July 17, 2019

FAMILY TRADITION: “We’re set apart by our service, quality products, and long history. Customers know they can rely on our extensive knowledge of the products.” The father and sons team at Gasior’s Furniture & Interior Design includes, from left, Todd, Dick (Dad), and Gregory. They are shown by a Hancock & Moore Austin leather tilt-back chair.

Not many furniture stores are found in a school house. That, however, is the unique setting of Gasior’s Furniture & Interior Design at 2152 Route 206 South in Belle Mead.

Opened in 1918, the Harlingen School accommodated kindergarten through 12th grade until 1972. Six years later, Gasior’s moved in.

“It was a good location for us,” explains founder and owner Richard (Dick) Gasior. “My wife, Donna, and I lived in West Windsor, and we had seen the school house. It provided a lot of nice space.”

The opening of Gasior’s was a continuation of Donna Gasior’s family history, continues Dick Gasior. “My father-in-law had a furniture store in northern New Jersey, and Donna had grown up in the business. We decided to start a venture of our own, and we thought being near Princeton was a plus for the store.” more

GROSS PROFIT: Ben Gross fires a pitch in action this spring in a post-graduate season for the Duke University baseball team. Gross, a former Princeton High and Princeton University standout, went 8-4 with a 4.40 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings for the Blue Devils, helping the team advance to the NCAA Super Regional. Gross was chosen by the Minnesota Twins in the 10th round of the MLB draft and is currently pitching for Elizabethton (Tenn.), the organization’s rookie-level farm team in the Appalachian League. (Photo provided courtesy of Duke Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Ben Gross bet on himself and it paid off big time.

After producing a second-team All-Ivy League campaign in 2018 in his senior season for the Princeton University baseball team, star pitcher Gross was picked by the Houston Astros in the 34th round of the Major League Draft.

With a season of college eligibility remaining due to being sidelined by a shoulder injury, Gross declined to sign with the Astros and instead decided to play for Duke University where he had been accepted in a graduate business program. more

X-MAN: Luke Franzoni takes a swing in a game this spring during his freshman season for the Xavier University baseball team. Former Princeton Day School standout Franzoni enjoyed a superb debut season for the Musketeers, batting .254 with a team-high 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 43 games. (Photo by Jason Whitman, provided courtesy of Xavier University)

By Bill Alden

Luke Franzoni produced a power surge in his senior season for Princeton Day School in 2018, batting .538 with 10 homers, and 25 RBIs in 18 games.

As Franzoni moved up the college level, joining the Xavier University baseball team this spring, he struggled in the early going with only one hit in his first 13 at-bats for the Musketeers.

But in Xavier’s home opener against Evansville on March 22, Franzoni regained his power stroke, going 2-for-4 with a homer and five RBIs. more

SAVING THE SEASON: Gib Versfeld makes a save in action this spring for the Amherst College men’s lacrosse team. Sophomore Versfeld, a former Hun School standout, helped Amherst reach the NCAA Division III title game, taking over in the cage midway through the season after the team’s starting goalie Chad Simons was sidelined by injury. Versfeld ended up with a 10.79 goals against average and a 52.7 save percentage this spring, making 15 appearances with eight starts. (Photo provided courtesy of Amherst College)

By Bill Alden

For Gib Versfeld, attending the NCAA men’s lacrosse championship weekend was a family tradition over the last decade.

This spring, however, Versfeld found himself on the field at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia for the climax of the lacrosse season, starting at goalie for the Amherst College men’s squad as it played Cabrini in the NCAA Division III championship game.

“It is something I have always dreamt of, it is literally 30 minutes from my house,” said Versfeld, a former Hun School standout who hails from Langhorne, Pa. more

REACHING AN APEX: Chris Bellofatto of Apex Sport, left, guards a foe in recent action in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Bellofatto scored 19 points to help Apex defeat Olives 76-28 and post its fifth straight victory. On Monday, Apex fell 63-52 to defending champion Loyaltees to see its winning streak snapped as it moved to 5-2. In other action on Monday, NJ Spiritwear defeated Hometown Moving and Storage 69-46 while Sakana edged RRBB 66-64. The league wraps up regular season play on July 17 with the playoffs starting on July 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Chris Bellofatto wasn’t fazed even though his Apex Sport team fell to NJ Spiritwear on opening night this season in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

Knowing that Apex has plenty of talent, Bellofatto sensed that it wouldn’t take long for the squad to get in synch in the wake of the 58-45 loss to Spiritwear.

“We all don’t play together any time but the summer,” said Bellofatto, a 5’10 guard who starred at North Hunterdon High and went on to play at Stevens Institute of Technology. “A lot of us play off of Matt [Mancuso] and we are all starting to get used to him too.” more

July 10, 2019

Pick-your-own blueberries was just one of the activities at the Blueberry Bash, held last weekend at Terhune Orchards on Cold Soil Road. The annual event also featured a blueberry bake-off contest, wagon and pony rides, live music, a puppet show, wine tasting, and plenty of blueberry treats. Festivalgoers share their favorite ways to enjoy blueberries in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photos by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Anne Levin

A temporary restraining order issued Monday by Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson prevented Princeton Council from passing a resolution that would have ended its agreement with a sewer repair company for work on Spruce Street and Linden Lane.

At its meeting Monday evening, July 8, the governing body put aside the resolution that would have terminated its contract with Integrated Construction and Utilities of New Jersey (ICUNJ). The company is connected to an investigation into alleged illegal dumping at the River Road sewer department facility. ICUNJ, which does sewer repair, demolition, and asbestos abatement, has done work for Princeton for over a decade.

After it was revealed last month that a container filled with asbestos materials was at the River Road facility, the municipality informed ICUNJ that its contract would be canceled. The company responded by filing a lawsuit against the town, saying it was simply following directions from Princeton officials in disposing of materials at the site, and therefore should not be punished. more

By Donald Gilpin

Looking ahead to next month’s action-packed week of educational, celebratory, and athletic events, reflecting this year’s theme of “Celebrating Life by Honoring Our Past, Recognizing Our Families and Lifting Up Our Town,” the Joint Effort Princeton Witherspoon-Jackson Safe Streets Program has announced its honorees for 2019.

During the August 3-11 festivities, John Broadway, Ida Belle Dixon, Cecelia B. Hodges, Laura Wooten (posthumously), Mamie Oldham, Bob and Barbara Hillier (Town Topics shareholders), and Minnie and Eric Craig will receive the 2019 Paul Robeson Spirit Award.

Leighton Newlin and Lance Liverman will be honored as the 2019 Witherspoon-Jackson Citizens of the Year, and Frances Broadway Craig and Cynthia “Chip” Fisher (posthumously) will receive the 2019 Jim Floyd Memorial Lifetime Achievement Awards. more

By Donald Gilpin

Hundreds of Princeton area residents are expected to rally in Hinds Plaza this Friday from 7-9 p.m. to support immigrant rights and to protest the treatment of immigrant families by the current administration.

“We are expecting a contingent of students associated with LEDA (Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America) from Princeton, as well as some families directly affected by the policy, people of faith who believe this is not what their church/mosque/synagogue has taught them, and many community members who believe it is their duty as human beings to show compassion to those seeking refuge,” said local organizer and Indivisible Cranbury leader Laura Zurfluh. more

ROMANTIC AND HUMOROUS: The film “Strings Attached” by Peri Segel is among 18 short works by aspiring high school and college-age filmmakers, at Princeton Public Library July 17 and 18.

By Anne Levin

The Princeton Student Film Festival was launched 16 years ago to give young, local students a chance to test out their filmmaking talents. Held each summer at Princeton Public Library, the festival has grown and broadened over the years, much to the delight of its founders.

“When we started, it was just a handful of local kids with a couple of weeks’ notice,” said Susan Conlon, who heads the library’s Youth Services Department. “But now, we have this great mix of genres and styles from a variety of places. This is not just a teen festival. I think anyone interested in film who attends will be blown away by how talented these young people are.” more

ACE MENTORING: Mike Roseborough, Princeton Family YMCA’s ACE (Accept. Complete. Excel.) project director, is working with Princeton Public Schools on the program to reduce chronic absenteeism at Princeton High School. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Family YMCA)

By Donald Gilpin

Reducing chronic absenteeism at Princeton High School (PHS) is the goal of the YMCA’s ACE (Accept. Complete. Excel.) Program, which is kicking off this year with the support of a $300,000 grant over the next five years from the Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF).

Citing an absenteeism rate of nearly 30 percent among PHS junior and senior students of color, ACE Project Director Mike Roseborough, who joined the Y’s team last December, said, “We want to reduce that number by junior year, to help them academically and get them on a path to success, to give them the tools to compete. We want them to excel.”

The Princeton Family YMCA and PPS were one of 10 nonprofit and school partnerships selected by the PACF to win support through its All Kids Thrive initiative, which is focused on reducing chronic absenteeism in Mercer County. more

By Anne Levin

Photo by John Simpson

The June 26 passing of composer and educator Peter Westergaard has inspired numerous tributes in the Princeton University music community, of which he was a prominent member for five decades. In a story on the University’s website, numerous faculty, former students, and colleagues praised Westergaard, citing his warmth and sense of humor as well as his musical skills.

Westergaard, who was 88, died at Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center after a brief battle with cancer.

“Peter shaped the artistic and intellectual direction of the music department in countless ways, not the least of which was supporting the intersections between performance, composition, and scholarship,” said Wendy Heller, the Scheide Professor of Music History who chairs the music department. Heller also praised Westergaard’s “extraordinary intelligence, sense of humor, gift for language, and deep understanding of poetry.”

The website quotes Scott Burnham, the Scheide Professor of Music History, Emeritus: “Peter combined cultural depth with a deft touch, and he brought this gift to bear upon all his creative work. He was an endlessly generous presence in the music department, always there for his students and colleagues in the richest possible way.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

The performers in Friday morning’s backyard circus are identified in the Audubon guide as Common Grackles, “a very familiar species on suburban lawns, striding about with deliberate steps,” searching for insects, nesting “in small colonies,” and perching “in adjacent treetops to sing their creaking, grating songs.” What held me and had me smiling, however, was the visual music they were making as they gathered, one by one, on the long limb of a hemlock tree until six of them were sitting in a row, the limb rocking under them, as if they were sharing the fun. It may be a common sight for this common species, but I never saw it before and I doubt that I ever will again.

To go from watching birds riding a limb to reading Proust, who was born on July 10, 1871, is easier said than done, considering that each of the three volumes of the 1981 Random House edition of Remembrance of Things Past tops a thousand pages. With five days to deadline, all I can do is pack my knapsack with possibilities (birds, summertime, the seaside, the moon landing, the primal joy of victorious athletes) and prepare for the voyage by reading around in the edition of Proust’s Letters edited and translated by Minna Curtis. My guide is the 20-year-old English girl I encountered there. Proust’s biographer George D. Painter says it was “the beautiful Marie Nordlinger” who led Proust “near to the heart of the labyrinth.” Short and slender, “with delicate Pre-Raphaelite hands, dark eyes, full lips, and a look of warm sincerity and intelligence,” the talented young painter/sculptor from Manchester was “a godsend” in Proust’s struggle to translate John Ruskin into French. A note in my 1949 edition of the Letters says that she “not only initiated him into the English texts but supplied him with endless information and assistance” and was “the only woman younger than himself, highly intellectual and of his own social background with whom he ever seems to have carried on a friendship.”  more

By Nancy Plum

Of the trumpet, French horn, and trombone, the most familiar is likely the trumpet, thanks to a repertory of 17th and 18th-century music featuring the instrument. The French horn is also well known though a number of concerti over several centuries. The trombone, however, is rarely featured in orchestral settings, and is a pleasure for audiences to hear and see close up. Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts brought these three instruments together last Tuesday night at Richardson Auditorium with a performance by the New York Brass Arts Trio. Definitely an ensemble for the 21st century, the Brass Arts Trio is comprised of trumpeter Joe Burgstaller, French horn player David Jolley, and trombonist Haim Avitsur, who came together in this performance to demonstrate the power of their instruments within the finesse of ensemble playing.

Burgstaller, Jolley, and Avitsur are not only expert performers, but also imaginative arrangers; almost all of the pieces on Tuesday night’s program were arranged by one of them. The Trio presented works spanning three centuries, beginning with David Jolley’s arrangements of three sinfonias of Johann Sebastian Bach. In these short pieces, the three brass instruments were able to achieve appropriate lightness in melodic lines, as well as dynamic contrasts. Burgstaller found numerous opportunities for ornamentation in music tailor-made for a bright trumpet sound. more

“DEATHTRAP”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Deathtrap.” Directed by Annika Bennett, the play runs through July 21 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Sidney Bruhl, a playwright (C. Luke Soucy, left) implies to his wife, Myra (Kathryn Anne Marie) that he may kill a younger rival, in order to steal his script — leaving Myra to try to determine whether or not Sidney is joking. (Photo by Kirsten Traudt)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Princeton Summer Theater (PST) states that the mission of its 2019 season is to “explore love in all its forms.” The company’s previous production, Falsettos, was an obvious fit for this theme. That musical’s near-adolescent protagonist sings about his ambivalence toward love, but grows to feel compassion for his father’s terminally ill lover, despite the extent to which the latter disrupts the boy’s family.

In this context Deathtrap (1978), currently presented by PST, is a somewhat curious choice. This cerebral, darkly comic thriller by Ira Levin (1929-2007) — the author of novels such as A Kiss Before Dying, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Stepford Wives — chiefly is characterized by urbane banter, professional jealousy, and violence. There are brief displays of physical affection between characters, but to the extent that the theme of love is explored, it is subtle and confined to individual moments, rather than overarching. more

The 52nd season of the Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts closes on Friday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m. with Rolston String Quartet at Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus. The concert will include Haydn’s “Sunrise” Quartet, Beethoven’s “Razsumovsky,” and “Metamorphoses Nocturnes” by Ligeti. Admission is free.

The 2018 recipient and first international ensemble chosen for the Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America, Canada’s Rolston String Quartet also earned First Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition. They then toured Germany, Italy, Austria, Canada, and the United States, followed by a two-year term as the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence in the fall of 2017.

The Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Chamber Music Residency. They take their name from Canadian violinist Thomas Rolston, founder and long time director of the music and sound programs at the Banff Centre.

Even though concerts are free, tickets are still required. Starting one week before each concert a block of tickets is available online through tickets.princeton.edu. Once the online tickets are “sold out” the remaining tickets will be available, first-come, first-served, at the box office on the day of the concert. There is a maximum of four tickets per party. Doors open for general seating one-half hour before the concert.

Visit www.princetonsummerchamberconcerts.org or call (609) 570-8404 for more information.

“IGNORE ME”: This large-scale sculpture is one of six now on view in “Rebirth: Kang Muxiang,” at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton through May 2020. The works are made from steel elevator cables from Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings. (Photo by George Chevalier)

Now on view at Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) in Hamilton, “Rebirth: Kang Muxiang” is an exhibition of six large-scale sculptures by Taiwanese artist Kang Muxiang, sited outdoors in the gardens. Massive yet graceful, the embryonic forms are made from steel elevator cables from Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings. The works range in size, with the largest standing nearly 10 feet tall and weighing several thousand pounds.

Kang began his artistic practice with traditional woodcarving at the age of 13. Eventually turning to other media, the artist has also worked in bronze and stainless steel. In 2002, Kang spent a year living a largely solitary and primitive lifestyle on Guishan (Turtle Island), off the coast of Taiwan. This experience motivated him to create his Life series of sculptures that explores how our way of life impacts future generations.  more

“COLORS OF MEMORY”: This artist book created with laser cut woodblock and collograph plates is featured in “Reflections: Artist Books and Works on Paper by Maria G. Pisano,” on view at the Plainsboro Library gallery through July 31. An artist reception is Sunday, July 14 from 2 to 4 p.m.

The Plainsboro Library Gallery presents artist books and works on paper by award-winning artist and Plainsboro resident Maria G. Pisano in “Reflections.” The exhibit runs through July 31, and an art reception will be held on Sunday, July 14, 2 to 4 p.m., with the artist on hand to speak about her work.

Pisano’s prints are a combination of collagraph plates and/or monotypes. Her artist books combine a variety of expressive forms, including drawing, painting, print and printmaking media, papermaking, text, and book design, making the book structure a complex and unique form of expression. more

RYAN’S HOPE: Ryan Smith delivers a pitch this spring in his senior season with the Princeton University baseball team. The recently graduated Smith was selected last month by the Los Angeles Angels in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball Draft. He is currently pitching for the Angels short season Class A team, the Orem Owlz in Utah. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Whether it’s throwing a 95 mile-per-hour fastball or being fluent in Spanish to bond with his teammates, Ryan Smith has found a fit in professional baseball.

One day after Smith graduated from Princeton University on June 4, he was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball Draft.

“It’s been a dream to be drafted and play professional baseball so obviously it’s pretty exciting,” said Smith, who grew up in Garden City, N.Y.

“I kind of had the idea in my head that I would be selected this year, so it was more of where, not if I would. Obviously I was hoping to get drafted as high as possible. The 18th round is a good round to get taken in, but obviously I would have loved to go higher. I can have a chip on my shoulder now.” more

STRONG COFFEE: Recently graduated Princeton High standout Connor Coffee, center, makes a block playing for the West squad in the 2019 Sunshine Football Classic at Notre Dame High last Wednesday evening.Coffee was joined on the West team by PHS teammates Jaylen Johnson, Evan Angelucci, and Steve Hennessy. The quartet battled hard as the West fell 14-7 to the East in game halted in the third quarter due to lightning strikes in the area. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Seven of the offensive linemen on the West squad in the 2019 Sunshine Football Classic had an average weight of 266 pounds.

The eighth lineman, recently graduated Princeton High star Connor Coffee, was listed at 6’1, 180 pounds.

Playing in the all-star game last Wednesday night at Notre Dame High, the wiry Coffee battled hard at left tackle, more than holding his own against the heavyweights he encountered in the trenches. more

HISTORIC FINISH: Mira Shane guards the net for the University of Michigan women’s lacrosse this spring in her senior campaign. Former Princeton High star Shane helped Michigan enjoy the best season in program history as it rose to No. 8 in the national rankings and made the NCAA tournament for the first time. The Wolverines advanced to the second round of the national tourney and ended with a 16-4 record. Shane, for her part, set Michigan program career records in wins (24), career saves (360) and career save percentage (.451). This spring, Shane made 19 starts with a goals against average of 9.99 and 139 saves. She was named as an Inside Lacrosse honorable mention All-American and a Tewaaraton Award Nominee. (Photo provided courtesy of Michigan Photography)

By Bill Alden

Even though the University of Michigan women’s lacrosse team posted a pedestrian 7-10 record in 2018, Mira Shane sensed the Wolverines were primed to step up this spring.

“We had an awesome fall ball season,” said former Princeton High star goalie Shane. “I think from there, we were ‘let’s go, this can really be our year.’”

After spending her first three years as a part-time starter, Shane was ready to produce an awesome final campaign. more

IN SYNC: Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball player Jaedyn Paria-Veron takes a swing in recent action. Last Sunday, former Princeton High standout Paria-Veron starred as Post 218 split a doubleheader at Ewing Post 314. Princeton won the opener 14-12 before dropping the nightcap 8-6. Paria-Veron had five RBIS in game one and was on base four times in the second game. Post 218, which moved to 3-13, plays at Trenton Post 93/182 on July 10, at South Brunswick Post 401 on July 11, hosts North Hamilton on the morning of July 14 and Hightstown Post 148 later that day in a rescheduled game, and then plays at Hopewell Post 339 on July 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jaedyn Paria-Veron has become a catalyst this summer for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team.

Batting in the leadoff spot for Post 218 as it played a doubleheader at Ewing Post 314 last Sunday, former Princeton High standout Paria-Veron was in center of the action all day long as the teams played for nearly five hours.

In the opener, center fielder Paria-Veron had two hits and five RBIs as Post 218 built an 11-2 lead and hung on for a 14-12 win. As afternoon turned into evening for the nightcap at Moody Park, Paria-Veron reached base four times on an error, two walks, and a single to help Princeton rally from an early 7-2 deficit to narrow the gap to one run before falling 8-6 as it dropped to 3-13. more

LEADING THE FIELD: Vince Anfield of Loyaltees goes up for a shot against NJ Spiritwear in last year’s championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Anfield helped Loyaltees take the title. Last Monday, Anfield came up big as Loyaltees defeated previously undefeated NJ Spiritwear 70-52 in a regular season title rematch. Star guard Anfield tallied 16 points to help Loyaltees pull away to the victory and improve to 5-1. In other action on Monday night, Hometown Moving and Storage defeated Team NRGY 65-47 and Apex Sport topped Majeski Foundation 56-42. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

There was excitement in the air at the Community Park courts last Monday evening as Loyaltees faced NJ Spiritwear in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

The clash was a rematch of last year’s best-of-three title series won by Loyaltees in a decisive game three and the renewal of the rivalry drew a throng of fans to the park.

Loyaltees star guard Vince Anfield and his teammates, for their part, were determined to come out strong in the showdown against an undefeated Spiritwear squad bent on revenge. more

July 3, 2019

A deal to sell Westminster Choir College to a Chinese company is off the table. But Rider University’s plan to move the music school from Princeton to Rider’s Lawrenceville campus has many Westminster stakeholders vowing to get the decision reversed. (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Anne Levin

Rider University announced Monday that a $40 million agreement to sell Westminster Choir College to a Chinese company, Kaiwen Education, is off. Instead, the University plans to move the prestigious music school from its Princeton location to Rider‘s Lawrenceville campus beginning in September, 2020.

While those who have consistently opposed the sale to Kaiwen are expressing relief that the deal will not go through, there is considerable opposition to the consolidation plan. “What they want to do is simply illegal,” said attorney Bruce Afran, who is representing the nonprofit Westminster Foundation in efforts to save the school and keep it in Princeton. “So we will be moving in court to block this, as we have before.”

Rider’s plan would keep Westminster Choir College, Westminster Conservatory, and the Westminster Continuing Education programs on the 22-acre Princeton campus during the upcoming 2019-2020 academic year. The University has not specified what the Princeton property on Walnut Lane would become after the move. more