April 23, 2014

The Friendship Circle of Greater Mercer County is holding the second annual ‘Expo:Friendship‘ on Sunday, May 4 at Princeton Day School from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event benefits people with special needs and their families.

The Expo will include a special needs resource fair and exhibitors, a drop-off program for children with special needs, refreshments, and activities for the whole family. Admission is free but pre-registration is recommended.

Parents and caregivers are invited to attend special sessions. Hillary D. Freeman will present “Accessing Supports that Lead to Success.” Scott Leshin, founder and president of SJ Personal Healthcare Advocates, will speak on “Navigating the Health Insurance Bureaucracy.”

The ’Experience Dyslexia®’ simulation will give individuals a glimpse into the daily challenges of those with special needs. A “Pounds for Charity” fundraiser and “Art of Friendship” art show by those with special needs will also be part of the day.

For information about the Expo or to volunteer, visit www.ExpoFriendship.org.

D&R Greenway Land Trust invites the public to its annual Spring Native Plant Sale, held outside the Johnson Education Center on May 16 from 3 to 6 p.m., and May 17 9 a.m. to noon. D&R Greenway’s Native Plant Nursery is a community resource for locally sourced native plants that contribute to a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem.

The Nursery is located at One Preservation Place off Rosedale Road. No registration is required.

D&R Greenway’s plants are grown from genetically local seeds gathered on their preserves and tended in the nursery by staff and skilled volunteers. Plants grown from locally sourced plugs will also be available for purchase.

Native plants are adapted to central New Jersey’s weather conditions, making them more drought-resistant than most exotic plants, and also provide essential food for wildlife. Of particular concern are native pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which depend on native plant species to survive.

A famous example is the monarch butterfly, which is dependent on the milkweed plant for its life cycle. Milkweed is in decline across the United States, largely because of agricultural herbicides, and the monarch population has also taken a negative turn. Gardeners can help by planting milkweed on their property. Several varieties of milkweed are available in D&R Greenway’s nursery.

Plants are available in quart and gallon-sized pots from $5 to $12. A full catalog is available online at www.drgreenway.org/PlantCatalog.html.

Contact Emily Blackman, nursery manager, to check species availability at (609) 924-4646, or eblackman@drgreenway.org.

D&R Greenway’s Native Plant Nursery will offer summer plant sales every Friday, June 6 through August 29, 3 to 6 p.m. with the exception of holidays.

The 7th Annual NAMI Mercer Walk will take place Saturday, May 17 at 9 a.m. on the campus of the Educational Testing Service (ETS). NAMI Mercer, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will sponsor the event with the dual goals of fighting stigma and raising money to support its free programs for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

The spring walk-a-thon is NAMI Mercer’s largest community outreach activity and the organization’s greatest fundraiser. Over the past six years, the event has brought in more than $600,000 in individual and corporate donations. Otsuka America Pharmaceuticals is the Walk’s “Premiere” sponsor with many others, including The Times of Trenton, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the Honorable Joseph and Nancy Irenas, Mercer County Woman, and Alexander Road Associates. The goal this year is to raise $150,000.

Lawrence Township Mayor Cathleen Lewis will serve as an honorary chair along with Assemblyman Dan Benson of Legislative District 14; Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Senator Shirley Turner of District 15; and Assemblyman Jack Ciatarelli, Assemblywoman Donna Simon, and Senator Kip Bateman of District 16. Dr. Michelle Kramer, VP at Janssen Pharmaceuticals also will serve.

The event will feature a wellness fair, where local vendors will provide on-site health and wellness information and services to walk participants. Complimentary food and music will be available throughout the morning and into the early afternoon.

For more information about the walk and opportunities for volunteers, vendors, and sponsors, contact NAMI Mercer Director of Development Christine Bakter at (609) 799-8994 or cbakter@namimercer.org. Register to walk, form, or join a team, or make a donation at www.namiwalks.org/mercercounty.

Change is afoot at eateries along the west side of Witherspoon Street. The expansion of House of Cupcakes into the vacant former Ferry House, a new look for portions of the Alchemist & Barrister, and targeted late May or early June opening date for Mamoun’s Falafel in the former home of Princeton Mattress are among the improvements, openings, and alterations planned.

Behind the Alchemist & Barrister on Palmer Square, Teresa’s Caffe is installing outdoor seating. Accommodating eight to ten tables, the patio will open June 15. At 66 Witherspoon Street, the restaurant Mistral is enclosing its patio dining area by adding a roof and an outdoor fireplace. The projected opening for that space is the first week in May.

More imminent is the opening of Cafe Vienna, a European-style venue specializing in traditional Viennese cakes and coffees, across town at 200 Nassau Street, former home of The Piccadilly clothing shop. Owner Anita Waldenberger said Tuesday that she is expecting to have a certificate of occupancy “within a couple of days.” Originally projected to open last January, the cafe has been delayed due to winter weather, construction, and permits. “But the countdown is on,” she said.

It was only a month ago that a fire broke out in the basement of the House of Cupcakes at 30 Witherspoon Street, temporarily displacing residents of apartments upstairs and closing the bakery. But instead of derailing the business, the blaze has provided an opportunity for expansion. Owners Ron and Ruthie Bzdewka plan to reopen in the space that housed the Ferry House restaurant until it shut down last year. The space is directly next door and twice the size of the bakery.

“We were going back and forth, and weren’t sure if we were going to make the move,” Mr. Bzdewka said this week. “It’s double the size and a lot more rent. But I guess somebody upstairs made the decision for us.”

The added space allows the couple to expand their line. Mr. Bzdewka said he wasn’t ready to reveal exactly what the additions to the line will entail. “We’re still waiting for approval from the town. But I will say that we want to bring some things that are not in Princeton currently.” The bakery specializes in a variety of flavors of cupcakes, baking all on the premises.

While the former space had space for six to eight people to sit at a counter, the new location will allow several tables and chairs. “That alone will be a tremendous boost for us,” Mr. Bzdewka added. “And it’s a much better layout. It’s wider, not like a bowling alley as in the old place.”

House of Cupcakes opened in 2008 and has since branched out to include two corporate franchise stores in East Brunswick and the Bronx. Two more are planned in Wayne and Clifton. Depending on obtaining needed permits, the Bzdewkas hope to be installed at their new location in Princeton within a month or so with “a huge grand opening,” Mr. Bzdewka said.

On the other side of the shuttered House of Cupcakes store is The Alchemist & Barrister restaurant and pub, better known as the A&B. To mark its 40th anniversary, the restaurant is planning a major renovation that will include a revamped exterior, redesigned dining room, and additional bar.

“Our space won’t be getting any bigger, but the two front dining rooms, which really don’t have much personality, will be changed,” said Tom Yermack, the restaurant’s office manager. “Those two rooms facing Witherspoon will become one room, and we’ll build a big bar right in the middle. That will allow 50 taps of beer. We currently only have eight taps in the pub, but over the last five to ten years microbrews have become huge and we want to take advantage of that.”

Between May and December of last year, the A&B renovated its basement, removing walls to change three separate rooms into one large space. “It was all knocked down to ground zero, and now it’s one big room with a giant beer walk-in, which will support the bar that will be directly upstairs,” Mr. Yermack said.

From the outside, changes to the A&B will include two large sets of windows on the Witherspoon Street side of the restaurant. On the alley where the current entrance is located, the dining room windows will be replaced by three sets of French doors. A performance area for musical entertainment will be built into the new space, said Mr. Yermack, who in addition to his restaurant duties is a musician and member of The Blue Meanies group.

The pub and patio will stay the same. “They seem to be the most popular areas of the A&B, and we’re trying to recreate that feel with the new bar,” he added. “It will be a new, more homey place. The dining room now doesn’t have much character, and we want to change that.”



And not just any day. Today, April 23, is William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. The line is from Act One, Scene III of “Two Gentleman of Verona.” Spoken by Proteus, who is comparing “the spring of love” to April’s “uncertain glory …. Which now shows all the beauty of the sun./And by a cloud takes all away.” All is well at this blooming weekend moment in front of Monument Hall, looking toward the Battle Monument. (Photo by Emily Reeves)


April 16, 2014
PRINCETON’S NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS: Steve Cochrane, at his desk in the administrative offices of Princeton Public Schools on Monday, has been meeting with people and groups within and beyond the school district since he replaced Judy Wilson as superintendent in January. Among others on a dizzying list of groups, he’s met with nursery schools, religious groups, former mayors and council members, teachers, parents, nurses, aides, custodians, student groups, and police. It’s all part of a strategy to promote listening and learning.  (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

PRINCETON’S NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS: Steve Cochrane, at his desk in the administrative offices of Princeton Public Schools on Monday, has been meeting with people and groups within and beyond the school district since he replaced Judy Wilson as superintendent in January. Among others on a dizzying list of groups, he’s met with nursery schools, religious groups, former mayors and council members, teachers, parents, nurses, aides, custodians, student groups, and police. It’s all part of a strategy to promote listening and learning.
(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

When Stephen C. Cochrane was appointed Superintendent of Princeton Public Schools (PPS), members of the Princeton School Board described him as “a rising star” in education. He was their unanimous choice, for his child-centered vision and collaborative leadership style.

Mr. Cochrane, 53, signed a four-and-a-half year contract with PPS, replacing Superintendent Judith A. Wilson who left after nine years at the end of 2013.

The new superintendent has worked in education for some 30 years, as an elementary school teacher, principal, and most recently as assistant superintendent for curriculum in the Upper Freehold Regional school district. He formerly served as an admissions officer and assistant dean of students at PrincetonUniversity, from which he graduated with a bachelor’s in English literature in 1981. He also has a master’s in education from Harvard.

In an interview in his office in the PPS administrative offices on Valley Road Monday, Mr. Cochrane was asked if he came in with a mandate for change. His response was an emphatic “No.”

“The school board recognized the path that Judy Wilson had put in place, bounded on the one side by a coherent curriculum and on the other by human compassion and kindness. That’s Judy’s legacy and the Board was looking for someone to continue that balance of rigorous performance, creativity, kindness and compassion.”

“My mandate was to listen,” he said. “I didn’t want to hit the ground running but to hit the ground listening.”

Since starting the job January 1, he’s met with and listened to as “many groups and individuals as I could, teachers, parents, supervisors, community partners, and students.” Student focus groups helped him discover what they love about school and what they believe needs to be improved.

“Superintendents, especially new ones, rarely have all the answers. Listening provides information and insight. It helps one consider divergent perspectives as well as discover common themes and goals. Listening, truly listening, shows that you care. It helps you get to know people and to build the trust that is the foundation of all future work.”

Originally from Seattle,Mr. Cochrane came to Princeton in 1977 to study at the University. Although his childhood ambitions ranged from being an ornithologist in 3rd grade to being a professional footballer in 5th grade, he became interested in international relations and politics in high school and turned down offers from Georgetown and Stanford to come to Princeton. Once here, however, he switched to English literature.

Fondness for Princeton prompted him to throw his hat in the ring for Judy Wilson’s job. That and the idea that this would be an opportunity for him to “give back” and “make a difference.” He recalls being a shy freshman at Princeton in the fall of 1977 and feels gratitude for the professors, preceptors, and families in town who helped a quiet kid from Seattle find his voice.

Although he loved working as an assistant principal for curriculum and had actually avoided taking on a superintendent’s position with its attendant responsibilities for buildings and budgets and so on, he was drawn to the Princeton job because “education in New Jersey and nationally is heading into ‘troubled waters’ and I feel that good leadership is needed and that Princeton could serve as a flagship that would set a path for others.”

Collaborative Leadership

Together with his Canadian wife Eve, he lives in New Brunswick with a Princeton address. The couple has been married for just two and a half years. They met at a spin class in New York City and both are trained spin instructors. Asked if he and his wife were planning to have children, he didn’t rule out the possibility, even though, in a manner of speaking, he’s just acquired some 3,700 kids courtesy of the PPS.

A competitive team cyclist who has been racing road bikes for several decades along Carter Road, Route 518, in Mercer County Park, Washington Crossing State Park, and throughout the Sourland Mountains, he’s learned about shared leadership.

Cyclists function as a team that goes further and faster when the leader is rotated. “It takes 30 percent less energy to push through the wind when you are sitting behind the leader,” he said. “In Princeton, there are many people with the ability to lead and willingness to contribute to the advancement of our kids. The leader sets the pace and determines the direction but doesn’t always have to be out in front.”

A Perfect Storm

With teachers and administrators having to implement rigorous new Common Core standards and prepare students for new, computer-based testing, as well as facing evaluations based on student test results, Mr. Cochrane sees a perfect storm brewing in the world of education.

“Every district in New Jersey and across the country has been addressing the implementation of these standards that require children to solve complex problems, the kind of work we want our kids to be doing. As standards go, they give us a lot to work with. Teachers have the freedom to teach the standards in ways that make sense to them,” he said.

As far as the associated testing is concerned, however, he’s reserving judgement as to how the computer-based exams will fair when they replace the ASK and HESPA in the 2015-2016 academic year. “There may be some glitches at the start depending on how well the tests are designed, but ideally they should give us results sooner and that’s a positive.”

“As a district we’re moving in a direction that offers choice in the learning path for every individual child. Take, for example, reading at the elementary level. We are using the Reading Workshop developed at the Columbia Teachers College. While kids will be undertaking the same reading strategy, they will not all be reading the same book. Each child will be reading a book of his/her choice at his/her reading level. In this way, all will be engaged. There are target standards, but how we get there varies from child to child.”

The challenge for teachers here is obvious. “More instructional expertise is required,” acknowledged Mr. Cochrane, “and that’s the sort of thing that teachers learn on professional development days.

“One of the things that is important in Princeton is that each and every child is known, not just the high flyers. Every child should have a relationship with a caring adult.”

The PPS Website features a get-to-know the Superintendent interview which reveals his “cool” side, as the driver of a Mini Cooper, who enjoys watching Shark Tank and back-to-back episodes of The Big Bang Theory. It also reveals snippets of his background, that his father was a bishop in the Episcopal Church, for example, and that as a rookie teacher he learned that “Being a mediocre teacher is not that hard. Being a great teacher is the hardest job in the world, and the most rewarding.”

Contracts and Criticisms

A little over three months after his arrival, Mr. Cochrane faces lengthy contract negotiations with the the 370-member teachers union, Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA). Talks began behind closed doors April 10 and will continue until resolved.

Asked for comment on recent criticisms of the school district published in a 3900 word article by Princeton parent Michael Graziano in the online magazine Aeon and then reprinted in the March 26 issue of US1 Weekly, Mr. Cochrane supplied the following statement: “The Princeton Public Schools are committed to caring for every child, responding appropriately to the needs of every child, and learning from every situation we encounter as professionals. I am confident we are upholding that commitment in each of our schools. Do we review any concerns brought to us by a parent? Yes. Do we compromise the privacy of our children and families or the confidentiality of our professionals by responding to allegations in the press? We do not. We live in a community that cares deeply about its children. Parents, school professionals, even members of the press have a responsibility to protect those children. I would like to believe we can all continue to work together to do just that.”

Mr. Graziano’s article, “An Inconvenient Child,” reports his dissatisfaction with how the Princeton Public School district handled the disability of his (then) six-year-old son (http://aeon.co/magazine/living-together/how-apraxia-got-my-son-suspended-from-school/). Mr. Graziano is a professor of neuroscience at Princeton University.

This week’s issue of Town Topics includes a Letter to the Editor about the issue from a former president of the Prince-ton Board of Education.


Hamilton Jewelers has been selected as the exclusive resource for Princeton University’s Employee Service Recognition Program. Hamilton was chosen through a vetting process of several national brands to design and fulfill a gift program with the University’s Human Resources Department. The program awards Princeton employees for tenure milestones, starting at the 10-year level through 55-years of service. 

The custom program includes a broad range of items for associates to select from, including fine jewelry, timepieces, home décor items, and more. Most items are personalized with the Princeton University Service Recognition logo. In development for almost 6 months, the program is a comprehensive solution for both the University and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory to commemorate employee service milestones.

Presented to eligible recipients at a luncheon held at Jadwin Gym on Thursday, March 27, the program offers a private website for associates to shop for their gift selections, as well as printed brochures with the product offerings. Once a gift item is selected, Hamilton prepares it for delivery to the associate, including customization, gift-wrapping, and drop-shipping if requested. Nearly 600 associates attended the luncheon to view the gift options from Hamilton so that they could select their preferred item. A total of 10 categories were included in the program: 10 year, 15 year, 20 year, 25 year, 30 year, 35 year, 40 year, 45 year, 50 year, and 55 year. A lapel pin was also designed as one of the recognition items, with each milestone year having its own color palette and metal fabrication.

In total, the program will recognize nearly 200 Princeton University and PPPL associates in 2014 for their years of service. “We are very proud to have been selected for this important platform,” says Hank Siegel, Hamilton’s President. “Having been a longtime supplier to the University for various gift and jewelry items, it is wonderful to work with the Human Resources Department on this notable project.”

Books KeeleyLabyrinth Books and Wild River Review will present a reading by local author and Princeton Professor Emeritus Edmund Keeley from his new novel, The Megabuilders of Queenston Park, which is set in present-day Princeton. The event will take place on Tuesday, April 22, at 6 p.m.

Joyce Carol Oates finds the novel “deftly written … a timely and informed contemporary comedy of manners set in an affluent American suburb and a poignant portrait of a supremely happy marriage between equals.”

According to the publisher, the novel “opens as the town faces mounting changes in its architectural and cultural landscape. Ambitious megabuilders roam the neighborhoods in search of modest postwar houses to tear down and replace with McMansions, forcing out the community’s middle-class residents. Cassie and Nick Mandeville, nearing retirement and protective of their privacy, are thrust into the fray of local politics as they fight against the destruction of their neighborhood by father-and-son builders who plan to erect yet another McMansion next door and to induce the Mandevilles to sell their home as a teardown. While Nick and Cassie navigate the maze of community zoning, they discover an insensitive and possibly corrupt political system, a microcosm of the national political scene during the Bush years.”

Edmund Keeley is a prize-winning novelist, translator, and a noted expert on Greek poets and on post-Second World War Greek history. His many books include the memoir Borderlines; Cavafy’s Alexandria; Voices of Modern Greece; Inventing Paradise: The Greek Journey1937-47; School for Pagan Lovers, and Some Wine for Remembrance.

The author of eight novels, fifteen volumes of poetry and fiction in translation, and ten volumes of non-fiction, Mr. Keeley received the Rome Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his first novel, The Libation. His translations of contemporary Greek poets earned him the Harold Morton Landon Award of the Academy of American Poets, the First EEC Prize for the translation of Poetry, and the PEN Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation. He taught English and Creative Writing at Princeton from 1954 to 1994 and served for some years as director of Creative Writing and director of Hellenic Studies. He was twice president of the Modern Greek Studies Association and was resident of PEN American Center from 1992-94. During his retirement, he continues to write regularly and to travel to new and old places.

PHS AlumHarrison Kaufman and Christopher Anselmo like to joke that they’re too young to drink, but they can write a musical. Both 19, the two New Jersey natives — Mr. Kaufman is a Princeton High School graduate; Mr. Anselmo graduated from Allentown High School — are the youngest writing team to be accepted by the New York Musical Theater Festival, a prestigious launching pad for such shows as the Broadway hit Next to Normal.

The writing duo’s musical, Fable, will be performed in mid-July at New York’s Pershing Square Signature Center as part of the 11th annual festival. Mr. Kaufman wrote the book; Mr. Anselmo the music and lyrics. The show is one of hundreds submitted from all over the world, reviewed by a panel of established musical theater artists before the 10 winners are chosen.

“We’re really excited and we hope the show finds a life somewhere,” said Mr. Kaufman, who is a student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Mr. Anselmo attends Northwestern Universitiy; the two met at a performing arts summer camp. “But this is really more of a process experience. All of these rewrites, talking to people, and really getting to know what it’s like to produce a show and be in the theater community while still at school is amazing.”

Theater has been a favorite subject of Mr. Kaufman since he was a student at Littlebrook Elementary School. His interest became a passion while he was at summer camp.

“It’s funny, because when I sent him to camp and they had to choose their activity, he kept choosing theater and he really loved it,” said his mother Jill Kaufman. “He was always interested in the arts, playing trumpet and piano and guitar. He was always a creative kid. But he really figured out in middle school that this was his calling. Theater is what he wants to do all day long, every day. He’s very enthusiastic and dedicated, like an old soul. He’s very serious about his craft.”

At John Witherspoon Middle School, Mr. Kaufman was in the musical How to Eat Like a Child. He was involved in different productions at Princeton High and started the improvisational troupe Just Wing It. He took classes at McCarter Theatre along the way, mostly in Shakespearean acting.

Fable grew out of song cycle that Mr. Anselmo wrote after graduating from high school. “After that, he came to me and said, ‘Let’s turn this into a musical,’ “ Mr. Kaufman said. “He thought it would take a month, but two years later, here we are.” After submitting their work to a board at Northwestern, the partners had two readings in Chicago last spring. Then in the fall, they decided to send the script to the musical theater festival.

As described in the Festival’s lineup, Fable is as follows: “It’s graduation time. When a mysterious classmate crashes their last epic night of celebration, a group of childhood friends is forced to confront the secrets they’ve been keeping from each other. Will their friendships survive the night? With an imaginative score and dynamic characters, Fable captures the moments when we are forced to change whether we like it or not. Watch what happens when the stories we were told as kids are revealed for the fictions they truly are.”

Mr. Kaufman says that while the show isn’t autobiographical, “It’s inspired by people we know.”

Friends at NYU have been helping out as the project progresses. “We’ve been trying to use this project to integrate with school. We’re using NYU rehearsal space,” Mr. Kaufman said. “A lot of my teachers are also professionals working in the field. I’m hoping my design teacher will be designing the show. So it’s been a really exciting process to watch those two worlds collide.”

As with any theatrical production, there is fundraising involved. “We still have to raise money for this project,” Mr. Kaufman said. “Anyone who wants to help out can click on our donation page and we would so appreciate it.” Visit   www.nymf.org/fable for more information.



That’s Battlefield Preservation Society President Jerry Hurwitz, in uniform on far left, leading his troops, some of whom participated, as did Mr. Hurwitz, in this week’s Town Talk. The occasion was the Society’s Revolutionary era military demonstration Saturday at the Princeton Battlefield. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)


April 9, 2014
ALWAYS A GENIUS: Baudelaire said that in Balzac’s “every living soul is a weapon loaded to the very muzzle with will.” Peter Brooks and Linda Asher will be at Labyrinth Books Tuesday, April 15, at 6 p.m. to discuss a new collection Mr. Brooks has edited, “Balzac: The Human Comedy.”

ALWAYS A GENIUS: Baudelaire said that in Balzac’s “every living soul is a weapon loaded to the very muzzle with will.” Peter Brooks and Linda Asher will be at Labyrinth Books Tuesday, April 15, at 6 p.m. to discuss a new collection Mr. Brooks has edited, “Balzac: The Human Comedy.”

Peter Brooks and Linda Asher will be at Labyrinth Books having a conversation about a new collection Mr. Brooks has edited, Balzac: The Human Comedy — Selected Stories (New York Review of Books $17.95) on Tuesday, April 15, at 6 p.m. The book consists of new work by various translators, including Ms. Asher. 

The Boston Globe praised the “enormous range and more” Mr. Brooks covers “by plucking a mere nine of the Frenchman’s best tales,” while Publishers Weekly called the book “a healthy introduction to Balzac’s famous hyperbole, his melodrama, and his extended descriptions and explanations where nothing goes unsaid. We don’t read Balzac for his refined style; rather, his genius lies in the sheer ambition of his reach, the vastness of his grasp.”

Balzac’s notices over the years are worth repeating. Friedrich Engels: “I have learned more [from Balzac] than from all the professional historians, economists, and statisticians put together.”

Henry James: “Large as Balzac is, he is all of one piece and he hangs together perfectly.”

André Maurois: “Balzac was by turns a saint, a criminal, an honest judge, a corrupt judge, a minister, a fob, a harlot, a duchess, and always a genius.”

Peter Brooks is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar in the University Center for Human Values and the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. He has published on narrative and narrative theory, on the 19th and 20th century novel, mainly French and English, and, more recently, on the interrelations of law and literature. He is the author of many books, including Enigmas of Identity, Henry James Goes to Paris; Realist Vision; Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and Literature; Psychoanalysis and Storytelling; Reading for the Plot and also two novels. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, New York Review of Books, The New Republic, Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, Critical Inquiry, New Literary History, Yale Law Journal, Boston University Law Review, and elsewhere. Linda Asher has translated works by Milan Kundera, Georges Simenon, Victor Hugo, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Restif de la Bretonne, and many others. A former fiction editor at The New Yorker, she has won numerous major translation prizes and is a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic.


CINEMA FOR THE COMMUNITY: The Garden Theatre will close for the month of June to make way for renovations by its new management company, which plans to include lectures, special programs, and other community-based events along with the roster of films.

CINEMA FOR THE COMMUNITY: The Garden Theatre will close for the month of June to make way for renovations by its new management company, which plans to include lectures, special programs, and other community-based events along with the roster of films.

When the Garden Theatre opens in July after a month of renovations, moviegoers will notice more than the new carpeting, wall treatments, and concession stand.

Announced last week, management of the 94-year-old Nassau Street movie house has been turned over to Renew Theaters, a non-profit that specializes in theaters of a certain vintage. The Doylestown, Pa. based company plans to turn the theatre into a community-centered enterprise offering different levels of membership and special programming ranging from lively arts broadcasts to silent films accompanied by live music.

“The films will still be our main bread and butter, but we plan to do a lot with local groups, students, and faculty from Princeton University,” said John Toner, executive director of Renew. “We plan to reach out to all of those constituencies and see if we can’t maximize what’s there.”

Princeton University owns the twin-screen Garden Theatre, and currently leases it to Garden Theatre Inc. The University purchased the building in 1993 and renovated it seven years later. Last year, the analog projection system was upgraded to a digital cinema system with new projection, surround sound, and movie screens.

Renew owns movie theaters in Ambler, Doylestown, and Jenkintown, Pa. Mr. Toner, who grew up in Doylestown, is a movie buff who was practicing law when he decided to focus on film. “In the 80s, we had a film society in Doylestown in which we showed 16 millimeter films at a local, multi-purpose venue,” he recalled. “We were there for 10 years. The County Theatre in town was going to close and be converted, so we made a proposal to take it over. That was very successful — so much so that we looked into doing it at other theaters.”

Keeping theaters full at a time when an increasing number of viewers prefer their homes or computer screens is “a challenge that faces the movie theater business across the board,” Mr. Toner said. “Our approach is geared to addressing that question of why would you want to come to a theater by trying to be as community-oriented and user-friendly as possible. It’s a communal experience when people come to our theaters. They feel at home. There is member involvement. People tend to come because they like to visit the theaters as much as to see the films.”

Programming at the Garden Theatre will run the gamut from series like “Classic Hollywood Films” to special individualized films. “There will be lively arts broadcasts and filmmakers and local experts coming to introduce films,” Mr. Toner said. “There will be discussion groups to talk about what’s playing. Community groups can partner with us to bring their films and their own speakers. There are a lot of different ways we approach the experience, always with the idea of trying to make it more than just ‘Here’s a movie, pay your money, attend, and then walk away.’”

Among Renew’s most popular attractions has been Not So Silent Cinema, in which classics by Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and other stars of the silent film era are accompanied by a live band with original music. “It’s really the only way to experience a silent film, and it’s been one of our most successful programs,” Mr. Toner said. “We’ll definitely be bringing it to Princeton.”

In addition to cosmetic renovations, a new ticketing system and computer system will be installed. The theater will retain it’s two screens.

“We are super excited to be doing this,” Mr. Toner said. “Princeton is an ideal setting for what we do. I’m sure we will make adjustments, as each theater is different. But we are so looking forward to getting in and getting started.”


Until June 30, Princeton prosthodontist Michael Cortese at 311 Witherspoon Street is donating 100 percent of the fees he collects from individuals who have their teeth whitened to Smiles for Life, a charitable initiative devoted to promoting oral health among the world’s under-served children. Half of the money collected goes to a local children’s non-profit organization, while the other half is earmarked for children’s charities throughout the world. 

The local charity will be chosen based on the feedback received from those participating in the initiative. The national charities of Smiles For Life includes St. Jude’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network, which includes Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which has a strong local presence in Central Jersey.

Dr Cortese has been practicing in Princeton for more than 25 years. He is “very appreciative of the fact that Smiles For Life has made my desire to help others so seamless,” he said. Dr. Cortese became aware of the importance of philanthropy in the area of dental health when he was obtaining his post-graduate specialty training in prosthodontics and dental oncology, at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital. Coming from a family of artists and sculptors, he is particularly pleased to be able to combine his willingness to donate to his community with his passion for artistically restoring his patients’s dental and overall health.

To participate in this philanthropic initiative, call (609) 683-8282.



On Friday, April 25, 2014, the YWCA Princeton will host the 7th annual Stand Against Racism™ (SAR). The gathering is at Hinds Plaza outside Princeton Public Library starting at 5:45 p.m. 

There will be musical entertainment, including the Latin dancers “Mas Flow, The “Pledge Against Racism” will be given, followed by a talk, “Is Racism Holding Up/Delaying Immigration Reform?,” by Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, senior lecturer from Princeton University, and Poonam Bhuchar, a legal expert based in Princeton.

Light refreshments will be provided. Event sponsors include Princeton Human Services, Princeton Public Library, LWV, CFPA, and other organizations.

The “Stand” is a national movement of the YWCA that aims to eliminate racism by raising awareness. Last year, more than 300,000 people participated at “Stand” events organized by various companies, governments, schools, communities, and more.



The public is invited to take part in a family-oriented Shabbat celebration, with Israeli dancing, at Har Sinai Temple on Friday, April 11. The synagogue is at 2421 Pennington Road at Denow Road West.

Beginning with a 6:30 p.m. potluck dinner, the night will include a Shabbat service that starts at 7:30 p.m. in honor of the temple Sisterhood and conclude with Israeli dancing led by Philadelphia-based Don Shillinger. Mr. Shillinger has been teaching and leading dance groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for more than 19 years. With a long list of credits under his Rak-Dan Israeli Dancing banner, Mr. Shilling has made appearances at many synagogues for events aimed at teens, children, seniors, adults, and families.

Participants do not have to be members of Har Sanai, and there is no charge or need for reservations. For more information, call the temple at (609) 730-8100.

The Princeton Tennis Program (PTP), a non-profit tennis organization serving the greater Princeton community, announces plans to celebrate its 60th anniversary at it’s annual signature event, the Princeton Tennis Classic, June 4-5 at the Eve Kraft Community Tennis Center and the Community Park Tennis Complex. 

The PTP has been dedicated to providing tennis instruction year-round to children and adults without regard to age, ability, or financial status since 1954. The program has grown in the last six decades from its humble roots in a backyard tennis court of its founder, Eve Kraft, to a multi-venue organization with nine full-time tennis pros serving 6,000 aspiring and experienced players each year. By subsidizing lesson fees and providing scholarships to players who cannot afford to pay, PTP encourages broad-based community participation.

“Inclusiveness has always been at the core of our mission. We want to reach people who would have never considered playing tennis before,” said Gwen Guidice, executive director of PTP. In addition to offering group instruction to beginners through advanced level tennis players from age 3 and up, the PTP also provides special programs to help encourage new players to pick up a racquet and discover the joy of tennis. “A major part of what makes PTP so impactful is our outreach to the diverse members of our community. We offer senior classes, an autism program, wheelchair tennis, and physical education programming,” said PTP Board Chair Mike Finklestein. He notes that many of these programs are provided with financial aid or scholarships, making the courts accessible to all.

This year, PTP is also offering two scholarship awards: The Bayard Jordan Memorial Scholarship Award, which allows one junior player to attend PTP’s Tournament Training Camp over the summer at no cost; and The Larisa Vaynberg Memorial College Scholarship Award, which awards $1500 to a graduating high school senior. Winners will be announced at the Princeton Tennis Classic on June 4th.

PTP operates from its flagship tennis facility, The Eve Kraft Community Tennis Center (formerly Princeton Indoor Tennis Center) on Washington Road, and from two other satellite locations: the tennis courts at Community Park in Princeton, and Veterans Park in Hamilton. There are plans to further expand the reach through increased school programming, new partnerships, education, apprenticeship program, and more scholarships.

Information on the 31st Annual Princeton Tennis Classic, a two-day event with dinner and awards on the evening of June 4th, and a non-elimination doubles tournament for women, men, and mixed teams on June 5th, can be found at www.ptp.org/ptc-information. For more information on Princeton Tennis Program, visit www.ptp.org or call (609) 520-0015.

A FAMILIAR FACE: The Rev. Peter Stimpson, whose weekly column has graced this newspaper since 1996, will retire at the end of June after a quarter century as executive director of the Trinity Counseling Service, 22 Stockton Street. Pictured in his office with 11-year-old Pumpkin, Mr. Stimpson, who turns 68 in May, will be honored at the Third Annual Stimpson Cup event on May 9 at Bedens Brook Country Club. For more information, contact Amanda Blount at (609) 924-0060 or amanda.blount@trinitycounseling.org.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

A FAMILIAR FACE: The Rev. Peter Stimpson, whose weekly column has graced this newspaper since 1996, will retire at the end of June after a quarter century as executive director of the Trinity Counseling Service, 22 Stockton Street. Pictured in his office with 11-year-old Pumpkin, Mr. Stimpson, who turns 68 in May, will be honored at the Third Annual Stimpson Cup event on May 9 at Bedens Brook Country Club. For more information, contact Amanda Blount at (609) 924-0060 or amanda.blount@trinitycounseling.org. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

The Rev. Peter Stimpson will retire after a quarter century as executive director of the Trinity Counseling Service (TCS) in Princeton. His successor Dr. Whitney Ross will take up her post formally on July 1 but will work alongside Mr. Stimpson during May and June to ensure a smooth transition.

As one steps into Mr. Stimpson’s office at 22 Stockton Street, there is an immediate feeling of calm, The pastel-colored walls are decorated with landscape paintings. Soft lighting and cushioned furnishings create a welcoming ambiance. The ticking clock, a gift from Mr. Stimpson’s first wife to remind her husband to come home, provides a soothing rhythm. And then there’s Pumpkin, Mr. Stimpson’s small canine companion. Now 11, Pumpkin will also retire with Mr. Stimpson, who turns 68 in May.

For more than 30 years Mr. Stimpson has published a popular family advice column in several media outlets, including, since 1996, this newspaper. “I started the column as a way to help people, to increase understanding. It became popular very quickly; people suggested I publish it, and so I did,” said Mr. Stimpson in an interview Monday. His collection was published in 2008 under the title Map to Happiness.

Offering “straightforward advice on everyday issues,” the book addresses questions that have been asked for generations about life’s purpose and approaches to happiness. While Mr. Stimpson doesn’t claim to have all the answers, he draws upon expertise and a store of wisdom after more than 35 years of listening to people and ministering to them. Map to Happiness introduces three principles as the key to unlocking the mind of anyone journeying toward happiness: insecurity, power, and success. As its author explains, by understanding that everyone is insecure, individuals can take back from others the power to define self-worth and realize that happiness is more about personal growth than about impressing others. “The really important thing is not what you attain in life, but who you become,” said Mr. Stimpson.

As a self-help book, the 187-page Map to Happiness looks at love and relationships, children, and stress related to work, illness, anger, and death. Its author is a certified counselor and a married Episcopal priest and draws upon a lifetime of experiences, including physical pain and painful decisions as well as the illness, death, and loss of a spouse. Mr. Stimpson brings both spiritual and psychological perspectives to bear upon specific topics such as stress, old age, illness, youth suicide, caring for parents, depression, panic attacks, jealousy, adultery, among a plethora of others.

Not Stress-Free

His own life has not been stress-free. First ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1972, when he transitioned to the Episcopal Church, his Irish Catholic mother refused to let him in her house for seven years. “And the Catholic Church wasn’t too friendly either,” he recalled.

In 2004, Mr. Stimpson’s first wife Nicki died after a long illness. He remarried in 2005. Lauren Stimpson is a former school teacher who now works in the engineering department for the municipality of Princeton. The couple’s home in Lawrenceville is up for sale. “If it sells, we’ll move to Williamsburg, Virginia, if not, we’ll see,” said Mr. Stimpson.

With an inclination toward being a workaholic, Mr. Stimpson has worked on weekends as a priest and during the summer months as pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Spring Lake, where he conducts numerous weddings.

Two Offers

The only time he considered leaving TCS was when he was a candidate for Bishop of New Jersey in 2003. “When I came to TCS in 1989, I had two other job offers, one was to become Arch Deacon of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., the other was to become Rector of a wealthy parish. My logic was that someone would want the power of the first and someone would want the wealth of the second. I felt I could be most useful here at TCS. What would God want me to do? This job is a ministry for me, I wanted to devote myself to caring for the Princeton community and do what I could to make people happier,” he said, which might explain the long hours he devotes to it. In the past, he was on the job from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. These days, he’s cut back to 7 p.m.

How does the counselor stay stress-free? “”Prayer, daily meditation, golf, and his dog,” he said. He might also add the hour he spends each morning doing 300 sit ups and 100 push ups to keep back pain from a car accident at bay. “Pain is a powerful motivator,” he said.

Mr. Stimpson has counseled people from all walks of life, from corporate executives to construction workers, from atheists to devout believers, from the wealthy to the poor. He has advised the Church and conducted workshops on sexual matters and created Trinity Counseling Service’s Childhood Intervention Initiative, which treats at risk kids from low-income families for whom therapy would otherwise be an expensive luxury. TCS provides services free of charge to children at the Princeton Nursery School and in Princeton Public Schools.

Founded by E. Rugby Auer in 1968, Trinity Couseling Service is located on the grounds of Trinity Church at 22 Stockton Street. “We have 27 clinicians and serve some 350 people each week; the average number of years of experience of our clinicians is 26 years,” said Mr. Stimpson.

Another Book

In retirement, he plans to write another book. His two fields of counseling expertise are adult depression and marriage counseling and he feels that he has much to contribute on the latter, which he describes as “the most powerful relationship there is. The mother/child relationship is powerful too, but it is unequal. The husband/wife vow is like a protective bubble that keeps interference out and intensity in; that intensity nurtures growth,” he said.

Asked what he will miss most, he said: “People, the board members, the clients, the volunteers, the graduate interns, the staff, and the clinicians.” Recently, on a whim, he compiled a list of all of the people he had come into contact with through Trinity Counseling. Together with the list of all of the churches where he has preached and celebrated, the result is a formidable single-spaced 15 page document.

Upcoming Celebration

In recognition of Mr. Stimpson’s years of service as well as his love of golf, Trinity Counseling has created an annual Stimpson Cup and will hold the third event this year on May 9 at Bedens Brook Country Club. The “Nine and Dine” fundraiser will have a 3 p.m. tee-off for a nine-hole scramble followed by a cocktail reception and dinner at 7 p.m. For more information and tickets ($150, or $100 dinner only), contact Amanda Blount at (609) 924-0060 or amanda.blount@trinitycounseling.org.



One half of the meeting room at Witherspoon Hall was filled with members of the Princeton Police Department as Acting Police Chief Nicholas K. Sutter sat before Mayor Liz Lempert and members of the Council and responded to questions in the final stage of becoming the department’s new chief. Mr. Sutter received a unanimous vote on Monday from mayor and council and will be sworn in at a later date. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)


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.