September 4, 2013

Two scientists doing post-doctoral research at Princeton University have been awarded grants by the L’Oreal USA Fellowships for Women in Science. Anisa Salim Ismail and Luisa Whittaker-Brooks were among five women chosen for this year’s grants of up to $60,000, which go to outstanding United-States-based candidates in the life and physical/material sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computer science.

For Ms. Ismail, who has been in the University’s molecular biology department for three years, the grant will go toward finding clues for curing inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease. Ms. Whittaker-Brooks, who works in chemical and biological engineering, will use the funds to help design solar-thermal generators in photovoltaics that are more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Bacteria are the focus of Ms. Ismail’s research, specifically how humans can maintain 100 trillion “friendly” bacteria in our intestines without becoming ill. “In fact, these bacteria are absolutely essential for our health,” she said in an email. “And a breakdown in this human-commensal partnership can lead to debilitating intestinal diseases such as IBD and Crohn’s disease. My research focuses on the possibility that we maintain beneficial relationships in the gut by talking to our bacteria through a process called inter-kingdom quorum sensing.”

The fellowship funds will allow Ms. Ismail to initiate a new project to study whether mammals “talk” to their bacterial partners through inter-kingdom quorum sensing. “We know that bacteria talk to each other through various chemical languages to coordinate group behaviors, but the idea that mammals can use a similar language to talk to their commensal bacteria is only just beginning to be addressed,” Ms. Ismail said.

Ms. Ismail earned undergraduate degrees in biology and Spanish at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and began her PhD in immunology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. It was there that she began studying the immune system of the gut and intestinal diseases. Moving to Princeton University brought her to the lab of Dr. Bonnie Bassler, which is “without a doubt the best place to study the question,” she said.

Ms. Whittaker-Brooks was a Fulbright Scholar and pursued her PhD in chemistry at the University of Buffalo. While there, she came to understand the impact that nanotechnology has over the worldwide scientific community. She started a post-doctoral research position at Princeton as part of her academic training. Through her investigations, she hopes to learn how to realize “low-cost, light weight, mechanically flexible thin-film devices such as organic transistors and solar cells,” she said in an email. “The materials we intend to synthesize could be a boon for several applications ranging from power generation to micro-processor cooling which would potentially solve energy issues in the world.”

Both women have enjoyed living in Princeton. Ms. Ismail said she especially likes showing the town off to visiting family members. “One of my very favorite activities while they are here is to walk through campus and through town — from the statement that Nassau Hall makes when lit at night, to the unexpected grandeur of the humbly-named ‘chapel,’ or to the delicious ice cream at The Bent Spoon, it really has been an unbelievable experience living here,” she said.

Ms. Whittaker-Brooks views the University as the centerpiece of the town. “Most importantly, at Princeton University you will find most of the smartest people on the planet,” she said. “And guess what … they aren’t big-headed. Princeton University is a big family of people working together in the pursuit of significant contributions that will make our world a better place to live.”

The Princeton winners will join the three others honored this year by the L’Oreal USA Fellowships at an awards ceremony on October 24 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The program is a national extension of the global U’Loreal UNESCO For Women in Science program, which has supported a total of 1,729 women scientists from over 100 countries since 1998.


Tennis has been a priority for Chris Hoeland for almost as long as he can remember. After first picking up a racquet at about age seven, he started competing in tournaments a few years later. At Princeton High, he won four Mercer County titles and had a high school record of 100-9. Then it was on to Washington University in St. Louis, where he started on the tennis team all four years, winning the team national championship in 2008, and earning all-American honors three times before graduating in 2009.

Now 27, Mr. Hoeland spent three years as assistant coach of men’s tennis at Princeton University before taking on a fresh challenge last month. He is the new Program/Player Development Manager of the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) of Trenton, working with inner city children to improve their lives based on the ideals of the late tennis star Arthur Ashe.

NJTLT is part of a network of 620 chapters with 350,000 participants across the country. The Trenton program counts some 2,500 children involved throughout the year, with 600 enrolled during the summer and 500 to 600 during the school terms.

“I love kids,” Mr. Hoeland said this week. “I’d always been interested in teaching at some point. Working at Princeton University, one of the finest academic institutions in the world, clearly played a part in my role as a coach. Education and sports have always been a very big part of my life. I thought that in this role, I’d have a good chance to impact kids’ lives in Trenton, for the better. And what better way to give back than to help kids out by doing something I love?”

In his new role, Mr. Hoeland spends more time in the office than on the program’s recently refurbished tennis courts in Trenton’s Cadwalader Park. “I’m kind of getting things organized at the moment, but hopefully I’ll get to be on the court some more at some point,” he said. “I’m the main link between the tennis staff and the administrative office, and I’m still getting to know everyone.”

Mr. Hoeland was among those accompanying children from the Trenton program to the 18th Annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the start of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows two weeks ago. Participating were first lady Michelle Obama, star players Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Sloane Stephens, and Serena Williams, and veterans Mary Jo Fernandez and John McEnroe. “It was awesome,” he said. “The kids got to be where it happens. They loved it.”

Mr. Hoeland lives in Princeton and is a product of its school system. He attended the Riverside Elementary School and John Witherspoon Middle School before moving on to Princeton High. He played tennis at Princeton Racquet Club and Hopewell Valley Tennis Center, “all the clubs,” he said, in his youth.

At Washington University, tennis continued to dominate his time. “It was easily the most enjoyable part of my college experience,” he said. “We won the nationals in 2008, so we obviously had a pretty good team. That was one of the reasons I got into coaching. I know my coach was a big part of what made it so special for me. That’s why I got back into college tennis after I graduated.”

Washington University is a Division Three program, and Princeton University is Division One. But the difference between the two was not Mr. Hoeland’s biggest challenge after he arrived at Princeton. “Learning how to coach and be an authority figure to kids less than a year younger than me was a big part of the transition,” he recalled. “But you pick it up quickly. You learn where to draw the line. It was an interesting balance for me.”

The youngsters in the Trenton program pose different challenges. The NJTLT provides 18 to 22 weeks of after-school tennis instruction in school gyms and community centers using the United States Tennis Association’s QuickStart format, with short courts and sponge balls, in partnership with the Trenton Public Schools, the City of Trenton, and other after-school providers. They compete in a tournament at the end at the city’s Sun Bank Arena.

“The program is awesome. We get the chance to change the lives of low income and at risk youth. Education is a big component,” he said. “They’re learning about things like geometry, through tennis. It’s the best way to learn, when you enjoy it and have a concrete connection.”

Mr. Hoeland will be checking in on the U.S. Open during the next two weeks. “I love playing, and I do watch, but I don’t follow as much as I should,” he said. “But I love [Roger] Federer, and we’ll have to see how that goes.”

In his new position, Mr. Hoeland hopes to inspire kids to love the sport of tennis as much as he has since early childhood. “It’s a sport you can play for the rest of your life,” he said. “And you can learn life lessons and a lot about yourself through sports. NO matter what you do through sports, you’re going to learn. And in a place like NJTL, where everyone is really supportive and has a common goal, you can really go far.”


As another season at Community Park Pool draws to a close, officials are calling it a success — and not just because attendance was up.

“The most important part of our season is that it was a safe season,” said Ben Stentz, Princeton’s Director of Recreation. “When you operate a large public pool, safety is paramount. And not a day goes by that we don’t think about it and prepare, just in case we need to act. So we’ve gotten through another summer, knock on wood — the safest summer I can remember, and not just with the pool but with our camps, too. Any incidents were minor. So that is first and foremost, and it trumps everything else.”

Community Pool’s final opening hours of the season are Saturday and Sunday, this weekend and next. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. each day.

While safety issues are under control, another half million dollars is still needed to pay down the debt on the pool, which was refurbished last year to the tune of $6.5 million. At the Princeton Council meeting August 26, a status report on the fundraising campaign was delivered by Peter O’Neill, president of the Princeton Parks and Recreation Fund citizens’ group. Mr. O’Neill told Council members that although the pool has been operational and successful for two seasons, donations are still needed to bridge the gap.

“The treasury is not closed,” he said. “We are still open for business. People can go on the recreation department’s website to make a donation.”

Since the group began raising funds two years ago, 340 donations have been made. Mr. O’Neill said he is confident that the full amount will be raised. Among the options for closing the gap are raising user fees, or having the citizens’ group invest the funds already collected and transfer the money over time. “The current amount in the account is sufficient to cover $1 million in debt services over 20 years,” Mr. O’Neill said, adding that the fund wants to expand to other recreation projects.

The Council is working on amendment of an agreement from 2011, which will provide for the group, paying Princeton $50,000 a year for 20 years. Additionally, a stipulation that says the group cannot solicit funds for other projects until the entire $1 million amount is raised would be removed.

Despite the shortfall, Mr. Stentz gives high marks to the citizens’ group for their efforts. “People have to remember that the contract to build the pool wasn’t awarded until July 2011,” he said. “Between then and our opening less than a year later, this group had raised multiple thousands of dollars. This was a short time frame. From where I sit, they are saints. These are private people who have gone out and raised money on behalf of the municipality. We hope to continue to have the fund on our side for the pool and other projects.”

The Princeton Parks and Recreation Fund was created in 2008 by the recreation boards of what was then Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, as part of the Master Plan. There are various options for donating to the pool fund, including commemorative bricks and plaques. Visit for more information.


Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes is the recipient of the Donald B. Jones Conservation Award from the D&R Greenway Land Trust. Mr. Hughes will be presented with the award, described as the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s “highest honor,” this Sunday, September 8 at the land preservation agency’s Annual Gala.

The award recognizes Mr. Hughes’s leadership in open-space and farmland preservation as well as his dedication to stewardship of urban and rural parks throughout Mercer County.

According to the Land Trust, Mr. Hughes has been the catalyst for the preservation of 2,873 acres of open space and farmland during his tenure. The total acreage preserved in Mercer County is almost 20,000 acres, amounting to over 20 percent of the county’s developable land.

“Quality of life is one of the most important returns to the people of Mercer County. I am extremely proud of the efforts we’ve made to preserve and restore historic properties, farmland and open space for our future generations,” said Mr. Hughes, whose staff helped to expedite the D&R Greenway’s preservation of the 400-acre St. Michaels Farm Preserve, and the nearly 2000-acre Princeton Nurseries Land in Allentown, among others.

“We can always count on Brian and his expert staff for a professional and enthusiastic response, resulting in preservation of rural and urban lands that will benefit our region’s citizens for generations to come.” said D&R Greenway President and CEO Linda Mead.

According to the Trust’s Vice President Jay Watson, the award shows “deep appreciation” for Mr. Hughes and the work of his administration. “Under his guidance, Mercer County is purchasing lands directly, significantly increasing county-owned open-space holdings. He has seen to it that the county not only preserves, but also provides thorough stewardship for lands held in their trust,” he said.

“Thanks to Brian and his exemplary staff, a wonderful land legacy is continually being created for now and future generations of Mercer County residents and their visitors,” said Mr. Watson.

Son of former Governor and New Jersey Supreme Court, Chief Justice Richard J. Hughes, Brian Hughes has lived in Mercer County most of his life, including childhood years at Morven, formerly the official residence of the governor of New Jersey and his family. In 1997, he was elected to the Board of Chosen Freeholders, serving two terms, including one term as Freeholder President.

He is also a strong proponent of the Abbott Marshlands, formerly the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh and has been instrumental in the creation of the new Marsh Nature Center, expected to open next year.

Mr. Hughes will receive his award at the D&R Greenway’s Annual Gala at the Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place, off Rosedale Road, on Sunday, September 8, from 4 to 6 p.m. The event includes a jazz ballet performance by Dancespora to live music from the ReBop Jazz Band. Garden-party attire is suggested, as well as appropriate outdoor footwear. Tickets, at $75 per person, may be ordered online ( or by calling (609) 924-4646 through September 4.


HEANEY AND MULDOON: Paul Muldoon (right) shown in a recent photograph with his mentor, Seamus Heaney, who died at 74 in Dublin Friday. In a statement posted in The Daily Beast, Mr. Muldoon said, "He was the only poet I can think of who was recognized worldwide as having moral as well as literary authority." (Photo by Mihai Cucu Courtesy of Paul Muldoon)

HEANEY AND MULDOON: Paul Muldoon (right) shown in a recent photograph with his mentor, Seamus Heaney, who died at 74 in Dublin Friday. In a statement posted in The Daily Beast, Mr. Muldoon said, “He was the only poet I can think of who was recognized worldwide as having moral as well as literary authority.” (Photo by Mihai Cucu Courtesy of Paul Muldoon)

At funeral services Monday in Dublin’s Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart for Nobel Laureate poet Seamus Heaney, who died August 30 in a Dublin hospital at the age of 74, Princeton University faculty member and prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon spoke of “the beauty of Seamus Heaney as a bard,” of his “unparalleled capacity to sweep all of us up in his arms,” and of how he “helped all of us develop our imaginative powers.”

The services were attended by government leaders from both parts of Ireland, poets, playwrights, and novelists, the rock band U2, and actor Stephen Rea, among many others. The burial took place in a country churchyard in the poet’s hometown, Bellaghy, in south Derry.

Mr. Muldoon, who met Seamus Heaney when he was 16 and the poet was 28, made special reference in his eulogy to Mr. Heaney’s family life, observing that “the Seamus Heaney who was renowned the world over was never a man who took himself too seriously, certainly not with his family and friends. He had, after all, a signal ability to make each of us feel connected not only to him but to one another.”

Seamus Heaney’s last words, to his wife, were “Don’t be afraid.”

Asked to recommend a poem to be reprinted here, Mr. Muldoon suggested “Follower,” which he called “a great poem for the occasion. We were meant to read together on September 14 in Manchester.” The event was the Conference of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry, which Mr. Muldoon will be attending. His eulogy is printed in full under “Seamus Heaney’s Beauty” on the New Yorker blog “Page Turner.”



My father worked with a horse-plough,

His shoulders globed like a full sail strung

Between the shafts and the furrow.

The horse strained at his clicking tongue.


An expert. He would set the wing

And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.

The sod rolled over without breaking.

At the headrig, with a single pluck


Of reins, the sweating team turned round

And back into the land. His eye

Narrowed and angled at the ground,

Mapping the furrow exactly.


I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,

Fell sometimes on the polished sod;

Sometimes he rode me on his back

Dipping and rising to his plod.


I wanted to grow up and plough,

To close one eye, stiffen my arm.

All I ever did was follow

In his broad shadow round the farm.


I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,

Yapping always. But today

It is my father who keeps stumbling

Behind me, and will not go away.

—Seamus Heaney


p 1 Holder Hall Before Classes Resume

Architect Ralph Adams Cram called Day and Klauder’s design for Holder Hall on the Princeton campus “the highest point in their authoritative interpretation of Gothic as a living style.” This vaulted passage is waiting for the students who will soon be adding life to Holder’s style. Classes begin on September 11. Opening exercises will be held in the Chapel on September 8. In “My Lost City,” Scott Fitzgerald remembers his former classmate Edmund Wilson, a New York literary light, once “the shy little scholar of Holder Court.” (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)


August 28, 2013

The Princeton Record Exchange on South Tulane Street is a much-loved Princeton landmark, so it was a shock to all when longtime employee Brian C. Dornbach was accused in January of sexually molesting a girl with special needs.

Mr. Dornbach was arraigned on Monday before Judge Thomas M. Brown in Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton. He entered a plea of not guilty.

According to a document received from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s office and signed by Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., Mr. Dornbach is accused of “using force or coercion” to touch a special needs teen over and/or under her clothing and having the victim touch him inappropriately. The charge is aggravated criminal sexual contact (a fourth degree offense) and endangering the welfare of a child. The latter third degree offense carries up to five years in state prison.

It is alleged that Mr. Dornbach molested the developmentally-challenged teen on multiple occasions over a period of two years between January 2011 and the end of December 2012. When the alleged acts took place, Mr. Dornbach and the teen were alone at various times at the store and other locations in Princeton.

Mr. Dornbach, who lives in Roebling, is 51. The girl is now 16, but was 15 when the alleged events took place.

Mr. Dornbach has worked at the Princeton Record Exchange since it opened in 1980. He is described as being known to the girl’s family. The teenager was left in his care at the record store on occasions when her father was visiting Princeton. In the indictment, Mr. Dornbach had on those occasions “assumed responsibility” for the girl, who lives in Denville.

The case came to light in January of this year when the teen victim described the activity to a confidante who then told her father. After her father alerted the Denville police, the Princeton Police Department was contacted and officers arrested Mr. Dornbach. He was taken to Princeton Police headquarters where he posted bail of $50,000.

On June 19, Mr. Dornbach appeared before a Mercer County grand jury.

Asked for comment about Monday’s arraignment of Mr. Dornbach, Princeton Record Exchange General Manager Jon Lampert was reluctant to respond other than to reiterate that he and others were shocked by Mr. Dornbach’s arrest. He said that Mr. Dorbach has been on administrative leave since January pending the outcome of the case.

The Princeton Record Exchange has twice been featured in the New York Times and once in Rolling Stone magazine. It is described as one of the best vinyl record stores in the nation. Owner Barry Weisfield was on vacation and not able to comment.

Mr. Dornbach’s next court appearance will be October 16 when he is to attend a “status conference” with Judge Brown.


Fall class registration is now open at the YWCA Princeton with most classes beginning September 5. More than 300 classes are being offered.

Registration can be completed online at for most classes, or by calling (609) 497-2100 ext. 0. There are no residential requirements to take classes and nearly every class is open to both sexes. A listing of all classes can be downloaded from their website.

The Nursery School at YWCA Princeton has some spots remaining for the 2013-14 school year for children ages 2½-6 years, including its bilingual Nursery School. A licensed educational school, it offers students a variety of activities. Students may also take advantage of other YWCA offerings such as swimming and dancing for an additional cost.

This fall, there is a Dance/Aquatics combo class for preschoolers. This one-hour class is for those wanting their children to develop different skills sets. The aquatics department is offering more than 100 classes for ages 4 months through seniors. An “Introduction to Water Skills” class for 13-14-year-olds has been introduced this fall. Those interested can move on to more advanced American Red Cross Classes. A Competitive Swim Clinic is also available to get 9-15 year olds ready for competitive swimming. Residents of West Windsor and Plainsboro have an additional option of taking swim classes at the West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North pool. This is being offered in conjunction with Plainsboro Aquatics Outreach Program.

The After School Program (ASP) at Princeton, Montgomery, and Lawrence are available to parents wanting to ensure that their children are safe before and after school. It is offered on regular school days, early dismissals, most full days, and during spring breaks. In Princeton, ASP is available at Community Park, Johnson Park (children are bussed to Community Park), and Riverside. It is offered in Montgomery, at Montgomery Lower Middle School, Orchard Hill, and Village Elementary and in Lawrence at Ben Franklin Elementary, Eldridge Park Elementary, Lawrence Intermediate, Lawrenceville Elementary, and Slackwood Elementary. Full time, part time, and day passes are available at most schools. For those schools starting mid-September, a day camp is being offered September 4-6.

More than 30 ESL classes are available this fall including TOEFL Preparation, Basic English, conversation, and pronunciation. A new women’s empowerment series, “Unstuck for Your New Life” is being introduced this October for those that want to move ahead in their lives, professionally or otherwise. This four-part series is intended to help participants discover a new future by overcoming common mistakes that keeps them from moving forward.

For more than 50 years, the Newcomers and Friends group has welcomed those who have moved to the area, and those experiencing a life transition, get acquainted with the area through activities, lunches, trips, and outings. This group’s general meeting and new member sign-up is scheduled for September 13.

A number of free classes such as Common Sense Parenting, GED Preparation, and Citizenship Preparation are also offered to the greater Mercer county community.

The temporary Dinky station is up and running, and crews are set to begin taking up portions of the train tracks to make way for construction of Princeton University’s arts and transit complex. But the citizen group Save the Dinky Inc. is not letting up on its efforts to persuade the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to halt the track removal.

An attorney for Save the Dinky Inc. sent a letter Tuesday to DEP Commissioner Robert Martin in response to submissions by the University, NJ Transit, and the historic sites office of the DEP objecting to a stay that Save the Dinky had requested last week.

The objections were made “… on the grounds that the application comes too late, that there is no irreparable harm, and that Appellant’s to the DEP approval of NJ Transit’s Track Removal Project are without merit,” the letter from attorney Virginia Kerr reads. “Respondents are incorrect on all points.”

The letter asks the DEP to “immediately grant Appellants’ request for an immediate stay of the May 11 ruling [allowing NJ Transit to abandon public rights of the historic site] with instructions to NJ Transit to cease from any further work to remove track and destroy the right of way that supports the transportation function of the Princeton Railroad Station.”

Save the Dinky Inc. is currently involved in different lawsuits to try and halt the move of the station. Asked on Monday what would happen should any of those lawsuits result in orders to cease construction, Mayor Liz Lempert said, “The University knows they are proceeding at their own risk.”

For the next year at least, commuters who ride the Dinky shuttle 2.7 miles to and from Princeton Junction station will be picking up the train 1,200 feet away from the old station, which the University plans to turn into a restaurant and cafe.

Monday was the first day for the temporary terminus. Reviews were mixed.

“I think we had a very good first day,” said Kristin Appelget, who is Princeton University’s Director of Regional and Community Affairs, on Tuesday. “I was on site, and then I was out there again this morning. Things were even better and people were starting to get into their new habits.”

Sheldon Sturges, founder of the organization Princeton Future, said he found traffic to be backed up near the station when he drove over to take a look. “It was a disaster,” he said. “It’s a good thing school hadn’t started yet because it really would have been a bigger mess.”

The temporary train station will be dismantled once a new station, designed by architect Steven Holl, is built about halfway between the old station and the temporary structure. Also to be constructed is a new building for the Wawa market, which is currently on the corner of University Place and Alexander Street.

While the temporary station is in use, free shuttle bus service is being offered by the University to meet every train that stops at Princeton Junction. To board the buses, passengers will need NJ Transit tickets that show Princeton as either their destination or origin. Municipal and NJ Transit buses are also operating.


When Mayor Liz Lempert and members of Princeton Council met on Monday evening, they heard, among other business, an announcement by representatives of the Valley Road School Adaptive Reuse Committee (VRS-ARC) that it had been approached by an investor/developer interested in taking on the project.

Kip Cherry, attorney Bruce Afran, and former Mayor Dick Woodbridge spoke briefly about the VRS-ARC project and announced a proposal from Sustainable Energy Financing Program (SEFP) and its representative Larry Sprague.

SEFP looks for adaptive reuse projects that cost in excess of $2 million and present sustainable energy saving opportunities. According to Mr. Woodbridge, many of their projects have involved former school buildings and they are currently working on projects in Brick Township and in Philadelphia. SEFP would provide all of the funding necessary to convert the Valley Road Building into a community center with space for local non-profit groups as conceived by VRS-ARC.

The announcement, which was made during the public comment portion of the Council session, prompted Princeton resident Joe Small to comment. Describing the building as a “century-old piece of junk” which needs “uncalculated resources in order to be put into a useful state,” Mr. Small criticized the idea of renovating the Valley Road building and said that another non-tax paying property would not be in the best interests of Princeton taxpayers. Instead, he said, what is needed is taxable property, and in particular low income housing. By email Tuesday, Mr. Small explained that “if the Valley Road School building were to be sold to the highest bidder, taxpayers would no longer have to pay for upkeep on the under-utilized property and revenue would flow into the treasury from the now taxable property.” Since Princeton lacks adequate housing for its public employees (including teachers), Mr. Small suggests that turning the property into housing would benefit the entire community. “Although tax revenues might not be as high as if the property were sold and used for commercial (office, retail) or market rate residences,” he concedes, “there would still be a net gain for the taxpayers.”

“Giving the property to a non profit or leasing it at subsidized rates, might benefit those charities that would occupy the building and their clients but would not bring in any tax dollars or benefit all of the taxpayers for whose benefit the property is currently held, be it by the School Board or the municipality,” he wrote.

After Monday’s meeting, Mr. Woodbridge commented briefly on Mr. Small’s idea of selling the building to a developer. He suggested that if the School District were to do so, it might be in violation of the original deed of purchase.

Mr. Woodbridge was also quick to point out that, as yet, negotiations with Mr. Sprague and SEFP are at the beginning stages. While he admitted to feeling optimistic after a first meeting with Mr. Sprague and confident that investors in a public/private partnership would entail no cost to Princeton taxpayers and would satisfy the demands of a School Board resolution in March, he emphasized that these were early days. “We can do this.” he said.

In order for any such plans to move forward, however, VRS-ARC envisions the cooperation of Princeton Council and the Princeton School District, which bought the building from the former Princeton Township for $1. VRS-ARC wants Princeton Council to buy from the School District that part of the building they wish to turn into a community center so as to move ahead with their plans.

Mr. Sprague has expressed an interest in meeting with Mayor Lempert and Mr. Quinn, president of Princeton’s Board of Education.

Asked for comments, Mr. Quinn who attended the meeting Monday, responded by email: “The Board’s March resolution unequivocally rejecting VRS-ARC’s proposal did not envision a scenario under which the Board president would revisit that proposal with the inclusion of a private investment firm. As such, I will not meet with Mr. Sprague. I would only do so with the knowledge and consent of the full Board after a thorough vetting of their proposal by the district administration and the Facilities Committee. I think for me to meet with a private investor interested in a public property without following protocol would be entirely inappropriate.”

Mr. Quinn said he was “baffled” that the VRS-ARC announced the interest of an investor to Council, which does not hold title to the building. “The Board’s process for 369 Witherspoon is unchanged by this announcement since we are unaware of any details of VRS-ARC’s plan,” he said.


After a lengthy debate at its meeting Monday evening, Princeton Council voted down an ordinance regarding appropriate authority of the town’s police department. A new ordinance was introduced, naming the mayor and Council, rather than the township administrator, as the appropriate authority. A public hearing on the revised ordinance will be held at the Council’s September 9 meeting before a final vote is taken.

While Council member Jo Butler argued in favor of naming the mayor and Council for the post, Mayor Liz Lempert said Tuesday that she was frustrated by the vote. “We’ve had several meetings to discuss this, and we should be adopting recognized best practices which is to make it the administrator,” she said. ”We shouldn’t be playing politics with our police force and that’s one of the main reasons why it’s recommended that the appropriate authority be the administrator, to take the politics out of the police.”

Ms. Butler said yesterday that the appropriate authority’s role is to provide civilian oversight of the police force. “When you look at who that might be, it’s important for it to be the Council, because it is the most accountable,” she said. “Providing public safety is the most critical function we do, and I think it’s so important that we’re accountable to the public.”

Monday night’s meeting also included information from Princeton’s municipal attorney Ed Schmierer that Council member Heather Howard won’t be part of discussions regarding Princeton University’s voluntary financial contribution to the town. Ms. Howard is employed by the University as a lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School, which Mr. Schmierer said presents a conflict of interest.

Mayor Liz Lempert, however, who is married to a tenured faculty member, was advised by Mr. Schmierer last week that she can take part in the upcoming talks. In an opinion he provided to Council, Mr. Schmierer said that “any conflict of interest is non-existent.”

No date has been set for the negotiations with the University, Ms. Lempert said in a press conference before the Council meeting Monday. “We will be pursuing a multi-year agreement,” she said. “It helps in planning for our budget to know what the amounts are going to be.”

Asked at the press conference whether she supports the idea of the University paying taxes, Ms. Lempert said “It’s a complicated issue.” Ultimately, she added, “I believe that they want to be a good neighbor, they want to be good citizens, and they want to do their part.”

The Council was planning to discuss which members should take part in the negotiations in closed session following the meeting.


Township engineer Bob Kiser reported to Council about recent meetings between the Williams Transco company, the municipality, and members of the citizens’ group the Princeton Ridge Coalition regarding a natural gas pipeline the company wants to add to the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge.

As a result of the meetings, which included a walk along the length of the line, Transco agreed to narrow the right of way from 80 to 50 feet. “This will greatly reduce the amount of disturbance on the ridge,” Mr. Kiser said. “They also agreed to update their plan on which trees will need to be removed.”

Mayor Lempert praised the Princeton Ridge Coalition for their diplomatic handling of the situation, calling them “one of the most amazing neighborhood groups I’ve ever seen. They have approached it in a really impressively effective way.”

Transco is expected to file its plan with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in mid-September. Following that date, Council will decide whether it wants to officially intervene in the process.

Post Office

The Council voted to pass a resolution regarding the sale of the building on Palmer Square that houses the Princeton post office. The resolution expresses the community’s need to maintain a post office in the central business district.

Mayor Lempert thanked U.S. Representative Rush Holt’s office for interceding in what was going to be the sale of the post office this month. The postponement means the Council now has 30 days to comment on the issue before the office is put on the market.

Some sealed bids have been submitted for the building. The New Jersey Historic Trust is negotiating an easement with the Postal Service, and the Trust will hold the easement. Mayor Lempert said it is important that whatever goes into the former post office needs to comply with historic and zoning ordinances.



So begins Sunday’s Splash ‘n Dash Aquathon at Community Park, with kids ages 7 to 10 at the start of the race, which combines running and swimming. The event was sponsored by the Princeton Recreation Department. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

August 23, 2013
FROM PAGE TO STAGE: As part of the Princeton Public Library’s Page to Stage series, playwright and director Brandon Monokian and actress Kaitlin Overton with local high schoolers on the content of Homer’s “The Odyssey” this week. They team will present two performances of a 21st century version of the classic story this Friday, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the Library’s community room. From left to right (front row) Elaine Milan, Ms. Overton, Mr. Monokian, Karina Lieb, Ursula Blanchard; (back row: Jocelyn Furniss, Hunter Sporn, Programming Librarian Janie Hermann, Noelle Anglade, Trinity Chapa, Olivia Harrison, and Karen Wang.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

FROM PAGE TO STAGE: As part of the Princeton Public Library’s Page to Stage series, playwright and director Brandon Monokian and actress Kaitlin Overton with local high schoolers on the content of Homer’s “The Odyssey” this week. They team will present two performances of a 21st century version of the classic story this Friday, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the Library’s community room. From left to right (front row) Elaine Milan, Ms. Overton, Mr. Monokian, Karina Lieb, Ursula Blanchard; (back row: Jocelyn Furniss, Hunter Sporn, Programming Librarian Janie Hermann, Noelle Anglade, Trinity Chapa, Olivia Harrison, and Karen Wang. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Guided by stage professionals Brandon Monokian and Kaitlin Overton, a dozen or so teens, most of them about to enter 9th grade at Princeton High School (PHS), are getting to grips with The Odyssey this week at the Princeton Public Library.

In preparation for Homer’s classic, required for 9th graders at PHS, the teens are researching and rehearsing for a staged reading this Friday of Naomi Iizuka’s 21st century version, Anon(ymous).

“We chose this modern version as a way to introduce Homer’s original to students who will encounter the book this fall,” said Programming Librarian Janie Hermann. “The Odyssey is an amazing work of literature but it’s also a challenging text, so we have partnered with PHS to help students toward a successful understanding.”

Anon(ymous) is the story of a boy named Anon, a refugee searching for his mother in modern day America. Along the way, he meets characters representing the people and creatures Odysseus met in his journey, such as the cyclops who was blinded by him,” explained Jocelyn Furniss, who found the story to be sometimes funny but with dark aspects overall. “I love acting and so I decided to be a part of this program,” she said.

“The language is beautiful and descriptive and the play is especially well-suited to a staged reading; Anon is a sort of Everyman,” offered Ms. Hermann. Ms. Overton agreed: “When I first read this play, I felt that the character of Anon represented all children.” As for Mr. Monokian, he is particularly attracted to the way in which Ms. Iizuka’s play “takes Homer’s gods and monsters and makes them real people.”

That Anon is a refugee from a war in some unspecified country lends itself well to student discussion. “It’s is a modern and poetic version of The Odyssey that touches on lots of global issues,” said Princeton teen Ursula S. Blanchard.

“I enjoy the imagery and themes of hope, struggle, and finding a place in the world,” said Elaine Milan of Montgomery High School, one of several participants from schools other than PHS, like Trinity Chapa of Northern Burlington High School and Karen Wang of West Windsor Plainsboro High School South. All other participants will be at PHS this fall. Hunter Sporn, the sole boy in the group, came along in order to learn more about The Odyssey.

“I like the modern twist on an ancient story,” said Olivia Harrison. “My favorite character is Nasreen who I played in the read-through.” According to participant Karina Lieb, reading Anon(ymous) makes The Odyssey easier to understand “and more fun.”

On Monday, the students were still a little shy of one another. Chances are that will fall by the wayside as the week progresses and they pour their energies into Friday’s two performances. Throughout the week, for three hours a day, the students will also be examining source materials.

The workshop offers students an opportunity to bring their own interests to bear. At the end of their first session, they were invited to bring in an object from home that they felt had some association with the play. If they were up for it, perhaps they might stage a sword-fighting scene, suggested Ms. Overton, to general positive response. “O yes,” said one student, “that’s the sort of thing we do all the time in ballet school.”

Both Mr. Monokian and Ms. Overton, from Highbridge and Lumberton respectively, have been involved in theater from the age of five. They’ve been working together since both were students at Montclair State University collaborating on the Laramie Project. “We were both involved with a protest project called Revolutionary Readings that was created in response to a youth anthology, Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology edited by Amy Sonnie, which was banned from two public library’s in New Jersey. When the anthology was read at the Princeton Public Library, Mr. Monokian and Ms. Overton created the Library’s Page to Stage series with Ms. Hermann.

Mr. Monokian earned national attention with Revolutionary Readings. He’s helped to raise thousands for women’s charities and was recently listed as one of South Jersey Magazine’s “Names to Know.” His original play Grimm Women has been staged at New York’s Kraine Theater and in Adrienne Theater’s 2nd Stage in Philadelphia. He is also a professional actor with appearances at the Greater Ocean City Theatre Company, Vineyard Playhouse and Luna Stage, among numerous others.

Kaitlin Overton, a recent graduate with a BA in Theatre Studies and a minor in International Studies, is an actress with credits that include You Me Bum Bum Train, directed by Kate Bond. An intern with the critically acclaimed New York Neo-Futurists, she plays the ukulele and has written original music for several staged readings of the Library’s Page to Stage series.

Page to Stage

The Library’s Page to Stage series began three years ago with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The idea is to explore and present staged readings of books that have been made into plays.

Some eight titles including two other plays by Naomi Iizuka have been presented: Freak, which she wrote with Ryan Pavelchik, based on the Pygmalion myth in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Tattoo Girl an adaptation of “Perpetua,” a short story by Donald Barthelme.

In addition, Page to Stage participants have delved into: Eurydice, a retelling of the Orpheus myth by Sarah Ruhl; Einstein’s Dreams, an adaptation of the book by Alan Lightman by Kipp Errante Cheng; The Arabian Nights, Mary Zimmerman’s version of Scheherazade and the 1001 Nights; Jack and the Beanstalk adapted by Bill Springer from the classic fairy tale; Jookalorum!: a collection of stories from O. Henry adapted by Joellen Bland and named after the author’s own term for something special or spectacular; and Mr. Monakian’s Revolutionary Readings.

“Having high schoolers involved is a new direction for Page to Stage which more often involves students at the university level who come to share their love of theater, and so we are very excited about this production,” said Ms. Hermann. “This has been a really fantastic three year run and we are always evolving the program.” Princeton TV’s Sharyn Murray created a short documentary, Page to Stage: Bringing Literature to Life, about the program.

The teen drama and literary workshop culminates in two performances of Anon(ymous) this Friday, August 23, a public dress rehearsal at 2 p.m. before the performance at 6 p.m., both in the Library’s Community Room.


August 21, 2013
HONING LEADERSHIP SKILLS: Participants in Corner House’s 2013 Student Leadership Institute last week took part in three days of team-building on the campus of Princeton University. The annual retreat included lectures, communication exercises, and evening activities.

HONING LEADERSHIP SKILLS: Participants in Corner House’s 2013 Student Leadership Institute last week took part in three days of team-building on the campus of Princeton University. The annual retreat included lectures, communication exercises, and evening activities.

In its mission to foster the emotional well-being of area youth, the local social service agency Corner House has long enlisted the help of young members of the community. Divided into four teams, these students from Princeton High School, The Hun School, Princeton Day School and Stuart Country Day School focus on issues like bullying, family strife, and drug and alcohol abuse, learning techniques to cope and how to pass them on to others.

Last week, 75 participants converged on the Princeton University campus for Corner House’s annual Student Leadership Institute. The students took part in three days of team-building exercises, heard talks by guest speakers, and unwound in the evenings with a hypnotist, karaoke, and a dance party.

In early years of the program, the teams had taken part in individual retreats. But Corner House Executive Director Gary Di Blasio realized a few years ago that being a part of something bigger made the program an even more powerful tool. “You put some 70 students out in the community and they can set the standard of how things can be,” he said this week. “The Leadership Institute has become really important.”

Corner House student leaders from all four schools serve on the Student Board and the Teen Advisory Group, which is concerned with preventing abuse of drugs and alcohol. Those chosen for Project GAIA [Growing Up Accepted in America] and GAIA2, which focus on bullying and acceptance, are students at Princeton High School. The growing popularity of the programs has made admission competitive.

“The leadership programs began with the Teen Advisory Group 22 years ago. When I got here 13 years ago, I realized that the number of students applying were about four times more than we had spots for,” Mr. Di Blasio said. “So we began looking at how to expand that program for teens in the community. It seemed like leadership was something that students and parents and schools were interested in.”

The Teen Advisory Group was expanded, and the first Project GAIA was begun about 12 years ago. It became so popular that GAIA2 was added to the mix. The first Student Board had four participants; currently there are 15.

Princeton High School rising senior Harry Kioko applied to be in the GAIA program as a sophomore. “I didn’t know that much about it, but I decided to give it a try,” he recalled. “I did it sort of on a whim, as a resume-stuffer. But it quickly became a lot more than that.”

As part of GAIA and GAIA2, Harry and his colleagues went into elementary and middle schools to do workshops about acceptance, overcoming differences, and seeing the good in different backgrounds. Then he graduated to the Teen Advisory Group, which talked to middle school students about prevention, moderation, and pressures to drink and take drugs that they might encounter in high school.

As part of the Student Board this coming school year, “We act as an intermediary, I like to think, between students and adults,” he said. “We have seats on the recreation and human services boards, the Corner House board, and as a Princeton Council liaison. We raise the issues we see in school or with our friends. We also plan a lot of events for the community, like the All-City Dodge Ball tournament and Friday Live at the Library, which is geared toward creating a substance-free environment where kids can go on weekends. We really make sure they are as cheap as possible, or free.”

Taking part in these programs throughout the years has allowed him to talk to students he might not otherwise know, Harry said. “It’s really become a very close-knit family and community. It’s sort of cool, because in the past couple of years I’ve really seen Corner House gain more scope and more respect in the community,” he said. “I’ve seen myself change a lot, too. A lot of the stuff we talk about, it shapes you. It really is rewarding. You learn a lot from it. This year, I’m hoping to take it to new heights. It is a phenomenal experience.”

All of the students who take part in the Corner House leadership teams take a pledge, part of which says they will make every effort to abstain from using alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. That is especially meaningful to Princeton High School rising senior Brittany Van Name, who was on the Teen Advisory Group last year and is a member of this year’s Student Board.

“This program, for me, is an opportunity to meet other kids in the Princeton area who share my same beliefs about abstaining from drugs and alcohol while in high school,” she said. “At school, a lot of people don’t understand why I’m not at the weekend parties. When I’m at Corner House I feel more understood.”

Another PHS senior on the Student Board this year is Viraj Khanna, who learned about GAIA from his sister. She had started in her junior year and urged Viraj to apply in his sophomore year. He especially enjoyed taking part in a workshop designed to help eighth grade students transition to high school.

“Placing yourself in that role of being a role model really helps you view how you are viewed by the community,” he said. “Just knowing that more is expected of you by the surrounding community really changes you.”

Last week’s retreat was especially helpful because participants were together for three days and two nights, isolated from other distractions. “Everyone’s there. It really brings the group closer together,” Viraj said. “And you an see the transition in the group from before to after. Productivity really increases. People are communicating, suggesting ideas. Having completely candid conversations with your team members is really what brings it together.”

Chaperones for the retreat are all former student leaders. “Their commitment to passing it on, and to staying connected and wanting to stay part of it, is important,” Mr. Di Blasio said. “What I hear from students is that it gives them a sense that they’re having an impact on their community. They actually have the ability to impact their school and the town they live in. And it’s an impact that’s real.”


The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) and the NAACP Trenton Branch are providing an opportunity to travel by bus to Washington, D.C. on Saturday, August 24 for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington, the historic march in which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech.

Buses will depart from the Princeton Shopping Center and Hamilton AMC Theater at approximately 5 a.m. The Coalition for Peace Action and the NAACP will arrive at the Lincoln Memorial in time for the major rally with Martin Luther King III, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and others.

Attendees will then march approximately half a mile together to the Martin Luther King Memorial to close the day. Buses will arrive back in New Jersey at approximately 8 p.m.

To reserve a bus seat or obtain further information, contact the Coalition for Peace Action at (609) 924-5022,, or visit www.peaceco

Princeton Adult School is celebrating its 75th birthday with a year-long festival beginning in September and featuring an array of special activities throughout the community.

There will be conversations with renowned individuals linked to Princeton, a special lecture series within the Princeton Adult School curriculum, a gala, and a shopping spree, all commemorating the Adult School’s past 75 years of classes and lectures attended by an estimated 200,000 individuals. In addition, the celebration will toast the Adult School’s future in which the organization will grow stronger and even more committed to inspiring a lifetime of learning and personal enrichment.

Several other local non-profit organizations will be hosting events in honor of the Adult School’s 75th birthday. These include the Princeton Public Library; Princeton Arts Council; McCarter Theatre; Princeton Art Museum; Pro-Musica; Rider University/Westminster Choir College; Princeton Festival; Princeton University Concerts; Historical Society of Princeton; Morven; Institute for Advanced Study; Princeton Symphony Orchestra; Dorothea’s House; and Princeton HealthCare System.

The first Princeton Adult School Anniversary celebration event will be a conversation with former ABC Good Morning America news anchor and Princeton University Alumnus and Board member Charlie Gibson, September 27, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Princeton University’s Friend Center.

The topic is “Higher Education: Changes over the past 75 years — looking back and looking ahead.”

Mr. Gibson, an ABC Network news anchor and commentator, will lead a conversation with former Princeton University Presidents Shirley Tilghman and Harold Shapiro. Conversations, which will continue throughout 2014, are an informal exchange among people in leadership roles who will share their insights and experiences. Patron tickets for the entire Conversations Series will be $150; A single ticket is $25. All proceeds benefit the Princeton Adult School 75th Anniversary Fund.

The next event with a confirmed date is the Champagne Gala and Live
Auction, Sunday, May 4, 2014, at Jasna Polana. This birthday party is being underwritten by William and Judy Scheide, who are honorary co-chairs along with Betty Wold Johnson and Vivian and Harold Shapiro. Among the items to be auctioned are a trip to the Today Show with NBC’s Chief Medical Editor and Princeton resident Dr. Nancy Snyderman, a day with award-winning Chef Scott Anderson of Elements, and a cocktail party for 20 with two mystery servers.

Also: a day behind the scenes at McCarter Theatre with Artistic Director Emily Mann, an after-hours children’s birthday party at JaZams toy store, a day with Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward going behind the scenes at the Frick Collection and other art galleries on the Upper East Side in New York City, and a walk-on role at the Princeton Festival production Diamonds are Forever.

Eight lectures will be held from October 8 through December 12 to celebrate the Adult School’s 75th Anniversary, also known as its Diamond Anniversary. Participating scholars are selecting someone or something from the last 75 years that has transformed their respective area of research or expertise.

Lecturers from Princeton University, include Cecilia E. Rouse, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School and Professor of Economics; Simon Morrison, Professor of Music; Michael W Cadden, Chair, Lewis Center for the Arts and Senior Lecturer in Theater; Angela Creager, Professor of History; Virgina A. Zakian, Professor of Molecular Biology; Alexander Nehamas, Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature; and Paul B. Muldoon, Professor of Creative Writing at the Lewis Center for the Arts.

Local shops and restaurants are donating a portion of all the proceeds and sales generated on November 7. More than 60 businesses already have made the commitment to participate in this Shop and Eat Event to benefit the Adult School, and it is anticipated that more will join.

Even though the Princeton Adult School held its first classes in January, 1939, the Adult School concept was born a year earlier during a discussion among Ruth Schleiffler, Laura Peskin, whose husbands owned Princeton News Delivery Service, and Mrs. W.R. Brearley, principal of the Nassau Street Elementary School. Mrs. Schleiffler visited the Trenton Adult School and returned from her adventure with one question and one statement:

“Why don’t we have such a school here? If Mrs. Brearley will do the curriculum, I’ll do the registration.”

Out of those words emerged what was then called Princeton’s Leisure Hour School, with a system of registration that involved spreading out index cards on tables in the Schleiffler living room.

The new adult school opened its doors literally to nearly 500 people during that first term, and figuratively to a new era in race relations. The adult school classes welcomed individuals of all races and religions, and its classes were being held at the Nassau Street Elementary School, a segregated school that remained segregated for public education classes for several more years.

After ceasing its operations during World War II, Princeton’s Leisure Hour School was reborn as the Princeton Adult School in 1948. When the Adult School turned 50 in 1989, student enrollment had grown six times during the course of the five decades. At the age of 75, the Princeton Adult School, during the 2012-13 fall/spring term, had enrolled more than 3,500 students in approximately 320 courses which is seven times the student enrollment and 11 times the course offerings that were available at the Leisure Hour School in 1939.

The variety of the course offerings are the result of the dedication of the Adult School staff and Board members and the resources of the Princeton community. Students can explore America and the world by learning languages, understanding the workings of governments, art and music, history and architecture. They can learn to cook exotic foods while remaining physically and mentally fit with exercise, computers, photography, and arts and crafts classes, and courses about the universe.

For information on the celebrations and course offerings, visit, or email For online courses, visit

As NJ Transit and Princeton University prepare to close the Dinky train station on August 26 and move passengers to a temporary platform and waiting room 1,210 feet away, the citizen group Save the Dinky has asked the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to temporarily halt the approval it granted NJ Transit last year to dismantle the existing station.

The emergency application was filed with DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and with Rich Boornazian, the assistant commissioner for Historic and Natural Resources, who approved NJ Transit’s request to abandon historic protection for the station in order to accommodate the University’s plans for a $330 million arts neighborhood. Plans call for the station’s two buildings, which are across University Place from McCarter Theatre, to be converted into a restaurant and cafe, while a new station designed by architect Steven Holl will be built 460 feet to the south.

Save the Dinky filed the stay application because the relocation of the station could include removal of train infrastructure and shortening of the track. An appeal of the 2012 decision is not due to be heard until later this fall.

The temporary platform is scheduled to be open for a year to 18 months. The University is planning to put an access road to its Lot 7 parking garage over the existing train line. According to a press release from Save the Dinky, the relocation project will “Й have an irreversible and catastrophic effect on the station by ending the station’s transportation function, removing its character-defining elements, and destroying a railroad right-of-way dating back to 1865, through abandonment and conversion to non-rail use.”

The Dinky carries passengers between the campus and the Princeton Junction train station, which is on the Northeast Corridor line. The station was built in 1918 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1973. According to the Save the Dinky website, late Princeton Borough Mayor Barbara Sigmund formed a committee in the early 1970s to save the line when the financial crisis of the railroads threatened to eliminate the Princeton Branch. Ms. Sigmund was mayor when NJ Transit sold the Dinky station complex to the University in 1984.

Save the Dinky wants to preserve the buildings as they are, along with a right-of-way to the station, but the University has maintained that it has the right to relocate the station and convert the buildings for another use.

Anita Garoniak, president of Save the Dinky, said in the release, “If we cannot get a stay, we will have no station left to argue about by the time the courts rule.”

Save the Dinky is involved in three other legal actions to try and save the station. The group is also part of a petition made by railroad passenger groups asking the federal Surface Transportation Board to rule that NJ Transit needs federal approval before pursuing its plans to abandon the station.

The current DEP application maintains that the requested stay is not only appropriate but in the public interest. “A stay will preserve the subject matter of the appeal and preserve confidence in the neutrality of the administrative processes that have been established under law to protect New Jersey’s historic environmental resources,” it reads.

Charles Montange, the Seattle-based attorney representing Save the Dinky in connection with the federal regulatory aspect of the case, said that it is not unusual for developers to acquire railroad property without complying with federal law.

“NJ Transit has frequently ignored federal regulations and is pretty much ignoring them here,” he said. “Their argument is that they don’t think it applies. I don’t think they’ve thought it through.”


Twenty-nine homicides have been reported this year in Trenton, and it’s only August. Shootings have become an almost daily occurrence.

Last Saturday night, police were pelted with rocks and bricks when they tried to disperse a block party that got out of hand. Violence in the capital city seems unprecedented, despite the addition of New Jersey State Police who were brought in last month to help Trenton’s police force, which was depleted by layoffs last year.

New Jersey’s capital city is clearly in crisis. But the dire conditions have not deterred those who volunteer with its various social service agencies or serve on their boards. Rather, these individuals — many of whom live in Princeton — say the situation makes their assistance more important than ever. Several interviewed by Town Topics scoffed at the idea that Trenton has become too dangerous for them to continue their work.

“I will never stay away,” said John Heilner, a volunteer and former board member with Mercer Street Friends, a soccer coach with Trenton City Youth Soccer League for 11 years, and an advisor to the popular Foundation Academy charter school. “I think Trenton needs human resources much more than the surrounding suburban towns. If people in places like Princeton can help with some very basic volunteer work, and if there is better government and economic investment, it will help revive the city.”

Mr. Heilner was particularly discouraged when Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, who was indicted on federal corruption charges last December and is still in office, folded the youth soccer league after 20 years. “The last year before it closed, it served about 250 boys and girls,” he said. “Programs like this give youth healthy alternatives to the street life.”

Focusing on children is the strategy of Princeton resident Jane Rohlf, a physician on staff at Trenton’s St. Francis Medical Center for the past 20 years and a volunteer who “adopted” the Robbins Elementary School, running its GrandPals program, which brings adults into classrooms to read to students. “If we can get these kids off the street and into these really good, life-changing programs like the NJTL [National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton], the golf program -[First Tee of Greater Trenton], the Boys and Girls Club and the Trenton Children’s Chorus, there is no question that their lives would be better,” she said.

As part of GrandPals, Dr. Rohlf reads to kindergarten students and runs a book club for fourth graders. She got free tickets for Robbins students to American Repertory Ballet’s The Nutcracker at Trenton’s War Memorial last year. She hopes to expand GrandPals in the future. But while children are Dr. Rohlf’s focus, they are not her only concern.

“What I feel badly about is that my older patients feel they can’t leave their homes at night,” she said. “They feel like hostages in their own neighborhoods. There are so many good people who are living here and trying to make things better. The blow that we suffered was $25 million gone from the budget, in one snap. We lost a third of the police force. You can’t recover from that. What’s so disheartening is that there are good people here. It will take us years to recover from the violence. I don’t understand why it’s taken government so long to be outraged. The cost to society is phenomenal.”

Dan Rodgers, a professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, has been a board member of Mercer Street Friends for more than a decade and former chair of the board. It is important to recognize, he said, that crime rates vacillate and cities go through cycles. But people in Trenton are clearly struggling to carry on.

“All historians know that in the U.S., cities are complicated social and economic societies,” he said. “When the economic base hollows out for one reason or another, it’s difficult. At the moment, what worries a lot of us are the cutbacks in federal funds, and what appears to be a real and historic retreat from helping the neediest folks in our society.”

Princeton resident Liza Peck has volunteered at the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County for three years. She also helps Dr. Rohlf at the Robbins School, transporting GrandPals volunteers and organizing the program. At the Crisis Ministry, she helps people maintain stable housing situations.

“We’re trying to avoid the disruption and dislocation of being evicted,” she said. “This kind of disruption can lead to a lot of negative avenues, particularly homelessness. It’s the heart of the whole equation. You feel like anything you can do to keep a family together and in one place, or the neighborhood they’re accustomed to, is going to help.”

Ms. Peck usually visits the Crisis Ministry’s office on East Hanover Street in the morning. “It really isn’t intimidating to go there,” she said. “There are a lot of people out and doing things. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I felt even a little bit uncomfortable.”

Attorney Albert M. Stark grew up in Trenton and knows the city well. “I’m not afraid of Trenton at all,” said Mr. Stark, who has donated considerable time and money to the tennis and education programs of the NJTL. “I know the neighborhoods not to go into. I don’t consider myself just a Princetonian. I consider myself a Trentonian who lives in Princeton.”

Mr. Stark has watched children who participate in NJTL emerge from challenging situations. “If you look at Trenton’s problems, there are only four ways out of poverty: Crime, politics, education, and entrepreneurship,” he said. “What the NJTL program does with it’s sports and educational component is really give their 2,500 kids an opportunity to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is parental involvement. They make it possible for single mothers to be involved. They go into the neighborhoods, the homes, and the schools. And it makes a difference.”

Changing the educational system to allow neighborhood high schools instead of sending all of the city’s teenagers to Trenton Central High would also make a difference, he believes. “That’s where you can foster parental involvement and deal with kids in their own environment,” he said. “It’s helping those who get lost in crime and corruption.”

Local volunteers for Trenton organizations urge others to join them. “All of these organizations need people with brains and access to money to serve on their boards,” said Dr. Rohlf. “These programs have to keep going. They are always looking for people with talent and a desire to help out. I just keep saying, if it’s not good for all of us, it’s not going to be good for any of us.”


Summer means construction work in Princeton. After recent road works on Dickinson Street, Snowden Lane, and River Road, Vandeventer Avenue was closed starting on Monday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for sanitary sewer work. Also beginning on Monday, Washington Road was closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Faculty Road and Ivy Lane for resurfacing work by Mercer County.

Milling and paving work on Washington is expected to continue through August 30, Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., at which time it will be closed between Prospect Avenue and Faculty Road. Harrison Street is the suggested alternate route.

The work on Vandeventer follows on improvements made by the municipality on the northern portion of Moore Street between Franklin Avenue and Hamilton/Wiggins.

The municipal project to repair and replace the sanitary sewer main pipe in the Vandeventer roadway is being overseen by Princeton Assistant Engineer Robert Pagan and carried out by the contractor Integrated Construction and Utilities of New Jersey.

“As the project manager, I’ll be on site checking the progress of the work, which is moving as anticipated so far,” said Mr. Pagan, who was examining the project with Inspector Chris Knigge on Monday.

Individual sewer pipes serving private properties on the street will also be replaced to a point behind the sidewalk and will be paid for by the municipality. If, through a video inspection by the contractor, it is discovered that repairs are necessary to the portion of the sewer between the municipal right of way and private homes, property owners will be given the option to use either a plumber at their own cost for the repairs or to use the municipality’s contractor and be assessed for the cost over a 10-year period.

“We expect to complete the first stage of the project from Spring Street to Nassau Street by the end of the week,” said Mr. Pagan, a 25-year veteran with the municipality and assistant engineer for the Borough of Princeton before consolidation took place in January.

As soon as the first stage of the project ends, the second stage, from Spring Street to Wiggins will begin and is expected to take two weeks. The work is being confined to the hours between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the Monday to Friday work week. According to Mr. Pagan, Vandeventer will reopen to traffic and parking at the end of each work day and on weekends.

The good news, however, is that Alexander Street reopened on Monday after repaving work on University Place between College Road and Alexander Street.

Temporary Dinky Station

As for the Dinky, a temporary station located some 1,210 feet away from the current station is expected to open next Monday, August 26, on Alexander.

The temporary station will serve until the fall of 2014 when Princeton University hopes to complete the construction of a new Dinky station some 460 feet away from the current Dinky Station buildings, which will be converted into a restaurant and café as part of the University’s $330 million Arts and Transit project.

The temporary station will have an enclosed heated and air-conditioned waiting room.

According to Kristen Appelget, Princeton University’s director of community and regional affairs, the University will provide a new express bus, called Tiger PAW, as a supplement to the Dinky service between Princeton station and Princeton Junction. PAW would meet every incoming train to the Junction. Ms. Appleget gave an update to the municipality at the most recent council meeting on August 5. She announced that while the new Dinky Station is being constructed the Tiger Paw will serve passengers inconvenienced by the distance that the temporary station adds to their journey. Commuters who drive to the temporary Dinky site will find a parking lot with space for 150 vehicles.

For additional information about the Arts and Transit project, call (609) 258-8023 or visit: For information on road closures in the Princeton area, visit:



Close to the corner of Nassau and Vandeventer, by the Garden Theater, Patrol Officer Chris Craven looks on as repairs to existing sewer lines get underway on Monday. The road will be closed for about three weeks during weekdays from Monday through Friday, as the sanitary sewer line is replaced in two stages, first from Nassau to Spring and then from Spring to Wiggins streets. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)


August 14, 2013
AT THE WELL: Counselors and teachers from the At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Summer Academy, which took place from July 28 to August 9, at Princeton University’s Friend Center gather Friday before the graduation ceremony. From left: Tina Haskell, Kekelly Ketemepi, ­Veronica Farrar, Alexandria V. duBoulay, SAT teacher Naomi Leapheart; in front, Residential Dorm Director LeRhonda Greats, Nicole Glass, Seana’ Dark, and Martice Sutton.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

AT THE WELL: Counselors and teachers from the At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Summer Academy, which took place from July 28 to August 9, at Princeton University’s Friend Center gather Friday before the graduation ceremony. From left: Tina Haskell, Kekelly Ketemepi, ­Veronica Farrar, Alexandria V. duBoulay, SAT teacher Naomi Leapheart; in front, Residential Dorm Director LeRhonda Greats, Nicole Glass, Seana’ Dark, and Martice Sutton. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Actress Jasmine Guy took center stage at the closing ceremony of the At the Well (ATW) Young Women’s Leadership Summer Academy in Princeton University’s Friend Center last Friday.

Ms. Guy spoke about her life experiences as a young woman who left home at 17 to dance for the Alvin Ailey company in New York City and, more recently, of her personal achievement as author of a biography of Afeni Shakur, the mother of Tupac Shakur, titled, Evolution of a Revolutionary.

Ms. Guy was just one of a stellar line-of inspirational mentors, teachers, entrepreneurs, and accomplished business leaders in the African American community invited by At the Well’s founder Jacqueline Glass to share their skills and experiences with a select group of 80 high school girls entering grades 10 through 12 from across the country, including Hawaii.

The ceremony was the culmination of two weeks in which high schoolers had followed a rigorous schedule of leadership training activities with workshops in mathematics, critical reading and writing, SAT preparation, independent study, and rehearsals for a play about deterring violence against women and girls created by the young scholars themselves. They participated in team building activities and heard from motivational speakers the likes of Brandi and Karli Harvey, entertainer Steve Harvey’s daughters; inventor Lisa Ascolese of QVC Television and The Home Shopping Network; author A’Lelia Bundles, whose biography of her great great grandmother Madame C. J. Walker, On Her Own Ground, is a New York Times bestselling biography and who is now working on a biography of her great-grandmother, A’Lelia Walker; Huffington Post blogger and money expert Tiffany Aliche; beauty journalist and editor Tai Beauchamp (Oprah Magazine, Seventeen); Delta Airlines professional and Atlanta Daily World’s 2013 Woman of Excellence Karmetria Burton; Deborah Owens, author of A Purse of Your Own; among others.

“I connected with speakers who had a passion for making a difference in the lives of girls. All of our faculty and our guest speakers like Jasmine Guy were excited to be coming here. These are individuals who can command large honoraria far beyond what we are able to give, but more than that they have heart,” said At the Well Founder and CEO Jacqueline Glass.

Now in it’s third year, ATW is the only summer leadership institute at an Ivy League campus for minority teen girls from under-served communities. From July 28 until August 9, they boarded at Princeton University and experienced a taste of college life. They were taught by Princeton University professors and coached by Goldman Sachs professionals.

It wasn’t all study, however, there was time for fun and a trip to New York City to attend a Broadway show, Motown. To their delight, comedian Chris Rock, the uncle of one student, stopped by to visit his niece.

Personal Perspective

Perhaps best known for her role as the iconic southern belle Whitley Gilbert from the Cosby Show spinoff television series A Different World, Jasmine Guy has a recurring role as Grams on the popular series Vampire Diaries. Her theater work includes Broadway productions of The Wiz, Grease and Chicago and among her awards are six consecutive NAACP Image Awards.

Commenting on her participation in a pre-event interview, Ms Guy said: “It is very important for us to reach out to these young girls, especially since all of the issues that we had growing up are compounded today with the revolution in communications. I wasted a lot of time comparing myself to others and tearing myself down. All we have is our own perspective so it needs to be balanced and healthy. It’s taken me many years to learn to do that, and I still fall prey to negative thinking from time to time. I hope to convey some of the ways that you can switch from negative to positive thinking and be a friend to yourself.” Her keynote address was peppered with wit and wisdom,

Achievement Gap

Motivated by the academic achievement gap between minority teen students and their white counterparts Jacqueline Glass, a 2003 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, founded At the Well, which has its roots in a series of one-day conferences she set up beginning in 2009 to empower women, particularly women of color, who were struggling as she had.

Besides being a licensed minister, Ms. Glass has worked as an adjunct professor, a publishing professional, freelance marketing consultant, and editor. She is currently a court reporter for the New York Supreme Civil Court proceedings.

“The women’s conferences were founded as an alternative to feeling frustrated by not being able to climb the corporate ladder in spite of being overqualified in jobs and being looked over for promotion,” said Ms. Glass.

At one such event, a program for teenage girls was added. “That’s when I found my calling. This is a form of ministry for me. These girls hunger and thirst for knowledge, guidance, and leadership,” said Ms. Glass whose own teenage daughter is now in her second year as an undergraduate at Rutgers University and was a counselor at this year’s Academy.

According to Ms. Glass, “The U.S. Department of Education statistics state African Americans account for about 13 percent of the entire college enrollment. The low performance of African-American students in math and on SAT scores is alarming. Our program addresses these issues head-on.”

The first two-week At the Well Summer Leadership Academy was held in 2011. In 2012, there were 43 girls. This year that number has doubled. Of hundreds of applicants, only one in three is accepted. “This has grown beyond my wildest expectations,” she said.

To participate, students had to meet criteria based upon recommendations, an interview, a written essay, extracurricular activities, and grade point average. A generous grant from the F.I.S.H. Foundation has supported the Academy for two years. Toby Sanders, ATW director of curriculum and critical reading teacher has plans to set up a similar program for boys as soon as funding can be found.

At the Well

The name of the program was inspired by the Biblical story in the Gospel of John in which Christ speaks at length to an unnamed Samaritan woman who has come to draw water from a well and is transformed by the experience. “It is my hope that the experience of participating in this program will be transformative with inspiration, education, and reflection leading to transformation, seeing things anew,” said Ms. Glass.

A highlight of the closing ceremony was student Brandi McLeod’s a cappella singing. “I’m not the average girl from the video/and I ain’t built like a supermodel/but I learnt to love myself unconditionally/… my worth is not determined by the price of my clothes/no matter what I’m wearing I will always be/the beautiful Brandi.” Members of the audience had goosebumps.

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has honored physicist Rich Hawryluk with a Secretary’s Appreciation Award for his service to ITER, a huge international fusion experiment under construction in France.

Mr. Hawryluk, a former deputy director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), returned to the Lab in April after completing a two-year assignment as deputy director-general for the Administration Department at ITER, whose mission is to show the feasibility of fusion energy.

The DOE award, signed by former Energy Secretary Steven Chu and presented by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, recognized Hawryluk for “applying his wealth of big-science project management experience to enable the ITER project to make the transition from design phase to construction, thus helping ensure that this important international project will successfully move toward demonstrating the feasibility of fusion as a future energy source.”

Mr Hawryluk brought years of proven know-how to the ITER assignment. He joined PPPL in 1974 with a Ph.D. in physics from MIT and went on to head the Laboratory’s Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR), which set world records for fusion power during the 1990s. He served from 1997 to 2009 as deputy director of PPPL, which Princeton University manages for DOE.

“Rich Hawryluk has an unparalleled track record in scientific and organizational leadership in the fusion energy sciences,” Edmund Synakowski, head of the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, said in commenting on the award. Such leadership included Hawryluk’s guidance of the TFTR project, which “culminated in the generation of nearly 11 megawatts of fusion power,” Mr. Synakowski said.

“The Department therefore heartily supported [Hawryluk’s] willingness to respond to the call from ITER’s Director General, Osamu Motojima, to join his leadership team in Cadarache, France,” Synakowski said. “Rich served with distinction by bringing to ITER the same industry and insight that the U.S. community has come to know and admire.”

“ITER was a very interesting experience for me,” said Mr. Hawryluk. “And I learned in much more detail about the issues associated with bridging the transition from design to construction. ITER’s unprecedented size and power mark “a huge step forward from TFTR. While experiments on TFTR produced important data, ITER will show whether such results can be extrapolated into a viable source of fusion energy.”


HomeFront’s food pantries are desperately low and so the local non-profit agency based in Lawrenceville is urging residents to help alleviate the food shortage through a Stop Summer Hunger Now food campaign.

For some local children summer is not a time they look forward to — especially when their mothers already have trouble making their food dollars cover meals during the rest of the year. These families find it especially difficult in the summer when their kids don’t have access to nutritious school breakfasts and lunches.

“Most people think that winter is the hardest time for these families,” says Connie Mercer, HomeFront’s executive director. “During the winter, the children get subsidized breakfasts and lunches at school. During the summer, they don’t. These are families that live on the edge, economically. They can’t afford additional food and the whole family suffers. And the line at our front desk, coming to us for bags of nutritious food, gets longer and longer — and our shelves get empty, one after another. August is an especially tough month.”

“There is a day I dread,” she adds. “That is the day we run out of supplies and we have to turn hungry families and hungry children away. I can only hope that our community members, our friends, and neighbors will help us help them by donating to our food drive and will make sure that this sad day never comes.”

“Hunger isn’t just about discomfort,” she says. “It makes it hard to focus. It results in lower grades and test scores for children. It makes it hard for adults to develop job skills and get employment. It endangers the future of every member of these families. Every donated box of food is an investment in a better future.”

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Terhune Orchards in Lawrenceville celebrates autumn with a two-day Apple Festival, September 14 and 15. The 37th annual festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Terhune will continue the celebration with fall festival weekends through October.

Participants can pick fresh apples from dwarf trees, take a tractor-drawn wagon ride, hear live music Saturday and Sunday from the Daisy Jug Band (returning for the 32nd year), visit the adventure barn, walk the farm trail, and have farm fresh snacks and a homemade lunch. There are numerous activities for kids, including face painting, pumpkin painting, pony rides, make-your-own scarecrows and a cornstalk maze.

Apples can be picked at the Cold Soil Road farm and Van Kirk farm on Apple Day. Pumpkins can pick be picked at the Terhune home farm.

At owner Pam Mount’s down-home food tent, a pig will be roasted for pork sandwiches. Barbecued chicken, hot dogs, homemade salads, and soup will also be for sale. Apple dishes will include apple pies, apple muffins, apple bread, cider doughnuts and applesauce, as well as Terhune apple cider.

Adults 21 and over can stop in at the vineyard and winery tasting room in the 150-year-old barn and sample our award-winning red and white wines, plus apple wine. The farm store will offer fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, homemade pies, homemade cookies, and fresh-pressed apple cider.

Fall festivals continue Saturdays and Sundays beginning the weekend of September 21 and ending October 27, including Columbus Day, Monday October 14. There will be live music, pumpkins to pick and decorate, pony rides, face painting, wagon rides, the corn stalk maze to explore, the adventure barn to visit, and festival foods to eat.

Pictures taken at the farm can be entered in the Terhune Orchards photo contest. Entries are due October 1. For complete rules and entry information stop by the farm store or visit

There is no admission to the farm store, winery tasting room, and Van Kirk pick your own. Admission to the festival area is $5. Children three and under receive free admission. Parking on the farm is free. There is no admission to the farm on weekdays. Terhune Orchards is located at 330 Cold Soil Road in Lawrenceville. Visit or call the farm store at (609) 924-2310 for directions.


Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan will be the candidates for the New Jersey U.S. Senate seat vacated by Frank Lautenberg, who died in June. Mr. Booker and Mr. Lonegan were the winners in the primary held yesterday, and will compete in a special election for the seat on October 16.

But according to unofficial results last night, Princeton voters showed overwhelming support for Congressman Rush Holt, who was among the other Democratic contenders in the primary. Mr. Holt garnered 2,214 votes in Princeton, as compared to Mr. Booker’s 627. State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver earned 15 Princeton votes, while U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr. got 59.

In the Republican race, Mr. Lonegan earned 146 votes from Princeton, while Dr. Alieta Eck got 63.

Newark Mayor Booker, 44, has been in office since 2006. According to his campaign website, his win over Deputy Mayor Ronald Rice was the largest margin ever recorded in a contested Newark election. The charismatic mayor cited his lowering of crime rates, expansion of affordable housing, and lowering of the budget in Newark as qualifications for the job. He has been known to walk the streets of the city at night and live on food stamps for a week in an effort to understand Newark’s problems.

Mr. Booker announced his intention to run for Mr. Lautenberg’s seat last year. His Senate platform including the improvement of public education, the reduction of unemployment, and the passage of gun safety legislation. As of last week, he was leading the race with a projected 54 percent of likely Democratic votes, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

Mr. Booker served on Newark’s City Council from 1998 until his election as mayor in 2006. He is a graduate of Stanford University, Oxford University, and Yale Law School, and was a Rhodes scholar.

Mr. Lonegan, 57, was the mayor of Bogota, in Bergen County, from 1996 to 2008. Currently, he directs the New Jersey chapter of Americans For Prosperity, a conservative and libertarian organization which advocates for limited government. Mr. Lonegan has emphasized fiscal conservatism, an individual’s right to bear arms, and his pro-life position, among other issues, during his campaign.

A Teaneck native, Mr. Lonegan became legally blind as a result of a degenerative eye disease he contracted as a youth. He graduated from William Paterson College and earned a master’s degree in business from Fairleigh Dickinson University. According to his campaign website, he built and managed retail, custom home-building and manufacturing businesses before becoming mayor of Bogota.

Among his achievements while in office were cuts in municipal spending, elimination of wasteful spending, privatization of some functions and more cost-efficient government, his website says.

Mr. Lonegan ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the House of Representatives in 1998. He has run for the Republican nomination for governor of New Jersey twice, coming in fourth in 2005.