May 22, 2013
LIFESTORIES IN REVERIE: This acrylic on paper work, titled "Into the Woods," by artist and teacher Ann O'Connor is one of several on view in the exhibition "Reverie" opening at the Morpeth Contemporary, 43 West Broad St, in Hopewell, this Saturday, May 18. A reception for the artist will take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (609) 333-9393 or email:

LIFESTORIES IN REVERIE: This acrylic on paper work, titled “Into the Woods,” by artist and teacher Ann O’Connor is one of several on view in the exhibition “Reverie” opening at the Morpeth Contemporary, 43 West Broad St, in Hopewell, this Saturday, May 18. A reception for the artist will take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (609) 333-9393 or email:

An exhibition of works by Ann O’Connor at the Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell opens, Saturday, May 18, with a reception for the artist from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Titled “Reverie,” the exhibition features stories from the artist’s life via a series of paintings that were over twenty years in the making. The work reflects Ms. O’Connor’s deep-seated interest in indigenous cultures and the interdependence of humans and animals.

Sparked by a dream, her paintings include both the vibrant hues of India, where she was born to Irish parents, and the lush green of Ireland, where she continues to work.

Also a teacher of art, Ms. O’Connor founded Ballynakill Studios in North Connemara, an area on the west coast of Ireland where she ran workshops from 1990 to 2001.

Today, Ms. O’Connor spends time in both Ireland and India, as well as New Jersey. She continues to teach and make art, drawing on memories, her deep awareness and love of nature, the indigenous cultures with which she identifies, and reflections on her years of fusing these different worlds.

“Reverie” continues through June 15 at the Morpeth Contemporary, 43 West Broad St, Hopewell, N.J. 08525. For more information, call (609) 333.9393 or email: info@morpethcon

Hurricane Sandy left her mark on the Princeton Family YMCA. Water seeped into the lower level exercise area during the storm last October, knocking some of the cardio and weight equipment out of commission. The damage, though quickly contained, was yet another reminder to the YMCA’s board of directors that the 60-year-old building on Paul Robeson Place was in serious need of renovation.

The board had already begun fundraising for “Project Jumpstart,” an initiative designed to update the Wellness Center of the athletic building the organization shares with the YWCA. The gym was upgraded last fall, and has been doubled in size since the YWCA stopped offering its gymnastics program and gave its half of the space to the YMCA. The expansion means the YMCA now has a full basketball court.

The next phase, starting in June, will involve knocking down walls to create an airy, modern, open space with a centralized area for new cardio equipment, strength training, and free weights. To be carried out by the Princeton-based Yedlin and Company, this is the first major construction project at the YMCA in about 40 years. The fitness center will stay open during the construction, which is targeted for completion by September 1 of this year.

“The [Princeton Public] library is complete, the Arts Council is complete. We see ourselves as the last piece of the puzzle,” said Paul Zeger, senior program director of the YMCA. “What we can offer is family time. This is a place where whole families can come and take part in so many activities, either together or doing different things at the same time. And we want it to be in a facility that they deserve.”

Mr. Zeger said the YMCA will spend close to $200,000 on new cardio and weight equipment, and about the same amount on construction. The need to upgrade has become more pronounced in recent years, as new, state-of-the-art fitness centers have opened in the area. “Memberships have been going a little downhill,” Mr. Zeger acknowledged. “We’re situated between some of the new gyms, and that has taken some people away.”

But Mr. Zeger said the YMCA’s location, within walking distance of downtown and some local schools, give it an advantage. Several middle-schoolers already take part in the Seventh Grade Initiative, a statewide program that gives free membership to any child in seventh grade. Additional programs serve area children who walk to the YMCA from their homes and from school.

As part of the renovation project, the Momo Brothers, who own several restaurants in Princeton, will be taking over the YMCA’s kitchen and cafe in September. The cafe has been closed since it sustained damage from Hurricane Sandy. “We will work with them to help deliver healthful eating, which is a big push for us,” Mr. Zeger said.

Safety is another focus of the project. A member services desk will open, with a fitness attendant on duty at all times. There will be security updates to the child care center. “In light of recent national events, we felt there was a need for more security,” Mr. Zeger said. “Families in the child care center will get a punch code to let themselves in, and it will have only one access point in the main lobby. All of this will be monitored.”

Project Jumpstart’s upgrades will result in a small hike in fees, with dues for a family going from $95 to $99 a month starting in September. “But for those who have been here for awhile, they can keep this year’s monthly rate for another year,” Mr. Zeger said.

The YMCA’s CEO Kate Bech looks at Project Jumpstart as an opportunity for residents to rediscover the organization as “an inclusive gathering place for people of all walks of life to connect and get to know each other, while sharing in activities that encourage healthy living,” she wrote in an email. The renovated wellness center “will give families a place where moms and dads can model healthy behaviors to their children, and a setting in which health-seekers can find support from a caring staff,” she added. “As a cause-driven, charitable organization that provides financial assistance, we’re dedicated to strengthening the foundations of community, and Project Jumpstart will give Princeton a wonderful new resource for all at a very affordable cost.”

The annual “Drumthwacket in Bloom: Garden Party Open House” is Sunday, June 2 from 1-3 p.m. at the historic home that serves as the New Jersey governors’ mansion on Stockton Street.

The day will include garden tours of Moses Taylor Pyne’s Italianate gardens designed by Daniel Webster Langton in 1905, led by Mercer County Master Gardeners. The house will be open for tours. Olden House, the 18th century home on the property, will also be open for tours.

Children’s activities will focus on learning about New Jersey and its state symbols. There will be beekeeping demonstrations by Ken Walters of The Yellow Bee. Honey Brook Organic Farm representatives will talk about the New Jersey state fruit and their local farming and sustainability initiatives.

Reservations are required. The suggested donation is $5, which will be donated to the Drumthwacket Foundation. Call (609) 683-0057 ext. 5 or visit


Members of the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team celebrate last Thursday after topping Allentown 10-4 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. The win marked the program’s first-ever MCT crown. The Little Tigers are going after another title this week as they compete in the Group III South sectional. For more details on the MCT title game, see page 34. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

When the non-profit organization Courage to Connect NJ holds its third annual seminar at Princeton University on June 5, Princeton’s successful consolidation will be the focus of the day. And now that the town is assured of the 20 percent reimbursement for consolidation costs that Governor Chris Christie pledged during a visit to Princeton nearly two years ago, the lineup of Princeton officials taking part in the day’s sessions is especially relevant.

Mayor Liz Lempert learned last Thursday that the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) would provide $464,000 to help offset costs of the merger between Princeton Borough and Township, which went into effect the first day of this year. By October, the town should expect $350,000, which is to be used for the 2013 municipal budget. The balance will be forwarded by the end of 2013, after proof is provided that transition expenses were reasonable, necessary, and one-time in nature.

“The State is pleased to have provided Princeton with support to make the merger possible,” the letter from DCA to municipal officials stated. It also noted that hundreds of hours of DCA staff were allotted to Princeton to smooth the consolidation process, as well as develop a plan to reassess property in the merged towns.

According to Ms. Lempert, budget savings this year that are related to consolidation exceeded the projections of the Consolidation Commission by 40 percent. At its meeting Tuesday, May 28, Princeton Council will be considering an amendment to the budget that will lower the tax rate an additional cent. A public hearing on the budget will also be held that night. But should the amendment pass, the Council won’t vote on the budget until the June 10 meeting, because they are not allowed to amend and vote on the same night.

In the meantime, several local officials will take part in the Courage to Connect event on June 5. Ms. Lempert is a panelist at a session titled “Princeton: A Road Map to Follow,” along with Councilwoman Heather Howard, administrator Bob Bruschi, and Joseph Stefko, the president and CEO of CGR, the company that helped guide Princeton through the consolidation process.

Former Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner will speak during “A Path to Success,” while Princeton Police Captain Nick Sutter and Lieutenant Chris Morgan will take part in a session on the benefits of police and fire consolidation.

Courage to Connect NJ is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that “educates the public and elected officials in New Jersey about municipal consolidation by merging towns into town clusters for improved efficiency and savings,” according to its website. During an appearance on the television show “NJ Today” earlier this year, the organization’s executive director Gina Genovese said of Princeton, “Now we have a model that works” and called 2013 “the year of the merger.”

Ms. Lempert said it is important to keep in mind that Princeton’s process of consolidation dates back to the 1950’s. “It took a long time,” she said this week. “The effort that was successful was based on a very long period of discussions. But in a lot of ways, the economy, the condition of the state budget, and other factors are putting increased pressures on local municipalities. To the degree that we can show that consolidation has allowed us to lower taxes and enhance services at the same time, it becomes something really attractive to other towns to seriously consider for themselves. We’re excited at the level of interest in Princeton’s consolidation and know that others around the state are looking to our example.”

After years of refining the relationship between Town and Gown when it comes to campus policing, the new consolidated Princeton Police Department and Princeton University’s department of public safety have put an updated agreement in place that clarifies who does what.

The agreement on operating procedures outlines best practices and processes for enhancing collaboration between the departments to best serve the entire Princeton community.

But because the document includes details of police response strategies and protocols, it will not be released to the public, said Princeton Police Captain Nick Sutter when asked for details. “It contains privileged information that if released could endanger the public and officers,” he said.

Mr. Sutter, who was with the former Borough Police Department for some 19 years before consolidation in January, explained the background to the current agreement: “When I first started in the Borough, the campus force was more of a security department. Over the last 15 years it has developed into more of a law enforcement agency and that evolution has created a need for clarification of who handles what. Since 2005, the Borough had been working toward such an agreement. Township Police put an agreement in place toward the end of 2011. With consolidation, we’ve been revisiting the relationship and developing a new model, one that is not based on an either/or approach and is cooperative in nature. We’ve adopted some of the pieces from the Township agreement.”

He spoke of his excitement about the new cooperative emphasis as a way of working with the campus police. “One or the other of us will be designated as the primary investigator with the other in a secondary supporting role,” he said.

The relationship would be similar to the way in which area police departments work together and share resources, said Mr. Sutter. “If we need a police dog from West Windsor, they would share that resource with us,” he said.

“With respect to the campus police, the agreement specifies that they will take all routine service calls for incidents that happen on their property but if there is a public safety issue, a critical incident in progress, say a kidnapping or a threat with a deadly weapon, then the Princeton Police will respond,” said Mr. Sutter. “When the situation is under control, we will then share investigative tools with the campus police.”

According to the police captain: “this type of cooperation is more efficient. It promotes the flow of information between the two departments and it more effectively addresses public safety on campus and in the town.”

Before consolidation, the campus police had to deal with two separate police departments. In many ways the agreement that is being developed is formalizing practices that are already in place and have been for some time.

“This agreement builds upon a long history of cooperation between the University’s Department of Public Safety and the Princeton police,” said Treby Williams, assistant vice president for safety and administrative planning. “Both departments are dedicated to the safety and security of the community and to a partnership characterized by mutual respect and effective teamwork.”

Designed to provide additional mutual investigative support and increase the effectiveness of communication between the departments, the agreement clarifies existing procedures, outlines responsibilities, and establishes a standardized process for collecting and sharing statistics. All responsibilities outlined in the agreement are consistent with the respective department’s current operations. The departments will work together to leverage training program opportunities and coordinate joint efforts, taking advantage of shared resources between the departments.

“I feel we have developed a creative and effective model that maximizes the resources available to both departments,” said Mr. Sutter. “It’s a model that might well serve as an example to other town and gown communities.”

“Working closely together is in the best interest of the community, and we look forward to maintaining our shared spirit of cooperation,” said Paul Ominsky, executive director of the University’s Department of Public Safety, adding that the agreement will be reviewed regularly by both departments to determine if any changes are necessary.

“The collaborative document dictates response protocols to crimes involving the university community; it’s clear, concise, and gives our officers an understanding about how they should respond,” said Mr. Sutter.

You may be surprised to learn that there are hungry school children right here in Princeton. But it comes as no surprise to Princeton Public Schools Superintendent Judith A. Wilson.

According to the school district, “food insecurity,” which means that there is no guarantee that the next meal will be provided for or that there is a nutritious snack available, can be an issue for as many as 12 percent of all children enrolled in Princeton schools.

In an effort to address this, the school district is joining efforts with the volunteer groups, Princeton Human Services Commission and Mercer Street Friends, and Princeton University.

Their “Send Hunger Packing” initiative not only aims to raise awareness of the situation but to do something to alleviate the problem by raising some $62,000 to cover the cost of providing Friday afternoon food packs for elementary school children who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches to take home with them so that nutritious food will be available to children who might not be eating adequately over the weekends.

“This is an important project that addresses a very basic need in the lives of many of our students,” said Ms. Wilson. “How can we seriously expect the best for children and student achievement if they are hungry?”

Kristin S. Appelget, director of Princeton University’s Office of Community and Regional Affairs, announced last Wednesday that the University will donate $10,000 toward the cost of the new program in Princeton’s four public elementary schools.

In addition to providing financial resources, Princeton University hopes to support the program in other ways, according to Ms. Appelget. “There are great opportunities for our students to take a volunteer role. It’s not just the initial financial resource, which of course is important, but there are other ways we will partner with this program, through the student volunteer corps, and faculty and staff. We already do campus food drives as an institution and have students who work with Mercer Street Friends.”

“I am delighted to celebrate the lead gift from the University,” said Mrs. Wilson “It is such a generous gift, twice what we hoped for and so meaningful for the whole community and it makes us realize once again the impact the University has in recognizing the social issues and setting very clear and high priorities for what it funds and recognizes.”

The program will begin by providing as many as 215 children at Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook. and Riverside schools in kindergarten to fifth grade with a weekend supply of nutritious snacks and drinks.

A press release on the district’s web site reports that “On any given day, there are families in Princeton who do not have enough food. This hits younger children the hardest because they are dependent on what food might or might not be on hand for each meal. Weekends are particularly tough because children are not in school to receive free or reduced-priced breakfast or lunch.”

Film Fund Raiser

Ms. Wilson also had words of praise for Ross Wishnick and Leticia Fraga Nadler from the Princeton Human Services Commission and Phyllis C. Stoolmacher from Mercer Street Friends for their spearheading of a fundraising drive that will screen the film A Place at the Table, starring Jeff Bridges and Tom Colicchio at the Garden Theatre on Sunday, June 9, at 4 p.m. Tickets start at $50. The goal of $62,000 would fund the cost of the Friday food packs for two school years.

“So far we have raised $19,000 from institutions, individuals, and through our website, which is selling tickets to the event,” said Ross Wishnick of the Princeton Human Services Commission. “It has been amazing and a testament to the fact that people realize this is such a basic need.”

The Send Hunger Packing initiative could have multiple benefits, said Ms. Stoolmacher. “First and foremost it addresses an immediate need to provide food for children who might not be eating adequately over the weekends. It also makes people aware of hunger and the consequences of hunger and ideally aware that we need better public policies to address this issue.”

For more information or to purchase tickets,call (609) 751-7463 or visit: or

May 15, 2013
THE ICEMEN COMETH: During the winter of 1910 when the Princeton Ice Company was in full operation at what is now known as the Mountain Lakes Preserve, ice men lined up for an unknown photographer on a pier that was used to move “cakes” of ice to the incline elevator, right rear, for loading into the ice house that can be seen behind them. In the days before refrigeration, the Company served Princeton’s businesses and homes.(Photo Courtesy of the Historical Society of Princeton)

THE ICEMEN COMETH: During the winter of 1910 when the Princeton Ice Company was in full operation at what is now known as the Mountain Lakes Preserve, ice men lined up for an unknown photographer on a pier that was used to move “cakes” of ice to the incline elevator, right rear, for loading into the ice house that can be seen behind them. In the days before refrigeration, the Company served Princeton’s businesses and homes. (Photo Courtesy of the Historical Society of Princeton)

The rehabilitation project that has restored both of the dams at the Mountain Lakes Preserve has been awarded a 2013 Historic Preservation Award from the State of New Jersey Historic Preservation Office.

The award for the “Princeton Ice Company Historic District” will be presented at the 23rd Annual Historic Preservation Awards ceremony on Thursday, May 16, at 3 p.m., in the Court House in Flemington.

While those who worked on the project will earn deserved recognition, the person who gave $3 million to fund it remains anonymous. All that is known is that he or she lives in the Princeton-area.

“The two-year project was challenging because of the restoration of the stone masonry structure. Both dams had to be restored. It was a large project costing $3 million that was provided by an anonymous donor, who also provided money for signage,” said Princeton Engineer Bob Kiser.

A team comprised of Mr. Kiser; William Pyontak, of civil engineers French and Parrello Associates; contractor Glenn Goebel, of Compass Contruction; archeologist Jim Lee, of Hunter Research, Inc.; and historic preservationist Clifford Zink, of C.W. Zink and Associates carried out the “complicated mix of historic preservation, conservation, dam safety, environmental, and engineering requirements,” as described in a report by Mr. Zink. Princeton’s Assistant Engineer Deanna Stockton managed the project.

Known for his expertise with respect to stone structures such as the circa 1850 Heathcote Farm in Kingston, Mr. Zink took on the task of making sure that due respect was paid to the the site’s “historic significance” while the dams were rebuilt to meet required safety regulations. “The DEP has new and stringent regulations on dams. In this case, we have an earthen dam at the lower level that dates to 1884 and another masonry dam at the upper level dating to 1904,” commented Mr. Zink in a telephone interview, Monday.

Mr. Zink, who was also responsible for the project’s historic interpretation, reported that “more items than we had originally hoped to discover were found during the the monitored excavation. The contractor halted work when what appeared to be a foundation was discovered. The archeologist was called in and it turned out to be the apron for the ice elevator that was a sort of diagonal conveyor belt that lifted ‘cakes’ of ice so that they could be placed inside the ice houses. It’s a piece of machinery dating to the early years of the 20th century and it’s a remarkable find,” he said.

Portions of the original ice wall and building foundations were uncovered along with several well preserved ice tools including an ice plow and guides for marking and scoring ice, and an intact lower portion of the circa 1906 ice elevator apron. The items will be kept for any future on-site display.

The well-preserved 5-foot long ice-plow would have been horse-drawn and used to score a grid on the ice. “A bar with a wedge would then be inserted to pry the ice out in ‘cakes,’” said Mr. Zink, who also prepared the new signs that convey the history of the site and the work of preservation. For these, he used, in addition to his own research, the work of the renowned local historian Wanda Gunning. The signs were designed by Fairfax Hutter.

“Princeton exercised extraordinary stewardship on this project,” said Mr. Zink. “Municipalities don’t always do the best thing with their buildings but in this case the work done in meeting dam safety regulations while preserving the historic significance is exemplary,” he said.


Mountain Lakes was once the site of the Princeton Ice Company. According to Mr. Zink’s report, the owner of a stone quarry and an ice harvesting company created the original seven-acre lake there in 1884 to produce ice for Princeton homes and businesses. He built a lower dam of earth along with a spillway, a drainage basin, retaining walls, and culverts all made of stone from his quarry.

In 1902, he built a stone and concrete upper dam to control sedimentation in the lake. The ice harvesting facility included a steam powered ice elevator for loading ice “cakes” into three ice houses. It operated into the 1920s, when refrigeration came into use and the ice houses and elevator were demolished.

Princeton Township acquired the 80-acre property in 1987 with the support of a Green Acres grant, private funding from the Friends of Princeton Open Space, and other private sources. The Nature Conservancy acquired an easement to protect the lake and the surrounding woods in perpetuity from development.

Over the decades, much of the lake had silted in. Both dams and other original features had deteriorated and were in danger of failing.

In 1990, then Princeton Township’s Historic Preservation Officer Christine Lewandoski and the Historic Preservation Commission contracted Hunter Research Inc. to assess the site’s historic significance. Ms. Gunning researched the history of the property, which was then nominated to the State and National Registers. In 2007, The Mountain Lakes Preserve Rural Historic District was listed on both.

Princeton’s Other Lake

If you haven’t been to the Mountain Lakes Preserve recently now would be a good time to take a walk there. Besides finding Dogwoods, May Apples, and Spring Beauties in bloom, you’ll find that the rehabilitation project has brought wider trails, easier access to lake views, a new path over the lower dam, and informative and well-positioned signs. From a walkers point of view it’s a real treat and money well spent.

LIQUID GOLD: Observing a decline in honeybees prompted nature-loving artist Beatrice Bork to paint this 9.5 inch x 4.5 inch watercolor, simply titled “Bees.” The work was exhibited at the 51st Annual Art & the Animal Tour in Michigan, Virginia and Florida. Ms. Bork will discuss her work on Thursday, May 16, at 7 p.m. in the Stone Mill at Prallsville Mill Complex, Route 29 just north of Stockton, New Jersey. For more information, visit:; or

LIQUID GOLD: Observing a decline in honeybees prompted nature-loving artist Beatrice Bork to paint this 9.5 inch x 4.5 inch watercolor, simply titled “Bees.” The work was exhibited at the 51st Annual Art & the Animal Tour in Michigan, Virginia and Florida. Ms. Bork will discuss her work on Thursday, May 16, at 7 p.m. in the Stone Mill at Prallsville Mill Complex, Route 29 just north of Stockton, New Jersey. For more information, visit:; or

As part of the Artsbridge Distinguished Artist Series, watercolorist Beatrice Bork will lecture this Thursday, May 16, at 7 p.m. at the Stone Mill in the Prallsville Mill Complex, Route 29 just north of Stockton, New Jersey.

Ms. Bork, who specializes in nature paintings, will discuss process, from inspiration to creation. “There is no collection of words that could possibly convey just how much inspiration the natural world brings me,” says Ms. Bork. “My appreciation and awe for nature date back to my childhood. When I was able to observe an animal for any length of time, it was as if I were part of another world. The experience appealed to the curious child in me then, as it still does today. I now bring a camera and sketch pad with me wherever I go, having learned to anticipate opportunity, but the thrill in each encounter is the same that captivated me since the first, and it is the source of my inspiration no matter where in the world I may be.”

Ms. Bork is a signature member of the Society of Animal Artists, an association of international artists devoted to promoting excellence in the portrayal of animals. With over 20 years as a professional artist, she has received many honors including the Don Eckelberry Award for achievements in bird art, and shown in notable local and national exhibits throughout the country. Her work is represented in public and private collections around the world and has been published in various magazines and books.

“I still experience a sense of discovery when I start a new creation,” says the artist, whose medium of choice is watercolor.

The lecture, is free and open to the public. For more information, visit: For more information about Ms. Bork, visit:

Terhune Orchards is offering gardening workshops for all ages this weekend, May 18 and 19, at the farm on Cold Soil Road.

Kids can participate in fun, free Planters and Diggers gardening class, Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon. Especially welcome are those children who have signed up for the Terhune Orchards summer camp. There will be three Saturday garden fun times: May 18, June 8, and June 22. Take home a plant to start an at-home garden.

On Saturday afternoon, from 1 to 4 p.m., Terhune Orchards is hosting a workshop about gardening and healthy food led by Pam Mount and friend Judith Robinson, coordinator of the Princeton Farmers Market and an expert on healthful, locally grown food. The workshop is the first in a three-part series sponsored by Sustainable Lawrence and the Lawrence environmental resources and green team called “All About Food and Gardening” that will cover gardening and simple healthy eating. Explore all of Ms. Mount’s 12 gardens and learn about soil, compost, and water as key ingredients to a successful garden.

Two other workshops in the series will be held May 25 and June 1 from 1 to 4 p.m. On May 25, participants, led by Ms. Mount, will analyze the gardens and fields at Terhune Orchards and begin to design their own gardens and rain gardens. The group will tour the Cherry Grove Farm CSA. On June 1, participants will expand their garden designs and explore harvesting wild edible plants with an expert, and learn about incorporating native plants into their gardens.

Attend one session in the series or all three. The cost per session is $10. Sign up for all three in a series and pay only $25. To learn more and sign up, visit: sustainable

Ms. Mount’s popular herb class will take place Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m. Ms. Mount will explain how to set up an herb garden, harvest herbs, and use them for cooking. She has been growing culinary herbs for more than 35 years. Bring your own garden layout or pots if you like. Starter herbs will also be available for sale in the Terhune Orchards farm store. The class is free and open to all.

Terhune Orchards is located at 330 Cold Soil Road, Lawrenceville, just minutes from downtown Princeton. Plenty of parking is available. For directions or more information call (609) 924-2310.

The Joint Trustees of the Princeton YMCA-YWCA announced today that the Terra Momo Group will be joining them as a partner to create an exciting and unique learning kitchen in the facility’s former café space. Together, the YMCA-YWCA and the Terra Momo Group will establish a setting in which members will be able to learn about healthy cooking and nutrition in a variety of creative ways, and access healthy foods. The kitchen will feature nutritious items that are prepared on site with minimal processing and the menu will include gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and heart-healthy options.

“There is great need and growing interest for programs that help people understand how to eat better and more nutritiously,” Raoul Momo of Terra Momo said, “the YMCA and YWCA share a mutual goal of enhancing people’s well being and healthy living. We’re very pleased to be adding another dimension to that experience through culinary education. We hear it all the time — people are eager to learn how to eat better and make choices that improve their health, as individuals and as families, without compromising taste. We see this as a very exciting opportunity and look forward to creating something very special for Princeton. ”

In addition to featuring programs with the YMCA and YWCA, the kitchen will offer activities with other community partners, such as the Suppers Program and other community initiatives that promote healthy eating and living. Plans also include showcasing local produce in season and possibly a local Community Supported Agriculture pick up. The kitchen is planned to open in September 2013.

The public will get a chance to examine developer AvalonBay’s revised plans for the former Princeton Hospital site at an open house on Wednesday, May 22 in the cafeteria of Community Park School on Witherspoon Street. The presentation will be based on “fully engineered plans which are likely to be submitted to Princeton for site plan review prior to the event,” according to Jon Vogel, AvalonBay vice president. “Computer model and architectural rendering are still in process but will be available at the Planning Board hearing,” Mr. Vogel wrote in an email.

Members of the public, especially those who live in the neighborhood of the 285-unit rental complex that AvalonBay has proposed to build, have been particularly vocal in their insistence that the company provide plans that are still in the conceptual stage. The upcoming open house was a topic of public comment at a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night. Janice Hall of Park Place and Daniel Harris, a member of Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods (PCSN), were among those who said the public needs to see concept plans and three-dimensional models, allowing for community input and feedback, rather than plans that are already fully engineered.

AvalonBay’s initial plan for the hospital site was rejected last February by the Planning Board based on design standards. The company filed suit against the Board and the town of Princeton but later entered into a consent agreement with the town to try and find a compromise outside of court. PCSN has expressed concerns that Planning Board hearings on the revised proposal are being rushed.

The May 22 open house will include presentations by AvalonBay at 7, 8, and 9 p.m. about the status of the development, next steps, and timing while summarizing the changes made to the prior plans.КEach presentation will be followed by an informal question and answer session with company representatives.

In a press release announcing the open house, AvalonBay wrote, “We are very pleased to be submitting these new plans for Avalon Princeton. In the last several weeks, we have received constructive feedback on our revised design from municipal officials, professionals, and citizen representatives from both SPRAB and the PEC,” the release reads. “We have listened carefully to the issues that have been raised, and made changes from our initial design to accommodate community concerns within the constraints of the economic and construction realities surrounding the project. We are very excited about the prospect of sharing with the community our new plans, and we are optimistic that they will be well received.

In an emotional ceremony, Princeton police officers and members of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) were officially recognized Monday evening for saving the life of Barbara Ritz, who went into cardiac arrest while dining at Mediterra restaurant on April 5. After Mayor Liz Lempert read a proclamation at the meeting of Princeton Council in Witherspoon Hall, Ms. Ritz hugged each of the eight first responders who arrived at the restaurant and sprang into action after she suddenly became unresponsive during a dinner with her family.

Honored were Sergeant Joann Malta, Corporal Marla Montague, Patrol Officers Stephen Lattin and Michael Schubert of the Princeton Police, and PFARS members Jay Padulchick, Henry Pannell, David Feiner, and Roy Xiao. Called to the restaurant when Ms. Ritz lost consciousness, they arrived to find her lying on the floor, unresponsive and without a pulse. Applying CPR and electric shocks, they restored her pulse and breathing. She is now recovering.

“It was like the presence of God walked into the restaurant,” recalled Ms. Ritz’s sister-in-law Donna Ritz, addressing the officers and PFARS members at the presentation. “You were so under control. You brought grace under fire with you Й. It is because of you that we have had more celebrations with my sister-in-law: Easter, Mother’s Day, and the rest of the celebrations of the year. We will always be grateful.”

There were several other topics on the Council’s agenda at the meeting, including work sessions on resolutions regarding a Conflict of Interest policy for the town and the Transco Pipeline project, which the Williams Company wants to install on the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge. An update on the municipal budget and a presentation on the need for a $1.7 storage facility for public works vehicles were also included.

The Council adopted the Conflict of Interest policy and then referred it back to the personnel committee to review the best mechanism for providing the opinion on conflict. There was discussion over whether the municipal attorney, an outside counsel, or a local ethics board should be utilized. The personnel committee will come back to Council at a future date with a recommendation.

The Council also passed a resolution that the Princeton Environmental Commission adopted on May 10 regarding the Transco pipeline project. The resolution asks that a full Environmental Impact Statement be carried out and that health and safety issues are fully considered. The Williams company plans to file its proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in September. The issue will come up again on the agenda toward the end of summer when Council meets to consider whether the town should become an official intervenor or an interested party.

During the budget update by Scott Sillars of the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee, Council members were told that a further lowering of the tax rate is possible if the State of New Jersey reimburses the town for 20 percent of the costs of the transition to consolidation. The additional municipal tax rate decrease would be one percent, due to a surplus in funds.

Some members of Council cautioned that the State’s promise of reimbursement is still in question. “We’re counting on the funds from the state,” said Patrick Simon. “If they don’t provide them, we’re taking more from surplus than planning.”

The town has been waiting to hear a final verdict from the State on whether it will fulfill its promise, made earlier this year, to pay the portion of consolidation costs. Adoption of the municipal budget has been scheduled for May 28. But if the town decides to go forward with the additional tax reduction, then the budget will need to be reintroduced at that meeting and adoption would be pushed into June.

State funding for the Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) came under scrutiny when lawmakers meeting in Trenton for a budget hearing last week, questioned Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks about the religious nature of the institution and the source of the funding.

Last month, Gov. Chris Christie announced $1.3 billion in funding for 176 construction projects at 46 public and private colleges and universities, statewide.

The funding, which is described as the “first concerted contribution to New Jersey’s higher education infrastructure in decades,” will come from $750 million from the Building Our Future Bond Act that New Jersey voters approved in November as well as from four other higher education funding programs: the Higher Education Capital Improvement Fund, the Higher Education facilities Trust Fund, the Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund, and the Higher Education Equipment Leasing Fund.

The New Jersey State Legislature has the power to accept or reject all or any items.

If approved, institutions of higher education in Mercer County will receive more than $95 million for construction projects at the County’s six colleges and universities.

Awards go to public research universities: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (all campuses), $357 million; UMDNJ, $67 million; as well as to public institutions: The College of New Jersey, $57.4 million; Thomas Edison State College, $16.6 million; Mercer County Community College, $9.7 million; and to private institutions: Princeton University, $6.4 million; Rider University, $4.5 million; and Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS), $645,323.

Of the $6.4 million that Princeton University will receive, about $3.2 million will help fund construction of the new Andlinger Center, which will support research on sustainable energy development and the environment. The other $3.2 million will fund the renovation of the former Frick Laboratory at 20 Washington Road. The 200,000-square-foot, renovated Frick will house the University’s economics department and also provide space for some of the University’s international initiatives.

Princeton University was not eligible for funding from the higher education bond question in November because of its $17 billion endowment. The funding awarded to the University will come from the Higher Education Capital Improvement Fund.

Rider University’s $4.6 million will go to a new academic structure on the Westminster Choir College campus in Princeton that will feature a recital and rehearsal room, lobby, ticket booth, and multimedia classrooms.

The $645,323 award to PTS would be used for technology upgrades at the Luce Library.

According to Secretary Hendricks, the State received more than 250 applications for $2.1 billion in projects from 46 institutions. She described the quality of the applications as “impressive.”

Institutions were required to detail how projects served students and aligned with New Jersey’s workforce needs. The selected projects were those targeting academic programs, especially science, technology, engineering, and math, according to the governor’s office.

At last week’s budget hearing, State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, was among those who flagged the PTS award; questioning the legality of its source in the state’s Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund, which, it appears, can only go to state-funded institutions.

Besides the funding to PTS, an award of $10.6 million to the Beth Medrash Govoha, an all-male Orthodox Jewish rabbinical school in Lakewood, was queried; both raising the issue of separation of Church and State.

According to a spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie, the grant to the seminary is “under review.”

Contacted for a response, on Monday, May 13, The Reverend Dr. M. Craig Barnes said that he was unable to comment. Dr. Barnes has led the seminary since January as its seventh president. A seminary alumnus, he graduated in 1981 with a Master of Divinity in 1981.

In addition to training men and women for the Christian clergy, the Princeton Theological Seminary has non-Christian students and joint degree programs with Princeton University and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Its students are able to take courses at both of these institutions, one public and one private. Its library is open access and is one of only two internet archives with digitized material.

More public discussion is expected.


Saturday’s sudden downpour did nothing to dampen the performance launching the Wayside Shrines issue of Princeton Magazine. The concert simply moved from Hinds Plaza to the library’s living room where the word on the street says that a good time was had by all. The Shrines (from left) are singer Ila Couch, drummer Ray Kubian, keyboardist Noriko Manabe, bassist Nigel Smith, lyricist Paul Muldoon, singer, guitarist, and musical life force Chris Harford, and violinist Tim Chaston, who is holding his daughter, Olive. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)


May 8, 2013
STUDENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Above, from left: Allison Kanter, Luis Estrada, and Anna Schmult construct bird houses with teacher Paul Skalka. Below: Senior Greg Flood of the Hun School collects items of debris in Beach Haven, New Jersey.

STUDENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Above, from left: Allison Kanter, Luis Estrada, and Anna Schmult construct bird houses with teacher Paul Skalka. Below: Senior Greg Flood of the Hun School collects items of debris in Beach Haven, New Jersey.

Students at John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) and the Hun School of Princeton were among the army of kids lending their efforts in support of the Princeton community and beyond with an all day “Service Saturday” at JWMS and Hun’s Earth Day Sandy Clean Up.

At JWMS on April 20, over 75 students and over 20 staff members volunteered their time for community projects. Technology teacher Kelly Riely, who also coaches track and field and advises the school’s “Do Something Club,” helped coordinate the activities. “This is my second year creating and organizing this event, our chance to give back to a community that gives so much to us,” she said.

Students “gave back” at over 11 sites between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Some helped out at SAVE, while others were at Princeton Care, Princeton Nursery, YWCA/YMCA, the Arts Council of Princeton, and the Stony Millstone Watershed. Several worked with Sustainable Princeton’s Diane Landis on a PSA film about the organization.

At the school, others had the opportunity to build bird cages that were placed in the outdoor garden at Community Park School or work on an art mural for Princeton Hospital. Teacher Paul Skalka worked with students on the bird houses and visual arts teacher Claudia Luongo and student teachers guided the art mural. The materials used for the bird houses, said Mr. Skalka were funded by a grant from the Princeton Education Foundation (PEF).

Over 90 bagged sandwich lunches were made for The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) with donations from Cindy Hill and her team at Sodexo. Hundreds of books were collected and organized for Books Have Wings. The school grounds benefited from the work of student landscapers.

“All in all it was a wonderful day for students and staff who volunteered to help others,” said Ms. Riely. “Students cleaned, walked animals, hung posters, sang, and did arts and crafts with our senior residents, and much more. They truly showed the community that they care. We look forward to our third annual Service Saturday next year.”

The Hun School marked Earth Day, April 22, with some 525 Upper School students offering their support to four communities in New Jersey and New York that had suffered from the impact of Superstorm Sandy. Like Senior Greg Flood (pictured on page 5), they collected items of debris and removed a portion of a pier that had been destroyed.

Before setting out for their destinations, students prepared for the service-learning day with classroom instruction and special programming about Sandy’s impact on the environment and on the economies of the shore towns.

Students and faculty worked alongside community officials at New Jersey’s Island Beach State Park in Seaside Park; Barnegat Lighthouse in Barnegat Light Borough; and Beach Haven West; as well as New York’s Great Kills National Park in Staten Island.

Dress for Success, the non-profit organization promoting the economic independence of disadvantaged women, announces The Power Walk for Dress for Success, in 35 plus cities in May, including Pennington, Saturday, May 11.

The 5K walk and fun run promote active, healthy, lifestyle choices for women and families and serves as a testament to the link between personal health and professional success.

The event includes fitness activities, a health fair, music and entertainment by New Jersey 101.5, a kids’ corner with arts, crafts, and games, and a Mother’s day flower sale. The first 100 participants will receive a T-shirt. Healthy snacks and water will be provided but people are encouraged to eat a nutritious breakfast before they arrive.

Participants are encouraged to create a team of friends, walk with family, or participate as a virtual walker online. Children under 12 are admitted free.

Speakers include Dr. Jeff Levine, Director of Women’s Health Programs in the Department of Family Medicine at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and George Ruthauser, announcer for the New Jersey Jackals a professional, independent baseball club that plays at Yogi Berra Stadium on the Montclair State University campus.

All funds raised will support the image enhancement and career development programs and services of Dress for Success Mercer County. Major sponsors include Stark & Stark, NRG Energy, Riegel Printing, and Beds & Borders.

The event, which is open to the public, takes place at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Hopewell Campus, 410 Scotch Road, Pennington, Saturday, May 11, with registration from 8 to 10:25 a.m. Walk begins at 9 a.m. followed by yoga stretch and opening ceremony from 9:30 to 10 a.m. A Fun Run begins at 10:30 a.m.

To register yourself or a team, visit: www.dfspower For more information visit:

FROM STUMBLING BLOCKS INTO STEPPING STONES: Charlie Plaskon, at left, shown here tethered to his guide during the running portion of an Ironman competition, told students at The Bridge Academy last week that his blindness has not kept him from accomplishing numerous feats, athletic and otherwise.

FROM STUMBLING BLOCKS INTO STEPPING STONES: Charlie Plaskon, at left, shown here tethered to his guide during the running portion of an Ironman competition, told students at The Bridge Academy last week that his blindness has not kept him from accomplishing numerous feats, athletic and otherwise.

Charlie Plaskon breaks records all the time. But for this legally blind, 69-year-old triathlete, finishing the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile marathon that make up an Ironman competition, in 12 hours and 41 minutes — the record for a blind individual — isn’t about the numbers.

“I give my medals away,” Mr. Plaskon said Friday during a talk to students at The Bridge Academy in Lawrenceville. “It’s just acknowledgment for what I did that particular day,” he added, holding up one of his many medals. “I enjoy them, but I don’t relish them.”

What is most important, he told the students, who have dyslexia and other language-based disabilities, is not letting those disabilities get in the way of what they want to achieve. “I’m here to motivate you to make a difference,” he said. “You don’t even know what you’re capable of.”

Mr. Plaskon was on hand to talk to the students, who range in age from eight to 18, and to ride with them the following day in Bike for Bridge, a charity bike ride to benefit the 10-year-old school. He got acquainted with the school through its art teacher, Sarah Bernotas, whose father has been Mr. Plaskon’s friend since childhood. “Uncle Charlie” clearly has an affection for the Bridge Academy, which he has visited in the past.

“I hope I inspired them,” he said this week during a telephone interview. “They inspire me. Because I don’t have eyes, people lend me their eyes. I have a different kind of vision. For each person to do as much as they can with what they’ve got, that’s my message. If there’s a stumbling block, they fashion it into a stepping stone.”

It was actual stepping stones, in fact, around which Mr. Plaskon focused his talk last week. He asked the students to tell him how many stones there were between the Bridge Academy’s main building and the adjacent Adath Israel synagogue, where the talk was held. Though it is a short walk they make regularly, none of the Bridge students came close to the right number.

“You take your sight for granted,” said Mr. Plaskon, who has learned to make a mental note of steps he takes and ground he covers. “Do you know what a gift that is? You have eyes and you’re not using them as much as you possibly could.”

The students were rapt as Mr. Plaskon relayed his unusual story. Born in 1943 with a condition called Stargardt macular degeneration, which in children today can be helped by laser treatments, he struggled with his sight from birth. “My vision kept declining,” he said. “The world was getting increasingly darker.”

It was Mr. Plaskon’s first grade teacher who told his parents that something was wrong. They took him to an eye doctor. “I was in the next room after the examination, and I heard the doctor say to my father, ‘Never let your son leave the house. The world is much too dangerous for him.’ I was barely six-years-old! I had a lot of dreams,” he recalled. “I wanted to be a fireman, a cowboy. How was I going to achieve them?” Mr. Plaskon’s father came out of the doctor’s office, took his son by the shoulders and said, “Don’t listen to what the doctor says.” It was a turning point for him.

With the help of encouraging teachers as well as his supportive family, Mr. Plaskon earned a bachelor’s degree from Newark State College, a master’s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park, and a second master’s from Hofstra University on Long Island. After 32 years, he retired from his job teaching industrial arts at a Long Island middle school, and retired to Florida. He has three children and four grandchildren.

Running was a challenge Mr. Plaskon tackled after retirement. Soon, he was taking part in half-marathons and full marathons. Those led to triathlons, adding swimming and biking to the challenge. Mr. Plaskon participates with the help of (much younger) partners who are tethered to him throughout the competitions. Since 2003, he has completed several half Ironman and full Ironman events including the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in October 2007.

As part of his presentation at The Bridge Academy, Mr. Plaskon demonstrated how he changes his attire for each portion of the race. He put on his goggles, pulled on his swim cap, showed where he stows his “nutrition” for fuel during the day-long competitions. Removing his jacket, he unwittingly showed off his muscular frame.

Mr. Plaskon ran in the recent Boston Marathon, his sixth, aided by two guides. At his talk, he didn’t talk about the race, during which two bombs were set off, killing three spectators and wounding several others. But he recalled his experience this week.

“We were on schedule and were coming in well under the anticipated time,” he said. “Right around the 24-mile marker, the word came back that there was an explosion in a medical tent. We thought it was maybe an oxygen tank or something. A group of police urged us to leave, but we had just run 25.5 miles and we weren’t about to stop. We ran all the way down to Boylston Street and had a pinch left to go when one of my guides said there were helicopters, police cars, members of the bomb squad with weapons. We knew it was over.”

The three were running “… over fences, under barriers, a mass of humanity,” Mr. Plaskon said of their exit from the scene. “We forgot about shivering and being thirsty. Cramps set in because the police would stop us. Nobody knew what was going on. But we survived.”

The experience did not dampen Mr. Plaskon’s enthusiasm for competitions. Two weeks ago, he did a 112-mile bike ride with veterans from the Pentagon to Gettysburg. This week, he will do a fundraiser for Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind in Washington D.C. “I do this all over the place,” he said. “That’s why I have to stay so fit.”

The Bike for Bridge race last Saturday was shorter, but no less rewarding than the other events on Mr. Plaskon’s agenda. “It’s the experiences at things like this that are tremendous,” he said. “The people I met Saturday morning were wonderful. Two or three gentlemen said, ‘My son was in the audience at your talk yesterday and I had to come and meet you.’ This is a collection of people who have challenges. I’ve been challenged every day of my life. If I can make it, so can they. There was great participation, bringing attention to a school that is very special because they’re saving kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks.”

Bridge School principal Sue Morris said more than 30 riders of all ages took part in the race. Having Mr. Plaskon on hand for two days “means a tremendous amount,” she said. “The kids were amazed at the things he’s been able to accomplish, and they were inspired that he doesn’t take no for an answer, that he just pushes through and finds a way to accomplish things,” she said. “He does not use his blindness as an excuse. We explain to our kids, you do not use your disability as an excuse. They need to be able to accommodate for it and push through.”

Mr. Plaskon is considering a return to teaching, and working on a book. “I hope to launch my message in as large a way possible,” he said. “I’m here, I’m 70, I’m old, and I’m blind, but if I can encourage people to do things they never thought were possible, what could be better than that?”

It is no exaggeration to say that renowned Philadelphia poet Elaine Terranova’s work has reached a wide audience. Besides being featured in some very high profile literary publications such as The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, and the Prairie Schooner, Ms. Terranova’s poems have been posted on buses and in subways throughout her hometown.

Her poem “The River Bathers” was used in 2003 on illustrated posters by the city’s Public Poetry Project and “The Choice” was part of Philadelphia’s Poetry in Motion. Inspired by a similar program in the London Underground, Poetry in Motion, started with New York’s MTA system in 1992 and expanded to cities across the country. It arrived in Philadelphia in 1999. At its peak, the program brought the work of prominent poets to some 13 million daily commuters in 14 American cities.

“Poetry in Motion put short poems or parts of poems on placards on buses and subways and I was one of a dozen Pennsylvania poets, including Lee Upton, David Slavitt, and Steve Berg, to participate,” notes Ms. Terranova. “Although it only lasted in Philadephia for about six months, it was great to have public transportation carry poetry; I wish it would come back.”

On the second Monday of every month, U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative and the Delaware Valley Poets join with the Princeton Public Library in presenting “Poets at the Library,” a reading series that features one or two seasoned poets followed by an open reading with local poets stepping up to the podium to share their works. “It’s a pleasure to read poetry in Princeton,” says Ms. Terranova. “I like the charm and tradition of the place. It’s a town with a well-used and well-appreciated library and that tells you a lot about the population.”

This Monday, May 13, brings Ms. Terranova and longtime U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative member John McDermott to the comfortable space before the fireplace on the library’s second floor.

Born in Philadelphia 1939, Ms. Terranova received her Bachelor’s degree in 1961 from Temple University. Her literary career began in publishing as a manuscript editor for J. B. Lippincott Co. While there, she studied for her Master’s degree through Vermont’s Goddard College and then, in 1977, began teaching English and creative writing at Temple University. After a decade at Temple, she joined the Community College of Philadelphia as a reading and writing specialist. She teaches there currently.

Ms. Terranova’s interest in poetry prompted a chapbook, Toward Morning/Swimmers, in 1980. But it was with her first collection The Cult of the Right Hand that she came to prominence. The Cult of the Right Hand won the 1990 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and led its author to being asked to lead workshops at the 1991 Rutgers University Writers Conference and the 1992 Writers’ Center at the Chautauqua Institution.

In 1991, Ms. Terranova was interviewed on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and in 1992, she held the Robert Frost Fellowship in Poetry at the 1992 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. In the same year, her poem “The Stand-up Shtetel” took first prize in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Competition for poems on the Jewish experience.

Damages, her second collection, received warm reviews in 1996, the same year she was Margaret Banister writer-in-residence at Sweet Briar College. Besides Damages (Copper Canyon Press,1996), her books include The Dog’s Heart (Orchises, 2002), and Not To: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2006), runner-up for the 2007 William Carlos Williams Award, Dames Rocket (Penstroke Press. 2012) and Dollhouse (Off the Grid Press, 2013); her many awards include a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, a National Endowment in the Arts Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize.

Her poems are accessible and memorably disconcerting. Keenly aware of loss and with deep empathy for others, Ms. Terranova’s sensibility offers a fresh perspective. She is an intimate observer who is able to give voice to others such as the distracted office worker at his desk, capturing the thoughts behind a troubled expression. Her poems have an elegance borne of fleeting images deftly captured.

These lines from “Laterna Magica,” convey the poet’s compelling imagery: “And one day/a house burns down/as a woman cooks dinner./Miraculous — the family escapes./Expensive place. Acres/of feathery trees. You know the man,/have in your mind a glimpse of him/as you turned a corner/or at a blind landing of the stairs./You forget this fire/until a plane crash lands/and he and his child are listed/among the lost./Their names/could be tubas and kettledrums,/a music too important/for the radio. Pink/messages/pulse across your desk/but you are staring/at the irises in a vase/that rise like faces out of smoke.”

Joining Ms. Terranova at Monday’s reading, Mr. McDermott is a familiar voice in Princeton’s poetry community. A former poetry editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, he is an associate professor of English as a Second Language at Union County College. He’s read at the Dodge Poetry Festival and served many years as a Dodge Poet working with teachers and students. His poems have appeared in numerous journals.

Poets at the Library takes place Monday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fireplace Area on the library’s second floor. For more information, call (609) 924-9529 or visit

On the heels of the U.S. News & World Report rankings in which Princeton High School (PHS), listed last year in the top 10 in the state and 196th in the nation, failed to appear at all, The Washington Post has released a report that places PHS at number six in its list of New Jersey’s “most challenging high schools.”

According to The Post, its Challenging High School index identifies schools that excel in “persuading average students to take college-level courses and tests.”

This year, only nine percent of the nation’s approximately 22,000 high schools earned this rating and placement on the list.

The Post’s ranking stands in marked contrast to the U.S. News & World Report. What accounts for the puzzling disparity?

In last week’s Town Topics, Board of Education President Tim Quinn and Princeton Public Schools Superintendent Judith A. Wilson responded to both the U.S. News & World Report as well as the recent New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) School Performance Report. Ms. Wilson described the latter as, in some instances, “a mismatch for Princeton.” The DOE report was criticized for a metric that fails to take into account, among other items, graduating students who go on to secondary institutions outside of the United States, the full range of Advanced Placement (AP) exams taken at PHS, and for basing college and career readiness at the elementary schools level solely on attendance records, which can provide a skewed picture because of Princeton’s population.

“We have a diverse student body,” said Ms. Wilson, noting that students may miss academic days because of religious holidays or for extended travel with family abroad.

A district release on the DOE report quotes Education Commissioner Chris Cerf’s April 9 letter to school administrators acknowledging that the School Performance Reports do not provide a complete picture. “Й we recognize that these metrics are not exhaustive of what it takes for students to be truly college and career ready,” he said.

“While the evaluation of student outcome data is crucial for school improvement, we know these data alone cannot capture the dozens of other essential elements of schools such as a positive school climate, participation in extracurricular programs, and the development of non-cognitive skills,” said Mr. Cerf.

An Interpretive Guide issued last month by the DOE states that many of the metrics are first-year data and that “data collected in a first-year collection are often of lower quality than that collected in subsequent years.”

According to a district press release, PHS ranked high on The Washington Post’s list because the Post “looked at a broad swath of students of all abilities, rather than solely the top performers.” The Post’s rating system factored out schools that focused only on what it calls “elite” students, noting that many “high schools kept those rates artificially high by allowing only top students to take the [college-level] courses.”

In response to The Washington Post findings, Mr. Quinn explained some key differences between the type of data used and the method of analysis between The Post and U.S. News & World Report. “What most impressed me about The Washington Post’s list is that it reflected Princeton High School’s belief that all students are encouraged to avail themselves of rigorous, college-level courses,” he said. “It also recognizes the economic diversity of our student body, that PHS is educating students who come from households with a wide range of incomes. Recent research suggests that family income is the central factor in achievement gaps among groups of students.”

“Princeton High School’s ranking [in the Post] is all the more remarkable when you look at the five schools above PHS: two are private schools and three are magnet or charter schools with selective admissions policies. This makes PHS the most challenging open enrollment high school in the state,” said Mr. Quinn.

While the U.S. News & World Report treats public, charter, and magnet school equally, regardless of demographics and enrollment practices, The Washington Post’s analysis considers the difference between open-enrollment and highly selective enrollment. It does not include magnet or charter high schools that draw “such a high concentration of top students that its average SAT or ACT exceeds the highest average for any normal-enrollment school in the country.”

The Post relied upon a metric invented by the independent, non-profit College Board. The Equity and Excellence rate is “the percent of all graduating seniors, including those who never took an AP course, who had at least one score of 3 or above on at least one AP test sometime in high school.”

In several ways, The Post’s findings are consistent with both the U.S. News & World rankings and the new DOE School Performance Report.

All three score PHS very high in preparing its students for college and careers. U.S. News & World gives PHS a college readiness index of 64.5, significantly higher than the minimum score of 45.75 that publication requires for Gold Medal status. The DOE’s report rates PHS “above average” in college and career readiness.

Of rankings in general, Superintendent Wilson comments: “In our society we are too often seeking quick lists and easy comparisons. Schools and school districts are about growth and capacity building for students and employees alike. No two years and no two groups of students are the same, not to mention that tests are not the same from year to year. So, it is important that we look beyond the first glance at a list or ranking to understand what is being measured and how it is being measured.”

With respect to the disparities between reports, Ms. Wilson said: “There is something to learn from each report that pushes us to further analyze our internal information and our work. But there are also gaps and representations that do not provide accurate reflections of a school or a district and we have to be able to differentiate among the points.”

According to Ms. Wilson, as data increases, the public should expect an increasing number of reports and an increase in aspects of achievement measured. As far as the district is concerned, it’s mission remains “to hold a steady focused course so that we are not chasing goals that do not have as much merit or potential for true student achievement. Any ranking or list that is only based on standardized test scores misses much of what an excellent education at PPS is about: arts, sciences, creativity, leadership, social responsibility, grit, and persistence.”

A plan to refurbish the kiosk at the corner of Nassau and Witherspoon streets has been put on hold at the request of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has been pushing a proposal to upgrade the structure, and another one at Vandeventer Avenue, for the past several months.

While some members of Princeton Council have expressed enthusiasm for the plan, which would have cleaned up the public message board while adding space for municipal maps and transit schedules and some advertising by Princeton businesses, many members of the public and other Council members have said they want the kiosks to remain as they are.

“In talking to the Chamber and the CVB (Convention and Visitors’ Bureau), we had always looked for a consensus of everybody,” Peter Crowley, the Chamber’s president and chief executive officer, said last Friday. “We want to redesign it to get people to agree with it.”

The Council was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal at its May 13 meeting, but Mayor Liz Lempert said this week that she has agreed to the Chamber’s request to table the issue. After a split vote at Council’s April 15 meeting on renovation of both kiosks, the Chamber had agreed to take on the kiosk at Witherspoon while leaving the other as it was for the time being. But now, refurbishment of both has been put on hold.

“I think the Chamber is trying to come up with a plan that’s a win-win for everyone,” Ms. Lempert said. “I understand that they want this to be a project that has a stronger consensus than it seemed to have. I think there were some great ideas, especially having some space on the kiosks for municipal information about public transportation and maps to orient people to downtown. And in the interim, we’ll likely explore ways to do that while still keeping the bulk for messaging. That’s what I’d like to see.”

Mr. Crowley said the Chamber wants some more time to make adjustments to the mix of media on the kiosk before asking Council for final approval. “We also want to further examine the costs of maintenance and upkeep and see if we can come up with a plan that reduces the cost to upgrade the kiosk and minimize the expected ongoing maintenance support. Our goal continues to be to develop a public-private partnership that does not have the taxpayers of Princeton responsible for funding the renovation costs. As a regional nonprofit organization, it is very difficult for us to sustain a project like this alone without a way to fund it.”

Making sure taxpayers don’t pay for the upkeep and balancing the need for advertising, which Council member Jenny Crumiller and some members of the public opposed, has been a priority. The kiosks would keep the majority of space for public postings, while adding room for local businesses, non-profits, and the town. While many people agree that the kiosks are messy and need cleaning up, they objected to the idea of extensive advertising.

“I think the advertising question, for me, came down to whether the Chamber was going to be able to find local advertisers,” Ms. Lempert said. “Having an ad up there for The Bent Spoon or Small World is very different than having an ad for something that’s not a Princeton business. The kiosks are not in great shape,” she added. “They weren’t built to last 100 years. At the same time, I would like to find a solution that doesn’t use taxpayer dollars or a lot of staff time. If there’s a way to do it through partnership with the Chamber, local non profits and the local business community, that would be ideal.”

An extensive roadwork improvement project that has been a decade in the planning has been targeted to begin this summer. Moore Street, Park Place, Vandeventer Avenue and Willow Street are the thoroughfares that will be affected by the project, which will include sanitary sewer improvements, storm drainage work, curb ramp upgrades, and road resurfacing, residents and business owners were told at a meeting Monday night in Witherspoon Hall.

Some 40 people turned out to hear details of the project from Princeton’s Municipal Engineer Bob Kiser, Assistant Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton, Sergeant Thomas Murray from the Princeton Police department, and other officials. Mayor Liz Lempert introduced the program. “This is a project long in the making,” she said. “We’re very excited to be at this step. This is the first road project to be undertaken in the new [consolidated] town.”

Mr. Kiser told residents, some of whom have been consulted as the project was in its planning stages, that it will go out for bid within the next two weeks. Once a contractor is engaged, the work should start at the beginning of July and last four months. Mr. Murray, who is Princeton’s Traffic Safety Officer, urged those who may have special needs or special events planned to let him know as soon as possible.

“There will be some disruption,” he said. “But we’ve tried to phase it out. We realize the importance to businesses and residents alike, so we’re trying to limit the construction to one street at a time. We’re taking mail delivery and trash pickup very seriously.”

Ms. Stockton said the construction would take place weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the possibility of some Saturdays as well. Park Place and Vandeventer Avenue are priorities for the initial underground work. The town will try to keep the Park Place municipal parking lot open with one access, and part of the lot will be used as a staging area for the construction, secured by fences.

As for on-street parking, meters will either be pulled or have bags placed over them but will be reopened for residents to use when it is determined to be safe. “Businesses on Nassau Street that need to get deliveries in through the Park Place lot should contact the engineering department, and also let us know about any large functions you have planned,” Ms. Stockton said, adding that roads will be passable at the end of every workday. An effort will be made to find parking for residents whose parking spaces are displaced during the construction.

Among the improvements to be scheduled are replacement of the old sanitary sewer line and water main on Park Place, some sanitary sewer work on Moore Street between Nassau and Franklin streets and all of Vandeventer Avenue. New pavement will be installed on all of Moore Street, Park Place, and Vandeventer Avenue. Cost of the project is estimated at just over $1.5 million.

Electricity will not be affected by the construction, but the water will be turned off at times. Mr. Kiser told residents that notices of water shutoff will be posted on the website, and emailed to those residents who supply their addresses.

Robert Hough, the town’s Director of Infrastructure and Operations, gave details of sanitary sewer improvements that will take place. Arborist Greg O’Neil talked about tree removal and protection.

The project has taken a decade to prepare because of its complexity. “There were lots of challenges, in terms of the sanitary sewer lines that had to be relocated,” Mr. Kiser said the day after the meeting. “We needed to meet with homeowners regarding an easement. Also, extensive survey work had to be done to determine where the new sewer line has to be installed, and to determine drainage improvements that were needed.”

The next meeting will be attended by the contractor selected for the job, and residents will have a chance to ask questions. As for this meeting, “We were thrilled with the turnout,” Mr. Kiser said. “People asked lots of good questions.”

New Kids On The Block

Guarding their brood is one of the two adult bald eagles who relocated to Lake Carnegie when their tree was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy. The eaglets grow rapidly and should fledge by the end of July. The quote above comes from the sonnet “When like an eaglet” by Michael Drayton (1563-1631), which ends with the poet’s heart in flight: “Thus from my breast, where it was bred alone,/It after thee is, like an eaglet, flown.” (Photos by Charles R. Plohn)

Eaglet in 2013

May 1, 2013
EARTH DAY AT COMMUNITY PARK: Parents and students joined Community Park School (CP) science teacher John Emmons (the one with the pitch fork) at the School Saturday, April 27, to celebrate Earth Day by working in the gardens. During his five years at the school, Mr. Emmons and a team of volunteers has transformed once-barren grassy areas into beautiful and functional gardens that are also outdoors classrooms for lessons about soil, sun, planting, life cycles and more. From left: Lee Yonish, David Gray, Mr. Emmons, Tom Pinneo, Cameron Gray, Luca Petrecca, Julian Chorney, Orlando Fuquen, and Stephanie Chorney.(Photo by Jennifer Lea Cohan)

EARTH DAY AT COMMUNITY PARK: Parents and students joined Community Park School (CP) science teacher John Emmons (the one with the pitch fork) at the School Saturday, April 27, to celebrate Earth Day by working in the gardens. During his five years at the school, Mr. Emmons and a team of volunteers has transformed once-barren grassy areas into beautiful and functional gardens that are also outdoors classrooms for lessons about soil, sun, planting, life cycles and more. From left: Lee Yonish, David Gray, Mr. Emmons, Tom Pinneo, Cameron Gray, Luca Petrecca, Julian Chorney, Orlando Fuquen, and Stephanie Chorney. (Photo by Jennifer Lea Cohan)

Princeton moved one step closer to achieving Sustainable Jersey’s Silver Certification when the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education passed a Sustainability Resolution at its meeting last Tuesday, April 23.

The resolution provides points toward Princeton’s certification. The municipality is currently certified at the Bronze level.

To date, of the 383 municipalities registered with Sustainable Jersey, 113 are “certified.” Of those, 102 are at the Bronze level; only 11, at the Silver level.

Diane Landis, executive director of Sustainable Princeton, the group that was behind the initiative that brought the resolution to the School Board, hopes that by 2014, Princeton will be certified at the silver level.

“We need to begin a number of programs this year and have them in place by the time we apply for silver level next year,” says Ms. Landis “Sustainable Jersey’s criteria are quite stringent but I am confident that we will make it. We just take it one step at a time and we’ll get there. It’s like putting a quilt together, piece by piece.”

The School Board’s endorsement of the “Principles of Sustainability” resolution was a step in the right direction. It was presented to the Board by members of Sustainable Princeton’s Green Schools Coalition, a group of parents and other residents seeking to advance sustainability in the district.

The Coalition advocates for sustainable learning experiences for students, for professional development opportunities that have a sustainable focus for teachers and staff, and for energy efficiency and waste reduction.

The resolution, which states that the district will join in the municipality’s efforts, was based on a model developed by Sustainable Jersey and emphasizes the role of the school district in building a community that balances and integrates economic, social and ecological objectives to improve quality of life for its residents.

Stephanie Chorney and Karen Nathan, who co-chair the Green Schools Coalition, presented it to the board. Ms. Chorney is a pediatrician and president of the Parent Teacher Organization at Community Park, where her son is a student. A passionate recycler, she helped organize last year’s first ever recycling effort at Communiversity. She even followed the Public Works truck just to make sure the recycling was taken where it was meant to go.

The day before this year’s Communiversity, Ms. Chorney was in school at Community Park to mark Earth Day, Saturday, April 27. Besides a spring clean up, the event included the installation of a newly built chalkboard that will be used when teachers take their classes outdoors. Ms. Chorney donated the chalkboard, and Community Park parent Tom Pinneo, together with Andy Truesdell, donated the time and materials to build the enclosure. Community Park School garden includes a Colonial Herb Garden at the school with a newly installed bird house built by students at John Witherspoon Middle School.

“I am so happy that the resolution passed,” said Ms. Chorney after last week’s board meeting. “This is the culmination of much effort and it’s great to be a part of something that is teaching our kids how to be healthy and how to care for the environment.”

Under the resolution, the district would support and encourage: student participation in learning experiences dedicated to sustainability; possible examples of such learning experiences could include classroom work, school gardens, health and wellness programs, and field trips; professional development opportunities that will support educators in preparing students for a sustainable future; and sustainable practices related to energy efficiency, waste management, composting, recycling, and procurement and maintenance in Princeton Public Schools’ facilities.

Specific goals in the areas of energy and waste, and health and wellness, include: composting of organic waste; field trips and films to promote clean energy and waste reduction; school gardens and cafeterias as health/science engagement opportunities; tracking of energy efficiency improvements; green food service (e.g. local food, eliminate styrofoam); cost savings from waste reduction and energy efficiency; bicycling and walking campaigns.

“Sustainable Jersey is focused on municipalities and they want to see a connection between the local authority and what is being achieved,” says Ms. Landis, “It’s wonderful to have the support of Mayor Liz Lempert who really wants to see this for Princeton.”

According to Ms. Landis an upcoming agenda item will be to conduct a municipal fleet inventory and track the mileage and use for each vehicle. Later this spring, Sustainable Princeton will launch an energy program for residents. Sustainability includes a social justice component to make sure that municipalities serve their entire populations, so one other concern is for diversity on boards.

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STYLIST TO THE STARS: Gregory Purcell, whose distinctive style has made him a regular contributor to film, television, and print campaigns, also counts Princeton residents among his loyal clients. He worked on the film “The Place Beyond the Pines,” recently on screen at the Garden Theater on Nassau Street.

STYLIST TO THE STARS: Gregory Purcell, whose distinctive style has made him a regular contributor to film, television, and print campaigns, also counts Princeton residents among his loyal clients. He worked on the film “The Place Beyond the Pines,” recently on screen at the Garden Theater on Nassau Street.

Ryan Gosling’s platinum locks and Eva Mendes’s sultry, dark tresses in The Place Beyond the Pines, the crime drama recently  on screen at the Princeton Garden Theater, are the work of a hairdresser who counts several local residents among his clientele. Gregory Purcell travels from Manhattan to Another Angle salon on Nassau Street most Sundays and Mondays, the only days he can get away from his work as a stylist for movies, television, and numerous print advertisements and campaigns.

“I really like Princeton,” the 48-year-old Roselle Park native says. “I want it to be fashionable. I think it’s a place that could really, really happen. It just needs that extra push.”

On his website, Mr. Purcell’s client list boasts such names as Sarah Jessica Parker, Meg Ryan, Dennis Quaid, and the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, His TV credits include Law & Order SVU, Good Morning America, and Boardwalk Empire. The film list runs from Sex and the City 2 to New Year’s Eve. Then there are the fashion shows (Donna Karan, Calvin Klein), and Broadway (Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark).

Yet he is as affable and down to earth, during a telephone interview, as the proverbial guy next door. Talking about his career trajectory, which started after he left art school to work on windows for Barney’s in New York, he recalled, “One of my friends said, ‘You do all the wigs in the windows. Why don’t you do hair?’ I thought about it, and I knew there’d be a lot of girls, and that was my big thing. I thought, why not?”

Mr. Purcell went back to school to learn the trade, and then landed a job at Vidal Sassoon. Next, he worked for Minardi, and later at John Frieda, where he eventually became creative director. “I was the only American there. They were all British,” he says. “They were building an empire all over the world, so I got to travel quite a bit.”

The Frieda salon “is huge in the fashion world,” Mr. Purcell says. He was soon working runway shows in London, Paris, and New York. “People started looking at me for movies,” Mr. Purcell says. “I got Sex in the City 2, Wall Street 2. Now I have The Place Beyond the Pines.”

Happy to share a few anecdotes about the filming, Mr. Purcell laughs as he recalls a night in the woods near Schenectady, New York, where Bradley Cooper and Ray Liotta were shooting a fight scene. “Bradley had to hit one of the actors and he hit him too hard and broke the guy’s nose,” he says. “The guy was okay, but Bradley was so upset about it. He kept apologizing and sending him gifts.”

Another memory: “Ryan and his dog would sit with me while I was doing hair. Nobody can sleep, and everyone would end up coming to my apartment. One night, we gave the dog a buzz-cut. Then on one of the TV shows — I think it might have been Letterman, he said he gave the dog the cut! But it was me. There was some really funny stuff. Eva Mendes would come in, dance around. That’s where they [she and Ryan Gosling] became a couple.”

Mr. Purcell started his own product line, called “Attitude,” as his career took off. “It’s all about texture and body,” he says. “It’s not just for women, but also for men. For a woman, hair is the biggest accessory. They have to own it, walk it, be unique. There should never be just one statement, because everyone has a different look.”

Speaking of which, Mr. Purcell is known for his own distinctive style of dressing and adorning himself. “He’s a little bit of a character,” says Patrick Vance, who owns Another Angle salon. “He reminds me a bit of Johnny Depp. And he’s a fabulous hairdresser, really top notch.”

“A lot of people call me a pirate,” Mr. Purcell says, with a chuckle. “But I just let it go.”