June 12, 2019

TRUE BLUE: Zahrion Blue pulls down a rebound in action last year for Loyaltees in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Former Princeton High standout Blue helped Loyaltees win the 2018 league title and is back this year as the squad goes for a repeat. The 2019 season tips off with a tripleheader on June 17 at the Community Park courts. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In early May, it looked like interest might be cooling as the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League headed into its 31st season.

After fielding seven teams last year, only five entries had committed to play this summer as league commissioner and the Rec Department’s Assistant Director of Recreation Evan Moorhead worked on organizing the 2019 campaign.

But in the last few weeks, four teams came into the fold, ensuring another summer of hot competition with the action slated to tip off with a triple-header on June 17 at the Community Park courts starting at 7:15 p.m.


 By Bill Alden

Thomas Ramsay was looking to set the tone as the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team played at West Windsor-Plainsboro last Saturday.

Leading off the game, Ramsay singled, stole second, and got knocked in on a grounder by Teddy Durbin as Post 218 jumped out to a 1-0 lead.

“I thought we were off to a hot start, I  got on and it seemed like we were moving around,” said Ramsay.

WW-P, though, responded with a run in the bottom of the first and the game turned into a pitching duel. The contest was knotted at 1-1 after seven and went into extra innings.

Ramsay reached base in both the eighth and ninth on walks but couldn’t get farther than third base, and WW-P ended up pushing across the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to prevail 2-1.


June 5, 2019

Four of the 1,282 undergraduates and 562 graduate students who graduated yesterday bask in the sun, and in the glow of their accomplishments, at Princeton University’s 272nd commencement ceremony on the front lawn of Nassau Hall. (Photo by Mark Czajkowski, Princeton University)

Presiding over Princeton University’s 272nd commencement ceremony yesterday on the front lawn of Nassau Hall, University President Christopher L. Eisgruber called on the 1,282 undergraduate and 562 graduate degree recipients to “defend the civil virtues.” He warned them that they were going out into a world “in which civic norms crucial to our shared political life are fraying.”

He added, “Your generation’s ability to address the world’s problems will depend on, among other things, your capacity to nurture and repair those norms.”


Prolific Film and Literary Critic,
Longtime Town Topics Contributor, Dies

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By Donald Gilpin

Mia Sacks and Michelle Pirone Lambros earned the highest number of votes in Tuesday’s primary election, and will represent the Democrats in the November contest for two Princeton Council seats. Sacks won 1,771 votes, while Lambros earned 1,445, and the incumbent Tim Quinn finished third with 1,280 votes. The results are unofficial, as they do not include provisional ballots.


By Donald Gilpin

“Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s where we’re going,” said Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE) President Beth Behrend in a Monday press conference as she laid out the multiple projects and plans for the BOE in the coming days, months, and years.

Transparency, advocacy, and stewardship are high priorities for the BOE and the PPS as they move ahead, with a
difficult year behind them and a host of challenges ahead.

The past year has seen community conflict over multiple facilities referendum proposals, final passage last December of a reduced $26.9M referendum, then grappling with budget constraints and the BOE’s 6-4 approval last month of an unpopular budget that requires cuts of about 3 percent to staff and programs.


IT STARTED IN NEW JERSEY: Among the objects on display at Morven’s new exhibit is this hand-colored Currier & Ives lithograph dated 1866, and titled “The American National Game of Baseball: Grand Match for the Championship at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, N.J.”

By Anne Levin

It’s baseball season at Morven Museum & Garden, where an exhibit on the history of the game — specifically in New Jersey — opens Thursday, June 6 and runs through October 27. “New Jersey Baseball: From the Cradle to the Major Leagues, 1855-1915” marks such notable firsts as the founding of the first African American club, the first inter-scholastic game, and some of the earliest documented women’s games.

The show “tells the story of the important role New Jersey plays in the history of early organized baseball, and uncovers some of the myths surrounding its origins,” said Jill Barry, Morven’s executive director.


By Anne Levin

May 31 was the final day for Princeton residents to comment on the draft of the town’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). According to Sustainable Princeton, which coordinated the collaborative effort to create the document, interest from the public has been significant.
“It has been huge — pretty substantial,” said Molly Jones, Sustainable Princeton’s executive director. We have been delighted by the response.”


By Anne Levin

The official opening May 31 of a segment of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, on the campus of Educational Testing Service (ETS), marked a significant milestone for those who have been working since 2002 to create a walking and biking trail linking segments of public and private land in Mercer County.

The .6-mile segment brings the trail to 20.25 miles, leaving only two more to be constructed. “We’re thrilled,” said Becky Taylor, the trail’s founder and co-president. “To pass 20 miles is huge. This goes a long way toward the completion of the 22-mile trail. And ironically, the very first section of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail was a small segment on the ETS campus.”


By Stuart Mitchner

Tell me a story of deep delight.
— Robert Penn Warren

On the heels of the controversially rushed, truncated final season of Game of Thrones, HBO has released Deadwood: The Movie, the final chapter of David Milch’s “story of deep delight,” the series brought to an equally untimely and even more unfortunate end in 2006.

While the distinguished novelist/poet/critic Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) may seem an unlikely godfather for such a work, the depth of his influence is made clear in Mark Singer’s recent New Yorker article, “David Milch’s Third Act.” Anyone who has kept faith with Deadwood during the long wait for this moment should read Singer’s piece, as well as Alan Sepinwall’s outstanding appreciation in Rolling Stone. Far more significant than the revelation that Milch has Alzheimer’s is what Singer’s profile shows about how the lessons Milch learned from his mentor at Yale have given Deadwood the literary magnitude that sets it apart from other HBO masterworks like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Game of Thrones.


Princeton University Concerts’ 126th season will be a celebration of American musicians and composers. At the opening in October, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents a program entitled “New World Spirit” which explores the lineage of American classical music. The season continues through to the spring when the Dover String Quartet makes its Princeton University Concerts debut.


In its final concert of the season at Richardson Auditorium on Friday, June 7 at 8 p.m., the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, led by Music Director Xian Zhang, will perform selections from Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2. Visit njsymphony.org for information. (Photo by Fred Stucker)

SUMMER AT THE BARRE: Princeton Ballet School, the official school of American Repertory Ballet, is offering Summer Intensive Junior and Intermediate programs in Princeton and Cranbury. All classes begin June 24. Registration is now open.

Princeton Ballet School begins its Summer Intensive Program this summer with a variety of courses at different levels. Classes begin June 24.


“AURA”: Glazed earthenware by James Jansma and paintings and sculpture by Mare McClellan are on exhibit through June 23 at Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell. The two artists are inspired by the natural world.

Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell presents an exhibition featuring work by Mare McClellan and James Jansma — two artists inspired by our natural world.

McClellan’s pieces — a mix of paintings and sculptures — recall images of excavated root systems that she encountered in her youth. Since then, as a gardener and plant observer, as well as artist, she has been fascinated by the coexistence of roots and soil organisms and how they share resources.


“GOLDFINCHES”: Megan Serfass’s work, which includes the frame within the painting, is featured in “Mercer County Artists 2019,” on view at the MCCC Gallery through July 8. The show includes works by 36 county artists.

The talents of 36 Mercer County artists are on display at the Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) in “Mercer County Artists 2019,” which runs through July 8. The Gallery at Mercer is located on the second floor of the Communications Building on Mercer’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road.

The show features work in a variety of media including oil, acrylic, graphite, mixed media, ceramic, and wood. More than 100 artists submitted work for the jurying process.


A diverse group of artists from both Hunterdon and Bucks counties will exhibit at Steinbeiser’s Farm, 718 County Road 519, Frenchtown, over two weekends in the art show Hobart 2019. Explore the grounds and antique barn while discovering paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramics, and more. Shown here is “Polished Purple Birdbath” by Steven Snyder. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 8, 9 and June 15, 16. An opening reception is Friday, June 7, 6 to 8 p.m., with refreshments.

QUALITY AND SERVICE: “The tractors have brought us new customers and a whole different business opportunity. We’re enjoying this new adventure, and offering the best service for all our customers is always our priority.” Belle Mead Garage owners (from left) Kip Higgins and Chris Carnevale, and former owner Roy (Murph) Higgins, are shown by the Massey Ferguson GC sub-compact tractor. The most popular seller, it is very versatile, and not only cuts grass, but can include the addition of a back hoe and front loader, among many other features.

By Jean Stratton

A lot of changes have occurred since Leroy Higgins opened Belle Mead Garage in 1927. The location at Route 206 and Station Square in Belle Mead was then surrounded by farmland, and Higgins first lived in the attic of the original building. No SUVs, minivans, or Jeeps were in evidence in those days, nor were seat belts and airbags. There was not even a glimpse on the American horizon of Hondas, Toyotas, or Kias.

The longtime family business, now owned by Higgins’ grandson, Christopher (Kip) Higgins and Chris Carnevale, has built an outstanding reputation and is known for exceptional customer loyalty. As one longtime customer put it: “Their word is their bond, and a handshake is their guarantee of dealings that are honorable throughout. They are outstanding people.”

Three generations of Higgins men have seen to it that their reputation has remained intact through all the ups and downs of the automobile industry.


LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: The Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity eight displays its form in a recent race. Last Sunday, Princeton’s top boat took second in a thrilling grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta in Sacramento, Calif. Turning the race into a nail-biter, the Tigers made a late surge and lost by just .4 seconds to champion Cornell as they earned silver at the IRAs for a second straight year. Princeton’s back-to-back medals are the first time the program has done that since 2009-10 when the Tigers won the varsity eight race both years. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

In mid-May, the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity eight had a rough day at the Eastern Sprints, fading to fourth place in the grand final.

Last Sunday, Princeton’s top boat put that disappointment behind it, taking second in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.

This time, the Tigers surged to the finish, pushing past four boats as they nearly caught champion Cornell, finishing just .4 seconds behind the Big Red. Princeton clocked a time of 5:44.849 with Cornell just ahead in 5:44.426.

It marked the second straight silver medal at the IRA for the top boat and the first time Princeton had earned back-to-back medals at the competition since 2009-10 when the Tigers won the varsity eight race both years.


ON COURSE: Members of the Princeton University men’s golf team enjoy the moment as they got ready to compete last month in the NCAA Athens Regional at the University of Georgia’s home course in Athens, Ga. The Tigers won the Ivy League Championship in late April to earn their first trip to the NCAA Regionals since 2013. Princeton ended up finishing 13th of 13 teams in Athens in a valuable learning experience for a young squad that brought a junior, three sophomores, and a freshman to Georgia. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Will Green sensed that his Princeton University men’s golf team could do something special this spring, although he didn’t really have the numbers to back up that feeling. 

“I had been telling people all spring long we were going to win the Ivy title,” said Princeton head coach Green.

“It was based on a belief in the team we had. There wasn’t any reason for me to think that except I just really thought that we were going to play well.”

When the Tigers finished eighth in their Princeton Invitational in the final tune-up before the Ivy League Championships, Green’s vision looked like a pipe dream.

“After we got out of the Invitational, I was talking to some friends, saying ‘I don’t know how we can beat Yale, they are really good,’” recalled Green.


By Bill Alden

Heading to Indianapolis last week to compete in the NCAA championship regatta, the Princeton University women’s open crew was primed to excel on the national stage.

“I thought our practices were going well between the Ivies and Indy,” said Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny, whose varsity eight, second varsity eight, and varsity four had each placed first at the Ivy regatta on May 19 as the program qualified for the NCAA competition.

“We finished finals; it is always a delicate balance and I felt like we handled it very well. We were ready for Indy when we left.”

After a solid first day at the competition on Friday that saw the varsity 8 take first, the second varsity 8 take third and the four come in third in the their heats to advance straight to the semifinals, the Tigers didn’t handle things well a day later.

None of the three Princeton boats gained the top-three finish in the semis necessary to make the grand finals and compete for a national title.

“We expected more,” said Dauphiny. “When we went through the semis, I think all boats had hoped to make the grand final but especially the first varsity, they had the best chance. To fall short was challenging.”


GROUP EFFORT: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Eva Petrone, right, chases down a foe in a game this spring. Last Thursday, junior star Petrone scored a team-high three goals but it wasn’t enough as Central Jersey sectional champion PHS fell 9-8 to South winner Eastern in the state Group 4 semis at Moorestown. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 18-3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Eva Petrone was determined to be more productive this spring in her junior season for the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team.

“Coming off last year I was doing alright [with] 25 goals but this year being a starter, I knew I had to step up on offense,” said attacker Petrone. “I did my best to contribute more and more each game.”

Last Thursday as Central Jersey sectional champion PHS faced South winner Eastern in the state Group 4 semis at Moorestown, Petrone stepped up. She tallied three goals in the first half of the high stakes contest as the Tigers took a 6-5 lead into intermission.

“We knew this game was going to be challenging; we saw the seeding and it gave us hope to come out with a big win,” said Petrone.

“We felt very good at halftime but you never know what is going to happen.”

Unfortunately for PHS, some bad things happened down the stretch in the second half against Eastern. The Tigers took an 8-7 lead on a goal by Kathryn DeMilt with 11:52 left in the second half only to see the Vikings score two unanswered goals to go ahead 9-8 and then go into a stall for the last 7:26 of regulation to hold on for the win and earn a trip to the Group 4 state championship game


TIGHT COMPETITION: Princeton High boys’ track stars Jackson McCarthy, right, and Tucker Zullo compete in Central Jersey Group 4 sectional outdoor track meet at Howell High in late May. Last weekend, senior McCarthy took fifth in the 800 meters and 10th in the 1,600 at the state Group 4 meet as PHS missed winning the team title by one point with host Franklin scoring 44 and the Tigers getting 43. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Jackson McCarthy and Jack Phelan came away from the Group 4 boys’ state championship meet last Saturday with new personal records.

The performances by the Princeton High seniors nearly delivered a second straight state title for the program but the Tigers were edged by champion Franklin, 44-43, which had sprinter Mario Heslop accounting for 30 individual points and sharing six more in the final relay.

“Obviously a 1-point loss is always going to hurt pretty bad,” said McCarthy. 

“We’re trying to defend our state title. We came with four or five fewer scorers than we had last year. We’re a lot thinner this year. We dealt with a crazy amount of injuries this year. We’re a group of fighters. When someone does something incredible, it inspires you. To come one-point short to a team that has one man that scored 30-some hurts. It’s hard to beat a team with him on it. We did everything we could. That’s all we wanted to do, say we did everything we could to walk away with that title.”


SPOILS OF VICTORY: Members of the Princeton High boys’ golf team display the plaque and medals they earned for winning the Central Group 4 sectional at Charleston Springs in Millstone last month. Sophomore Adam MacMillan led the way for PHS, carding a two-over 74 to take third individually at the competition. The team’s lineup at the sectional also included Harry Skopas, Atticus Lynch, Abhi Vachani, and Jonathan Lin. MacMillan went on to compete individually at the Tournament of Champions at the Hopewell Valley Golf Club where he tied for 51st with an 11-over 83.

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton High boys’ golf team finished seventh in the Mercer County Tournament in early May, Sheryl Severance saw that performance as a harbinger of good things to come in state competition.

“The county tournament is tough, you have the private schools like Pennington and Peddie,” said PHS head coach Severance.

“If it was just the public schools, we were right in there; WW/P-North and Allentown only beat us by a couple of strokes

Competing in the South/Central Group 4 sectional at Charleston Springs in Millstone on May 14, PHS displayed its toughness, placing fourth overall and first among Central teams to earn the sectional title.

The triumph caught Severance by surprise as she was initially focusing on the exploits of PHS sophomore star Adam MacMillan, who carded a two-over 74 to take third individually at the competition.


BRINGING IT: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Kaitlyn Magnani brings the ball upfield in a game this spring. Freshman midfielder Magnani provided a spark for Stuart as it overcame a 1-4 start to finish with a 6-7 record, advancing to the second round of the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep B quarters along the way. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After getting off to a 1-4 start, it looked like it could be a rough spring for the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team.

But Stuart reeled off five straight wins to right the ship,  showing that it wasn’t about to fold after the bumpy beginning.

“It was the consistency that was working for us once we got a better transition game down,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik.

“That is when we were really getting to know each other’s strengths and who was going to be playing where. To the kids’ credit, we were able to move many kids around to different positions.”

While the Tartans fell in the second round of the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep B quarters after posting wins in both tourneys, Bruvik liked the way her kids competed to the end.

“We played tough teams down the stretch,” said Bruvik,  whose squad lost 18-5 to Princeton Day School in the MCT and then fell 16-2 to Montclair Kimberley in the Prep B competition.