April 2, 2014

Back in 1964 when the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) built its headquarters on North Harrison Street, Princeton was a quieter, less populous town. The simple brick building had ample space for training, meetings, and a room where members could relax between calls. There were parking bays big enough to house the two Cadillac ambulances and the 1956 converted bread truck that served as a rescue vehicle for the squad.

An addition a decade later allowed for a third ambulance and a new rescue truck. But as Princeton municipal administrator Bob Bruschi and PFARS president Mark Freda told members of Princeton Council at a meeting March 24, the squad outgrew the building years ago.

PFARS is hoping to build a new headquarters on the site of Princeton’s former public works facility at the intersection of Valley Road, Witherspoon Street, and Route 206. At the meeting, Council agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding, and Mr. Freda hopes the governing body will approve the proposal at its meeting on April 21.

“Back in the 70s, you’d run hundreds of calls a year. Now, it’s 3,000,” he said during a tour of PFARS headquarters last Saturday. “The community has grown and changed a lot, and so has technology. Things are very different and we have been struggling to keep up for years.”

The PFARS property is on the corner of North Harrison Street and Clearview Avenue. On the lower level, there is a room where squad members relax when not out on rescue calls. Lined with low-slung chairs and ottomans and a big-screen television, the paneled room leads into the office, a six-foot-by-six-foot cubicle where all of the paperwork is done. Next door is a room lined with lockers, surrounding four pushed-together desks with computers.

“There used to be a pool table in here, but now that everything is logged into computers we needed a place to put them,” Mr. Freda said. In an adjacent, tiny room that holds electrical equipment, there is a place carved out for bunks where squad members can catch a few hours of sleep between calls.

Upstairs, a meeting room lined with photos and memorabilia serves as space for classes, gatherings, and fundraising events. In the adjacent, small kitchen, a ceiling panel had been removed to check for possible leaks from the weekend’s incessant rainstorms. “This is a constant concern,” Mr. Freda said. “We’re always watching for water damage.”

The biggest space crunch is in the four bays where three ambulances and one rescue vehicle are housed between calls. There is little space to move, let alone service the trucks, which are considerably larger than the Cadillacs that were standard for emergency calls five decades ago.

“Backing into the bays can be really hard,” said PFARS member Shayan Rakhit, a senior at Princeton University. With two of his colleagues, Mr. Rakhit was relaxing in the lounge between calls. “We just can’t operate out of this building anymore,” he continued. “There isn’t enough training space, and so much apparatus is kept outside. Our boat is kept at the fire station because there’s not enough room here.”

Fellow squad member Bryan Hill, a student at Rutgers University, added, “During Hurricane Sandy, there was no generator system. We ended up sleeping in a conference room at the municipal building. The new building would have a backup generator so that wouldn’t happen.”

The idea for a new facility has been floating around PFARS for the past decade. At various times, the organization has considered building at its current property, which also includes two small houses on Clearview Avenue; the site of the Valley Road School building; a plot on Bayard Lane across from elements restaurant; and the public works location. The architecture firm Pacheco Ross of Voorheesville, New York, which specializes in emergency facilities, has long been a part of the conversation.

“The thing that’s so good about the public works site is that we could still operate out of here while it’s being built,” Mr. Freda said. “And it’s a great location. You’re literally at the center of town. The firehouse and the police station are right there, and we do a lot together. With something like Hurricane Sandy, you want one central command post.”

The proposed arrangement would be a land swap in which PFARS would have a long-term land lease on the new site. The town would continue to own the land. In turn, the municipality would get the land on PFARS’ current Harrison Street property. The town would act as the financing entity for PFARS.

“The town expects us to raise money and will float a bond when the building starts,” said Mr. Freda. “But we’d love for the community to come together and help us so we don’t have to rely on the town. We’ll be hiring a full-time fundraiser to work with us on this.”

With so many starts and stops to the project, there is no definite design or firm estimate for the cost, but Mr. Freda estimates it will be in the neighborhood of $6 million. “We’re not going to build an extravagant building,” he said. “It will be sturdy and well thought out — nothing crazy.”


Princeton Community Housing (PCH) invites the community to an Open House at its new location in Monument Hall, the former Princeton Borough Hall, on Thursday, April 3 from 4 to 6 p.m. 

Members of the community can enjoy light refreshments and join partners and supporters in learning more about affordable housing available in Princeton and PCH’s collaborative initiatives to develop additional affordable housing opportunities.

Formerly located at 245 Nassau Street for many years, PCH relocated to Monument Hall when, due to consolidation, space became available for lease on the lower level of Monument Hall.

“Overall, the new space gives us the ability to work more effectively for the people we serve and toward our vision to expand the range of affordable housing opportunities in Princeton,” said PCH Executive Director Ed Truscelli.

In addition to being conveniently located for applicants and residents, PCH’s new location provides immediate proximity to other community service partners, such as the Office of Affordable Housing, Department of Health and Human Services and the Senior Resource Center. “This immediate proximity establishes a nexus of support services for potential applicants and current residents and is consistent with PCH’s mission to develop, manage, and advocate for affordable housing,” said Mr. Truscelli.

PCH not only provides and manages 466 affordable rental units in Princeton, but also serves as an administrative agent for Princeton and private property owners in Princeton. As the agent, PCH is responsible for ensuring that the available affordable rental housing is affirmatively marketed to the general public and that applicants are certified for eligibility for housing. PCH is currently administering the marketing and application process for the 12 new affordable rental units at Copperwood and the 16 new affordable rental units in the first phase of the Merwick/Stanworth project.

Princeton Community Housing (PCH) is a non-profit organization founded in 1967 by volunteers and local sponsoring organizations to ensure a balance of housing opportunities, which are essential to the continued success and economic diversity of the Princeton community. Princeton Community Housing and its affiliates, Elm Court, Harriet Bryan, Griggs Farm, Princeton Community Village and PCH Homes, provide and manage 466 affordable rental homes in Princeton.

For additional information on affordable housing available in Princeton, including locations, eligibility criteria, and application forms visit: www.princetoncommunityhousing.org.


ITSY BITSY SPIDER: Youngsters at the Princeton Nursery School learn all about spiders and waterspouts as generations have before them. The school on Leigh Avenue celebrates it 85th anniversary year with a fundraising evening at the Bedens Brook Club on Saturday, April 26, from 6:30 to 8: 30 p.m. For more information, call (609) 921-8606, or visit: www.princeton nurseryschool.org.

ITSY BITSY SPIDER: Youngsters at the Princeton Nursery School learn all about spiders and waterspouts as generations have before them. The school on Leigh Avenue celebrates it 85th anniversary year with a fundraising evening at the Bedens Brook Club on Saturday, April 26, from 6:30 to 8: 30 p.m. For more information, call (609) 921-8606, or visit: www.princeton

The Princeton Nursery School (PNS) at 78 Leigh Avenue is celebrating 85 years of taking care of and educating two-and-a-half- to five-year-olds in the heart of the Witherspoon/Jackson community. 

To mark the occasion, members of the non-profit school’s board of trustees have organized a celebratory fundraiser with live music, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres as well as live and silent auctions at the Bedens Brook Club on Saturday, April 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Profits from the sale of $100 tickets, $60 of which is tax deductible, will provide support for school programs and services offered to parents. It will also be used for much-needed tuition scholarships.

According to PNS Executive Director Wendy Cotton, “on average single females heads of households in Mercer County spend 42 percent of their income on childcare.”

This year, the school hopes to match or do better than the $22,000 in net profits brought in by a similar event last year. “Everything for the auctions has been donated and our board members have really embraced this event and worked hard to make it a success,” said Ms. Cotton.

Event committee co-chairs Sandra Allen and Amy Speirs have attended to every detail. Guests will be entertained by pianist Patrick Finn and a student’s group from the Lawrenceville School, who will perform the event theme song “Singin’ in the Rain,” under the direction of Choirmaster Robert Palmer.

Auction items range from unique experiences such as a dinner prepared by renowned chefs in one’s own home to vacation time in a privately owned beach house. A bike tour for ten, several spa experiences, wine baskets, and a trip to Los Angeles for the MTV Video Music Awards are also up for bid.

Jay McPhillips, fast becoming one of Princeton’s most prolific and well-known local artists, has donated his painting of the school’s cheerful yellow building. The painting was used to illustrate event invitations.

Ahead of Its Time

When it began, PNS was definitely ahead of its time. Founded by Margaret Matthews-Flinsch in 1929, its mission was to help working mothers who had to choose between earning desperately needed income and caring for their children at home during working hours.

For over eight decades, PNS has offered affordable child care as well as an excellent multicultural preschool experience to families in need. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, it has a sliding-scale tuition based on income and family size. As stated on its website, the school’s goal is to “ensure that children who attend PNS are on a level playing field with their peers when they enter elementary school.”

Ms. Cotton has been executive director of the school for six years. In 2009, she organized the first fundraising event in celebration of the school’s 80th anniversary. “For that we had a very special evening at Drumthwacket,” she recalled. “The school is very small, with only 48 children, of whom about one third come from the neighborhood. We are licensed for 54 students but we are content with the current balance of children and adult teachers. We have three lead teachers and three assistant teachers. All but one have college degrees,” said Ms. Cotton, who describes PNS as “a boutique nursery school,” which will remain small because there is nowhere for it to expand on Leigh Avenue.

The school has been in its current location since the 1930s and is fondly regarded in the neighborhood, where it was led for 30 years by Ms. Cotton’s predecessor, long-time school director Jean Riley. Ms. Cotton said that she often runs into 70-year-olds who remember their time as pupils there.

Event Honorees

Besides the event honorees, Princeton University and Music Together, Princeton University student April Liang will be thanked at the event. Ms. Liang has become a champion for the school. Not only has she made generous financial donations, said Ms. Cotton, she has consistently volunteered her time. “We are very grateful for April’s leadership and for bringing in young energetic students from the University to assist our classroom teachers and provide enriching conversations for our children,” said Ms. Cotton.

According to Ms. Liang, the Friday afternoons have “been the most anticipated three hours of my week, because that’s when I volunteer at the Princeton Nursery School. A week of stress and fatigue just melts away when I see the sweet, smiling faces of all the students at PNS.” At PNS, said Ms. Liang, she can “be whoever I want without being judged; I can live as if the biggest problem in my life was whether or not Little Red Riding Hood survives her encounter with the Big Bad Wolf; I can let my inner child laugh freely, run freely, love freely. I am extremely grateful for the students and staff at Princeton Nursery School for not only this great honor, but also for the liberating experience every volunteering session has been.”

Because she is currently studying in Switzerland, Ms. Liang won’t be able to attend the event itself and has arranged for a classmate to receive her award.

“Singin’ in the Rain: A Celebration of Princeton Nursery School’s 85th Anniversary” is sponsored by PNC Bank; Mason, Griffin & Pierson, PC; Margie & Ravi Ravindranath; and TayganPoint Consulting Group, Primed Associates. It will take place at Bedens Brook Club, 240 Rolling Hill Road, Skillman, Saturday, April 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Reservations are requested by April 11. For more information, call (609) 921-8606, or visit: www.princetonnurseryschool.org.



Princeton University, which owns the Princeton Garden Theatre on Nassau Street, has made an agreement with Renew Theaters, a nonprofit organization with 21 years of experience running community movie theaters, to run the Garden as of June 1.

Renew runs three historic movie theaters in Pennsylvania: the Ambler Theater in Ambler, the Hiway in Jenkintown, and the County in Doylestown. “The University is excited to welcome Renew Theaters as the new operator for the Garden Theatre,” said Kristin Appelget, Director of Community and Regional Affairs for the University. “The theater serves the entire Princeton community — town and gown — so we are especially interested in the diverse programming that Renew offers.”

The Garden Theatre opened in 1920 with a showing of the silent film Civilian Clothes. It is currently leased by Garden Theatre Inc. The University purchased the theatre in 1993 and renovated it in 2000-01. Last summer, the analog projection system was upgraded to a digital cinema system with new projection, surround sound, and movie screens. Renew plans to further improve the design, operations and services. The theatre will be closed for a month while renovations are carried out.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Renew,” said Renew Executive Director John Toner. “We are very community based in our operations and we are looking forward to forming partnerships with local art groups, service groups, student groups and faculty members who might be interested in using the theater.”

The company schedules film discussions, introductions by local experts, and question-and-answer sessions by filmmakers and industry professionals.

Kim J. Pimley is the new Chairman of the Princeton HealthCare System Board of Trustees. Gerald A. Compito succeeded her as Chairman of the PHCS Foundation Board of Directors during the two boards’ annual combined meeting March 24.

Ms. Pimley, a Princeton resident who chaired the Foundation Board from 2010 to 2013, joined the PHCS Board of Trustees in 2010. Co-founder of Pimley & Pimley Inc., a provider of credit training and corporate finance programs, she is also president of P&P Training Resources Inc. Ms. Pimley serves on the Executive Council of the American Jewish Committee as Chair of National Leadership Development and on the board of McCarter Theatre.

She previously served as president of the Jewish Center of Princeton and on the boards of The Pennington School and Opera Festival of New Jersey. Ms. Pimley is a graduate of Emory University, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and she completed PhD coursework at the University of Chicago.

Ms. Pimley assumed the PHCS Chairman’s post from Donald J. Hoffman, who had served on the board since 2002. Mr. Hoffman, a founding partner of Alston Capital Partners, lives in West Windsor. He received the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus to recognize his service on the Board of Trustees.



Tourism expenditures in Mercer County were $1.154 billion in 2013, an almost four percent increase from 2012 and an all-time high, according to “The Economic Impact of Tourism in New Jersey,” report released March 20 at the New Jersey Conference on Tourism. 

State and local tourism-related tax receipts for Mercer County increased by more than four percent to $151.8 million, or 3.3 percent of the state wide figure in 2013. This is a 4.2 increase from 2012’s $145.6 million. Tourism employment in Mercer County grew by nearly 3 percent to 11,585 positions, or 5.2 percent of the county’s employment during 2013. The total employment impact was 21,801, or 9.8 percent of the county’s employment in 2013, an increase from 20,638 or 9.4 percent of the county’s employment in 2012.

The Princeton Region welcomes more than 2 million visitors annually and includes the municipalities of Cranbury, East Windsor, Ewing, Hamilton, Hightstown, Borough of Hopewell, Hopewell Township, Village of Kingston (part of Franklin Township), Lawrence, Montgomery, Pennington, Plainsboro, Princeton, Robbinsville, Rocky Hill, South Brunswick, Trenton and West Windsor.

Statewide, visitor spending posted a 1.3 percent increase in 2013, according to the report by Tourism Economics. In 2013, total tourism demand in the State of New Jersey surpassed $40 billion. The tourism industry directly supports 320,238 jobs in New Jersey and sustains more than 511,750 jobs including indirect and induced impacts. These jobs represent 9.9 percent of total employment or 1-in-10 jobs in New Jersey.

According to the study, in the absence of the state and local taxes generated by tourism, each New Jersey household would need to pay $1,440 to maintain current governmental revenues.

“The Princeton Region is an international destination with many visitors from across the globe coming to enjoy our rich education, arts, and history assets. As the official destination marketing organization for the Princeton Region we actively pursue foreign and domestic travelers through advertisement and trade show activities,” said Adam Perle, vice president of Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and second vice president, New Jersey Travel Industry

What would Princeton be without its trees? The blossoming pear trees on Witherspoon Street signal spring for many residents. Street trees provide shelter and shade that can save homeowners on air-conditioning and heating costs. 

According to Princeton’s Shade Tree Commission (STC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. And if that were not enough, trees bring birdsong, give off oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and pollutants, reduce storm runoff and the possibility of flooding.

The job of protecting and managing the town’s trees is overseen by the volunteers of the STC, working closely with municipal arborist Greg O’Neil.

The seven-member commission (with two alternates), appointed by the mayor and assisted by one municipal employee, has just announced the completion of an inventory of Princeton’s street trees. The inventory database, which can be consulted on the STC’s still-under-construction website (www.pbshadetree.org) will serve as a tool for Mr. O’Neil and inform decisions about tree maintenance, removal, and new plantings. It is also open to residents curious about the trees on the streets where they live.

“Anyone who has wondered what type of tree that magnificent specimen across the street is can go to the Shade Tree website and learn not only what species it is, but also its name, caliper, and estimated annual benefit,” said STC member Janet Stern. “Accompanying every tree is a Google map showing the site where the tree is located and an image of the tree.”

In addition to the location of each tree within the public right-of-way, the database provides size, condition, hazard rating, and maintenance needs. As yet, the database is confined to the street trees and does not include municipal parks and open space, trees on private property, or on state or county roads.

According to STC Chair Sharon Ainsworth, Princeton has a total of 18,558 street trees and at least 179 different species. The top ten species are in order of percentage: Ash (white & green) 10.97, Red Maple 9.6, White Pine 5.11, Pin Oak 4.43, Norway Maple 4.4, London Plane 4.15, Sugar Maple 4.11, Tulip Poplar 3.32, Norway Spruce 3.24, and Eastern Hemlock 3.19.

Diversity of species is important, said Ms. Ainsworth, because too heavy a reliance on a single species could have significant consequences should some disease or insect problem arise. “In neighboring states like Pennsylvania, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is devastating the Ash tree population. To date the EAB hasn’t been found in New Jersey but if it does cross the river, it would create significant management challenges,” said the trained ornamental horticulturist who came to STC after serving with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and as political liaison for Rutgers University for a combined period of 25 years.

As Ms. Ainsworth reports, most of Princeton’s street trees are deciduous and, as yet, it is too early to assess the full impact of this year’s winter storms. “Although structural damage, like broken limbs, is already apparent, damage to a tree’s overall health, for example from salt application to roads and sidewalks or from the severe cold, will take longer to become evident.”

Besides the new database, the STC website offers advice, including the best way to mulch a tree: mulch should be spread like a donut around the tree rather than packed up like a volcano; it should never be allowed to touch the tree’s bark, or piled higher than 3 to 4 inches; mulch that is too deep can promote fungal and bacterial diseases and wood chips or other coarse organic material are best.

Oldest Trees on Campus

Chances are, if you are a Princeton resident, you will have a favorite tree. Ms. Ainsworth has two, the massive gray-barked sycamores in front of the John Maclean House on Nassau Street, on the Princeton University campus.

Known as the “Stamp Act” trees, in commemoration of the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1776 around the time of their planting, they are well over 300 years old and are similar to London Planetrees, a sycamore hybrid.

As for the Witherspoon pear trees, Ms. Ainsworth looks forward to their blooming this month. “Pyrus calleryana are among the first to blossom but the exact date is difficult to predict because of changes in weather and temperature. The unusually cool temperatures have slowed bud development so they are behind where they would be in a typical year. One would expect the trees to be in bloom in early-mid April. The bloom can last a couple weeks, unless we go in the opposite direction and get summer-like temperatures.”

Arbor Day and Marquand Park

The Shade Tree Commission will celebrate Arbor Day on April 25, with a visit to Littlebrook School where a tree will be planted and small trees distributed.

The 60th anniversary of Princeton’s treasury of trees will be celebrated by the Marquand Park Foundation, Sunday, April 27, from 1 to 3 p.m. Mayor Liz Lempert will present a proclamation following remarks by Foundation Chair Pamela Machold, also a longtime STC member and by Mr. O’Neil.

At noon Roland Machold will lead a tour of the park and at 2 p.m., three new hybrid American chestnuts will be planted. A “Find a Tree” treasure hunt will take place at 2:30 p.m. A tent, chairs, and light refreshment will be provided.

Shade Tree Commission meetings are generally held on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in the Monument Building (former Borough Hall). The next meeting will take place on April 22 at 5:30 p.m.



Volunteers invited by the Princeton Battlefield Society and the Central New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club turned out in force to remove invasive species such as bamboo from the Princeton Battlefield on Saturday, March 22. Besides bamboo, they removed dead wood knocked down in recent storms and vines from around the foundations. Fallen branches will be used for firewood in the April 12 event, “The British at Princeton.” (Photo by John Lien).


March 27, 2014
PHS GRAD CYCLING FOR WORLD HEALTH: David Silbergeld, shown here delivering medical assistance last year in the Dominican Republic, will set off from San Diego, Wednesday, March 26, on a cross continental bike ride in support of World Health. Mr. Silbergeld graduated from Princeton High School in 2003 and subsequently served with the Peace Corps in South Africa and delivered medical assistance in the Himalayas. To find out more, visit http://r4wh.org/team-r4wh/david-silbergeld/.

PHS GRAD CYCLING FOR WORLD HEALTH: David Silbergeld, shown here delivering medical assistance last year in the Dominican Republic, will set off from San Diego, Wednesday, March 26, on a cross continental bike ride in support of World Health. Mr. Silbergeld graduated from Princeton High School in 2003 and subsequently served with the Peace Corps in South Africa and delivered medical assistance in the Himalayas. To find out more, visit http://r4wh.org/team-r4wh/david-silbergeld/.

Princeton resident David Silbergeld will set off by bicycle from San Diego to Washington, D.C., Wednesday, March 26, as part of a team of medical students raising funds for global health, sponsored by Ride for World Health, a 501(c)3 organization based in Columbus, Ohio. 

A fourth year MD/MPH student at Rutgers/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Mr. Silbergeld grew up in Seattle, Washington, before moving as a teen to Princeton, where he graduated from Princeton High School in 2003.

Now 28, he will celebrate his birthday during the ride, on April 10. The cross country bike ride is one of several ways in which Mr. Silbergeld combines his professional expertise with an adventurous spirit. Shortly after he gets back from his cross-country trip, he will start his medical residency in the University of Alaska family medicine program, serving in Anchorage and more remote communities. He’ll be working with under-served Alaskan natives and in rural villages with minimal resources.

The riders expect to reach Washington, D. C. around May 10. In order to make their trip truly bi-coastal, they plan to continue on to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. All in all, their journey will take some 52 days. That’s 38 days in the saddle with a few days rest in between.

So far, said Mr. Silbergeld, he has raised some $1,500. “Most of the money raised has come from small donations of $10 and $20 from friends and family and even some from fellow students, even though most medical students are carrying quite a bit in student loans,” he said. “But it is still possible to make donations via the Ride for World Health website as the team makes its way across the continent.”

To minimize costs and maximize the amount that will be donated to the organizations supported by the Ride for World Health, the team is paying its own way across the country and staying overnight in accommodations provided by schools, community centers, churches, and medical centers.

A 2007 graduate of Georgetown University, Mr. Silbergeld has a BA in Chinese with a premedical concentration. He has traveled to South Africa with the Peace Corps, where he was involved in a variety of projects, including children’s after-school programs, environmental NGOs, and crime prevention. He has cared for patients suffering from a range of diseases from hypertension and diabetes to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. His interest in world health deepened during medical school through public health expeditions to northern India and the Dominican Republic and he plans to enter a residency in Family Medicine and to remain involved in global health throughout his career.

“I view the Ride for World Health as an opportunity to challenge myself, to form lasting relationships with medical students from around the country, and, most importantly, to support an invaluable cause by asking interested people to sponsor my ride,” he said.

The funds raised by this year’s Ride for World Health will provide support for such organizations as HEAL Africa, Empower and Advance, and The Partnership for Ongoing Developmental, Educational, and Medical Outreach Solutions (PODEMOS).

Founded over a decade ago by Congolese surgeon Jo Lusi and his wife Lyn, HEAL Africa sponsors a full-service training hospital in Goma, Congo as well as community-based initiatives in public health, community development, and conflict resolution. It helps to support a Congolese staff of 28 doctors, 54 nurses, more than 340 community development educators, a small administrative team, and hundreds of Congolese volunteers. “Our donation will go primarily towards women’s health including safe childbirth, fistula repair, and HIV and contraception education,” said Mr. Silbergeld.

The organization, Empower and Advance, is dedicated to empowering members of vulnerable communities, and is currently working on a curriculum to train secondary school graduates in Haiti to become Emergency Community Healthcare Workers.

The goal of PODEMOS, a student-founded organization, is to develop international sites for outreach and clinical care where medical and health profession students can be involved in caring for and learning from patients from marginalized populations. It has identified three underserved communities in Honduras, where it is working to develop medical-cultural exchanges.

For more information and to support Mr. Silbergeld’s ride, visit: http://r4wh.org/team-r4wh/david-silbergeld/. The Ride for World Health website will be accepting donations until the riders arrive in Delaware on May 11.


March 26, 2014

InmanCharles (“Chuck”) Inman, Jr. chose to spend his life serving others, providing food for the hungry and help for the hopeless. It was his special gift to see a need, try to solve it, and make a difference.

A strong Christian faith, desire to help others, enthusiasm for everything he undertook, and his love of family created the foundation of his life of service to others.

His death in a car crash on March 20 is not only a tragedy for his family and friends, but a great loss to the organization and people he served.

As founder and director of the non-profit Battle Against Hunger Bike Tour, he sought to alleviate suffering and provide help to people in the area and beyond. During the past 11 years, the Battle Against Hunger has raised $650,000 for organizations providing relief. Rescue Mission of Trenton, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Crisis Ministry of Princeton, Jewish Family Services of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, Atlantic City Rescue Mission, Cast Your Cares Ministries, and Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair are among those that have received help.

252 Missions

A member of the Baby Boom generation, Mr. Inman was born in Virginia in 1946, and the idea of helping others was instilled early by his parents. Their family business regularly provided food and supplies to those in need.

He loved flying from the time he was a boy, and after two years at the University of Richmond, he left to join the army, intent upon flying helicopters. He was sent to Vietnam, where he flew 252 missions, and was shot down 13 times. He was instrumental in saving the life of his company commander, when that officer’s helicopter was shot down.

Warrant Officer Inman’s own luck ran out in 1968, when he was shot down during the Tet Offensive. Seriously wounded in the hand, arm, and face, he underwent 15 major surgeries as doctors sought to rebuild his hand. He spent two years in Walter Reed Army Hospital. Mr. Inman was the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Purple Heart, among others.

Returning to Richmond, he went back to the university on the G.I. Bill, studying accounting, finance, and economics. After graduating first in his class, he attended the University of Texas, earning a Master’s Degree. He became a teaching instructor there, and later taught accounting at the University of Miami for five years.

Chuck had married his university classmate, Pamela Buss in 1970, and while they were in Texas, their son Charles P. Inman III was born. The Inmans later returned to Virginia to help in the family business, and also became actively involved with the Central Virginia Food Bank, which provided food, clothing, and other supplies to its 400-plus agency network in central Virginia.

The interaction with the clients was a meaningful experience, he later recalled. “The personal time spent with these wonderful people helped me to ‘get’ it. These were people who had had bad luck or circumstances intervene in their lives, and we were offering them assistance to get back on their feet and to start living productive and enriched lives.”

Born Leader

In addition, Mr. Inman worked with the STEP program of his church, gathering food, clothing, and other items to distribute in the projects in eastern Richmond.

He brought this same mindset to Princeton where he relocated in 1997. At that time, he also became involved in a small Bible study group with the late George Gallup. They became close friends, with Mr. Gallup later saying: “Chuck is a born leader — people are instantly drawn to him and his causes. If he had stayed in the armed forces, he would surely be a general by now. As it is, he is a 5-star general in his favorite cause, the Battle Against Hunger.”

The Battle Against Hunger grew out of Mr. Inman’s meetings with the Bible study group: “There were so many people in our own area who were struggling. I realized I personally wanted to do something about that.”

An enthusiast cyclist, he had the notion of combining biking with raising money for food for those in need. Together with his wife, colleagues and friends, he investigated various relief agencies, and the idea soon became a reality. Eventually, they decided on Gettysburg, Pa. — a 200-mile trip — as their cycling destination, with the round-trip returning to Trenton.

Mr. Inman received numerous awards and commendations for the time and effort he expended in the fight against hunger. While grateful for such recognition, he said, however, “What is most meaningful to me about the Battle Against Hunger is the ladies and gentlemen who are recipients, and the look in their eyes, the look of hope.”

It is the hope of all who knew him that Mr. Inman’s legacy will continue with the ongoing work of the Battle Against Hunger. In his own words, “We are all so blessed in this country, but there are many who are struggling. There is a lot of opportunity to give back to others. We in the Battle Against Hunger believe passionately that no one in a place as plentiful as New Jersey should ever have to suffer the ravages of hunger. We are committed to uniting businesses, organizations, groups, and individuals throughout the area for the express purpose of assisting those who provide food and shelter to those in need. Together, we can make a difference.”


The Sustainable Princeton Great Ideas Breakfast Series: Food and Thought continues this spring at Princeton Public Library. These sustainability-focused programs are co-sponsored by the library and Sustainable Princeton. The breakfast meetings are held at 8:30 a.m. on the last Thursday each month in the Community Room and feature a free, sustainable breakfast provided by a local eatery.

The first is March 27, when the title is “Innovative Energy Solutions.” A panel of local entrepreneurs, including Mauricio Gutierrez, chief operating officer of NRG, will discuss the clean technology journey — from the first seeds of innovation to development of full-scale enterprises in the energy sector. Inspirational and hopeful inventions being developed in Princeton will be featured.

On April 24, the topic is “Stories of Waste and Hope.” Imagine if every plastic cup you’ve ever used and tossed could be traced back to you. How big is your personal plastic mountain? A panel of local residents and business leaders will talk about what we as a community are doing to turn stories of waste into stories of hope, and how people can help.

“Water: Our Most Undervalued Resource” is the topic on May 29. While many of us take access to clean water for granted, this valuable resource is at risk. What are the red flags to watch for? What can we as residents do to conserve water and maintain the high quality we expect for the health and well-being of our families and our community? Participants will swap stories and explore solutions to Princeton water issues with local experts from The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, university research labs and more.

The library is at 65 Witherspoon Street. Visit www.princetonlibrary.org or call (609) 924-9529 for more information.

At the approach of National Poetry Month, members of U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative launch the latest issue of their group’s journal, U.S.1 Worksheets this Sunday, March 30 at the Princeton Public Library. 

Those with poems in the issue will gather with fellow poetry lovers in what has become a sort of spring rite. Doors of the Community Room open at 1:15 p.m. for a simple reception; readings will begin promptly at 2 p.m.

U.S.1 Worksheets, Volume 59 is an eclectic collection from a group that is now entering its fifth decade. The journal has been published continuously since 1972. Back then it was a stapled-at-the-corner mimeographed affair, a far cry from today’s self-published perfect bound professional look with cover art by contemporary photographers.

“Those who submitted have researched well. They really know what we want,” said Nancy Scott, who has served as the journal’s managing editor since volunteering to take on its production in 2004. “One third of the poets included this year are new to us.”

In a press release from the group’s publicist Carolyn Foote Edelmann, also a poet and longtime member, Ms. Scott notes an emphasis this year on poems inspired by experiences in the natural world: “This constellation of eclectic poems reveals an exceptionally high level of poets. Our web-site may be feeding [submissions to] the Journal. We are pulling in poetry from a broader geographical area, and accepting a higher percentage of received poems, because of their quality.”

The well-known local poet Betty Lies, the journal’s senior poetry editor and a Dodge Poet for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, concurs: “The poems are better this year. People are sending a higher level of poetry. Our reputation is growing in terms of appropriate quality for U.S.1 Worksheets. We’re reaching a greater number of states each year.” Ms. Lies has been a member of U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative since 1989.

With Ms. Lies, poets Enriqueta Carrington and Juditha Dowd selected the 129 poems in Volume 59 from well over a thousand submissions.

This year’s issue is dedicated to all those who, over the years, have provided meeting space for the group by opening their homes for the group’s weekly critique sessions.

U.S.1 Poets Cooperative is run entirely by volunteers, all of whom are poets themselves. Elizabeth “Mimi” Danson is the group’s treasurer; Sharon Olson contributed her skills to the layout; Lois Marie Harrod designed the cover; Eric Heller is the group’s webmaster; and Dave Worrell keeps everyone informed via a weekly email.

Since 1973, the group has offered seasoned and beginning poets a regular opportunity to share and refine their work, which was exactly what it was set up to do.

Founded by Alicia Ostriker and others, it took inspiration from the Berkeley Poets Cooperative on the West Coast, which Ms. Ostriker, who’s been teaching English at Rutgers since 1972, had attended. The group’s name was inspired by the highway that runs the East Coast from Florida to Canada. The idea was to provide fellowship and critique sessions for poets seeking feedback for their work.

The first Worksheets journal, a folded tabloid collection of photocopied sheets of poems and drawings stapled-at-the-corner, shared works in progress and established an identity for the collective.

In recent years, the journal’s covers have made it stand out from other small journals. Last year’s 40th anniversary issue sported a color cover, showcasing an collage by Ms. Scott. This year, cover art is a collage by Stephen Millner. The accomplished local art photographer Frank Magalhaes (who created the journal’s layout for a number of years) donated work for two issues 51, and 54. Other issues have featured Therese Halscheid’s “Mexican Vessels,” “The Writing Desk” by New Jersey photographer Thomas Bivin, work by Paul Cockrell of California (issue 53), Dick Greene of Massachussetts (issue 52), and Jay Goodkind (issue 50).

The launch provides members who may not attend every weekly workshop an opportunity to catch up with fellow poets. For those who volunteer their time to produce the journal, Sunday’s launch is the culmination of a year-long process that starts with a new round of submissions accepted from April 15 through June 30. Submissions guidelines are available on the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative website: www.us1poets.com.

Poets at the Library

Sunday’s event is co-sponsored by the Princeton Public Library, which also hosts the monthly Poets at the Library reading series in conjunction with U.S. 1 Poets Cooperative and Delaware Valley Poets. Poets at the Library meets by the fireside on the Library’s second floor on the second Monday of the month throughout the year. The next meeting (switched to Tuesday, April 8, because of Passover) features contributors to the anthology, Forgetting Home: Poems About Alzheimer’s, followed by an open microphone. Free. 7:30 p.m. Participating area poets include Barbara Crooker, Anna Evans, Lois Marie Harrod, Tammy Paolino, Steve Smith, Jill Stein, and Maxine Susman. For more information, call (609)-924-9529.

Members of the public are invited to kick off National Poetry Month at the party for Volume 59 of U.S.1 Worksheets this Sunday, March 30 from 1:15 p.m., in the Community Room, Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street. The event is free. Copies of the journal are $10.

For information on submission deadlines for the journal and how to become a member of U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperagive, visit: us1poets.com. To receive the weekly announcement of meetings, email: US1Poets@gmail.com.


“TWENTY YEARS IS A GOOD RUN”: So says Robert L. Annis, dean and director of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts, who will leave his post at the campus on Walnut Lane at the end of this year.(Photo Courtesy of Rider University)

“TWENTY YEARS IS A GOOD RUN”: So says Robert L. Annis, dean and director of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts, who will leave his post at the campus on Walnut Lane at the end of this year. (Photo Courtesy of Rider University)

After 20 years, Robert L. Annis, dean and director of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts, is retiring. Mr. Annis, 64, will leave his post at the campus on Walnut Lane at the end of this year.

“It was a difficult decision,” he said. “I’ll miss it, absolutely. Twenty years is a good run. It’s been very satisfying for me. But it’s also time for the institution to bring someone in that can take them to the next level.”

Just who that person will be has yet to be decided. In the meantime, Mr. Annis took time recently to reflect on two decades of service. When he arrived at Westminster in 1994, the school was in the second year of its merger with Rider University in Lawrenceville, a move that saved the Westminster Choir College from financial disaster and broadened Rider’s scope by adding a range of cultural programs.

“The reason for the merger was that Westminster was struggling,” Mr. Annis said. “The first challenge was just to stabilize. Next was to grow the enrollment, raise money for scholarships and restricted funds and facilities. Those were huge challenges, especially in the nineties. Plus, I came to an institution that had a pretty strong heritage. I had to nurture that, evolve that, and grow it as needed. That happens not just by one individual, but also by faculty and students.”

Rider’s College of the Arts was created seven years ago by integrating Westminster Choir College and its community music school, Westminster Conservatory, with Rider’s School of Fine and Performing Arts. Students now shuttle regularly between the Princeton and Lawrenceville campuses. “It really is one institution now,” Mr. Annis said.

“Over time,” he continued, “policies and procedures had to be linked. And this has always been based on stabilizing the Choir College while following its heritage. For Rider, it has enhanced its identity.”

Despite widespread economic woes in recent years, Mr. Annis said enrollment in arts programs at Rider has been growing. “Students are still passionate about music and the arts. For us, that’s terrific,” he said. “The Westminster Symphonic Choir is not only booked through 2015, but already getting asked about 2016.”

Mr. Annis said the community-based Westminster Conservatory is busy with 3,000 students and four satellite programs. “The Conservatory has been around for awhile. From what I’ve read, Einstein even played violin in its community orchestra,” he said.

Westminster’s aging campus on Walnut Lane has been given some notable upgrades during Mr. Annis’s tenure. “Erdman Hall, one of the four original buildings, was completely renovated,” he said. “We added fire safety to all of the buildings and have made great progress on deferred maintenance and upgrading. We have updated out practice rooms, added voice and keyboard labs, and a parking lot. We’re putting up our first new campus building since 1975 and we’re raising funds to renovate The Playhouse. So it’s not to say we are by any means done, but we have made good progress from an infrastructure and renovation standpoint and a new building.”

The college was founded in 1926 in Ohio, but made a fortuitous move to Princeton in the early 1930s. “We’re sitting in a very vibrant part of the country, between New York and Philadelphia, and we find our students who want to go be music educators in public schools are able to find positions,” Mr. Annis said. “But that’s not the case in all 50 states. The arts are taking hits in the economy in general.”

Mr. Annis’s wife Ellen Vickers, who teaches seventh grade English at John Witherspoon Middle School, will retire in June. The couple plan to move to Cape Cod. “We’ll travel, and we’ll both do a little more music,” said Mr. Annis, who is a professional clarinetist. “And I might do some writing. But this is a definitive change. It’s hard, but I feel the institution is stable, important, and has a real opportunity for the future.”


Bryn Mawr Book Sale 2014 1

Shoppers enjoying the Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale, which ended Tuesday. Several speak of their experience in this week’s Town Talk. According to one buyer, “It is a total explosion of the mind to come here.” (Photo by Emily Reeves)


March 19, 2014
LEARNING THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: Students from The Cambridge School taking part in the Ken Burns initiated “Learn the Address” contest last week. From left, back row: Princeton historian James McPherson; Deborah Peters; Pennsylvania State Representative Steve Santarsiero; Admissions Officer Melody Lorenz; Dina Dunn; Cindy Persichilli; Joe Lawver; Melissa Deem; Rebecca LaTour; Mike Krause; and James Maher; front row: contest winner Jake Federico, Christian Schulte, Grace Kavulich, Brady Bryson, Matthew Berman, and Clare Stephenson.(Courtesy of The Cambridge School)

LEARNING THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: Students from The Cambridge School taking part in the Ken Burns initiated “Learn the Address” contest last week. From left, back row: Princeton historian James McPherson; Deborah Peters; Pennsylvania State Representative Steve Santarsiero; Admissions Officer Melody Lorenz; Dina Dunn; Cindy Persichilli; Joe Lawver; Melissa Deem; Rebecca LaTour; Mike Krause; and James Maher; front row: contest winner Jake Federico, Christian Schulte, Grace Kavulich, Brady Bryson, Matthew Berman, and Clare Stephenson. (Courtesy of The Cambridge School)

Civil War historian James McPherson served as judge of a contest with a historical twist last Thursday, March 13, when he listened to students of The Cambridge School in Pennington recite Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

The retired Princeton University professor of American History is known for, among other titles, the Pulitzer-prize-winning book Battle Cry of Freedom. 

Along with fellow judge, Pennsylvania State Representative Steve Santarsiero, Mr. McPherson heard recitations from students hoping to take part in the “Learn the Address” contest initiated by filmmaker Ken Burns to mark the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

Along with numerous partners, Mr. Burns launched a national effort encouraging everyone in America to video record themselves reading or reciting the speech.

Students at The Cambridge School were judged on their ability to deliver the speech from memory and evaluated by a standardized scoring rubric. The day’s winner was Jake Federico, who will travel with his family and representatives of The Cambridge School to Putney, Vermont, for the final of the contest on April 2. The final will be judged by Mr. Burns, whose 90-minute documentary, The Address will air on PBS, April 15 at 8 p.m.

In addition to focusing on Lincoln’s historic address, Mr. Burns’s documentary explores the mission of The Greenwood School in Putney, where students with learning differences practice, memorize, and recite the Gettysburg Address. The film has been described as unlocking “the history, context, and importance of President Lincoln’s most powerful address.”

Like The Greenwood School, The Cambridge School is an independent special education school for children who have been diagnosed with primary language-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, ADHD, and auditory processing disorder, among others.

The Cambridge School, which describes it students as “learning different,” focuses on providing positive educational opportunities for its students, many of whom have language-based learning differences that require individualized attention. Located at the Straube Center in Pennington, it serves students from all over New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania, particularly Bucks County.

According to Assistant Head of School Melody Lorenz, The Cambridge School was the only New Jersey school invited to participate in the “Learn the Address” project and has partnered with The Greenwood School in order to help further the national conversation about learning differences.

“The judges were so touched by the student recitations that they told Mayor Anthony Persichilli about it,” said Ms. Lorenz. The mayor has invited students from the school to recite the address as a group at a Town Council meeting on April 7 in front of Council, parents, and the community as a whole.

For additional information about the contest and the film, visit: www.learntheaddress.org


An appeal by a group of citizens challenging the Dinky train station move was dismissed Tuesday in New Jersey Superior Court. Save the Dinky, Inc. and Anne Neumann were seeking judicial review of the May 2012 final order of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) allowing abandonment of NJ Transit’s transportation easement next to the station on University Place.

The Dinky terminus is being relocated 460 feet south of its current location as part of Princeton University’s $330 million Arts and Transit development. A new station is to be constructed as part of the plan. The existing station buildings are to be turned into a restaurant and cafe.

NJ Transit sold the station land and buildings to the University in 1984. The terms of that agreement, governing actions with respect to the Dinky station property, have been the subject of dispute.

In their appeal, Save the Dinky, Inc. and Ms. Neumann contended that the NJDEP ignored federal law and failed to follow proper regulations in their review. But in its ruling, the Court affirmed the agency’s final decision.

“The record clearly demonstrates NJDEP did not exceed its authority, and acted appropriately while performing its statutory duty with respect to its review of the project application,” the opinion reads, adding that the decision “was neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable, as it was fully supported by the record.”

Attorney Virginia Kerr, who represented the appellants, does not agree. The group is considering petitioning the New Jersey Supreme Court for a review.

“It’s always an uphill battle to persuade a court that a state agency got it wrong,” Ms. Kerr said. “But we think the NJDEP got it wrong. This is the only case I know of in which a state agency has been allowed to abandon a historic site in near original condition to service a private developer, which the University is. The harm is compounded by the fact that this particular historic site provided walkable mass transit from a public street.”

Three other lawsuits against the Dinky move are still pending. Two are New Jersey cases, while the third is a federal action filed by the National Association of Railroad Passengers and the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers.


Comedian and actor Dan Nainan will be performing at the Princeton Education Foundation’s (PEF) Annual Spring Gala to Benefit Princeton Public Schools, Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. at the Frick Chemistry Laboratory on the Princeton University campus.

Mr. Nainan has appeared in feature films and on network television including “Last Comic Standing.”

The University has donated the space for the annual gala, which benefits the Princeton Public School District’s school students.

In keeping with this year’s whimsical Dr. Seuss “Oh, the Places We’ll Go!” theme, the evening will feature a sumptuous tour of gourmet tastings donated by community restaurants and vendors including Mediterra, Eno Terra, Peony Pavilion, North End Bistro, Cross Culture, Alchemist & Barrister, IQuisine, Bai, and Jammin’ Crepes.

Guests will also enjoy a silent auction. Bidders may compete for a wide assortment of auction items, including a chance to be mayor for a day with Liz Lempert; a private tour with the Wilmerding Curator of American Art at the Princeton University Art Museum; and a special dinner for four at the private dining hall of the Institute for Advanced Study. Guests may also bid on dining and shopping opportunities in town, summer camps, vacation getaways, and artwork by renowned local artists.

“The Princeton Education Foundation helps to position the Princeton Public schools among the best in the country by providing funding for technology, music, science, and many curriculum enhancing programs identified by the district,” said PEF Board President Jean-Anne Madden.The silent auction will open online on or around March 20 at www.pefnj.org, when members of the public can submit bids for any of the auction items. The online auction enables bidders to participate even if they cannot come to the gala, so pre-bidding is encouraged.

The lead sponsor of this event is OnePrinceton, together with major sponsorship provided by Georgeanne Gould Moss, The Gould Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, and the W. Bryce Thompson Foundation.

To purchase tickets visit www.pefnj.org. Tickets start at $150. All tickets will be held at the door.

For more information contact: suzannelroth@gmail.com; (609) 356-0149 or jillanne36@yahoo.com; (609) 994-4441. For more on PEF, (609) 806-4214, or visit: www.pefnj.org.

elements, the high-end restaurant on Bayard Lane co-owned by businessman Stephen Distler and chef Scott Anderson, may be moving to the building on Witherspoon Street that currently houses Mistral, another of the pair’s eateries, and The UPS Store. The space now occupied by UPS will be converted into two-story setting for elements if municipal approvals are granted.

“We like the building [on Bayard Lane], but the space is a little too large for what we’re doing at elements these days. And we think consolidating operations downtown would prove better for both elements and Mistral,” said Mr. Distler, who is a vice chairman of the Bank of Princeton and owns the two buildings. “The liquor license that goes with elements would be available to Mistral, which currently doesn’t have one.”

The newly combined building would keep Mistral where it is while adding a bar for elements in the adjacent first floor space that now houses UPS. A staircase and elevator would take patrons to the second floor, where the elements dining room would be located. Formerly occupied by Music Together, it has been vacant for a year and a half.

“That space will have elements’ kitchen and a private dining space that both can share,” said Mr. Distler. “It would overlook the library and Witherspoon Street.” The downstairs bar would be 1,400 square feet, while the second floor space measures 2,800 square feet.

Elements opened in 2008, and Mistral began operations last May. While elements’ offerings include a $43 “Niman Ranch ribeye” and a $125 chef’s tasting menu (“add $75 with beverage pairings”), Mistral’s more modestly priced menu is focused on small plates, the priciest of which is “36 hour beef cheek” at $22.

“They have very different concepts, with very different experiences,” Mr. Distler said of the two restaurants. “Elements is a unique dining experience we hope to take to a higher level when we relocate, in ways I can’t describe at the moment. Mistral is more of a fast-paced, lower-priced option. The only thing in common is that they both have phenomenal food. Both of our chefs [Mr. Anderson and Ben Nerenhausen] have been mentioned by the James Beard Foundation and are up for awards this year.”

Mr. Distler said he filed an application with the town last week. The plan must first be considered by municipal staff before going to the Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) and the Planning Board. Asked about selling the elements building, he said, “We’ve had some interest. But we’re not there yet.”

Work on an outdoor patio is currently underway at Mistral, which the owners hope will be ready this spring. While there is no timeline yet for the move of elements, Mr. Distler said he would love to have it completed by November, in time for the winter holidays. “But that may be a little challenging, depending on how long it takes to get through all the approvals,” he added. “We’re talking about not a small amount of construction.”


By the end of April, the Obal Garden Center, located at 518 Alexander Road, will be history. Walter Obal said Monday that the three and a quarter acre property had been sold. He was not sure what the new owner had in mind for the property but he knew it would no longer be a garden center. 

The family-run business has been supplying Princeton gardeners with plants and everything needed to keep them blooming since 1946. “It’s a little sad,” said Mr. Obal, “I put my whole life into the business, the whole family did.”

Since 1959, Mr. Obal has worked in the business that was founded by his uncle John Obal. Loyal customers have long relied on the advice and expertise of the Obal family as represented by Walter, his wife Kathryn, and their two sons Walter Obal Jr. and Tom Obal. “We are not exactly sure what’s next but we’ll probably take some time off,” he said.

The closure of Alexander Road two years ago delivered the final blow to a business that had weathered the rise of garden centers at big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Although the family had been told that the road closure would not take place until July and August, work actually began much earlier, from March through May, at precisely the most lucrative time of year for the family-run business.

“April, May and June is our busiest time and the sales made then would carry us through the rest of the year,” said Mr. Obal. “We never recouped after that.”

The sale has already been going on for over a week and will continue until mid-April. “We began gearing down last year and everything we have left, from fertilizers to tools, from plants to bird feeders, from garden statuary and ornaments to planters, must go.”

For more information, call (609) 452-2401.



Who is he and is he coming or going? His name is Bill Agress and he’s from Lawrenceville. One of the many Einstein look-a-likes who came to town Saturday for Pi Day, he has brother Einsteins in this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)


March 13, 2014
AT PEOPLE & STORIES BENEFIT: Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout will appear April 11 at the Nassau Club.(Photo by Leonardo Cendamo)

AT PEOPLE & STORIES BENEFIT: Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout will appear April 11 at the Nassau Club. (Photo by Leonardo Cendamo)

Little things loom large in the novels of Elizabeth Strout. Descriptions of daily rituals are richly, yet subtly detailed. The minutiae of everyday life — boiling water for a cup of tea, the creaky steps on the porch of an old house — become windows into the characters that make up this Pulitzer-Prize-winning author’s haunting stories.

“Ordinary life is what I live, and what I love,” says Ms. Strout, who will appear at The Nassau Club April 11 at a benefit for People & Stories/ Gente y Cuentos. The author of Abide With Me, Amy and Isabelle, Olive Kitteridge (for which she won the Pulitzer), and The Burgess Boys, Ms. Strout grew up in a small New England town somewhat similar to those she writes about. “Frankly,” she continues, “ordinary life is what most of us live. So just the act of acting out our lives against these ordinary routines — the food we eat, the tables we sit at, the work we go to — is mostly what we do, and that interests me.”

Ms. Strout lives in Manhattan with her husband. She always loved writing, but was wary of focusing on it full-time after graduating from Bates College. So she went to law school. “I didn’t want to keep on being a cocktail waitress forever,” she recalls. “I was young, I had a social conscience. It was the seventies. So I naively thought I’d become a lawyer and write stories at night.”

After Syracuse University law school, Ms. Strout worked in legal services for six months. Almost immediately, she knew she was in the wrong field. “I was the worst lawyer in the world! I was terrible. I couldn’t do it,” she says. “I was intimidated. I had these images of myself taking on everyone, but in reality, at that time, I was so non-adversarial. And I didn’t know that about myself.”

Having gotten married and had a son, Ms. Strout continued to write, selling a few stories to magazines like Redbook and Seventeen. She also taught at Manhattan Community College. While happy to end her legal career, she has no regrets. “I’m not sorry about the training,” she says. “Because I think it did help me to think better.”

The setting for some of Ms. Strout’s novels is Shirley Falls, a New England mill town that has seen better times. “It’s a town I made up with Amy and Isabelle, sort of a compilation of different towns I knew. We lived in very rural areas in Maine and New Hampshire. There’s some of Lewiston, Maine, where I would stay with my grandmother, and also Dover, New Hampshire. There were a number of mill towns that were quite accessible to me as a young person,” she says.

Descriptions of nature figure prominently in Ms. Strout’s novels. An example from Abide With Me: “He drove with the window down, his elbow resting on the window edge, ducking his head to peer at the hills in the distance, or at a cloud, white as a huge dollop of frosting, and at the side of a barn, fresh with red paint; lit by the autumn sun; and he thought: I would have noticed this once.”

“I did grow up in the woods,” the author says, “far away from neighbors. The truth is, I spent the first 10 years of my life playing alone in the woods. The trees, the wildflowers — they were my friends. I knew them very well and I loved them.”

The main character in Abide With Me is a young minister whose wife has died and left him with two young daughters. His ruminations about his faith are an important part of the book. While she didn’t grow up in a particularly religious home, Ms. Strout admits to a fascination with it in her youth.

“We dutifully went to the Congregational Church, fairly regularly,” she recalls. “I liked the minister we had until I was in sixth grade. I had a fixation with ministers for quite a while, and I really don’t know why. But I think, as a child, I was interested in what this minister’s life was like. He was home in the middle of the day, unlike other men. And the fact that people seemed to have this need for expression, to ministers like him, also interested me. I spent a lot of time trying to learn as much as I could about it. But I haven’t been as interested since.”

Ms. Strout doesn’t like to talk about current and upcoming projects. What she will talk about, though, is how much she enjoys writing. “One of the things I love about it is the ability to withhold judgment,” she says. “It’s a different relationship to people than one has in real life. When I go to the page, I can have a different kind of relationship with the characters. So whatever their behavior is, particularly in Olive Kitteridge, I’m making them up, and I get to turn them around and see the underbelly of their vulnerabilities. And that automatically makes them more interesting characters. Because really, most of us are more interesting than we appear.”

“An Evening with Elizabeth Strout” will be held at The Nassau Club on Friday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $100 for the talk and dessert reception, or $250 for dinner beforehand with the author. For reservations and information, call (609) 393-3230 or (609) 688-8494, or visit the website at www.peopleandstories.net.


March 12, 2014
EINSTEIN IN SYNC: Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was visiting friends in Santa Barbara when this playful photograph was taken on February 6, 1933, shortly after he had accepted the appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study that would bring him to Princeton for the rest of his life. In celebration of his birthday this Friday, Princeton bicyclists are invited to participate in a special ride around Community Park South.(From Images of America: Institute for Advanced Study; Courtesy of the Archives, California Institute of Technology)

EINSTEIN IN SYNC: Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was visiting friends in Santa Barbara when this playful photograph was taken on February 6, 1933, shortly after he had accepted the appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study that would bring him to Princeton for the rest of his life. In celebration of his birthday this Friday, Princeton bicyclists are invited to participate in a special ride around Community Park South. (From Images of America: Institute for Advanced Study; Courtesy of the Archives, California Institute of Technology)

What better way to celebrate Einstein’s birthday than on a bicycle demonstrating the scientific phenomenon of synchrony! That’s exactly what the Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) have planned for this Friday evening.

The seven member committee comprised of Princeton residents Karen Jezierny, Steve Kruse, Laurie Harmon, David Cohen, Carolyn Sealfon, Anita Jeerage, and Sam Bunting invite bike riders of all ages to show up with helmets and night-time safety lights of course, as required by state law, and take part in a ride around Community Park South.

So much for the bicycles, where does the synchrony come in? Don’t worry, you won’t be asked to pedal in unison. Instead, participants will be fitted with little gadgets that flash and, by means of a radio transceiver, instantly synchronize with one another.

The effect is known as the Kuramoto Model for Japanese physicist Yoshiki Kuramoto, who published a model of coupled oscillators in 1975. But, as PBAC’s Steve Kruse points out, the phenomenon of collective synchronization has an even earlier connection to Princeton. Arthur Winfree, who earned his doctorate in biology at Princeton University, made a theoretical breakthrough in understanding collective synchronization. Mr. Winfree’s findings are published in his book, The Geometry of Biological Time.

One of the most widely known examples of the phenomenon occurs in certain species of fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “But collective synchrony can also emerge in non-living systems,” said Mr. Kruse, adding “and this is where Einstein ambles into the picture,” before going on to describe Einstein’s collaboration with Indian physicist, Satyendra Nath Bose,and their prediction of the Bose-Einstein condensate.

Participants in Friday’s ride may or may not be aware of the science involved. All they need to do to celebrate the wonders of synchrony is to take part in Friday’s group ride on closed paths in Community Park South.

Participation is free and open to all ages. The first 159 riders will have blinking red tail lights attached to their bicycles. As they loop around the park for a distance of at least 3.14 miles, the lights will harmonize.

Sponsored by Princeton University’s Office of Community and Regional Affairs, Princeton’s Pi Day and the municipality of Princeton, the ride will be the third “Kuramoto Model (1000 Fireflies)” community event.

Conceived by Chicago-based artist David Rueter, the first ride took place with 1,000 bicyclists at a dusk-to-dawn summer arts festival in Minneapolis; the second was at the EdgeUP art festival in Chicago.

Besides the fun element, the ride has a series purpose for PBAC, which advises the mayor and Council on ways to make Princeton increasingly safe and suitable for walkers and bikers.

“Because bike-riding commuters often need to ride in the dark, PBAC starting making plans in late 2012 for an event that would highlight night-time bike safety,” said Mr. Kruse. “New Jersey law requires bicycles to be equipped with front and rear safety lights, and low-cost LED lights can transform a cyclist from invisible to highly visible, particularly on those streets that are not well-lit.”

The ride starts at 8 p.m. and participants should plan to arrive at the Community Park South parking lot around 7:30 p.m. for registration and to have the tail lights attached. The tail lights will be re-used and should be returned at the end of the ride.

“Thanks are due to Ben Stentz and the folks in Princeton’s Recreation Department who are working to make sure that the paved bike path around Community Park South is clear of snow/ice and other debris such as branches,” said Mr. Kruse, who emphasized that since the path has no reflective striping, headlights are a must for every participant.

To pre-register and guarantee participation in the ride email princetonmimi@gmail.com.

Pi Day Events

The “Fireflies Ride” is just one of a host of activities at this year’s Pi Day.

Founded by Mimi Omiecinski in recognition of Princeton’s most famous resident and the happy coincidence that his March 14, or 3/14, birthday matches the first three digits of the mathematical constant Pi (), Pi Day has grown each year since it began in 2009 to include local merchants, the Historical Society of Princeton, the Princeton Public Library, and scores of clubs, groups, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, musicians, authors, and interested locals.

“Every year something new gets added that I can’t believe wasn’t always a part of the event,” said Ms. Omiecinski. “Last year it was Princeton University’s Rubiks cube club, this year Tetsuya Miyamoto, the inventor of KenKen, will be joining us, and I’m really excited about the new Princeton Pi pizza competition, which is sure to become one of our annual core events.” The competition takes place on March 14, at 3:14 p.m. Contestants will have five minutes to choose from all the ingredients at Princeton Pi to create the best pizza. Judges include Mayor Liz Lempert and Superintendent of Princeton Regional Schools Steve Cochrane.

As well as tours and talks by famed physicists, other highlights include a Pi recitation contest, an apple pie contest, a pie-throwing contest, and a Dinky ride with Einstein.

Events begin Thursday, March 13, when author Charles Adler presents “Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction” at the Princeton Public Library at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, the fun starts at 9 a.m. with a Pie Eating Contest at McCaffrey’s, followed by kids events at the Princeton Public Library: the Kids’ Violin Exhibition, the Einstein Look A Like Contest and a “Happy Birthday Einstein!” party at 11 a.m. at the Princeton Historical Society. Tetsuya Miyamoto will appear at noon, followed by a KenKen Tournament for Teens (and other teen-spirited humans).

“The whole town ‘gloms’ onto the celebration and brings the distinctive creativity of Princeton to the event. It feels as if Pi Day has always been here,” said Ms. Omiecinski.

Advanced registration and early arrival are recommended for Pi Day events. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit www.pidayprinceton.com.


Denise Wiles Adams is this year’s Isabel Bartenstein Garden Lecture speaker, to be presented by Morven Museum & Garden at The Present Day Club, 72 Stockton Street, on March 27 at 10 a.m. Light refreshments and a book-signing will follow.

Ms. Adams is a historian and lecturer on the topic of ornamental plants and American garden design and the author of Restoring American Gardens, a book of history and horticulture that documents the changing plant palette of American gardens.

Tickets are $30, or $25 for Friends of Morven. Space is limited and reservations are required. Call (609) 924-8144 x106 or email msheridan@morven.org.


The Princeton Senior Resource Center will host a Lunch and Learn session entitled “It Could Be Poison” on Friday, March 21, at 12:00 pm at the Suzanne Patterson Building, located behind the former Borough Hall.

Every year, between 2 to 4 million poisonings occur in the United States, according to the New Jersey Poison Control Center. Unintentional poisoning can be caused by over-the-counter, prescribed, or illegally obtained pain medications and sedatives; antidepressants and other medications prescribed for various health conditions; drug and alcohol interactions; and even household cleaning products.

At the PSRC event, Barbara Vaning, EMT Instructor and member of Princeton HealthCare System’s Community Education and Outreach Program, will speak about identifying poisons, how poisons can enter the body, dos and don’ts of using medications and household cleaners, and what to do if you suspect poisoning.

The program is co-sponsored by Princeton HealthCare System. Participants should bring their own lunch. Beverages and dessert will be provided. To reserve a spot, call (609) 924-7108. There is no charge.


Though its primary purpose is permit people using a parking lot to get from their cars to the tow-path between the D&R Canal and Lake Carnegie, the recent break in the winter weather makes it hard not call up the chorus of Simon and Garfunkel’s song about another, bigger bridge, only with one word changed, “looking for spring and feeling groovy.” (Photo by Emily Reeves)