipeline through an environmentally sensitive area of the Princeton Ridge, affecting some 30 properties. The company has held public presentations and met repeatedly with the citizens’ group Princeton Ridge Coalition, representatives from the municipality, and others concerned about the impact of construction on area wetlands and wildlife, as well as safety.

“I have met with Williams officials and their consultants from Texas and Florida at least a half a dozen times, and they have always promised to do the right thing by the community,” said Jennifer Coffey, policy director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, in a press release. “On at least two occasions, we had meetings with officials in Princeton and Trenton to discuss the incomplete wetlands mapping, and Williams promised to fix it. Their most recent mapping shows that they have done nothing to correct the problem or accurately represent the sensitive nature of the Ridge.”

The press release states further that Williams’ reports “fail to map critical regulated features of the existing right of way (ROW). These include watercourses, wetlands with active seeps and springs within and adjacent to the ROW, as well as State open waters occurring within 50 feet of the ROW.” The release quotes a report prepared by the company Princeton Hydro as saying, “Failure to accurately identify and delineate these regulated [stream and wetland] features will preclude an accurate representation of the project’s impacts.”

According to the release, the Watershed Association, the municipality, and the citizens’ group are calling on the Department of Environmental Protection to ask Williams to re-do their wetlands surveys “in compliance with the law.”

“In sum, Williams’ efforts to properly delineate wetlands and regulated waters within the Princeton Ridge segment are plainly inadequate. They call into question the accuracy and completeness of all studies Williams has commissioned in the Princeton Ridge segment. We are deeply disappointed that Williams has failed to meet its basic regulatory obligations, regardless of whether these oversights were intentional or inadvertent,” according to a letter written on behalf of the coalition by attorney Paul P. Josephson, a Princeton Ridge resident.

In an email, The Williams Company said, “We have worked in good faith with the Princeton Coalition to address their concerns, and had previously committed to them to map additional areas within a 150 foot corridor. Previously, this was not accomplished due to incomplete survey permissions. Until recently, we did not have survey access to a key property in this area of concern and therefore could not survey outside of the existing right of way.”

The email continues to say the mapping Williams provided for the state environmental agency “reflects delineations that were performed in the presence of the NJDEP, to their satisfaction, for the Letter of Interpretation (LOI) process. Additional surveys, although not required as a function of the LOI line verification process, will be incorporated as part of NJDEP’s review of Transco’s freshwater wetlands application. Transco continues to coordinate with NJDEP to provide the information necessary for the proposed project to be reviewed in accordance with the state of New Jersey’s environmental regulations.”

Barbara Blumenthal, a resident active in the Princeton Ridge Coalition, said in the release, “The Ridge is our home. The Princeton community feels great responsibility to be good stewards and protect it from unnecessary harm. There are extensive preserved lands on the ridge that the Princeton community and officials have worked hard to protect and now enjoy as open space. All we are asking is for Williams to comply with New Jersey environmental rules and conduct all the analyses they are required to do.”

 

The application deadline for Communiversity Festival of the Arts, the celebration of art and music that attracts more than 40,000 people to the heart of Princeton every spring, is March 1. Presented by the Arts Council of Princeton with participation from Princeton University and support from the town of Princeton, Communiversity will take place on Sunday, April 27, rain or shine, from 1-6 p.m.

A limited number of corporate sponsorship opportunities are still available. In addition to booth space, sponsors receive brand recognition at the event as well as in Communiversity advertisements, press releases and social media. All interested participants — including corporate sponsors, artists, crafters, merchandise and food vendors, and performers — should visit www.artscouncilof
princeton.org to download and print the appropriate application.

All submissions must be postmarked no later than Saturday, March 1, 2014. Because Communiversity is a juried event, applications postmarked after the deadline will not be considered. All accepted participants will be notified on or about March 20. Contact communiversity@artscouncilofprinceton.org with questions.

 

A lawsuit filed by a citizens’ group seeking to block AvalonBay’s plan for a rental community on the site of the former Princeton Hospital has been dismissed. On Tuesday, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled in favor of the developer.

The residents group, Association for Planning at Hospital Site LLC, filed the five-count lawsuit last December in an effort to overturn the Princeton Planning Board’s approval of the developer’s plan for a 280-unit rental complex. Judge Jacobson initially threw out one count of the suit, saying the statue of limitations had run out on the issue. The remaining four counts were dismissed Tuesday, less than a week after a hearing in which Judge Jacobson heard two hours of testimony by attorney Steven Griegel, representing the group, and Gerald Muller, representing the Planning Board. AvalonBay attorney Robert Kasuba was also present at the hearing.

The citizens’ group listed concerns about public safety, health, and welfare issues during demolition, which Mr. Griegel said have not been sufficiently addressed. He also raised procedural concerns. Mr. Griegel said the consent order that the Town entered into with AvalonBay last April, to suspend litigation and allow the developer to submit a revised plan after their initial plan was rejected, was unfair because it left the public out. Mr. Muller countered that there is no requirement for the public to review a consent order.

On their website, the Association for Planning at Hospital Site LLC has said they are exploring their next steps. “We have 45 days to appeal this decision and will be meeting with our lawyers in the coming days to understand what options remain,” the website reads.

After hearing concerns from several residents, Princeton Council voted last month to hire an independent licensed state remediation professional (LSRP) to help ensure public safety during the demolition process. At this past Monday’s Council meeting, municipal engineer Bob Kiser said that an incinerator formerly located at the hospital, which AvalonBay officials asserted was used only for incinerating paper records, was in fact used for medical waste.

 The Council hopes to hear from the LSRP at its March 10 meeting before taking another look at the developer’s agreement.

 

 

In November of 2012, there were no commercial airplanes flying in and out of Trenton/Mercer Airport. By June of this year, the small airfield off Interstate 95 in Ewing Township will be boasting 73 flights each week to destinations ranging from St. Augustine, Florida to St. Louis, Missouri.

This unprecedented growth was the focus of a February 19 talk at The Nassau Club by Daniel Shurz, senior vice president at Frontier Airlines. The carrier took over the terminal 15 months ago and turned it into a viable alternative to Philadelphia and Newark airports. Mr. Shurz, who spoke at a breakfast held by the Chamber of Commerce of the Princeton Area, announced that the airline will add service to St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis in June.

“We love that this is an old, cheap airport,” he said. “That keeps the fares low. And we’ve kept the fares low because we have a great partner in Mercer County.”

Mr. Shurz said that more than 2.5 million people live closer to Trenton/Mercer than any other airport offering commercial service. Newark and Philadelphia are plagued by delays, making the Ewing airport a favorable option. Unlike other airports of its size, Trenton/Mercer has a runway long enough to accommodate the 138-seat Airbus 319 aircrafts operated by 20-year-old, Denver-based Frontier.

While other commercial airlines have tried to make a go of service at the airfield in the past, none were able to succeed. “The last one was Eastwind in 1995. They picked a good airport, they just didn’t know what they were doing,” said Mr. Shurz.

Last fall, Trenton/Mercer was closed for two months during a mutli-million dollar overhaul financed largely through federal grants. The waiting area was enlarged, a new baggage claim facility was added, and parking lots were expanded. Formerly free, parking now costs $8 a day.

Most Princeton area residents were unfamiliar with Frontier before its arrival in New Jersey. “We knew coming in that you’d never heard of us,” Mr. Shurz said. “Most people didn’t even know the airport was there. But we’re doing less advertising now, because we don’t need to. In January, not historically the best month, we filled 91.5 percent of our seats out of Trenton.”

Frontier’s Denver home is “a great place to put an airline,” Mr. Shurz said, “because we’re hundreds of miles from anywhere. We needed to find a way to diversify that airline. Trenton is the first time we’ve diversified organically and we’ve found something that works really well.”

With its expansion to St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee, Frontier will have non-stop service to 17 destinations: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago-Midway, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Indianapolis, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham, St. Augustine, and Tampa.

“We’re attracting customers who have to pay with their own money,” Mr. Shurz said. “There are a lot more leisure customers than you might think.”

Asked whether Frontier flights are included on discount websites like Priceline, Mr. Shurz said “There is only one website you need to know: Flyfrontier.com. You get certain benefits when you book through our website, and you get smoking hot fares.”

Frontier will host two flight attendant recruiting seminars on March 7 and 8 at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor. Participants must be willing to relocate, hold a current passport, and be willing to spend the entire day at the event. RSVP via email at FAcareers@flyfrontier.com.

 

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Members of the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team celebrate after defeating Morristown-Beard 4-3 last week in the state Prep championship game at McGraw Rink. It was the first outright Prep title since 2011 for PDS, which shared the crown with Mo-Beard last year after the teams skated to a 2-2 tie in the title game. For more details on the game, see page 32. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

 

February 19, 2014

Princeton High School’s jazz ensembles are used to winning awards. The nearly 150 students who participate in the school’s band program have been recognized over the years at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival in Boston.

But at this year’s 46th annual festival on February 8, held in front of some 5,000 people at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center, PHS musicians outdid themselves. They nabbed first place in three categories: Large Ensemble, Small Ensemble, and Vocal Jazz.

“This is the first time ever in the history of the festival that the same school has won first place in all three categories,” said Joe Bongiovi, PHS’s band director. “It’s the fifth year we’ve won for Large Ensemble. For Small Ensemble and Vocal Jazz, it’s our first win (in first place). And it’s the first time our combo has won; we’ve been second or third before.”

The eight singers and four instrumentalists in the Vocal Ensemble ranked fifth last year, said Mr. Bongiovi, who also directs the Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra. To make the jump to first place this year, the group performed jazz arrangements of three songs. “One was a Beyonce tune, ‘Crazy in Love,’ in twenties or thirties jazz style,” he said. “Then they did an a cappella version of an Adele song, her cover of The Cure’s ‘Love Song. Last was a jazz standard, ‘I Want to be Happy.’”

Five of the students were also recognized for their individual efforts: Joe Bell, Aditya Raguram, Michelle Bazile, Katherine Gerberich, and Ananth Balasubramanian.

It is the broad nature of jazz that makes it so appealing to students, Mr. Bongiovi believes. “The nice thing about jazz is that it covers so many different styles,” he said. “We’ve infused pop into it. We’ll do a lot of Michael Jackson songs with the band, for example. The instrumentations and arrangements really allow us to do so many different things. And the kids see a timeline of how it’s all connected.”

Mr. Bongiovi, who is a distant relative of rocker Jon Bon Jovi, encourages his students to study classical music. “Most of them take private lessons. Some of them go to Westminster Conservatory or have independent private teachers,” he said. “It’s really important. We apply the techniques they learn to what we’re doing.”

The festival, billed as the biggest event of its kind in the United States, is staged by the Berklee College of Music, the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Professors from the college serve as judges for the more than 200 schools that participate.

Mr. Bongiovi has been taking students to the festival for years. For chaperone duties, he always invites music teachers from local elementary and middle schools because of their enduring relationships with the students.

“It’s funny. Unlike English or math class where you see these kids one year and you’re done, the music teachers see them year after year after year,” he said. “The connection is really great, because we know them as people, not just as students. So this year, we had teachers from Littlebrook, Riverside, Community Park, John Witherspoon, and Cranbury schools come along. Everyone was proud.”

 

Prison reform is no easy matter. Prisons are overcrowded and understaffed. When it comes to education, described by Cornel West as “probably the best thing we can do for people who are in prison,” resources are scarce.

But one program, founded here in Princeton, the Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance Program, is tackling some of the problems head on, one inmate at a time, with the help of Princeton University (PU) students who tutor prisoners to gain their GEDs and high school diplomas.

“You don’t have to go as far as Africa or to the Middle East to give back,” the program’s executive director Jim Farrin routinely tells participating students. “You can go 35 miles away to a prison where people are in desperate need of contact and further education.”

Students like PU Senior Grace Li, who has been a program tutor for three years, provide one-on-one help in reading, writing, and math. A public policies student at the Woodrow Wilson School, Ms. Li said that the experience of working with inmates has drawn her to a career in criminal justice and prison reform. “This program has changed my world view,” said Ms. Li, “I have come to understand how mass incarceration has effects on economics, politics, and the racial relationships in this country.”

Other students speak not only about the benefits of the program for those it serves, but also of the benefits they receive. “I was able to help those who needed it most and also learned a lot about the criminal justice system and criminals in America,” commented Dan Kowalaski (Class of 2012). “One of the most rewarding things in the program was that I was able to see outside of Princeton and get entirely new perspectives on life.”

Henry Barmeier (Class of 2010 and a Rhodes Scholar) had a similar experience. “The most incredible part of the program was how it brought me into a world so close to home and yet so foreign…. I learned a tremendous amount in a very short time about the nature of incarceration in New Jersey and about the challenges and opportunities for prison education and re-entry programs,” he is quoted as saying on the program’s website.

But it’s not just university students who participate in this effort. Local taxi driver Frenel Cide, originally from Haiti, shuttles students to and from the A.C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility in Bordentown, about seven miles south of Trenton, and the Princeton campus each day, starting at 7:15 a.m. Department of Corrections Special Officer Mike Ritter, who also takes part in the program, is a staunch advocate of expanding literacy programs in prison.

According to Mr. Farrin, the United States has 2.3 million people in prison and many are imprisoned for longer periods than those convicted of similar crimes in Canada or the U.K. “About fifty-three percent of those incarcerated in our area are inside for non-violent crimes; many for drugs or drug related offenses,” he said

Many are around the same age as their student mentors. “These are young people just like me,” said one PU student. “It can be tough to persuade an inmate that you are there simply because you want to make a difference, to help them,” acknowledged another. “One thing I learned is how to teach.” said a third.

“This has been my most rewarding extra-curricular experience at Princeton,” said Clare Herceg (Class of 2011), who describes the program as “an amazing opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of those who society often neglects.”

According to Ms. Herceg, “each visit to the prison not only allows tutors to improve the educational skills of the inmates, but also gives students the opportunity to show the inmates that people outside of the prison system care about them as human beings and believe in their ability to succeed. This experience has transformed my perceptions of the criminal justice system, educational inequalities, and issues surrounding poverty.”

“You see, this is a win-win-win program,” said Mr. Farrin. “It helps prisons by providing free tutors, it helps inmates further their education, which has been shown to effectively reduce recidivism, and it helps students, many of whom are choosing careers in criminal justice and becoming advocates of prison reform.”

Before the program took students into prisons, it researched to see if there were any similar programs out there, using college students to provide assistance to prison inmates. “We had the Rockefeller Philanthropic Advisors research this area and there was virtually nothing that involved students going to prisons near their colleges,” said founder Charlie Puttkammer. “We believe that correctional education is one of the most effective interventions in reducing recidivism and increasing employment opportunities.”

Cognizant of the potential dangers of taking young students, used to the “orange bubble” that is the Princeton University campus, into prisons, the program advises students about appropriate behavior on both sides. They are advised about what clothes to wear, not to take cell phones into prison, and never to give out personal information such as emails or addresses. When they enter the prison, they are divested of personal belongings including ID materials.

“Petey” Greene (1931-1984)

In 1960, Mr. Greene was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to ten years in Fairfax County, Virginia. Inside, he became the prison disc jockey and a role model for many inmates. He overcame drug addiction and incarceration to become one of the most notable media personalities in Washington, D.C. The actor Don Cheadle portrayed him in the 2007 film Talk to Me. 

The Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance Program was founded in 2007 by Mr. Greene’s close friend and mentor, Mr. Putkammer, as a non-profit dedicated to changing the state of education in America’s correctional facilities.

To this end, it recruits, trains, and transports college students and community members to local correctional facilities where they serve as volunteer tutors and teachers.

What started with a handful of volunteers at Princeton University has grown to include over 300 volunteer tutors from six universities who serve five New Jersey correctional facilities. Inmates who receive tutoring complete the GED with a 90 percent passing rate. “We hope to expand nationally in the next several years,” said Mr. Farrin, “and ultimately, through our programs, to revolutionize the state of prison education.” The goal is create a partnership with prison administrators and educators to help inmates prepare for life outside of prison.

The Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance Program is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. For more information please visit: www.peteygreene.org.

 

Many sites throughout Mercer County will offer free income tax preparation assistance to help residents prepare and file their 2013 taxes. Service is offered at most sites from early February through mid-April unless otherwise noted.

The AARP Foundation provides Tax-Aides to assist people with low to moderate incomes with 2013 tax preparation at Mercer County Connection, libraries, and other sites. Local sites include Nassau Presbyterian Church, Princeton Public Library, Princeton Senior Resource Center, and West Windsor Senior Center. For additional sites and more information, visit www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/.

The IRS VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $50,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities.

For more information, visit www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers or  www.earnedincometaxcredit.org.

 

Families and young children can take part in two upcoming events at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. “Insects in Winter for Preschoolers” is Tuesday, February 25 at 10 a.m. and Wednesday, February 26 at 1 p.m. On Saturday, March 1 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., “Maple Sugar Memories” will be held. Both programs will take place at the Watershed’s Kingsford Community Room.

Registration is required for the February events and recommended for the March program. The price is $10 per child for members, $15 non-members, for the “Insects in Winter.” For “Maple Sugar Memories,” the cost is $10 per family for members; $15 non-members.

The Watershed is located at 31 Titus Mill Road in Hopewell Township. Call (609) 737-7592 for more information.

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This Battle Road snow man is fed up. Enough is enough. Even his favorite poem, “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens, can’t say it. Anyway, he’s never understood going from “a mind of winter” to “nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” Or maybe the poem is saying that a week from now, this snow man will be nothing and his signs will mean nothing — until another winter. (Photo by Linda Arntzenius)

 
February 12, 2014
MOVING TO THE FARM: It won’t happen for two years, but the Historical Society of Princeton is headed for its more rural headquarters on Quaker Road, leaving the fate of Bainbridge House, shown here, to be determined by its owner, Princeton University.

MOVING TO THE FARM: It won’t happen for two years, but the Historical Society of Princeton is headed for its more rural headquarters on Quaker Road, leaving the fate of Bainbridge House, shown here, to be determined by its owner, Princeton University.

Bainbridge House, the Nassau Street home of the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) since 1967, will be vacated by the organization by the end of next year. The HSP made the official announcement at its annual meeting last week.

The Society will move all of its operations to Updike Farmstead on Quaker Road, purchased from the estate of Stanley Updike a decade ago. The future plans for Bainbridge House, which is owned by Princeton University, have yet to be determined. In the meantime, programming will continue at both locations.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Erin Dougherty, the HSP’s executive director. “Since we purchased the farm back in 2004, we have spent time renovating, putting up exhibitions, and doing programming. We’re now ready to make that leap, which will happen in two years.”

An official at Princeton University, to which the HSP has paid rent of one dollar a year, said last week that while no decision has been made on what to do with Bainbridge House, the exterior will be preserved because the property is part of the Historic Princeton Downtown District. “I think we learned about it just a few weeks ago, so we don’t have a plan yet,” said University Vice President Bob Durkee. “From the outside, it will continue to look like it does now. We’ll have to figure out what kind of renovations will be done on the inside depending on what we use it for. They said they expect to be out by the end of 2015, so we have time to think about it.”

According to the HSP website, Bainbridge House was built in 1766 by Job Stockton, a prosperous tanner and cousin of Richard Stockton, signer of the Declaration of Independence. The building is considered one of the finest surviving examples of Georgian architecture in the area. It was the birthplace of William Bainbridge, a hero of the War of 1812.

In 1783, the house provided accommodations for the Continental Congress. It has also served over the years as a boarding house for University students and was the home of Princeton Public Library. The exterior was restored by the HSP in 1969 to its original 18th century appearance. Nearly 70 percent of the original interior woodwork remains, as does most of the original structure. The building was completely renovated from 1991 to 1992 to make it safe, secure, and accessible.

Bainbridge House has served as an information center for the Society’s programs, as well as an exhibition space and library housing historical information and photographic archives. All of these functions will be moved to Updike Farmstead.

The six-acre Updike Farmstead includes a late 18th century/early 19th century farmhouse, a large barn built in 1892, wagon shed, corn crib, three-bay garage, garden sheds, and chicken coops. The site is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places and lies within the Princeton Battlefield/Stony Brook Settlement Historic District. It is along the route followed by Continental troops on their way to engage British soldiers at the battlefield. Brother and sister Stanley and Sarah Updike lived on six acres of the property until their deaths in 2002.

“Bainbridge House was our first permanent home,” said Ms. Dougherty. “We have taken care of it. This was a big decision for us, and now we’re on our way. We love the farm and the whole flexibility of the site, its beauty, and the history built in. It’s just second to none.”

 

After more than four decades of absence, the United States Navy will return to the Princeton campus this fall. A new crosstown agreement between the Navy, Rutgers, and Princeton, will revive the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program that left the university in 1971 after being established there in 1945.

The move represents a resurgence of military training on Ivy League campuses. In 1971 The Navy and Air Force discontinued their programs at Princeton, while the Army chose to stay on and entered into a contract with the University in 1972.

“In 1980 we established a crosstown agreement between Princeton, the Air Force, and Rutgers University,” said Princeton University spokesperson Martin Mbugwa, who noted that a large number of alumni who participated in the Navy ROTC program at Princeton had been encouraging the University to bring it back “in order to give this generation of students a similar opportunity.”

With the re-establishment of the NROTC program, students will have the opportunity to earn a commission in any of the three services: U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army,” said Mr. Mbugwa.

The NROTC Unit at Rutgers, established in March 2012, was the first NROTC Program in New Jersey in over 40 years.

NROTC spokesperson Lt. Matthew Comer explained that the long absence of the Navy training program stems from the Vietnam era when some of the partnerships between the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps and colleges and universities were dissolved. “After the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address, many Ivy League universities have once again partnered with the Navy and Marine Corps to educate and commission the future leaders of our military,” he said.

“The Navy has been working with Princeton University throughout the past year to mutually reestablish a Naval ROTC presence at Princeton,” said Lt. Comer. “We are excited at this opportunity, which will be beneficial for both Princeton and the Navy and Marine Corps. Our troops come from every corner of this country: they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay,” he said.

This fall, students enrolled at Princeton will be able participate in the NROTC college-option program currently being offered at Rutgers. Active duty Navy and Marine Corps instructors will teach Princeton students seeking a commission in the naval service who will be eligible for two or three-year scholarships. For high school students who have already applied to Princeton for the fall semester, applications for four-year NROTC scholarships are due February 15. The program presently pays full tuition and fees for all midshipmen with NROTC scholarships.

“We are very pleased to be able to provide our students with the opportunity to participate in Naval ROTC,” said Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber. “I have heard from many alumni about how important this program was in their lives. I am glad that this generation of students will have access to the kinds of training that the program provides and to the kinds of leadership positions for which it will prepare them.”

“My staff and I at NROTC Unit Rutgers are delighted to integrate Princeton into our program,” said Commanding Officer Captain Philip Roos of the NROTC at Rutgers University on Monday. “Training and preparing young men and women for naval service as commissioned officers in either the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps is tremendously rewarding and we’re ecstatic about expanding this opportunity with Princeton students who wish to serve. We’re really looking forward to working together with Rutgers and Princeton on building a cohesive battalion of midshipmen that brings the best from both schools and I really feel honored and privileged to command this program during such a historic occasion.”

The NROTC has recently re-established a presence at Harvard University (2011), Yale University (2012), and Columbia University (2013). There is also an NROTC program at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Princeton University also offers an Army ROTC in addition to a separate Air Force ROTC program run in partnership with Rutgers. Princeton has offered the Army ROTC program since 1919. For program information and to apply for an NROTC scholarship, visit: www.nrotc.navy.mil.

 

Economic development in Mercer County, capitalizing on Mercer’s competitive advantage and attracting and growing the workforce will be the focus of the Ninth Annual Mercer County Economic Summit on Thursday, February 27 at the Conference Center at Mercer County Community College.

The Summit will feature Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes delivering his “Mercer County Economic Development Report” while the keynote address will be delivered by Christopher A. Sims, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Economics for his theories of macroeconomics and reality. He is currently the John F. Sherrerd ’52 University Professor of Economics at Princeton University; he was awarded the prize during his tenure at Princeton.

Mr. Sims will provide a macro view of the national economy and its impact on the business community in the Princeton Region.

For the fourth year, Herb Taylor, vice president and corporate secretary of the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia will be returning to give national and local economic updates. He will provide another perspective on the regional and statewide economy. In addition to the addresses, a panel will discuss how businesses can attract and grow their workforces. Kevin Cummings, of Investors Bank; Kristen Ballinger, of Otsuka; Sharon Marnien, of Sparta Systems; and Scott Needham of Princeton Air Conditioning will share success stories of attracting and retaining employees and their families, including working with generational and cultural differences.

The Economic Summit will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. on February 27 at the Conference Center at Mercer County Community College. Tickets and sponsorship packages are available. For more information, call Cheri Durst, director of events at (609) 924-1776, ext. 105, cheri@princeton
chamber.org or visit www.princetonchamber.org.

The Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF), the community foundation serving central New Jersey, has awarded $460,000 in competitive grants to local nonprofit organizations that build social capital and provide opportunities to low-income individuals and families.

The grants, supporting organizations that create shared will and networks to tackle community problems, target greater Mercer County through the “Greater Mercer Grants,” the Community Foundation’s signature program.

“These grants are made possible through generous community members — individuals, corporations and foundations — who come together to support the well being of our region and its most vulnerable citizens,” explained Nancy Kieling, Community Foundation president.

One grant category supports low-income individuals and families, focusing on programs and organizations working to make a sustainable difference in the lives of community members in need. “We support specific programs in food, shelter, education, youth development and other services, as well as unrestricted support for well-run, robust organizations that focus on the needs of Mercer County residents,” said Kieling.

The second category helps build the region’s social capital through increasing the strength and cohesiveness of communities, in line with the Community Foundation’s objective to bridge the divide across geographic and cultural boundaries.

“We believe that building communities with strong, diverse relationships will help us begin to solve the big problems we share,” Kieling said. “As neighborhoods are strengthened, we gain the power to tackle the big issues of unmet needs and imbalances of opportunity. As people and groups develop real, sustainable relationships across towns and cultural/economic barriers, we can share our strengths and resources and collaborate on our region’s shared opportunity.”

The grants are as follows: CASA of Mercer County ($25,000); HiTOPS ($25,000); The Intersect Fund ($25,000); NAMI Mercer ($20,000); New Jersey Agricultural Society’s Farmers Against Hunger program($20,000); Progressive Center for Independent Living ($25,000); Rescue Mission of Trenton(20,000); UIH Family Partners ($25,000); Urban Promise Trenton ($25,000); Artworks Trenton ($35,000); CityWorks ($40,000); Isles, Inc. ($50,000); Trenton Area Stakeholders, Mill Hill Child & Family Development Center as fiscal sponsor ($25,000); People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos ($25,000);VolunteerConnect ($25,000); Homefront ($15,000); Interfaith Caregivers of Greater Mercer County ($25,000); YMCA Trenton ($10,000).

The Community Foundation collaborates with the Harbourton Foundation, NRG Energy, and charitable funds established at the Foundation by individuals and families to support this signature program, including: Tristan Beplat Fund, Blair Family Fund, Charles L. and Ann Lee Brown Fund, James E. & Diane W. Burke Fund, Judith and William Burks Fund, Jane M. Campbell Fund, Esther Y. Eure Fund, Archer & Thomas Harvey Fund, Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Fund, Kuser Arts Fund, LVC Fund, Princeton Youth Fund, Leroy E. “Brick” Purvis Charitable Fund, Barbara B. Smoyer Memorial Fund, Marjorie R. Smoyer Fund, Stanley C. Smoyer Fund, Speir Fund, Frank E. Taplin Jr. Fund, Weymar Fund, Whitehead Fund, Willy N. Fund; and advised funds including: Jim and Jean Davidson Fund, Norman and Nancy Klath Fund, McAlpin Fund, Russo Philanthropic Fund, Thomas Fund, Reichelderfer-Blair Fund, and the Myra and Van Zandt Williams Jr. Fund.

For more information, visit: www.pacf.org/give.

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If you’re a stubborn, indefatigable optimist, you may see this as the promise of spring reflected on the face of the water. If you’re an old-school romantic, you might show this picture to a loved one on Valentine’s Day and say, “This is how I feel about you.” If you’re a journalist, you’ll report that the photograph was taken on Tuesday from the bridge off Mapleton Road at Lake Carnegie. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

 
February 6, 2014
DEDICATING FULD HALL: Albert Einstein takes center stage for this photograph on May 22, 1939 at the dedication ceremony for the Institute for Advanced Study’s new building, Fuld Hall. From left: Alanson B. Houghton, C. Lavinia Bamberger (Louis Bamberger’s sister), Albert Einstein, Mrs. Abraham Flexner (the successful Broadway playwright Anne Crawford), Abraham Flexner, John R. Hardin, Herbert H. Maass, and President of Princeton University Harold W. Dodds.(Image Courtesy of Institute for Advanced Study, Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center)

DEDICATING FULD HALL: Albert Einstein takes center stage for this photograph on May 22, 1939 at the dedication ceremony for the Institute for Advanced Study’s new building, Fuld Hall. From left: Alanson B. Houghton, C. Lavinia Bamberger (Louis Bamberger’s sister), Albert Einstein, Mrs. Abraham Flexner (the successful Broadway playwright Anne Crawford), Abraham Flexner, John R. Hardin, Herbert H. Maass, and President of Princeton University Harold W. Dodds. (Image Courtesy of Institute for Advanced Study, Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center)

Christine Di Bella, archivist at the Institute for Advanced Study, spoke to an audience of almost 100 at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory last week about the history of the Institute for Advanced Study.

The provocative title of Ms. Di Bella’s talk, “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge: The History of the Institute for Advanced Study” was a big draw for technician John Adams, currently working on PPPL’s National Spherical Torus Experiment in magnetic fusion. “I am not a physicist and so I really appreciate talks that are geared toward a general audience. Most researchers here are working on very specific areas and this topic has a broad appeal.”

Ms. Di Bella opened her Powerpoint presentation with an image of the Institute’s Founding Director Abraham Flexner and explained that her talk’s title comes from an oft-given speech by Flexner, published in Harpers in 1939.

There is a playful quality to Flexner’s title. He was not altogether unconcerned with practical applications of scholarship, as is attested by his efforts to add faculty in economics and politics and in humanistic studies to the initial collection of mathematicians and theoretical scientists.

Flexner’s “useless” knowledge refers to intellectual and spiritual or humanistic pursuits. His defense is made in the context of an increasingly materialistic world. He is arguing for curiosity over pragmatism, for “useless” pursuits that give life significance. In effect, he wants a broader conception of what is regarded as “useful,” one that recognizes the “roaming and capricious possibilities of the human spirit.” His article is worth reading and can be viewed online courtesy of the Institute’s library (http://library.ias.edu/files/UsefulnessHarpers.pdf).

In it, Flexner recounts a conversation he once had with Kodak founder George Eastman, in which they argued who should be named “the most useful worker in science in the world.” Eastman picks radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi. Flexner picks theoretical scientist James Clerk Maxwell (among others) whose curiosity about electricity and magnetism resulted in the formulae and theories that made Marconi’s work possible. According to Flexner, “curiosity, which may or may not eventuate in something useful, is probably the outstanding characteristic of modern thinking. It is not new. It goes back to Galileo, Bacon, and to Sir Isaac Newton, and it must be absolutely unhampered.”

Flexner cites advances in technology that have ultimately resulted from the work of other theoretical scientists as he pleads for the freedom to pursue unfettered curiosity. But, he points out, such ultimate, unforeseen and unpredictable practical results are not a justification for curiosity, but rather a sort of happy by-product.

Not everyone gets it. One who does, is philanthropist Warren Buffet who regards Flexner as his “hero.” When he attended the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy last year at the main branch of the New York Public Library, Mr Buffett brought along a copy of Flexner’s 1940 autobiography, I Remember, and talked about Flexner’s influence on him and on philanthropy in general.

“The Institute for Advanced Study,” said Ms. Di Bella, “is a place to take risks, where curiosity is valued, where scholars are under no obligation to do what they say they will do when they apply for admission but are free to pursue ‘unfettered research.’”

Some of the characteristics that make for “Advanced Study,” she explained, were put in place right from the start when Flexner determined there would be no classes, no grades, and no degrees. Although the Institute is authorized by the New Jersey Department of Education to bestow doctoral degrees it has never done so. It was to have a small permanent faculty and have Fellows, now called “Members,” come for temporary stays, typically one year at a time. “The Institute hasn’t changed that much,” she said.

“The idea was not that the permanent faculty would direct the work of these visitors, but rather the two would form a community of scholars learning from each other, with faculty available for counsel as needed,” said Ms Di Bella. “Work was to be mostly at the post-doctoral level, with newly minted PhDs rubbing shoulders with senior scholars on sabbaticals, and everything in between.”

After Flexner’s tenure as Institute director ended in 1939, he wrote four books in the next two decades. At the age 81, he enrolled in classes at Columbia University; a photograph in The New York Times showed him seated among twenty-somethings. When he died in 1959, an editorial in The New York Times read: “No other American of his time has contributed more to the welfare of this country and of humanity in general.”

Einstein and Veblen

Albert Einstein, of course, figures large in any history of the Institute, but Ms. Di Bella was careful to balance the influence of the most famous scientist in the world with other IAS figures such as Oswald Veblen, without whose initial involvement the Institute would be very different today. She also spoke briefly about the Electronic Computer Project and the Institute founders Louis Bamberger and Caroline Bamberger Fuld.

Ms. Di Bella joined the Institute’s Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center at the Institute in 2009 after archives positions with the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL), the 92nd Street Y, the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, and Harvard Business School. She holds an MS in Information from the University of Michigan’s School of Information and a bachelor’s degree in English from Wesleyan University.

One of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry, the Institute was founded in 1930, and has been the intellectual home of diverse scholars including Erwin Panofsky, John von Neumann, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Freeman Dyson, Kurt Gödel, George Kennan, Clifford Geertz, Joan Wallach Scott, and Edward Witten. The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center is located in the Institute’s Historical Studies-Social Science Library.

In the interests of full disclosure, it should be said that this reporter is a former employee of the Institute for Advanced Study, and currently works as an independent consultant there. She also authored a pictorial history of the Institute for the Arcadia Books Images of America series, published in 2011.

 

Two representatives from Princeton’s Joint Pedestrian/Bicyclist Advisory Committee (PBAC) will feature in the upcoming New Jersey Bike & Walk Summit in New Brunswick on Saturday, February 8. Steve Kruse, the Chair of PBAC, and Laurie Harmon, a longtime member, will represent Princeton at a panel titled ‘Achieving Bicycle Friendly Community Status.’ They will be passing on lessons learned from Princeton’s successful application in 2013 for recognition as a ‘Bronze Bike Friendly Community’ from the League of American Bicyclists.

Ms. Harmon spearheaded the effort, following an initiative from Mayor Liz Lempert, who is a liaison to PBAC. “I have to thank Laurie, Deanna Stockton from the municipal engineering team, and the other members of the committee for all their hard work in preparing the application,” said Mr. Kruse, “We hope to be able to pass on best practices to other communities in New Jersey about how to increase opportunities for cyclists and pedestrians.”

The Summit is organized by the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition (NJBWC) and will bring together advocates from around the state. It will take place at the Voorhees Transportation Center of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Members of the public can register to attend through the NJBWC website.

PBAC is planning to build on last year’s successes in 2014. The committee is planning a number of new group cycle rides. These will follow the success of October’s “Ride of The Falling Leaves,” which drew over 40 local cyclists for a family-friendly ride to Mountain Lakes House with Mayor Lempert and incoming School Board Superintendent, Steve Cochrane.

Mr. Kruse said “Our team works on planning issues, such as how to make our streets safer for walkers and cyclists, and events, like the group cycle rides, which help to build the cycling community in Princeton. We’re not satisfied with just ‘Bronze’. We want to push on to make Princeton the best small town for cycling and walking in the state”.

Other members of PBAC are David Cohen, Karen Jezierney, Carolyn Sealfon, Anita Jeerage and Samuel Bunting. For more information, visit pjpbac@gmail.com or pjpbac.blogspot.com.

Working in New York’s financial district as an information technology recruiter, Matthew Barrett spent his off-hours coaching a small youth baseball team on the city’s Upper East Side. A simple idea occurred to him: What if there was a company that connected coaches of different sports with budding athletes and their parents? Better yet, what if he started this company?

So the Mercer County native started asking around. He found two other businesses that fill this type of need, but none in the local area. Within a few months, he had quit his job and begun to actively pursue his idea. Premiersports.com was launched this past December, and so far about 100 coaches have been signed up.

“It’s really exciting,” Mr. Barrett, 28, said last week. “We have 3,000 searches underway. There’s definitely a need. It’s a cottage industry.”

The budding company is currently operating out of Mr. Barrett’s father’s office in Princeton, but he hopes to close out some seed funding this month and move into his own space soon.

Here’s how it works: A coach signs up for premiersports’s on-line platform, adding his or her credentials and availability. The information goes live, and a young athlete or parent can begin searching for a coach of a particular sport, with a specific background. “People can compare, and in a matter of minutes they can book a coach,” Mr. Barrett said. “It’s quick. A lot of coaches do private lessons in the summer, and academies are always looking to do private lessons, typically found by word-of-mouth. So this is a new way of making the right kind of match.”

A coach himself, Mr. Barrett has been involved with baseball since his youth in Hopewell Township. He played at Hopewell Valley High School, and was ranked 228th in the nation in his senior year. After attending George Mason University in Virginia and playing on the Division One team for three years, he realized that he probably wasn’t going to make it as a professional ball player.

“Reality struck,” he recalled. “But on the academic side, I was doing well. I had the opportunity to transfer back to The College of New Jersey. It was funny, because one of the first coaches I ever had as a kid turned out to be my TCNJ coach — Rick Dell. He trained me as a little guy, and then again when I was finishing up in college. He’s currently in China, director of Asian baseball for major league baseball. He was a really good mentor.”

What Mr. Barrett values most about his coaching from Mr. Dell is the balance he struck between athletics and academics. “While I was there we won a conference tournament. I also was being taught to be an independent thinker,” he said. “The academics were rigorous and there was always a challenge to be creating projects.”

One of the first projects Mr. Barrett and some friends came up with was a national survey that allowed clients to provide feedback on their experiences with coaches they had used. “It turned into ratethecoach.com, a business venture that is still up and running,” he said. “We sold the company eventually. It taught me some good business sense.”

After graduating from TCNJ, Mr. Barrett went to a town near Vienna, Austria to coach a baseball organization of close to 100 members. He stayed nine months. “It was a phenomenal experience,” he said. “It had been a losing organization, with dwindling membership. I went in with a positive outlook, examined the strengths and weaknesses, and was able to increase membership and put us back in place to be a top team in the league. They’ve since moved up a couple of levels.”

Next was a job with Morgan Stanley. “I learned a lot about businesses, dealing with acquisitions in large companies. I decided I wanted another challenge,” Mr. Barrett said. “I was also coaching at PDS then, and my brother was a senior there. We won the state title which was a big achievement. That year, they had a great balance of academics and athletics. That has really become a theme of mine. I’ve seen that organizations that can really balance are the stronger, more determined, and more powerful ones.”

Mr. Barrett had moved to New York for his job in the financial district when he got the idea for PremierSports. He quit his job to develop it full-time at the end of 2012. “I realized there was no platform that simply connected a coach with an athlete,” he said. “I did some research, and everybody was positive. I bounced it off a couple of friends, and we all became owners and co-founders.”

The service is free for coaches. “They get whatever they list,” Mr. Barrett said. “We charge a small mark-up to the parent and athlete, and that covers the cost of the transaction. After a lesson, the coach provides feedback to help the athlete see how they’ve improved over the year.”

Mr. Barrett feels Princeton is the ideal spot to launch his business. “I’m a Mercer County, Jersey guy,” he said. “This is the heart of premiersports. Sports have given me so many opportunities and I’m fortunate to be able to give back to the organizations that have given me such joy.”

 

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This happened during the Witherspoon Street white-out following Monday’s big snow. Speaking of place and time, would it have changed the course of Beatles history if seven inches of the white stuff had been on the ground when the lads from Liverpool landed on American soil 50 years ago this week? (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

January 29, 2014

The way Robert Stack sees it, people with severe disabilities are like celebrities. “They’re both surrounded by people paid to be around them. They’re not really given objective friendships,” says Mr. Stack, the founder, president, and chief executive officer of Community Options, the Princeton-based agency that provides the disabled with residential and employment support.

Affording the disabled the dignity that comes with those normal, objective relationships is a big part of the mission of Community Options, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year. On February 8, the organization celebrates in Princeton and 23 other sites across the nation with the annual Cupid’s Chase 5K.

Mr. Stack runs the agency’s 150 chapters across the nation from his office on Farber Road. As the organization has grown, the mission has remained the same: to find housing and employment for people with disabilities. After studying to become a priest, Mr. Stack changed his career path and founded Community Options in 1989 with a check for $347.

“I remember going to Morven, when Kean was governor, and giving Jane Burgio [Secretary of State under Mr. Kean] the check, and filling out the articles of incorporation,” he says. Today, Community Options operates in nine states, with about 3,100 employees and a budget of over $81 million, according to its annual report. People with autism, cerebral palsy, and traumatic brain injury are the usual clients.

Mr. Stack directed the United Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey before founding Community Options. “I looked at a lot of non-profit organizations, and I stole their best practice options,” he says. “I saw that operating as one entity instead of many was the best way to go. And by doing so, we have kept our administrative costs under 11 percent. That means roughly 89 cents of every dollar goes to the organization.”

Some 45 people work for Community Options in Princeton. The organization’s first three group homes were located in Lawrence, Robbinsville, and Ewing. The newest is in Princeton, on North Harrison Street.

“Through the Borough of Princeton and COAH (The Council on Affordable Housing), we were able to enlarge a small house that now has four people living there,” Mr. Stack says. “And we have one opening in Hopewell Township, which we built from the ground up. Hopewell donated the land. So now these people with disabilities have a place to go and to live. It’s very important. There are people who have lived with their parents, who need to have housing when the parents become elderly and can no longer take care of them.”

The agency has also been able to find jobs for the severely disabled. “We have five people working at the Toys ’R Us factory, making over $11.50 an hour and getting benefits. These are folks who traditionally had not been employed,” Mr. Stack says.

The Cupid’s Chase fundraiser on February 8 starts at Princeton Shopping Center and heads up and down Bunn Drive before hitting the North Harrison street bike path, past Princeton Healthcare Center, and back to the shopping center. This year’s chairman is architect and former Princeton Borough Councilman Kevin WIlkes. Mr. Stack expects between 300 and 400 participants.

“We build on the Cupid and Valentine’s Day theme. We give out red shirts people can wear if they’re available, and white shirts if they’re not,” Mr. Stack says, “with a sponsor on the back. It’s a big event — we’re hoping for 8,000 nationwide. Last year we raised about $100,000.”

Anyone can run or walk in the event. It costs $30 to register in advance, or $50 the day of the race, which begins at 10 a.m. (registration at 8 a.m.). Call (609) 514-9494 for information.

 

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HOMEGROWN SCHOLAR: Princeton High School graduate Olivia Rand sports her 101: Fund T-Shirt in front of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she is currently a freshman. Ms. Rand is a beneficiary of an award from the 101: Fund, which holds its annual fundraiser this Friday, January 31. Tickets for the event, an indoor “Tailgate Party” at the Cannon Club, are $125 each, and are available online from: http://fund101.org/dance.html.

The 101: Fund, which provides need-based scholarships to students at Princeton High School (PHS), is an example of the benefits of the “give local” philosophy and is among the non-profit organizations to which users of the One Princeton Card can donate a percentage of their purchases.

The 101: Fund helps bridge the gap between skyrocketing college costs and the resources of student family savings and financial aid packages. Its biggest fundraiser of the year will take place this Friday, January 31, at the Cannon Club on the Princeton University campus.

“It will be an indoor ‘tailgate’ party where people can bid for items such as a chance to name a sandwich at Hoagie Haven,” said education consultant Elizabeth Hamblet, the Fund’s volunteer publicity chair and the parent of a PHS sophomore. “Kids in their sophomore year at the high school are required to complete 50 hours of community service and some students are dedicating their time to the 101: Fund with a variety of activities, not least of which is the upcoming student-run talent show on February 28,” she said.

It is hoped that the Cannon Club event and talent show will not only raise support for the 101: Fund, but also contribute to the organization’s effort to recruit supporters for its cause. Over the past four decades, more than $1 million has been provided to PHS seniors through the organization, which was founded by a PHS secretary in 1970 as the Princeton Regional Scholarship Foundation.

After acquiring a new logo and a new name in 2008, it has continued to help PHS graduates get their start in higher education with financial aid calculated, with the assistance of Princeton University, according to standard assessment formulas. In 2010 alone, initial awards were made to almost three dozen graduating seniors.

With no paid staff and minimal administrative costs, almost 100 percent of the donations goes to student education and is paid directly to the institutions they attend. The 101: Fund’s board is led by Riva Levy and its advisory board includes Robert K. Durkee, vice president and secretary of Princeton University, Rush Holt, and the actor John Lithgow a 1963 graduate of PHS.

The awards, which are given out each June, range from $1000 to $10,000 and are granted to students who apply in the spring through the PHS Guidance Office. Recipients have gone to Bowdoin University, Rutgers. the State University of New Jersey, the School of the Visual Arts in New York, Tulane University, University of New Mexico, and Mercer County Community College (MCCC), among other institutions. For those attending MCCC and qualifying for the $10,000 award, this covers a semester of full-time tuition.

“There are students who think post-secondary education is beyond their reach and the assistance from the 101: Fund gets them to college,” commented PHS Principal Gary Snyder. “As they grow and mature, they feel like they belong, and they have the confidence to reach further in life.”

“When students who have received gifts from 101: come back to visit, they are always appreciative of the opportunity,” said Mr. Snyder. One such student, whose story is shared on the 101: Fund website, graduated with distinction from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2006 and then earned a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance at Ithaca College, where she held the teaching assistantship in cello. She then went on to study for a Master’s degree in Cello and Suzuki Pedagogy at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Recent PHS graduate, Olivia Rand, now a freshman at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, demonstrated her gratitude for the support of the organization by proudly sporting her 101: Fund T-shirt for a recent photograph.

Over the past few years, the 101: Fund has grown by means of an increasingly active Student Auxiliary at PHS and by recruiting dedicated volunteers like Ms. Hamblet. Among its plans for the future, said Ms. Hamblet, is a mentoring program that will assist students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend higher education, navigate and persevere in the college environment.

For more information on lending a hand with 101: Fund, email: info@fund101.org.

 

January 22, 2014
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FROM KILN TO KITCHEN: The artistry of potter John Shedd, left, and Mistral restaurant chef Ben Nerenhausen come together when dishes prepared by Mr. Nerenhausen are served on hand-crafted ceramics by Mr. Shedd, whose unique designs have been specially created for use in the Witherspoon Street restaurant. The full range of Mr. Shedd’s work can be viewed at www.johnshedddesigns.com. (Photo by Steven Haase, GrowthAgents, Hopewell)

Art potter John Shedd has found a perfect niche working in collaboration with restauranteurs and chefs specializing in locally sourced artisanal fare. It’s an arrangement that brings together hand-crafted ceramics with culinary creations.

Restaurants Mistral, elements, and Tre Piani are among those using Mr. Shedd’s unique serving pieces for their customers.

“Scott Anderson [who owns both Mistral and elements] came by my studio about three years ago and commissioned some sushi trays. We had known each other since Scott’s days at the Ryland Inn and when he opened elements in Princeton he commissioned work from me. It all developed from there,” said Mr. Shedd last week at Mistral.

“It’s tremendous working with Scott and with other local chefs,” said Mr. Shedd, who clearly relishes the challenge of fulfilling a demand for small editions of unique items designed to compliment rather than compete with a chef’s culinary
creations.

Sometimes a request will take the potter in new directions as when Mr. Anderson asked for a bowl that would look like a rock. “I had three weeks to come up with a design, carve a model from soapstone and then make about 120 pieces,” recalled Mr. Shedd. “It was for an event and each of the 80 dinner guests took a bowl home with them, that was a very nice touch.”

Mistral offers small plates using fresh local fare. Chef Ben Nerenhausen’s menu has been described as “varied and inventive.”

“I’ve been working with Mistral for some time now and I love working with Ben,” said the potter of the restaurant where the dishes are inspired by many cultures including Mediterranean, Asian and regional American. “Our style is organic and distinctive and as far from cookie cutter as you can get,” said Mr. Nerenhausen. “We prepare unique dishes and, since people eat first with their eyes, we recognize the importance of presentation. John is able to provide us with serving plates, platters, and bowls in the different shapes and sizes we need. The pieces he creates evoke dishes such as these red and yellow beets on this earthern plate that is perfectly rustic, almost torn from the earth,” he said, referencing a rectangular platter with a deep brown red glaze on which rested a selection of beets and spoonfuls of creme fraiche. The presentation made the humble root vegetable look ravishing as well as scrumptious.

“It’s fun to have someone with a definite idea of what they want,” said Mr. Shedd. “The reciprocal feedback forms a loop which is very satisfying and it’s wonderful to see an application for what I do.”

Working for chefs is not new to the potter who has, in the past, produced items for the then chef at Jasna Polana. In addition to dinnerware, he creates serving pieces and does decorative tile work (including Mistral’s signature design of a wind-blown tree). “I much prefer this to anything else that I do,” he said, adding that there is also “something special about working with a small enterprise, not too big, not too small, hands-on and personal. People who have eaten in the restaurants notice the way their food is served. They often ask about the plates and then come to the gallery to purchase items for their own tables.”

The potter’s wife Sloane Browning is a decorative painter who shares her husband’s interest in glazes. The couple live in Griggstown not far from the gallery/studio.

Born in Rockford, Illinois, Mr. Shedd came to New Jersey by way of New Mexico and South Carolina. He settled in the Princeton area in 1979 and opened his Rocky Hill studio that year in a 200-year-old converted mill near the Delaware and Raritan Canal. The building was once a gristmill and dates back to the early 1700s. It is now part of the Rocky Hill Historic Preservation District.

Having grown up on a farm, Mr. Shedd has always felt close to the earth. But he broke from family tradition and discovered a talent for working with the earth in a different way when he took a ceramics class as a student at Rockford College. After receiving a BFA in ceramics, he went onto graduate work at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, receiving an MFA in ceramics in 1977. Since then, his work has been featured in many individual and group shows and exhibited in shops and galleries nationwide

The potter/artist believes that art and culture should be accessible to all in everyday life. Exploring glazes and ceramic surface decoration has captivated his
interest for more than 30 years. It is work that rewards in terms of artistic honesty, or as Mr. Shedd puts it: “the honest embodiment of the beauty inherent in a natural material.”

John Shedd Designs, located at 200 Washington St Rocky Hill, showcases the range of Mr. Shedd’s creations, from platters pitchers, vases, backsplashes and candlesticks to lamps and tilework. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

For more information, call (609) 924-6394, or visit: www.johnshedddesigns.com. For more on Mistral at 66 Witherspoon Street, call (609) 688-8808, or visit: www.mistralprinceton.com; for more on elements at 163 Bayard Lane, call (609) 924.0078, or visit: www.elementsprinceton.com.

 

January 15, 2014
FIRST IN A SERIES: Merry White, noted cookbook author and anthropologist, kicks off this season of Princeton Public Library’s “Evenings With Friends” lineup on January 23.

FIRST IN A SERIES: Merry White, noted cookbook author and anthropologist, kicks off this season of Princeton Public Library’s “Evenings With Friends” lineup on January 23.

When the Friends of Princeton Public Library launched a new series called “Evenings With Friends” last year, they weren’t sure what to expect. But the program pairing author talks, drinks, and dinner was an immediate hit with patrons. The “Evenings” will resume Thursday, January 23, when Boston University anthropology professor Merry “Corky” White, author of the cookbook Cooking for Crowds, comes to the Library’s Community Room.

“The series has done so much better than we expected it to,” said Sherri Garber, president of Friends of the Princeton Public Library. “It’s a formula that seems to work, and it has brought a lot of new people into the library, which of course is good for fundraising.”

The Library’s Community Room is set up like a café for each event. Seated at tables set with tablecloths, patrons have drinks and a buffet dinner starting at 6:30 p.m. Speakers begin their talks at 7:30, and the evenings are over by 9 p.m. These gatherings are designed to be intimate, allowing patrons to not only listen, but also join in discussions with the authors. Afterward, Labyrinth Books sells books that the authors sign.

“What’s nice is that we limit the events to about 50 people,” Ms. Garber said. “Everyone can feel like they are part of the conversation.”

Ms. Garber has had help choosing the authors for the program from the Library’s Public Programming Librarian Janie Hermann. “Janie helps me decide. Then I just read, and write to people,” Ms. Garber said. “No one is paid. We basically run on a shoestring. The authors do it out of their love for public libraries. And if they happen to have a new book out, it’s good for publicity.”

Ms. White first published Cooking for Crowds in 1974. The book is back in print in a special 40th anniversary edition, with a new introduction by Ms. White and illustrations by frequent New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren. The multi-faceted Ms. White has been a caterer and food journalist while teaching anthropology courses at Boston University, and is currently researching contemporary Japanese urban social spaces and focusing on the history of the cafe.

“She has some wonderful anecdotes she’ll be sharing with us,” Ms. Garber said. “Julia Child was her neighbor. Corky can tell us how she once catered a Roman orgy for Harvard professors. Her specialty is Japanese cultural anthropology, so there’s that, too.”

Booked for February 20 is Robert Wilson, author of Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation. This biography of the 19th century American photographer, famous for his graphic images of the American Civil War, captures Brady as a businessman, portrait artist, promoter, and historian whose images provided the first detailed photographic record of a war. Mr. Wilson teaches at Johns Hopkins, American, and George Mason universities, and has taught at the University of Virginia. He has been editor of The American Scholar since 2004 and previously edited Preservation magazine, among other publications.

Author William Helmreich comes to the Library March 26 to talk about his recent book The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City. A Manhattan native, he has walked every block of all five boroughs — 6,000 miles — in an effort to get to know the city and its inhabitants. The journey took four years and included talks with everyday citizens as well as former mayors Koch, Dinkins, Giuliani, and Bloomberg. Mr. Helmreich is a professor of sociology at the City University Graduate Center and City College of New York. His previous books include What Was I Thinking? The Dumb Things We Do and How to Avoid Them.

Princeton University professor Gary Bass, author of The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, comes to the “Conversations” series on April 29. The book details the 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh that led to war between India and Pakistan and shaped the fate of Asia. Mr. Bass, who teaches politics and international affairs, is a former reporter for The Economist and has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, and The New Republic. He is the author of Freedom’s Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention and Stay the Hand of Vengeance: The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals. 

Tickets to individual events are $50; the series of four costs $175. The series is first open to members of Friends of the Library, and then to all library cardholders.

“These are interesting evenings,” Ms. Garber said. “You learn things about these people you might not learn otherwise. And it’s all in a friendly, intimate setting that everyone seems to like.”

 

FOOD FOR FOOTBALL: D’Angelo’s Market on Spring Street, home of produce like this as well as prepared foods, has been chosen as one of the caterers for the VIP Tailgate party inside the Meadowlands Complex before the kickoff of the Superbowl next month.

FOOD FOR FOOTBALL: D’Angelo’s Market on Spring Street, home of produce like this as well as prepared foods, has been chosen as one of the caterers for the VIP Tailgate party inside the Meadowlands Complex before the kickoff of the Superbowl next month.

There will be no tailgate parties in the parking lot of East Rutherford’s MetLife Stadium before Super Bowl XLVIII. on February 2. Much to the consternation of fans, the traditional celebrations have been banned for this event due to security concerns. 

But inside the Meadowlands complex, a “VIP Tailgate” celebration will be in full swing for four hours leading up to the 6:30 p.m. kickoff. NFL professionals, their coaches, families, and guests will be in attendance, sampling delicacies from, among other caterers, Princeton’s D’Angelo’s Market.

“We’re super excited,” said Danielle D’Angelo, one of five family members who run the Spring Street market and another store in Ocean County. “We were shocked, because we really weren’t expecting it. It’s a big honor to be able to represent Princeton at this national event.”

Ms. D’Angelo said once the family knew the Super Bowl would be held in New Jersey, they made several attempts to reach the NFL Host Committee in California. Finally, they were able to schedule a sampling of their menu in October 2012.

“There was a selection process held by the host committee. We’re not the sole caterer, but we were one of the top chosen,” Ms. D’Angelo said. “We sent samples and they were interested in some of our menu items.”

As of last week, the family was asked not to disclose just what they’ll be sending until the menu was finalized. “But we have had a series of run-throughs,” Ms. D’Angelo said. “And I can tell you that they requested 2,500 servings of the menu items. We’ve never done anything of this magnitude.”

D’Angelo’s is no stranger to large-scale events. The market has catered for Princeton University Athletics, the FBI, and the New York Police Department. But the Super Bowl, where some 2,500 guests are expected, is in another category.

“The most we’ve served is about 1,000,” said Ms. D’Angelo. “And we’re only allowed to send six people. They have a very tight security system. We had to do background checks and screenings. We have special uniforms, photo ID’s and special passes. We had requested more staff members, but they said six is the maximum.”

D’Angelo’s opened its Spring Street location in 2011. The family’s other business, Tuscany Italian Specialty Foods, has been in Jackson since 2000. Ms. D’Angelo, one of five family members involved in the business, said that while her brother is a big football fan, she doesn’t know much about the sport.

“I’m not sure what to expect, but I know this is a really big deal and a big honor for us,” she said. “We’re ready to go.”