May 6, 2020

WINGING IT: Bella Alarie depicted in the uniform of the Dallas Wings of the WNBA. After a superb senior season for the Princeton University women’s basketball team which saw Alarie help the Tigers go 26-1, she was chosen by the Wings as the fifth pick in the first round of the 2020 WNBA Draft in mid-April. (Photo by Jarrod Allison/Dallas Wings)

By Justin Feil

Bella Alarie woke up on April 17 and tried to go about her usual day with breakfast at her home in Bethesda, Md., time with her parents and two younger brothers, and some academic work.

Although her thesis was due in just one week, it wasn’t foremost on the mind of the Princeton University senior star forward who by that midday was feeling anxious about the upcoming WNBA draft.

“It was definitely not a productive thesis day,” said Alarie. “It was very hectic and there was a lot to get done. I had my family to help me out and get ready. I was so excited for 7 o’clock to come, I felt like it was taking so long and the day was going so slow. I was so excited when it got to 7 o’clock. It was a lot of mixed emotions honestly with excitement and nerves and all that. The whole day, it wasn’t exactly what I imagined my draft day would look like, but all the emotions I would have felt on a stage in New York, they were all the same.”

Alarie was thrilled to be chosen fifth overall by the Dallas Wings, matching the highest selection ever of an Ivy League player, equaling that of Harvard’s Allison Feaster, who was picked fifth by the Los Angeles Sparks 22 years earlier.

“I’m super proud of myself and happy; that’s a huge accomplishment,” said Alarie.

“I’m really grateful that I was selected that high and they believed in me. And to come out of the Ivy League, there haven’t been a lot, but I do have great players to look up to from Princeton like Leslie Robinson and Blake Dietrich who have had WNBA experience. It’s a huge honor. I definitely take it seriously because I do want to represent Princeton and the Ivy League as best I can and it’s been like 20 years since we’ve had a first-round pick out of our league. I have a lot of honor and pride and I want to make the most of it. It’s really special and it’s a testament to all the coaches and teammates and all the development and time they put into making me better. You can’t do it alone.” more

BACK IN THE GAME: Mira Shane guards the net in a 2019 game during her senior season playing goalie for the University of Michigan women’s lacrosse team. After a superb career for the Wolverines, Princeton High grad Shane has returned to the game, joining the Harvard women’s lax program last fall as a volunteer coach. (Photo provided courtesy of Michigan Photography)

By Bill Alden

Mira Shane seemed to have it all after graduating from the University of Michigan last spring.

After a jam-packed four years in Ann Arbor which saw Shane star as goalie for the Michigan women’s lacrosse team, perform in the 58 Greene a cappella group, serve as the president of Michigan’s Athletes for Community Transformation, and oversee mental health initiatives for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, she landed a corporate job with Anheuser-Busch.

But after working a few months for the brewing giant at its headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., Shane decided something was missing in her life.

“I had all of these cool plans to do the corporate thing and it really didn’t end up being me which is totally OK,” said Shane, a girls’ lacrosse and basketball star for Princeton High who set Michigan program career records in wins (24), career saves (360), and career save percentage (.451), getting named as an Inside Lacrosse honorable mention All-American in her senior season as the Wolverines went 16-4.

“I realized three months in that this isn’t Mira. I need a little bit more energy, passion and something I really want to get up for every morning and I knew that was going to lie in lacrosse.”

Following that passion, Shane decided to get back into the game as a coach and ended up heading east to join the staff of the Harvard women’s lax team as a volunteer assistant, aided by a Michigan connection and admiration for Harvard head coach Devon Wills, a former All-American goalie for Dartmouth. more

TEEING OFF: Raj Bhardwaj, right, tees off on the first hole at the Princeton Country Club last Saturday with Venu Avula looking on as golf courses reopened across New Jersey pursuant to an executive order issued last Thursday by Gov. Phil Murphy. Golf courses had been closed since late March as part of the social distancing guidelines set forth by Murphy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

By issuing Executive Order 133 last Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy unleashed thousands of golfers to tee off across New Jersey last weekend after courses had been closed since late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the terms of the order, parks, and golf courses were reopened on Saturday morning with Murphy acknowledging that “we understand that New Jerseyans want to get outside and get some fresh air as the weather warms up,” but adding that “this should not serve as an open invitation to rush back to normalcy and break the necessary social distancing measures we’ve put in place.”

Local clubs did experience a rush as golfers wasted no time booking starting times as soon as they could.

At TPC Jasna Polana on Province Line Road, members reserved all openings for Saturday within minutes of the club’s website opening its online tee sheet on Thursday evening.

In an email to members, Jasna Polana club management noted that “while we knew the demand to play golf would be the highest in our history, we would not imagine the starting sheet would be completely booked within six minutes.”

As for the Mercer County Park Commission’s four golf courses, its online booking service temporarily crashed Thursday evening due to the volume of players looking to reserve tee times for Saturday. more

May 4, 2020

By Donald GIlpin

Gov. Phil Murphy announced today, May 4, that all public and private schools in New Jersey will be closed for the rest of the academic year. Murphy’s decision, “guided by safety and science,” means continued remote learning through the last weeks of the school year for the state’s school children.

 Parks, beaches, and golf courses re-opened last weekend, as Murphy took the first step toward lifting restrictions, and New Jersey residents won praise for their compliance with social distancing rules. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan noted that there were challenges caused by the large crowds visiting parks and beaches, but there were no significant enforcement issues, according to law enforcement in all 21 counties. The re-opening of recreational areas came off largely without incident.

There were big crowds at state, county, and local parks, with some parks having to turn away additional visitors after reaching capacity. In addition, the attorney general’s office reported, some people had to be reminded that picnicking is not allowed under the emergency orders, and that, consistent with CDC guidelines, team sports and the use of playgrounds are also prohibited.  more

May 1, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced today, May 1, an additional 2,651 positive tests and 311 COVID-19-related deaths in the state reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the totals to at least 121,190 cases and 7,538 deaths.

On a positive note, Murphy, in his daily coronavirus press briefing from Trenton, pointed out a continuing decline in numbers of hospitalizations and a slowing of the rate of infection. He emphasized that the trend lines are moving in the right direction and that this weekend, as parks and golf courses are set to open, with restrictions, will be a test to see if the state can continue to move forward in overcoming the virus spread. He warned that parks and golf courses will be closed again if people do not practice sufficient social distancing.  more

April 29, 2020
Chalk art by Tommy, 13, and Sophia, 18

For week one of our campaign highlighting fun projects for kids to do, we invited local youths to send in images of chalk art. Their creative submissions are shown here. Next week’s project will feature ads designed for favorite local businesses.

By Donald Gilpin

As COVID-19 cases and related death numbers start to level off and New Jersey, gradually and cautiously, looks forward to Gov. Phil Murphy’s “Road Back” plan, Princeton University has announced the establishment of a fund to support community relief efforts related to COVID-19, with an initial commitment of $1 million to support immediate needs in the municipality of Princeton.

“The focus will be on contributions to organizations that distribute directly to other nonprofits or, where appropriate, businesses, and to partnerships of community organizations working collaboratively to address current needs,” the University wrote in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

A University committee has made recommendations and Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber and Provost Deborah Prentice have approved initial disbursements from the fund of $400,000 to the Princeton Area Community Foundation COVID Relief Fund and $100,000 to the Princeton Children’s Fund Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund.

“The remaining $500,000 will be distributed as additional contribution opportunities emerge,” the University announcement stated.

Noting significant impacts of the crisis in communities where the University is located, the announcement stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in immense financial pressures for nonprofits and service organizations; businesses, particularly small businesses; and individuals and families.” more

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council voted unanimously at its virtual meeting on Monday, April 27, to adopt the 2020 municipal budget that was re-introduced at its last meeting. Amended in light of the pandemic and its impact on the local economy, the $64 million budget has no tax increase.

The ongoing shutdown has presented numerous challenges to the municipality. The town’s administrator Marc Dashield delivered an update on how these challenges are being met, and how operations will continue once Witherspoon Hall is reopened.

Staff has been working remotely in some cases, while others have been in the building on alternative work schedules to complete necessary tasks. The departments involved in health, safety, and public works are on site, and the recreation department continues to maintain public parks and take care of trash and recycling.

Those paying taxes this quarter are urged to do it online or by mail. For those who cannot do so, a drop box is in place in the lobby of the police department. more

By Anne Levin

Early this week, Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled his plan to start New Jersey’s recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown. While the stay-at-home order for residents remains in effect until further notice, local businesses are starting to consider how and when they will reopen. Some, like Olives on Witherspoon Street, have already taken the step.

Just what the town’s reopening might look like is among the topics to be discussed at the next Virtual Princeton Business Forum of the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA), being held Thursday, April 30 at 10 a.m. via Zoom. Results of a survey that went out to local businesses will also be considered.

The PMA has been holding online gatherings nearly every Thursday since non-essential businesses were ordered to close last month. These well-attended meetings, moderated by Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward, have included various guest speakers, always with a focus on how to ride out the COVID-19 crisis and stay afloat. Last week, political scientist and Princeton University Professor Anne Marie Slaughter shared ideas about a fund to help nonprofits and businesses with resilience and renewal.

The fund is still in the planning stages. “We’re looking at these kinds of funds in other places. It can be done,” said Slaughter. “It is happening elsewhere. We want to set it up in such a way that it would be maximally credible.” more

CONNECTING NEIGHBORS: Blair Miller, founder of Mr. Rogers’ Neighbors Kindness Project, prepares to distribute bags of food and other necessities at the Free Store/Tienda Gratis, also known as Studio Hillier, on Witherspoon Street. More than 1,500 “neighbors bags” have been made available in this project for neighbors in need, local businesses, and community members looking to help.

By Donald Gilpin

The computer screens are dark on the desks at Studio Hillier, 190 Witherspoon Street, with the office closed during the coronavirus crisis and the architects, designers, and urban planners working remotely.

But on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Studio Hillier is transformed into the Free Store/Tienda Gratis, open for business with hundreds of bags of food and other supplies covering the long drafting tables, and volunteers running back and forth preparing to meet the needs of about 80 local residents lined up six feet apart in the courtyard outside.

In its third week of operation, the Mr. Rogers’ Neighbors Kindness Project, founded by local volunteer Blair Miller, allows the Princeton community to support struggling neighbors and participating businesses each time they order takeout, purchase books or toys, or shop at McCaffrey’s market.

The program encourages patrons of local stores and restaurants to add an extra meal, book, or toy to their phone or online orders. These items are then delivered to the Free Store/Tienda Gratis for distribution on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. more

GOING GLOBAL: For Princeton Pilates instructor Anthony Rabara, left, the mandatory shutdown order has turned out much better than he feared, gaining him clients from across the world.

When the order came from Gov. Phil Murphy last month to close all non-essential businesses due to the pandemic, Anthony Rabara worried that his Pilates studio might not survive the shutdown. Rabara Pilates, which is across from Princeton Airport, has been offering group classes, private, and semi-private lessons in the popular exercise method since Rabara opened the studio over two decades ago.

His concerns, it turns out, were unfounded. Since switching to online classes via Zoom, Rabara has been teaching not only his regular students, but a growing list of Pilates enthusiasts from as far as Israel, Australia, and South America.

Rabara is one of the original eight master teachers trained by Romana Kryzanowska, the successor to founder Joseph Pilates. He has taught workshops all over the world, gaining a global reputation among Pilates practitioners for rigorous teaching of the method in only its purest form. Once world got out that he would be offering instruction online, the schedule started filling up, especially for private sessions.

“What I’ve come to realize is that this is actually a very good medium,” Rabara said last week after teaching a private lesson online to an instructor in Scranton, Pa. “I can see details as if I’m standing right in front of them. And I’m very concentrated, because I’m looking right at them, not distracted by other things going on in the studio.” more

WINNING TEAM: Superintendent Steve Cochrane and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Annie Gonzalez Kosek have led the Princeton Public Schools over the past few years. Both will be stepping down at the end of June. Kosek, described by Cochrane as “one of the most outstanding educators with whom I have ever worked,” announced her retirement last week after 17 years at PPS. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Public Schools)

By Donald Gilpin

Anna Gonzalez Kosek, Princeton Public Schools (PPS) assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, praised by PPS Board of Education President Beth Behrend for “her intellect, her professionalism, her warmth, and ability to work well with teachers and staff,” announced last week that she will be stepping down at the end of June.

In addition to a new assistant superintendent, the PPS is looking for an interim superintendent to take charge on July 1, replacing Superintendent Steve Cochrane, who in February announced his upcoming retirement. Kosek said that her retirement plans have been in place since last August and were not affected by COVID-19 or by Cochrane’s retirement.

Kosek will be retiring after what she described as a “long and rewarding” 41-year career in education, including 14 years as principal of Littlebrook School before moving to PPS central administration in 2017. more

By Stuart Mitchner

We’ll sigh goodbye to all we ever had
Alone where we have walked together…

—from “I’ll Remember April”

If I’ve been compulsively whistling, humming, thinking “I’ll Remember April” lately, it’s not because my mother and my son were born April 20 and 28, or because my father died April 14, or because Duke Ellington was born on April 29, in 1899, or because jazz great Lee Konitz died of the coronavirus on April 15, or even because Shakespeare arrived and departed on April 23. Any month with so Shakespearean a claim to fame is surely worth whistling about.

Kerouac and Konitz

My recent fixation on this great American standard — I mean the music, not the labored lyric — began on the night at Birdland in early October 1951 when Jack Kerouac watched “in amazement” as Lee Konitz took “complete command” of the song Kerouac instinctively puts in the present tense as “I Remember April.” First noted in his journal six years before the publication of On the Road, it’s a characteristic, blissfully contradictory free-association streaming of his Manhattan-based jazz consciousness reimagined in narrative form in Visions of Cody when he follows “the famous alto jazzman down the street” after spotting him in “that bar on the northeast corner of 49th and Sixth Avenue which is in a real old building that nobody ever notices because it forms the pebble at the hem of the shoe of the immense tall man which is the RCA building.”

Following Kerouac through a wildly free-form meditation on Konitz’s solo in the journal, you go from the player standing “with the alto on his gut, leaning to it slightly like Charlie Parker the Master but more tense and his ideas more white” to “a 12th-century monk, some Buxtehudian scholar of the dank gloomy cathedrals practicing and practicing endlessly in the bosom of the great formal school in which he is not only an apprentice but a startling innovator in the first flush of his wild, undisciplined, crazily creative artistic youth (with admiring old organ monks watching from the background).” After blowing a series of “beautiful, sad, long phrases, in fact long sentences that leave you hanging in wonder,” Konitz “suddenly reveals the solution,” a weirdly dazzling combination of musicianly foresight and hindsight “that at last gives you the complete university education” in the structure of the song, “a beautiful and American structure” that leads inevitably to Kerouac’s realization (as if you didn’t already know) that Konitz “is doing exactly what I’m doing … and here I’ve been worried all along that people wouldn’t understand this new work of mine.” He means of course the work in progress that became On the Roadmore

By Donald H. Sanborn III

The biggest revelation for me was the combination of seriousness and fun that I saw at every rehearsal I witnessed at Kelsey Theatre,” says Princeton University professor Stacy Wolf, author of Beyond Broadway: The Pleasure and Promise of Musical Theatre Across America (Oxford University Press, 2020). “I loved witnessing those emotions sitting together.”

Kelsey is the focus of “Community Theatre,” the fourth chapter of Beyond Broadway. As its title suggests, the book examines productions by organizations throughout the country. Wolf’s research included visits to Worthington High School in Minnesota; the Zilker Summer Theatre in Texas; and the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Colorado.

Although Wolf lives fairly close to Kelsey, which is on the campus of Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, she did not always intend for it to be the focus of the chapter about community theatre. “Originally, I assumed that I would write about a number of different community theatres across the country, and examine how they operate differently,” Wolf says.

That approach would have resembled that of the following chapter, “The Sound of Music at Outdoor Summer Musical Theatres,” which includes the Open Air Theatre in Washington Crossing, Pa., plus outdoor theatres in Austin, Texas, and Marin, Calif.  more

Sarah Rasmussen

McCarter Theatre Center has announced the appointment of Sarah Rasmussen as its new artistic director, effective August 1. Rasmussen is currently artistic director of the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis.

“The search committee was impressed with Sarah’s commitments to inclusive artistry and inventive storytelling,” said McCarter Board Chair Robert Caruso, who co-chaired the search for a new artistic director with board member Jill Dolan. “McCarter looks forward to how she — partnering with managing director Mike Rosenberg — will expand the theatre’s audiences with innovative programming and original content.”

Rasmussen will succeed Emily Mann, who is departing from McCarter after 30 years leading the theatre. “I have long admired Emily and her legacy of commissioning and developing new work,” said Rasmussen. “I am energized by the conversations I’ve had with McCarter board, staff and community about this next chapter. And, as a former professor, I look forward to the possibilities between the theater and Princeton University.”

Mann said, “I am so very happy to light the torch of my successor, Sarah Rasmussen, and wish her a glorious tenure as McCarter’s new artistic director.”  more

Vinroy D. Brown Jr.

The Trenton Children’s Chorus (TCC) has announced that Vinroy D. Brown, Jr. will take over as artistic director, starting this summer.

“On behalf of the entire board and the entire organization, we are thrilled to have Vinroy join us as our next artistic director,” said board Co-Presidents Jill Jackson Carr and Nora Schultz. “With his outstanding music skills, his energy and enthusiasm, and his strong commitment to connecting communities through music, Vinroy was a unanimous choice. We are confident that Vinroy will carry on the TCC 30-year legacy and lead the Trenton Children’s Chorus into its next era.”

TCC will be hosting a free “Meet Our New Artistic Director” livestream session on Tuesday, May 5 at 5 p.m. More information is available at trentonchildrenschorus.org.

Brown has credits in conducting, sacred music, and music education. He is a member of the sacred music faculty at Westminster Choir College, where he conducts the Westminster Jubilee Singers. A church musician, he is director of music and worship Arts at Elmwood United Presbyterian Church in East Orange. He is the founder and artistic director of the Elmwood Concert Singers and is artistic director and conductor of the Capital Singers of Trenton.

“This appointment holds special meaning for me,” said Brown. “I’ve been connected to the TCC family since my undergraduate years at Westminster Choir College, as a guest conductor and soloist. Being able to serve this great organization as its artistic director is nothing but a dream realized. I look forward to the possibilities for this next chapter in the life of TCC and my own.”  more

“THE TILED HALLWAY”: This painting by Lucretia E. McGuff-Silverman won second prize in the West Windsor Arts Council’s “2020 Member Show: Built Environment.” The exhibit is on view at westwindsorarts.org, with a virtual tour on May 8 at 7:15 p.m. with the juror and artists on hand to discuss their work.

The West Windsor Arts Council’s (WWAC) 2020 Member Show: Built Environment features the dynamic work of 22 artists showing how they incorporate structures into their work. Artwork featured in the online show considers the built environment as a source of inspiration as it reflects identity, ancientness, modernity, interstitial space-built forms, and the architectural design.

The exhibition is on view on the West Windsor Arts Council’s website (westwindsorarts.org). A virtual tour is set for May 8 at 7:15 p.m. with the juror and artists on hand to discuss their work. The juror, Alexandra Schoenberg, is both an architect and an artist with a studio in East Orange.

Schoenberg was born in Cali, Colombia. She pursued architecture studies at Universidad Javeriana in Bogota graduating in 1986. Her training in technical drafting and architectural rendering greatly influenced her art practice and love for pencil drawing. Schoenberg moved to the United States in 1987, working for several architect firms. She earned her MFA degree in 2014 from Montclair State University where she embraced the techniques of architecture drafting as an art medium. She has exhibited widely. In her art practice, different tropes of architectural representation collide to expose the mechanics of how we observe the world. more

PERFECT PROPERTIES: “We’re a boutique real estate firm because we are a privately-owned company and are not associated with a franchise or large corporate organization.” This offers Addison Wolfe Real Estate more freedom and flexibility in decision-making and operation, points out founding partner Art Mazzei.

By Jean Stratton

That interesting new career opportunities can always be in one’s future is certainly evidenced by the experience of Art Mazzei.

After 30 years teaching English in the New York School system, he is now founding partner of Addison Wolfe Real Estate, the company he established in 2006.

Located at 550 Union Square in New Hope, Pa., it is a boutique company with 50 realtors on the roster, covering an area including New Hope, all of Bucks County, the Lehigh Valley, Center City Philadelphia, and parts of New Jersey.

How did such a dramatic change transpire? As Art Mazzei recalls, “When I was in my childhood, I guess that the first makings of a realtor developed. My father was a contractor, and nothing to me was more exciting than visiting a new home under construction and the smell of pine.” more

POINT COUNTERPOINT: Star point guard Blake Dietrick, left, triggered the 2014-15 Princeton University women’s basketball team to a 31-1 record in a senior campaign that saw her get named as the Ivy League Player of the Year while junior guard Carlie Littlefield was a first-team All-Ivy performer this winter as the Tigers went 26-1. (Photos by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

The Princeton University women’s basketball team was left with a number of what-ifs following the cancellation of the NCAA tournament in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a postscript to an historic season that saw Princeton dominate the Ivy League and barge its way into the Top 25, there is a lingering hypothetical what-if.

In the same vein as water cooler debates over which storied NBA teams could have beaten the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, the subject of the ESPN documentary The Last Dance, strong opinions are sparked by the question of how would the 2019-20 Tigers team fare against the 2014-15 Princeton team in a matchup of the two best seasons in program history.

Former Princeton players and coaches — rather reluctantly — compared their teams, always with the caveat that they were each other’s biggest fans, not rivals in any way.

“I really wish this year’s team could’ve made their run in the tourney,” said Annie Tarakchian, who starred for the 2015 team before graduating in 2016 and returning to her home state of California. “We were all so looking forward to that and gearing up to go wherever the games were seeded.” more

GAME OFF: Hun School Director of Athletics Bill Quirk, left, and his wife, Kathy, discuss strategy in their roles as coaches of the Hun softball team during a game in the 2016 season. Last week, Quirk and the school’s administration formally canceled its 2020 spring sports season, concluding that it would not have time to compete in the wake of Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to keep schools closed through May 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As schools across New Jersey were shut down by Gov. Phil Murphy in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Hun School was hopeful that it could hold an abbreviated spring sports season starting in May.

But with Governor Murphy’s later decision to extend the school closure to May 15, time has run out on Hun and it formally canceled its spring campaign last week.

“We tried to hold off as long as we could,” said Hun Director of Athletics Bill Quirk of the decision, which comes in the wake of the Peddie School and the Lawrenceville School having previously pulled the plug on their spring seasons.

“Once the governor kept moving that date back with us being scheduled to graduate on May 27, by the time we would come back, there would be only nine days of school.”

For Quirk, who also serves as an assistant coach of the Hun softball team, the cancellation was a tough pill to swallow.

“Spring is one of those seasons where you see the kids working out all the time from September on,” said Quirk. “The teaser was that the majority of them got to go on their spring break trips and then they come home and find out that basically was your season. It is disheartening.” more

April 27, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

Two more COVID-19-related deaths, the seventh and eighth in Princeton, were reported today, April 27, by the Princeton Health Department (PHD). The victims were two men, both with pre-existing medical conditions, one in his 70s, the other in his 80s. Neither was at a long-term care facility.

The sixth death in Princeton from COVID-19 was reported yesterday, April 26. The victim was a female in her 70s, the first coronavirus-related death of a resident of the Acorn Glen assisted living facility.

There have been four deaths at the Princeton Care Center.

The PHD also reported today a total of 110 total COVID-19 cases in Princeton, with 61 active cases in isolation and 45 cases that have recovered.

In his press briefing today,  New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reported 111,188 total cases of COVID-19 in the state, with an additional 2,146 positive tests in the past 24 hours, and an additional 106 COVID-19-related deaths for a total of 6,044 deaths in New Jersey, though he cautioned that there may be some reporting delays in the numbers of cases and deaths.

Murphy noted signs that the pandemic is leveling off, with hospitals reporting continuing declines in numbers of COVID-19 patients, confirmed or suspected. After declining for the sixth straight day, the number of New Jersey patients, 6,407 as of Sunday night, is down 23 percent from its April 14 peak. more

April 24, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Health Department (PHD) reported today, April 24, five new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Princeton in the past two days for a total of 98 positive cases, 50 active positive cases. There have been five COVID-19-related deaths reported in Princeton, four at the Princeton Care Center (PCC).

The PHD, under guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), continues to work closely with the staff at PCC and also with staff at Acorn Glen assisted living facility. There were 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at PCC and seven at Acorn Glen as of April 20, according to the NJDOH.

In Wednesday’s update, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and the Princeton Council highlighted the community’s efforts to implement thorough contact tracing to help contain and stop the spread of the coronavirus. The PHD has been working to track down and warn all the people who have been in close contact with infected individuals.

The PHD has recently increased its contact tracing capacity by training school nurses to assist the effort. The need for contact tracing is expected to grow as testing becomes more widely available. Contact tracing, the PHD notes, relies on the cooperation of individuals who have been infected, and all of those who’ve been exposed have a duty to quarantine themselves so that the virus, if they get it, stops with them.  more

April 22, 2020

The fruit trees are now in full bloom at Terhune Orchards on Cold Soil Road. Beehives were delivered to help ensure that the blossoms are successfully pollinated. The public is invited to stroll through the trails in the orchards and fields and enjoy the sights and smells while practicing social distancing. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

As health officials continue to work closely with the Princeton long-term care facilities in their battle with COVID-19, the Princeton Health Department (PHD) reported on Tuesday, April 21, a total of five deaths in Princeton, with 88 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 41 active positive cases.

Four of the five Princeton deaths have taken place at the Princeton Care Center, where there were 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of April 20. There have been seven confirmed cases at the Acorn Glen assisted living facility, according to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) April 20 report.

“PHD staff have been working with these facilities on cohorting patients and staff in order to reduce disease transmission as much as possible,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser. Princeton health officials have also been working with the NJDOH in delivering updated guidance for PCC and Acorn Glen. “We will continue to work with these facilities in order to suppress the outbreak as much as possible under current conditions with limited testing available,” Grosser said.

Residents of those facilities testing positive are being isolated and PHD is working with the facilities to have all staff tested for COVID-19 and continuing to reinforce the facilities’ universal masking policy. Staff members with existing exposure to confirmed COVID-19 patients are being placed on quarantine.

The NJDOH reported on Tuesday, April 21 a total of 133 COVID-19-related deaths in Mercer County, 11 additional over the previous 24 hours, and at least 2,753 cases, an increase from 2,591 the previous day. more

By Anne Levin

An appeal is being prepared to the March 2 dismissal of two lawsuits that sought to block Rider University’s plan to move Westminster Choir College from its longtime Princeton home to Rider’s campus in Lawrence Township.

Following a February 14 hearing in which attorneys presented their arguments, Judge Robert Lougy of Mercer County Superior Court issued his ruling in favor of Rider. Last week, Princeton lawyer Bruce Afran filed a notice of appeal.

The two lawsuits had been filed by the Westminster Foundation, a nonprofit made up of alumni and supporters of the choir college, and 71 Westminster students.

Westminster became a part of Rider in 1992. Citing financial difficulties, Rider has tried to sell the choral academy during the past two years. When a deal with a Chinese organization did not materialize, the University announced it would relocate Westminster and its programs to the Lawrence campus.

Opposition to the plan is centered around the argument that Westminster’s specialized facilities, including pipe organs, a new performance hall, and specialized practice rooms, cannot be duplicated on the Rider campus. more