editor@montynews.com
advertising@montynews.com
Phone:(908)874-0020
Fax: (908) 874-0032
Montgomery News
A hometown paper
serving
Montgomery Township
and Rocky Hill, NJ

Tuesday September 19, 2017

 

Montgomery News Directory

More Featured Articles

Report From Rocky Hill - September 2017

Who was it who said, "It was a bold man who first ate a clam?" Maybe it was oysters. Anyway, on the morning of June 21, a dog walker spotted two large full bags on tiny, freshwater clams (about 15 or 20 pounds each) and a bag containing waders just off the pathway in the Greenacres. There were no people around. The materials weren't there when the dog walker went into the Greenacres, and the bag of clams were only spotted as he was leaving.


Then, on July 1 at roughly the same time, four people were spotted in the Greenacres, clustered around an SUV with NY plates. There were again two bags full of clams in the tall grass, which were swiftly dropped into the back seat by the clam diggers, who scarpered. They were spotted again a few days later by another dog walker.


Any clams pulled out of the Millstone would be very uneatable, and tasting of mud, raw sewage, and creosote; basically, it's an acquired taste. Clams perform an essential service by filtering water, and it is unlawful to harvest them. The NJ Dept. of Parks is investigating.


According to the letter issued by Borough Council during July, in 2017, Rocky Hill taxpayers will pay $61,137.50 more than they paid during 2016, for the school portion of the tax levy. In The total 2017-2018 bill is $1,764,531.50. The rate for school is $1.426 per $100 of assessment., which works out to about $238 more per average Rocky Hill home.


During the June Borough Council meeting, Council agreed to suspend the summer Greenacres cutting until Fall.


All water tests were normal.


Council approved a renewal of the liquor license for One 53.


Council met in executive session on July 17 to discuss renewing the contract with South Bound Brook for policing the mean streets of Rocky Hill. Also discussed was the Third Round of affordable housing, and contract negotiations for the Van Horne Park amendment.
Borough Engineer Bill Tanner reports that the new emergency generator should be delivered by the end of August. August of this year, that is. They still have to install it. This has been under discussion since Hurricane Sandy, when the pump house for Municipal Well #2 lost power and the Borough came perilously close to running out of water.


Repairs and improvements to the Montgomery Stage II Sewer Plant on River Rd will put Rocky Hill on the hook for some of the bill, which would total, depending on the level of repair, from $5.1M to $17.1M. Ouch! There were four scenarios, from construction of a flood-proof wall around the site (low figure) to abandoning and building another plant at another site (high ticket item). The Borough would have to pay 16% of the bill, which would mean $820K for the low ticket fix. State money may be available at low interest, to be paid back over 30 years.


During June there were four new moving violations, with three cases disposed of, and three new criminal cases, described as "other." Total court receipts were $785, of which Rocky Hill's share was $220.
The Rocky Hill Flu Clinic will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 24, Rocky Hill Borough Hall, 15 Montgomery Avenue, Rocky Hill, 1- 3 pm.


The August 21 Borough Council was cancelled, according to the website. No reason was sited.
The next meeting is on September 18. Starting in October, Borough Council resumes its normal schedule, meeting on the first and third Monday evening, at 7:30 in Borough Hall on Montgomery Avenue. For more information, visit www.rockyhill-nj.gov. 

Mother of God Church Flea Market

Mother of God Church, at 904 Cherry valley Rd. is holding a flea Market on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. For venders information, 915-255-9896
 

McCarter Theatre Center casting kids for Xmas Carol

McCarter Theatre Center graciously invites you and your family to get involved with us this holiday season! We are casting children for our annual production of A Christmas Carol. This year we welcome all young actors (ages 5 to 13), regardless of previous acting experience, to audition for the Young Ensemble in A Christmas Carol.

There will be an in-person sign-up day on Wednesday, September 13 from 3pm to 6pm at McCarter where you will be able to sign your children up for audition slots. Children are not required to attend that day, but we will have a fun and educational activity for any children who do attend. If you are unable to attend the in-person sign-ups, you will be able to sign up for any remaining audition slots online starting on September 13 at 6pm.

For all of the information and details about auditioning and to sign up for our casting email list, please visit mccarter.org/casting.  

SONGS AND STORIES OF OLD CANAL DAYS Sep 23 at Rockingham

Montgomery Students Admission to Home Games Now Free

The Montgomery Board of Education on August 15, decided to open up all home sports events for free to all Montgomery students. If you're a Montgomery Cougars fan currently in grades K through 12 in the district, just bring your school ID.


Board President Rich Cavalli said Athletic Director Tony Masselli felt, "It would potentially be a good thing to waive admission for students to encourage participation at athletics events." The change could assist in filling the stands at basketball and wrestling, both winter sports. Football has been Montgomery's main draw with the Cougars' "Friday Night Lights" setting and large crowds.


Board member Charles Jacey mentioned an earlier discussion among the school board Operations, Facilities and Finance (OFF) committee. "The objective was to explore offering free student admissions to home athletic events. After looking at the revenues involved which presently comes to the school district, which is relatively small, we decided that it would be consistent with our board decision to eliminate student participation (activity) fees and we would offer free admission to all Montgomery students to our athletic events," Jacey said.


In spring and after comments from feedback last year, the school board decided to waive activity fees for 2017-2018. It was $100 per student and capped at $200 per family with multiple kids for any students in grades 7 to 12 participating in sports, clubs and other activities.
Prior rates were $2 for Montgomery students to all events. For football it is $5 for parents, other students and everyone else over 10 years old. For Montgomery basketball or wrestling, parents and other students' pay $4.


Board member Dale Huff, Jacey's fellow OFF committee member, explained that Montgomery students with their school ID would be free, not other students. The board briefly considered if there should be an age restriction in place. Jacey then summarized the plans, "No student from Montgomery who attends an event would have to pay, whether they are 10 or 12 years old or just going to Orchard Hill Elementary," he said.


Board member Christine Witt made sure the OFF committee considered the chances students would carry IDs and also remember to bring them during non-school hours for the home games. Jacey says starting with Montgomery's Lower Middle School, students have an ID. Younger kids need not make their own lanyards this fall.


Jacey said the scramble for ID's won't be a nuisance: "The whole process is geared to not having any incidents at the gate as they have experiences with teachers and other ticket-takers," he said.
Witt thought of parents and other guests still paying admission. "If the revenues aren't that much on the district bottom line, why are we charging some people and not others? Why not make it all free?" she asked.


Huff said that there is no discrimination involved, just a free admission incentive for Montgomery's students. "This is not to get more parents to go to games or more students from other schools to go to games," Huff said.


Jacey said a prevailing sentiment behind pricing is that Montgomery parents will feel offended if they can't make any financial contribution at events.


Board President Cavalli explained an intent by the OFF committee, the board and the district giving Rocky Hill and Montgomery parents , "There's benefits to being a township (or borough) resident and one of those benefits is your kids go to the Montgomery sporting events for free," he said.


At the August meeting, board member Phyllis Bursh noted that parents could end up paying between $200 and $1000 for the sport's booster club as well as admission for themselves to games. Their children would get in free if they are in the district, but the athletes on the teams are free anyway.


MHS Cougars Football home season tickets went on sale August 24, and are sold until September 7. Adult season tickets are $25 and college student season tickets are $10.
 

Sourlands Bike Event a Success

Over 500 cyclists from the tristate area enjoyed the gorgeous weather at sixth annual Sourland Spectacular bicycle rally on Saturday. "We couldn't have asked for a better day," said Cliff Wilson, Sourland Conservancy's Spectacular Committee Chair. "Cool temperatures and blue skies, it was just perfect."


Riders, checked in and chose from five routes: five-mile Family Ride, 26.9 miles, 35.9 miles, 52.7 miles and the 65.4 miles. The longest of these, the Metric Century, included a total of 3,275 feet of climbing. All participants received a goody bag provided by Hammer Nutrition including Hammer Gel, Endurolytes Fizz, Sourland Cycles 20% coupon for all gear and accessories, and a coupon from Sourland Mountain Spirits. Riders who purchased advance tickets online also received a free universal silicon smartphone bike mount cell phone holder.


Aid stations staffed with volunteers were set up along the route for riders to rest and revive with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, pretzels, grapes, water, Hammer gel, HEED Mandarin-Orange drink and Endurolytes capsules. Bathroom facilities were also available.


Sourland Cycles' friendly staff were on hand at the Otto Kaufman Center to pump tires and help with rider questions and mechanical issues. In addition, Sourland Cycles provided SAG (support and gear) for the event. A few riders could not complete the route, so volunteer drivers brought tools and supplies for minor repairs. If needed, the SAG volunteer brought the cyclist and bike back to the Otto Kaufman Center.
After the ride, Sourland Cycles had their popular electric bikes on hand, as well as some of the new 2018 road bikes for men and women from Giant and Specialized.


All Sourland Spectacular proceeds benefit the Sourland Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to protect, promote and preserve the Sourland Mountain region - 90 square miles of forest, wetlands and grasslands, home to many endangered and threatened plant and animal species, and a critical stopover for migratory birds. Covering parts of seven municipalities and three counties within the heavily developed central corridor of New Jersey, the Sourlands region is also rich in opportunities for human recreation, refuge and renewal, with hiking trails and historic sites.

Sourlands Bike Event a Spectacular Success

Hopewell, NJ (September 11, 2017) – Over 500 cyclists from the tristate area enjoyed the gorgeous weather at sixth annual Sourland Spectacular bicycle rally on Saturday. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said Cliff Wilson, Sourland Conservancy’s Spectacular Committee Chair. “Cool temperatures and blue skies, it was just perfect.”

Registration opened at 7am and remained open until 10am. Riders were greeted with bagels and beverages, checked in and chose from 5 routes: 7 mile Family Ride, 26.9 miles, 35.9 miles, 52.7 miles and the 65.4 miles. The longest of these, the Metric Century, included a total of 3,275 feet of climbing. Following the ride, each cyclist enjoyed a delicious Thai Elephant Food Truck lunch or wood-fired New World Pizza and celebrated with the event’s famous homemade brownie sundae featuring ice cream donated by the Bent Spoon.

All participants received a goody bag provided by Hammer Nutrition including Hammer Gel, Endurolytes Fizz, Sourland Cycles 20% coupon for all gear and accessories, and a coupon from Sourland Mountain Spirits. Riders who purchased advance tickets online also received a free universal silicon smartphone bike mount cell phone holder.

Aid stations staffed with volunteers were set up along the route for riders to rest and revive with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, pretzels, grapes, water, Hammer gel, HEED Mandarin-Orange drink and Endurolytes capsules. Bathroom facilities were also available.

Sourland Cycles’ friendly staff were on hand at the Otto Kaufman Center to pump tires and help with rider questions and mechanical issues. In addition, Sourland Cycles provided SAG (support and gear) for the event. A few riders could not complete the route, so volunteer drivers brought tools and supplies for minor repairs. If needed, the SAG volunteer brought the cyclist and bike back to the Otto Kaufman Center.

After the ride, Sourland Cycles had their popular electric bikes on hand, as well as some of the new 2018 road bikes for men and women from Giant and Specialized.

All Sourland Spectacular proceeds benefit the Sourland Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to protect, promote and preserve the Sourland Mountain region – 90 square miles of forest, wetlands and grasslands, home to many endangered and threatened plant and animal species, and a critical stopover for migratory birds. Covering parts of seven municipalities and three counties within the heavily developed central corridor of New Jersey, the Sourlands region is also rich in opportunities for human recreation, refuge and renewal, with hiking trails and historic sites.  

Montgomery EMS Blood Drive Sept 16

Montgomery EMS (MEMS) is hosting a Community Blood Drive on Saturday, September 16, 2017 from 9 am to 1 pm at the Montgomery EMS squad building on 8 Harlingen Rd. Belle Mead, NJ 08502.

Please join us to help save lives, by giving blood.

Donors will receive a coupon for a free single cup of Thomas Sweet Ice Cream.


Please contact MEMS & leave your name, phone number and time of your donation at donateblood@mems47.org or 908-359-4112.

Remember to bring Photo ID, eat a good meal and drink plenty of fluids.

Directions to Montgomery EMS can be found on our website: http://www.mems47.org/public_website/directions.shtml 

Neshanic Garden Club Meets Oct 26

The Neshanic Garden Club will hold its regular monthly meeting at 9:45 am on Thursday, Oct. 26, at the Station House on Olive Street in Neshanic Station.


The program this month will be "Diabolical Botany: The World of Poisonous, Irritating and Illegal Plants" presented by Dorothy Smullen. Dorothy is past president of the NJ Mycological Association, and former board member of the Friends of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. She serves as a teacher/naturalist at the NJ Audubon Society and has been a nature and garden club speaker for 35 years. She will present an illustrated program exploring plants that are insect eaters, poisonous, irritating, thorny, smelly, or illegal. She will discuss how to identify and avoid any of these plants that are local to our area.


A light luncheon at 12 pm. Prospective members are encouraged to attend. For further information about club meetings, please contact either club co president, Cathy Heuschkel at 908-359-6881 or Kathy Herrington at 908-359-6835. For more information regarding the club, you can visit us at www.neshanicgardenclub.org and like us on Facebook.  

Committee Considers Citations from New "Party-Rental" Ordinance

One month after the Township Committee approved an ordinance to prevent and cease the Airbnb one-night party rentals, the Committee provided a follow up and status update.


Resident Brett Borowski asked the Committee how many violations the police had processed for the now-infamous Kildee Road home and other illegal one-day rental events in the township. He asked the timeframe for Montgomery to collect on fines and summons payments. "I want to understand how the process will unfold because I heard there were some inoffensive parties but still violations since then at 129 Kildee Road. How is the enforcement progressing, and have the rentals stopped?" Borowski asked.
Township Attorney Kristina Hadinger answered that the responsible party would first need to be found guilty in municipal court through the regular process. She confirmed that MTPD has issued several citations to the 129 Kildee homeowners and they would expect the three weeks to one month timeline for court appearances, or adjournments were possible.
Mayor Ed Trzaska said the township learned that since August 3, a number of events scheduled for 129 Kildee rented through Airbnb had been cancelled "due to the new ordinance and our communications with the property manager."
This issue stems from multiple neighborhood disturbances at 129 Kildee Road in Skillman in early summer. The home is owned by Frank and Wendy Ellmo, who live in Tennessee, and was rented through Airbnb. It's been foreclosure from deed holder Wells Fargo Bank, and Montgomery officials had contacted both Wells Fargo offices and the Ellmos about the property's misuse and accumulated violations.
Township Administrator Donato Nieman says it essentially gives MTPD officers a necessary tool for enforcement if a party or event disturbs the neighborhood. The scope of penalty and enforcement was still a question.


Mayor Trzaska said there is language in the ordinance addressing physical or local advertisements within Montgomery but not restricting items posted on a national website. "Unfortunately we don't have that jurisdiction but there is language around violations of advertising in town - a national website is beyond our control or reach," he told Borowski.


Borowski asked if a property owner could be penalized for the advertisement on Airbnb, and Hadinger quickly said the same violation and citation is already in place "if a rental occurs."


Borowski said on his own, he contacted the company and received an "unsatisfactory response" on policy and management behind its listings. He told the Committee in a letter, Airbnb stated it would decline a negotiation with homeowners "in a dispute like this." Borowski is eager to see listings taken down through site administration or property owners/managers to prevent incidents of pop-up party rentals.
Hadinger said she wasn't sure Airbnb will respond directly to Montgomery officials on installing ordinance-compliant listings. "It is really up to the property owner, manager or a property contractor to adjust," she said.  

Township Scores Big with Bond Rating & Financial Best Practices

At the September 7 Township Committee meeting Township Administrator Donato Nieman said that Moody's Investor Services once again affirmed Montgomery Township's Aa1 bond rating, which Nieman said is terrific for a municipality the size of Montgomery.


"That's an excellent rating and we maintain this from the prior year. It makes us more attractive in the marketplace when we go for financing," he said.


Moody's re-rated Montgomery because the township went out to the bond market for nearly $10 million. Nieman says the township's interest rate could fall under 2.30% at a time when finance staff thought 2.80% would be the baseline. "Hopefully, we get below what we thought we'd get as that means paying less interest and having less debt over time. Anytime you're under 3.0% in the market is great, closer to 2.0% is fantastic," he said.


Township CFO Michael Pitts said the annual "best management practices questionnaire" from State began the internal Q&A, "Checking management and finance situations of municipalities," when Gov. Christie took office. Consequently New Jersey will not withhold aid to Montgomery Township as it attained a score of 96%, certainly an "A-plus," in 2017; up from Montgomery's usual 90% highs.


Pitts said the 2017 questionnaire was a total 25 questions as opposed to 30 questions, and in prior years it was up to 50 questions. "The questionnaire promotes financial accountability, municipal transparency and sound management. Recently we've gotten our township budget passed on time and our audit done on time, reflecting improvements," Pitts said at the September 7 meeting.


Pitts said Montgomery Township had to answer "No" to question 5 from the state on the average ratio of assessed value to true market value. "Basically our assessed value is below true market value, as we're about 82% right now. If this is under 85% you must answer 'no' to the question. In Somerset County we were the lowest at 82%. Some municipalities rated higher above us at 95%. That is something we will have to look into in the future," Pitts said.
Nieman said New Jersey prefers for municipalities to be at 85% or above for ratable-based assessed values on the books, otherwise revaluation could be discussed. "We have not been ordered to do revaluation by the Somerset County Tax Board. However it would not come as a shock if within the next two or three years we are directed to do so," he said after the meeting.


Meanwhile, projected Township improvements includes new signage, a light post and a new look for the building just north of Cherry Valley Avenue on northbound Route 206. A site plan and construction project for renovating the Western Pest office, including a full basement, was approved by the Planning Board last November.


At the September 7 meeting, Township Committee approved a construction sequence agreement, a sewer cross-easement agreement, and a remaining sewer capacity agreement with corporation Rollins-Western Real Estate Holdings, LLC. The capacity agreement is to preserve the remaining capacity in the Stage II Sewage Treatment Plant.


Also on September 7, Township Committee approved an outdoor assembly permit for David Tormey to hold a car show at Princeton Airport during October. The Committee's permit approval specified conditions of police department approval on parking facilities, traffic plans and safety considerations. Tormey is required to employ three Township police officers for the event. Organizers must also obtain a fire permit as well as required health certificates from the Township Health Department.
 

Township Scores Big with Bond Rating & Financial Best Practices

At the September 7 Township Committee meeting Township Administrator Donato Nieman said that Moody's Investor Services once again affirmed Montgomery Township's Aa1 bond rating, which Nieman said is terrific for a municipality the size of Montgomery.


"That's an excellent rating and we maintain this from the prior year. It makes us more attractive in the marketplace when we go for financing," he said.


Moody's re-rated Montgomery because the township went out to the bond market for nearly $10 million. Nieman says the township's interest rate could fall under 2.30% at a time when finance staff thought 2.80% would be the baseline. "Hopefully, we get below what we thought we'd get as that means paying less interest and having less debt over time. Anytime you're under 3.0% in the market is great, closer to 2.0% is fantastic," he said.


Township CFO Michael Pitts said the annual "best management practices questionnaire" from State began the internal Q&A, "Checking management and finance situations of municipalities," when Gov. Christie took office. Consequently New Jersey will not withhold aid to Montgomery Township as it attained a score of 96%, certainly an "A-plus," in 2017; up from Montgomery's usual 90% highs.


Pitts said the 2017 questionnaire was a total 25 questions as opposed to 30 questions, and in prior years it was up to 50 questions. "The questionnaire promotes financial accountability, municipal transparency and sound management. Recently we've gotten our township budget passed on time and our audit done on time, reflecting improvements," Pitts said at the September 7 meeting.


Pitts said Montgomery Township had to answer "No" to question 5 from the state on the average ratio of assessed value to true market value. "Basically our assessed value is below true market value, as we're about 82% right now. If this is under 85% you must answer 'no' to the question. In Somerset County we were the lowest at 82%. Some municipalities rated higher above us at 95%. That is something we will have to look into in the future," Pitts said.


Nieman said New Jersey prefers for municipalities to be at 85% or above for ratable-based assessed values on the books, otherwise revaluation could be discussed. "We have not been ordered to do revaluation by the Somerset County Tax Board. However it would not come as a shock if within the next two or three years we are directed to do so," he said after the meeting.


Meanwhile, projected Township improvements includes new signage, a light post and a new look for the building just north of Cherry Valley Avenue on northbound Route 206. A site plan and construction project for renovating the Western Pest office, including a full basement, was approved by the Planning Board last November.


At the September 7 meeting, Township Committee approved a construction sequence agreement, a sewer cross-easement agreement, and a remaining sewer capacity agreement with corporation Rollins-Western Real Estate Holdings, LLC. The capacity agreement is to preserve the remaining capacity in the Stage II Sewage Treatment Plant.


Also on September 7, Township Committee approved an outdoor assembly permit for David Tormey to hold a car show at Princeton Airport during October. The Committee's permit approval specified conditions of police department approval on parking facilities, traffic plans and safety considerations. Tormey is required to employ three Township police officers for the event. Organizers must also obtain a fire permit as well as required health certificates from the Township Health Department.
 

Montgomery Fire Co. #1 Open House Oct 12

October is Fire Prevention month. On Thursday, October 12, from 6 – 9 pm, Fire Company #1, located at 35 Belle Mead Griggstown Road, invites you to stop by their annual open house.


This open house is the culmination of Fire Prevention month and gives residents a chance to connect, tour the fire house/trucks. Yes, you can try on the fire gear, and learn more about fire safety the different levels of volunteer opportunities.


"We usually have a great turn out. There's live demonstrations, hands on activities and souvenirs. Everyone leaves with a better sense of fire safety and an amplified sense of community spirit!" remarked Vinnie Urso, President of Fire Co. #1.


The Township fire inspectors and firefighters will be visiting the local elementary schools during October to discuss fire safety with students, giving the children an opportunity to explore a real fire truck. And, if they're comfortable, even crawl through a smoke simulator. It's a time to have fun and learn fire safety strategies.
Montgomery Fire Co. #1 Chief Jeff Huxley commented, "It's a great chance for the firefighting community to meet with our town's kids to teach fire safety basics like when to change detector batteries and making a family emergency plan."
 

Waldorf School of Princeton Welcomes the Class of 2025

Waldorf School of Princeton celebrated the start of its academic year September 6 with its grade school opening day assembly, held in Hagens Hall. Twelve boys and girls began their grade school journey this year, which in Waldorf schools follows the same teacher for up to eight years.


The highlight of the morning, as always, was the Flower Ceremony, in which the first graders are introduced one by one to their new teacher, and as a class to the school community. It is a visually symbolic tradition that is unique to Waldorf schools all over the world; passing under an arbor, each child is ushered by an early childhood teacher and met by an eighth grader, who greets him or her and presents a small bouquet of flowers. The first grader then greets the new class teacher with a handshake. It is the child's official welcome to the grade school.


First grade class teacher Susan Eggers has been teaching Eurythmy, an artistic form of movement unique to Waldorf Education, at the Waldorf School of Princeton for seven years. Prior to that, Ms. Eggers was a class teacher at the Four Winds Waldorf School in the suburbs of Chicago. Ms. Eggers received her bachelor's degree in education from Valparaiso University in Indiana, and a master's degree in special education from Northeastern Illinois University.


Waldorf School of Princeton is one of more than 1,000 Waldorf schools worldwide and is the only such school in New Jersey. Visit www.princetonwaldorf.org to learn more.
 

Zwicker to Host Annual Job Fair Sept 27

 

(SKILLMAN) – Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker will host a job fair on September 27 in Branchburg.

“Employers seeking talent should look no further than New Jersey, a state with a well-educated, well-trained workforce eager to put their skills and knowledge to use,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “This event will connect people who are searching for a job or want a change in jobs with new opportunities.”

The job fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Raritan Valley Community College, located at 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg, NJ 08876. The event will take place in the gymnasium in the Physical Education Building on the main campus of the college. Parking will be available in Lot 2 and throughout the campus.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the free event and network with local recruiters for opportunities with public and private entities within the Central Jersey region.

Employers and job seekers interested in participating may contact Joe Forte via email at AsmZwicker@njleg.org or by phone at 609-454-3147. Note, however, that no RSVP from job seekers is required for attendance.  

County Bus Routes Now on Google Maps

Somerset County's public bus routes can now be accessed via desktop computer or mobile device.

Somerset County Freeholder Brian D. Levine has announced that the county’s public bus routes are now just a click away on Google Maps.

“The addition of our county bus routes to Google Transit will be a great convenience for students heading back to Raritan Valley Community College this fall, as well as for others who rely on our SCOOT, DASH and CAT buses for work or other transportation,” Freeholder Levine said.

Go to Google Maps on desktop or mobile (https://maps.google.com) and select the transit icon, enter your start point and destination within Somerset County, and get county bus route information to guide you to your destination.

Google relies on agencies such as the Somerset County Transportation Division to provide routes and stop schedules to feed into Google Maps. So for instance if you’re in Hillsborough and want to go to Somerville, you can get directions from Google Maps and it will tell you where the nearest SCOOT bus stop is and what time the next bus will arrive, then tell you what stop to get off at and what time you will arrive.

To report technical issues with the Google Transit function, email GIS@co.somerset.nj.us. For information about the county’s transportation services, contact the Transportation Division at 908-231-7116 or toll-free at 1-800-246-0527.

To stay up to date with Somerset County events and information, sign up for free email alerts or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 

PHCS 5K Race/1 Mile Fun Walk Set for October 8

MONTGOMERY, N.J. (September 14, 2017)—Princeton HealthCare System, in partnership with Princeton Fitness & Wellness Center, will host its annual 5K Race and 1 Mile Fun Walk on Sunday, October 8 at Skillman Park.

The walk is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. with the 5K to follow at 9:15 a.m. The walk and the race will both be held on the grounds of Skillman Park, which is located on Main Boulevard in the Skillman section of Montgomery.

The 5K Race is a USA Track & Field (USATF) Certified Course, Sanctioned Event and Grand Prix Event. USATF-New Jersey members can receive discounted registration.

Entry fees are $20 for the Fun Walk and $25 for the 5K ($22 for USATF-NJ members). Team registration discounts for both events are available as well:

• 5 to 9 walkers/runners—$3 off per person
• 10 to 19 walkers/runners—$7 off per person
• 20 or more walkers/runners—$10 off per person

Proceeds from the event will support the care and services provided by the Jim Craigie Center for Joint Replacement at University Medical Center of Princeton.

For more information or to register, please visit www.princetonhealthinmotion.org.

Race T-shirts are guaranteed to all runners who pre-register. Those who register on race day will receive shirts while supplies last.

Prizes will be awarded to the overall first-, second- and third-place male and female finishers as well as the top three male and female finishers in the following age groups:

14 and under
15–19 20–24 25–29
30–34
35–39 40–44 45–49
50–54 55–59 60–64 65–69
70–74
75–79 80–84 85 and older

Timing and computerized scoring will be provided by Elite Racing Systems, and same-day results will be posted at www.eliteracingsystems.com.

The 5K Race and 1 Mile Fun Walk is sponsored by 94.5 PST, the Medical Staff of Princeton HealthCare System, Magic 98.3, Machinery and Harmelin Media.


About Princeton HealthCare System
Princeton HealthCare System is a comprehensive, integrated healthcare system that strives to anticipate and serve the lifelong needs of central New Jersey residents, including acute care hospital services through University Medical Center of Princeton, behavioral healthcare through Princeton House Behavioral Health, rehabilitation, home care, hospice care, ambulatory surgery, a primary and specialty medical practice, and fitness and wellness services. For more information, visit www.princetonhcs.org.  

Griggstown Reformed Church Continues 175th Anniversary Celebration with Humor and Music

On June 21, 2017, the Griggstown Reformed Church marked its 175th anniversary of serving the community. Several pastors who served the church over the years participated in a special commemorative worship service on June 25. The message was delivered by Rev. Steve Miller. Kitty Crandall, widow of former Pastor Lee Crandall, gave a nostalgic reflection on their time in Griggstown. Other pastors who were unable to attend submitted written comments that were printed in a bulletin for the day. Groups supported by the congregation placed photos, reports, and historical memorabilia into a time chest hand-crafted by Al Heuschkel to be opened on the 200th church anniversary.


The past 75 years presented many spiritual challenges for this congregation and others throughout the country. War World I was followed closely by World War II, which finally ended with the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.


The violated agreement to separate North and South Korea precipitated the three years of the Korean War 1950-1953. The Vietnam War, which lasted from 1955-1975, divided our country and cost huge casualties of death and injuries to service personnel. The 2001 terrorist attacks on American soil resulted in a national unity and strength once again. They also led to war in Afghanistan and the eight year invasion and occupation of Iraq. Operation Neptune Spear and the death of Osama bin Laden highlighted the news in 2011.


Unfortunately, much turmoil occurred within America during this time. Mass bombings, stabbings, shootings and vehicular assaults left hundreds of students, citizens, tourists, and police officers dead and wounded. This violence continues at an alarming rate across our nation and the world. There were outbreaks of West Nile and Zika viruses.


Many positive actions took also took place during this time. The Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act and Fair Housing Act went into effect. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. A medication to treat victims of HIV was developed and approved. Pope Francis replaced ailing Pope Benedict XVI to head the Catholic Church, encouraging people to return to the fold.


Through all these chaotic and jubilant events, the members of the Griggstown Reformed Church faithfully gathered in their sanctuary for worship and guidance. They grieved America's losses, as well as their own, and rejoiced in the educational, scientific, and medical advancements around the world.


The celebration of committed spiritual life at Griggstown Reformed Church will continue with a performance by Taylor Mason, comedian and puppet master, at 4 PM on October 15 in the church hall located at 1065 Canal Road, Griggstown. This entertaining show, appropriate for all ages, is open to the public. A free will donation is appreciated.


A musical recital of various vocal and instrumental presentations is planned for November.
Additional information is available at grchurch.org and Facebook.
 

Paws For A Cause

Take a break with your dog and go to Pause For A Cause, at the Montgomery Dog Park, on Saturday, October 14 , at 1 pm. Come see the new improved Montgomery Dog Park, located behind the Municipal building, Route 206. Come meet Girl Scout Junior Troop #60555 Anna Slaga, Chloe Fitzpatrick, Esha Pai and Lyvia Zhou.


Girl Scout Junior Troop #60555 has been busy all summer improving the Dog Park with bricks, updated signs and benches.


New colorful bricks with our furry friends names painted on them are now on display along the fence at the Dog Park. Girl Scout Junior Troop #60555 is a group of 6th graders from Montgomery Lower Middle School who have been working on the Dog Park for their Bronze Award, which is the highest award one can achieve at the Junior level.


The money they earned at Montgomery's 4th of July Fireworks paid for all the supplies they needed for the improvements at the Montgomery Dog Park. 


Take a walk, and read all our town's cute pet names, maybe find your donated brick. Enjoy the afternoon activities. There will be face painting, crafts, prizes and free dog treats.


The\ Troop cleaned up broken toys and asked for donations around town for new toys for our dogs. They updated the old dog signs and added brand new dog leash hooks, which they built and painted by themselves.


A Brick includes the donator's pet name on top of brick and their birthday or adopted date. Paw prints painted on the side represent the number of family members in the pet's home, including the pet. Troop 60555 will always be happy to add more bricks. They have extra paint ready to go! Everyone can still be a part of the Dog Park and donate.


For additional information contact troop60555dogpark@mail.com. Your dogs will thank you. 

Music & Art At Blawenburg Church Oct 19

2nd show Of The season

Blawenburg Church will feature local art and music again for the second of its fall Blue Pomegranate shows on Thursday, October 19th. Doors will open at 7pm in Cook Hall on the Route 518 church campus.
Tuna Balloon will perform, featuring the Princeton area alternative, folk rock and blues song-writing duo Mark Manto and Andrew Hayes. Also on the ticket: The local female pop-rock duo Easha & Shravya. Titusville artist NJ DeVico will be on hand with examples of her large repertoire of conceptual art, landscapes and abstracts. And from Lambertville, Annelies Van Dommelen will show what it means to paint spontaneously with the human condition and nature in mind.


The church's Blue Pomegranate program is now in its third year. It will host another show next month, and perhaps three more shows in the spring. "We're just so pleased to give these folks a venue," says church Elder Alan Taback who manages the program. "They're really talented. I urge everyone to come by and see them."


Admission is free but donations are encouraged to support the work of the church and the artists. Light refreshments will be served.


For more details, go to www.BlawenburgChurch.org, or on Facebook @BlawenburgChurch, or @BluePomArt.


The Church's regular Sunday service is at 10:00am. Coffee and refreshments are served following the service.
 

MTSD And Residents Help Harvey Victims

Montgomery and Rocky Hill area residents are working together with the Montgomery
School District to provide much needed assistance to the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, TX.
A volunteer group, "Operation Friends," was originally formed to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in Biloxi, MS, in 2005. Volunteers from the Group personally drove two truckloads of boxes filled with supplies directly to a designated school for distribution dierctly to the children and their families.
The boxes were not stored in a warehouse for months awaiting distribution. This same approach will be used for our gifts to Harvey victims.


People wishing to participate in the Operation Friends/MTSD effort, may obtain a box, provided free at one of the following locations: each of the five MTSD school buildings, the Administration Building adjacent to the high school, or at Ace Hardware located on Route 206 in the ShopRite shopping center. Fill the box with new summer clothing (tags attached), toiletries, school supplies, stuffed animals or a toy for a specific grade-level child. Write the gender, clothing size and grade level on the side of the box. If you wish to prepare a box for an adult, clothing, toiletries, small tools, towels, kitchen utensils/small appliances would be appropriate. Please write the size of the clothing on the box. Do not seal the box. The volunteers will do that for you.


A note to the recipient placed in the box allows you to personalize your gift. Return the filled boxes to one of the locations listed on the website www.operationfriends.com or to the barn at Daube Farm on Sunset Road by October 7. Additional information is provided on the website also.
 

Historic Blawenburg Church On Somerset County Tour Oct 14 – 15

Blawenburg Church in the historic Village of Blawenburg on Route 518 will be a featured stop on the Somerset County Weekend Journey through the Past on October 14 - 15. More than 25 historic locations throughout the County will participate in the Weekend Journey, sponsored by the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission. All activities are free.


Blawenburg Church has been in continuous operation since it was built as a Dutch Reformed Church in 1832. It has original pews and retains many other original architectural features. The sanctuary will be open on Saturday, October 14, from 10am to 5pm. Pictures, artifacts, and documents will be on display and docents will be ready with information.


On Sunday, October 15, the church will be open for tours and exhibits from 12pm until 4pm. A special concert will be presented by organist Kathleen S. Connolly at 2pm including "The Battle of Trenton" by James Hewitt. A 15-minute blow-by-blow keyboard sonata depicting the events of the historic battle, Hewitt wrote it in 1797 and dedicated the piece to George Washington. A repertoire of traditional American music will also be included in the concert.


"The church has such a rich history," said Rev. Jeff Knol, pastor. "We're really pleased to share it in this way."


Blawenburg Village, Blawenburg Church and its Blawenburg Village Preschool are all on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. For more details, go to www.BlawenburgChurch.org, or on Facebook @BlawenburgChurch.


The Church's regular Sunday service is at 10:00am. Nursery care is available for very young children. Coffee and refreshments are served following the service. 

Jersey Harmony Chorus Autumn Craft Bazaar & Flea Market. Sept 23

Event features great vendors and crafters.

Griggstown (Township of Franklin/Princeton), NJ: Jersey Harmony Chorus invites you to join us at our Autumn Craft Bazaar and Flea Market featuring a fine selection of unique items for you, your home, or gift giving! The event will be held Saturday, September 23, 2017, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the grounds of the Griggstown Reformed Church. 1065 Canal Road, (Griggstown) Princeton, NJ. Griggstown is located within Franklin Township, in Somerset County, New Jersey. Use Princeton as the town in your GPS.

Come and shop among a variety of exciting vendors and crafters, everything from jewelry, locally made foods, clothing and accessories, one-of-a-kind gifts, toys, pet products, health, and beauty items, new and gently used items and more. Gift baskets will be available for sale. Food will be available to purchase all day. The award-winning Jersey Harmony Chorus will perform a few songs during the event. A limited amount of spaces are still available. Contact Carole at 732-236-6803 or email: jhc.membership@gmail.com for more information or to reserve a space.

Check out our Facebook page to view event flyer and other information: https://www.facebook.com/JHCFAIRS/.  

LORD STIRLING 1770s FESTIVAL

Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center
190 Lord Stirling Road, Basking Ridge, NJ
Sunday, October 1, 2017 - 11:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Step back in time to the colonial period of American history at the Somerset County Park Commission's Lord Stirling 1770s Festival taking place on Sunday, October 1, 2017 from 11:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. at 96 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, the site of Lord Stirling’s Manor house.

The 1770s Festival promotes historical and environmental education, highlighting the unsung Revolutionary War hero William Alexander, Lord Stirling, who lived on the site and served under General George Washington. Each year the estate at Lord Stirling Park comes back to life in the late 1700s when Lord Stirling joins visitors, answering questions about his many business ventures and his successes in battle against the British. Join him as he reviews his troops, visits with local craftspeople, and tours his personal wine cellar.

With re-enactors attired in replicas of 1770s clothing, visitors will meet a blacksmith, tinsmith, gunsmith, and other trades people of the times. Crafters make toys, lace, decorative arts, woodcarvings, and spin wool into yarn. No crafts are sold at this entertaining and educational event.

The event provides an educational and enjoyable way to learn about colonial times and the importance of New Jersey's role in the American Revolution. Visitors will listen to colonial ballads played on instruments of the period, visit the camps of Heard's Brigade, Captain John Outwater's Militia, and the Donegal Riflemen and watch as the militias conduct maneuvers. A colonial surgeon will display his tools for battlefield medicine and a professional Town Crier will read the Declaration of Independence.

Children can try stenciling, quill writing, making clay pots, playing colonial games, and pet goats and chickens. A working cider press will show how cider was made and a hay wagon will take visitors for a ride around Lord Stirling's meadows. Dress the part by trying on period style clothing or spend a few minutes in the Somerset Gaoler's wooden pillory while friends and family take photographs.

Return to 2017 and enjoy a healthy lunch for purchase from Dean’s Natural Food Market.

Lord Stirling (the Scottish earldom and title acquired by William Alexander of Basking Ridge) was close friends with George Washington and served as a Major General directly under his command during the Revolution. Stirling built his manor house around 1762 and lived there for 20 years. An archeological team sponsored by the Somerset County Park Commission excavated part of the site and has studied the recovered artifacts which are on display. Part of the original Stirling manor house foundation still exists under the house now occupying the site and the cellar is open to the public for tours for the day.

Suggested donation is $5 per person. The 1770s Festival will be held rain or shine

For more information about the 1770s Festival call the Environmental Education Center at 908-766-2489 or Relay Service dial 711 for individuals with hearing impairments.

Information on this event and other Somerset County Park Commission activities may be found on the Somerset County Park Commission website at www.somersetcountyparks.org. 

Township Closes on Convatec Site

Work continues on 601 sidewalk

On September 7, Township Administrator Donato Nieman and Township Attorney Kristina Hadinger announced a step towards the new Montgomery Township municipal complex with the acquisition of 45 acres of the former Convatec site at Orchard Road, just west of Route 206 and across from 23 Orchard Road office suites.


The Township in partnership with the Somerset County Improvement Authority paid $5.9 million for the site. Mayor Ed Trzaska said some money could eventually return to the township from the Open Space Trust Fund.


Closing on the real estate transaction came up two weeks prior to the September 7 Township Committee meeting, but no decision was made in August on the extent of insurances for the new asset.


The Township has insurance for liability and loss for both buildings on the site. At the September meeting, Nieman asked the Committee if coverage for loss should still be maintained, "If the two buildings are damaged or destroyed," or should the township only keep the liability coverage.


Committeewoman Patricia Graham, said it is important to keep both. "We have to cover them for loss until we make a decision on what to do with the property," she said. Mayor Trzaska echoed her sentiment and said the due diligence process for evaluating the former Convatec site, structurally and for future use, will take a while.


Nieman said the next step is a meeting with Somerset County followed by the Township Committee's discussions, including weighing the costs of renovation for the existing 1980s buildings, the infrastructure, HVAC and energy efficiency versus all new construction on the site. "We will also discuss what uses the Committee wants to put on that property," Nieman said. Departments from Public Works and Police to the Clerk and other municipal offices need to be considered.


Township Committee also approved a shared services agreement between the Somerset County Department of Public Works' Division of Traffic Safety Services and the Township was also approved at September 7 meeting. The agreement endorses a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon System (RRFB) for the new pedestrian-centered project off of Route 601.


The Somerset County joint project with Montgomery Township Schools include curb ramps and a crosswalk, 250 feet north of the intersection of Route 601 and Main Boulevard at Skillman Village, from Montgomery High School, part of the school referendum in May 2016.


Township Administrator Donato Nieman said the result will be a pathway sidewalk from MHS to Blawenburg. The sidewalk portion abutting Skillman Park will be asphalt. Nieman noted that the Montgomery Cougars' home football schedule plays a role in determining construction times. Nieman says the Somerset County investment, "Is very desirable and has long-been requested. Kids walk from MHS to Blawenburg all the time, as they're allowed to go off-campus for meals. They walk primarily at lunch time and after school, and this makes a much safer path for pedestrians going to either Blawenburg or Skillman Park. Work will be completed by late December, weather permitting," he said.


The project will be done in three stages, two of which will take place from 9 am to 4 pm. The middle stage or Phase II, is to be done at night between 9 pm and 5 am.


Mayor Trzaska said that Phase II involves widening the bridge over the Rock Brook along Route 601. For the bridge work in Phase II traffic will be detoured onto Skillman Road, Burnt Hill Road, and Rt. 518.
Township Schools advised families with a statement on its website to expect bus delays of as much as "15 minutes or more." They also noted the need to curb the amount of car traffic. "Parents are encouraged to have their children ride the bus to reduce traffic at the schools."


The sidewalk project stems from a road safety audit along Route 601 conducted by the Rutgers University Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation, with input from Somerset County, Montgomery Township staff and the Montgomery Board of Education. The school district collaborated directly with DOT and county officials on a sidewalk design from MHS, the proposed layout for MHS "student-pedestrians," as well as older teens who drive and cross 601 to reach school.
 

Zwicker to Host Annual Job Fair

 

(SKILLMAN) – Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker will host a job fair on September 27 in Branchburg.

“Employers seeking talent should look no further than New Jersey, a state with a well-educated, well-trained workforce eager to put their skills and knowledge to use,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “This event will connect people who are searching for a job or want a change in jobs with new opportunities.”

The job fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Raritan Valley Community College, located at 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg, NJ 08876. The event will take place in the gymnasium in the Physical Education Building on the main campus of the college. Parking will be available in Lot 2 and throughout the campus.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the free event and network with local recruiters for opportunities with public and private entities within the Central Jersey region.

Employers and job seekers interested in participating may contact Joe Forte via email at AsmZwicker@njleg.org or by phone at 609-454-3147. Note, however, that no RSVP from job seekers is required for attendance.  

SŌ PERCUSSION OFFERS FREE CONCERT ON PRINCETON’S CAMPUS

On the heels of a Lincoln Center appearance hailed as “brilliant” by The New York Times, acclaimed ensemble Sō Percussion will offer the first of three free performances in Princeton as part of their Edward T. Cone Residency at Princeton University. On Friday, September 15, 2017 at 7:30PM in Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall, the community is invited to experience some of the most wildly inventive music written specifically for the ensemble by Princeton-based collaborators including Professor Emeritus Paul Lansky, Ph.D. student Viet Cuong, and choreographer Susan Marshall. The evening will also include a fan favorite: John Cage’s Credo in US.

Tickets are required for this free concert. Reservations can be made in advance online at tickets.princeton.edu. Patrons wishing to reserve by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person at the Frist Campus Center Box Office (Mon-Fri, 12-5PM) or Lewis Center for the Arts Box Office (Mon-Fri, 4:30-8:30PM) may do so as of September 13, 2017. Any remaining tickets will be available one hour prior to the concert at the Richardson Auditorium Box Office.

The concert promises to showcase the incredible range of percussion music. Professor Emeritus Paul Lansky's Threads, one of the early significant works written for Sō Percussion, reinvents the traditional “cantata,” alternating between serene melodies (aria), busy noises (recitative), and thundering drums (chorus). John Cage’s Credo in US, written in 1942, involves a member of the ensemble performing on a record player, while a pianist and two percussionists try to remain heard and interrupt the recordings. Princeton Ph.D. student Viet Cuong's Water, Wine, Brandy, Brine imagines an entire sound world out of wine glasses - clinking in rhythm, tapping with chopsticks, rubbing a finger around the edges. And in a new presentation, Professor Susan Marshall's Construction brings the percussionists into a dance space, tapping microphones on colored tape to build a sonic score.

Sō Percussion’s other concerts this season as part of their Princeton University residency include a collaboration with the renowned JACK Quartet on March 1, 2018 at 7:30PM, and a celebration of Steve Reich on April 18, 2018 at 7:30PM, rescheduled from last season. More information about these concerts will be available at music.princeton.edu.

 

LISTING INFORMATION

SŌ PERCUSSION, Princeton University Edward T. Cone Performers-in-Residence


WHEN:
​ ​
Friday, September 15, 2017 at 7:30PM

WHAT: ​VIET CUONG Water, Wine, Brandy, Brine; SUSAN MARSHALL Construction; PAUL LANSKY Threads; JOHN CAGE Credo in US

WHERE:
​ ​
Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, Princeton University

TICKETS: 

Annual Montgomery FunFest Will Bring Food, Fun, and Entertainment Sept. 10

 

MONTGOMERY, N.J., August 28, 2017 – The Montgomery FunFest on Sunday, September 10 promises a day of fun with more than 100 booths showcasing local businesses, art, contemporary crafts, culinary delights, helicopter rides, walkabout balloon, games of chance, live entertainment, expanded inflatable rides and games area for children. The third annual community festival is free at the Princeton Airport from 12-5 p.m. Last year’s event had over 10,000 attendees.

 

The opening ceremony will feature the Montgomery Township High School band performing the Star-Spangled Banner, remarks by Montgomery Township officials and Jean Robinson, president of the Montgomery Business Association and FunFest Chair. The MHS Drum line will then lead the march to the festivities.

 

“Our goal is to create a town tradition that residents won’t want to miss. We appreciate that so many local business members, restaurants and community organizations contribute to the event’s success,” said Robinson, who is also executive director of Volition Wellness Solutions. “Last year’s FunFest enabled the MBA to award five $1000 scholarships to graduating MHS students Carly Conway, Michael Lynch, Kelly Anderson, Tyler Gallagher and Griffen Kingkiner. We hope our success this year will allow us to award even more scholarships.”

 

Food vendors will serve a variety of culinary delights including bratwurst, funnel cakes, BBQ, gyro, falafel, hot dogs, wood fired pizza, calzones, Stromboli, ice cream, kettle corn and award-winning cupcakes. The Radio 101.5 Van will entertain and host contests with prizes from 1-3 p.m. School groups, local taekwondo clubs, and dance studio students will perform. FunFest will also feature live music from local bands Acoustic Road, The Shaxe, RockXchange and GoodWorks.

 

Attendees will enjoy games of skill, children’s activities, helicopter rides, rock wall and inflatable obstacle courses. In addition to fire trucks, planes, helicopters, and classic cars on display, attendees can end the day test driving the latest models of Honda, Audi or Volkswagon. The MBA will be selling merchandise and many will be offering free gifts.

 

FunFest is produced by the MBA comprised of “Shop Local” area businesses, which include many Montgomery residents. Platinum Sponsors are Honda of Princeton, Audi Princeton and the Princeton Packet. Silver Sponsors include Montgomery Pediatric Dentistry, Analar Corporation, Volition Wellness, Princeton Airport and Frank Veronsky Photography. Sponsorships in-kind are provided by Montgomery Township, Hilton Realty, Rambling Pines Day Camp, Blooms of Montgomery and Witherspoon Media Group.

 

To learn more visit www.MontgomeryFunFest.com, www.facebook.com/MontgomeryFunFest, and Twitter with the hashtag #MontgomeryFunFest.

Food For Thought - Dining on Death Row

If you were on death row, what would be your last meal? Think about it. It's not as simple a question as it appears. Your first instinct might be to pick your favorite food. But maybe you might select your most meaningful food, such as the first meal your wife made you, or one of your mom's memory-laden classics. Or maybe your desolation and bitterness would leave you so resigned that you would forgo a final feast.
As morbid as it seems, there exists great fascination about the last meals of condemned prisoners, especially the famous ones. Man has always been beguiled by the macabre. Just look at the historical popularity of horror stories and movies, murder mysteries, forensic TV shows, and the countless traffic jams created by the curious queue of commuters, anxious for a glimpse of the adjacent accident.


The state of Texas used to keep a list of its inmates' last meals on its website. One of their convicts who participated in preparing last meals compiled them into a cookbook entitled Meals to Die For. A similar book is entitled Last Suppers: Famous Final Meals From Death Row. However, despite all the interest, there are detractors as well. Texas eventually eliminated the last meal list from its website due to complaints that it was in poor (do not pardon the pun), taste.


The tradition of providing a condemned person a final meal hails back to the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans, who all practiced this custom. Ages ago in Europe the provision of a last meal had superstitious underpinnings. It was believed that if a condemned person received a last meal, he tacitly accepted his fate and forgave those responsible for his demise, such as the judge or executioner. Thus, his acquiescence and absolution would prevent his spirit from vengefully haunting those who had played a role in his prosecution.


Today, most governments provide a last meal to those who are sentenced to death. In the United States, the actual parameters of the last meal vary from state to state. Naturally there are limitations on the requests. You will not find any convicts chowing down on foie gras and Russian caviar before meeting their maker. Texas limits the meals to food that can be made within the prison. At one time, Florida imposed a twenty dollar price limit. Some states will allow takeout from pizza parlors, or other popular restaurants. Maryland conversely, does not offer its inmates a special last meal. Alcohol is universally forbidden and a final smoke depends on whether the prison is smoke-free or not.


So what is so fascinating about the meal choices of those on the precipice of daeth? Undoubtedly it emanates from the aforementioned allure humans have with the lurid side of life. More specifically, the last meal gives us a glimpse into the darkest recesses of the human mind. What does a soulless serial killer want to consume on his last day on earth? Why does he choose that? And more frighteningly, what does it mean if I might choose the same? Does the fact that I'd also pick fried chicken mean that something sinister is lurking within me? Or is it just an eerie coincidence?


So what are some famous last meals? Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer and necrophiliac, dined on steak, eggs, hash browns and coffee. Don't see anything crazy there. And before you anti-red-meat crusaders attempt to link carnivorousness with savagery, consider the last meal of Oklahoma inmate Michael Pennington: a vegetarian pizza, salad, and dessert. John Wayne Gacy, another depraved serial murderer, chose fried chicken, fried shrimp, French fries and strawberries. Velma Barfield, the famous female arsenic killer asked for a bag of Cheez Doodles and a Coke. Aileen Wuornos, another infamous female killer who took the lives of seven men, declined a last meal. Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City bomber), received ice cream. Victor Feguer, who kidnapped a doctor and killed him, asked for a single olive. Adolf Eichman, the notorious Nazi, in what could only be considered sadistic and twisted, requested an Israeli wine. California murderer Robert Alton Harris desired Kentucky Fried Chicken and Domino's pizza. Joan of Arc asked for Holy Communion.


As to what these specific choices mean, if anything, about the individuals is really anybody's guess (with the exception of Joan of Arc; she suffered from religious delusions). What's more revealing is the larger picture, namely, the role that food plays in life. Food is so much more than the sustenance needed to biologically survive. Food is woven into virtually every meaningful event in our lives, be it the joyful or morose.


The last meal is a symbol of our empathy. Even though we may be putting to death the most despicable person on the planet, those of us who are not despicable, still feel some consternation, and sometimes even sympathy. It's our attempt to ease the individual's suffering and somehow make their final journey, (this time pardon the pun), more palatable.
 

Report From Rocky Hill -October 2017

Sharp-eyed drivers may have noticed on Washington Street a black Camaro with dark windows, and very faintly in "ghost lettering" along the side, "POLICE" This is a consequence of a new contract with the Franklin Township Police Department, to provide patrolling of Rocky Hill streets, three times a week, for four hours at a time, as requested by Rocky Hill. The contract was signed by Rocky Hill Borough Council in a special meeting on September 4, and a week later, by Franklin Township. On September 18, they issued eight tickets. Councilman Mark Sibley said, "It's not about the revenue, it's about traffic enforcement."


Meanwhile, South Bound Brook PD, which had been providing this shared service in the past, has failed to respond to repeated requests for a meeting so that the Borough can explain the new contract with Franklin. Borough Council thanked the Montgomery Township PD and the NJ State Police for stepping up to the plate during the period during the summer after SBBPD stopped service and Franklin began.


The NJSP reports that they investigated two accidents during August (one in the parking lot of the Rocky Hill Inn). In July there were three new moving violations, and three were disposed in Court, for a total of $227, of which the Rocky Hill portion was $33.04. In August, there were nine new moving violations and one "other," 14 were disposed of Court, with a total of $1,780 receipts, of which Rocky Hill's share was $358.


At the September 18 ,meeting of Borough Council, Rocky Hill resident Ethan Rizzi, a Boy Scout working on his Eagle Scout award, presented a plan to build a pathway connecting Crescent Avenue with Van Horne Park. There had been a pathway, but it was overgrown, and pedestrians were essentially trespassing on the Business Park, to the annoyance of the owners. Ethan proposed laying 4x4 sleepers along the path, covered with planks, for a distance of several hundred feet, and requested help from the Borough. Borough Engineer Bill Tanner volunteered the services of Van Cleef Engineering for the landscape architecture. Mr. Tanner said, "A boardwalk is the only way to avoid violating a wetlands," and noted that a permit would be required from the DEP. He said that gravel had been used unsuccessfully in the past, but tended to wash away in heavy rains.


The Borough could be on the hook for the cost of the lumber, but the Scouts, assisted by Councilmen Sibley and John Hagemann, would be doing the heavy lifting, as well as clearing out a dense thicket of brambles. Borough Council approved it principle, but they need to know how much it will cost.
Following that presentation, Matt Rosenthal, a Belle Mead resident, requested permission to install a storage shed at Van Horne Park. Rosenthal is head of something called NFL Flag Football, a sport for little kids, and that as many as 180 were signed up currently. He said that they need a place to store the pylons and gear used to mark the fields, which he had been lugging from his car in the parking lot, some distance to the fields, and it weighed a lot. He said that it could all fit into a 4x2x2 foot storage box presently, but he expected to outgrow that space, and requested permission to install at his own expense a storage shed with a seven foot height alongside the bathroom building. Permission had been granted from Montgomery and he need the Borough's permission to go ahead, noting that the unused space in the shed would be available to other teams at the site. The Borough agreed to his request.


On which note, the Park is jointly managed and maintained by the Borough and the Township. However, Montgomery Township had been collecting fees from the various teams which used the Park. The Borough noted that they finally received a check from the Township for it's share of receipts.
Mr. Tanner noted the results of the flow meters installed in the Borough sewer lines. Basically, they showed spikes following rain falls, indicating groundwater inflow into the sewer lines from three possible sources: leaks in the lines, inflow around manhole covers, and home sump pumps connected to sewer lines. At any rate, the sewer capacity for the Borough is maxed out, so that no new connections are possible. He said that although determining the source would be expensive, in the long run it would cost more unless the groundwater inflow was remediated, as the Borough shares sewer costs with Montgomery based on 18% percent of total combined flow and costs. If more rain water is getting into the metered sewer lines on the Borough side, then treating it will cost the Borough more. Costs would vary, with manhole repairs estimated at $33,000, up to $129,000 for scoping all five miles of sewer lines for leaks, and a total estimated at as much as $223,000 for repairs. Council is considering it.


Another project under consideration is another solar-powered crossing light, estimated at $80–90,000, to go were best needed, which appears to be the intersection of Washington and Montgomery Avenues. There's a very nice one at the bottom of Washington Street installed by the State Parks Dept.
Fall leaf collecting is up in the air (no pun intended) as aptly-named Branchburg, which had shared that service in the past, is waiting for the hurricane season to end before committing to renew again. Stay tuned.


Rocky Hill CFO Joe Monzo reports that Municipal tax collections are at 98.2%, which is the best that anyone can hope for, and that all of the basic municipal bills are paid, including two payments to the Montgomery Sewer Authority. Mr. Monzo said that the Borough also completed the NJ State Best Practices questionnaire, comprising 25 questions, down from last year's 30 questions. As the Borough was able to complete 22 out of 25 as "yes" or "undetermined," Rocky Hill will be receiving 100% of Municipal Aid.


Council is considering an ordinance to restrict parking at Borough Hall. Some have been leaving cars there for extended periods, and also ordinances to regulate message parlors and vap stores.
The Borough is still looking for another Constable.


Residents pulled 2.266M gallons in July, and 2.728M gallons of water from Well #2 in August.
Borough Council approved three resolutions: 2017-55, that Borough Council members have reviewed the annual audit; 2017-56, that the Borough will participate in the second update of the Somerset County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan (Erik Mickelson appointed as representative); and 2017-57, authorizing the Borough to participate in the Statewide Insurance Fund from Jan. 2018 through Jan. 2021.
Council also gave a first reading to Ordinance 2017-02, which repeals the former OEM ordinance and replaces it with an ordinance creating three paid per diem fire fighters. One or more of these fire fighters would be on duty during daytime at the station. when getting volunteers to a fire is more difficult. The ordinance will be voted at the October 2 Council meeting.


The Borough Flu Clinic is on Oct. 24, from 1 – 3 pm at Borough Hall, free for all residents. Please register in advance at 908-359-8211.


Borough Council normally meets on the first and third Mondays of each month at Borough Hall on Montgomery Ave., at 7 pm.


For more information, visit www.rockyhill-nj.gov. 

MONTGOMERY VIDEO SERIES SEEKS TO ENGAGE MORE RESIDENTS

Who makes Montgomery the town it is and will become? Did you know that most of the municipality’s decision-making boards and committees are 100% volunteer? There is now a video series online to help Montgomery residents learn more and engage with their local government.


The videos are brief interviews with the chairpersons of key committees. Each explains what their board of appointed volunteers does in 7 minutes or less. The videos are up on the Township website (www.montgomery.nj.us) and on a new “Montgomery Videos 4 Volunteering” YouTube channel (www.bit.ly/YTVol).


The video project developed when the Montgomery Township Environmental Commission / Sustainable Montgomery conducted a survey of the members of the municipal committees to determine if the membership of the committees matched the makeup of the overall Township population. While 87% of respondent agreed that all members of the community had the opportunity to participate, and 79.6% agreed that different cultures were welcomed in the Township; only slightly more than half of respondents (57.7%) felt that diversity was well-represented on the board/commission/committee on which they serve, indicating to the Environmental Commission that there was room for improvement.


Montgomery leadership would like the town’s boards to represent as closely as possible a cross-section of the Township by age, gender, orientation, ethnicity, heritage, and background. The idea was born for a series of brief outreach videos explaining the goals and duties of individual committees. By these videos the Environmental Commission hopes to show what it is like to be on a volunteer board so that more residents may consider serving.

 

Mary Reece, Chairperson of the Environmental Commission explained, "After we analyzed the survey results, we held a Community Forum to gather ideas about ways we could proceed. One resident indicated that she did not know what opportunities were available for interested volunteers. Nor did she understand the requirements for the various committees and commissions. Others concurred. As a result, we decided to develop a video series to answer those questions."

A senior girl scout, Julia Garaffa, stepped up to conduct 13 interviews and to create the video series as her Gold Award Project. The videos are now available to watch on the Township website (go to www.montgomery.nj.us/ and search ‘Volunteer’) or are found on a new YouTube Channel, “Montgomery Videos 4 Volunteering” (www.bit.ly/YTVol or www.youtube.com and search the title.). The mayor’s interview is also in rotation on Comcast Channel 29.

"We were thrilled that Julia agreed to pursue this project for her Gold Award! When you view the videos, you will see that Julia put much thought into her interview questions and in the editing," said Mrs. Reece.

“It was so interesting to learn about the many different local boards and what they do. Committees are all residents and anyone of any age or background who wants to can volunteer,” Julia said.

Montgomery officials are always seeking new volunteers to serve for one year or more on boards such as the Economic Development Commission, Municipal Alliance, Shade Tree Committee, or Veterans Memorial Committee. Most meetings are held in the evening once a month and time commitments vary.
“You do not need to walk in with expertise in the particular committee’s area. You just need to be a resident who cares about Montgomery!” concluded Montgomery Mayor Ed Trzaska.
Please pass the word to watch! Any resident wishing to be considered for a particular board can fill out the one-page Montgomery Volunteer Form also found on Volunteer with Montgomery!
###
Photo #1 Caption: An engaged group during a recent “Meet the Mayor” event. A new video series has been created to help residents quickly gain an overview of Montgomery local government and consider involvement on one of its many volunteer boards or committees.
 

Zwicker & VA to Hold Claims Clinic for Veterans

 

(SKILLMAN) – Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker is partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs to organize a claims clinic for local veterans.

“Veterans and their families have made so many sacrifices for our nation,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “We have an obligation to help them navigate the complex benefits system so that they receive the benefits they’ve earned.”

The Veterans Claims Clinic will be held on Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hunterdon County Library, located at 314 NJ-12, Flemington, NJ 08822. Check-in will begin at 9:15 a.m., and light refreshments will be served from 9:15 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The clinic will allow veterans and their dependents to learn about benefits and entitlements, submit a claim for benefits or check the status of a pending VA claim. Lillie Nuble, director of the VA’s Newark office, will be available to assist individuals with their VA benefits claims.

“It is my privilege to do all I can to serve these courageous men and women and their families,” said Zwicker. “This forum will provide veterans in our area with a personalized, one-on-one consultation about their benefits claims in a convenient location.”

Interested parties may contact Joe Forte of Assemblyman Zwicker’s office at 732-713-3716 or asmzwicker@njleg.org with questions or concerns. 

Notes From the Township Administrator

Somerset County has begun construction of the multi-use path/sidewalk and pedestrian safety improvements along County Route 601. The pathway/sidewalk will run from the entrance to Montgomery High School, along Skillman Park and to the Village of Blawenberg connecting to the existing sidewalk in the village. Right of way, topographical, and environmental issues required that the pathway be constructed along the east side of Route 601. There will be a pedestrian crossing flashing beacon approximately 250 feet north of the entrance to Main Boulevard to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians to access the sidewalk.


The contractor performing the work is Assuncao Brothers Inc. of Edison. The work will be performed in three stages that include sidewalk work, retaining walls, bridge modifications, utility relocation, curbing and drainage work. The second stage of the project will require the bridge over the Rock Brook to be widened. This will require nighttime closures of Rt. 601 between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Traffic will be detoured onto Skillman Road, Burnt Hill Road, and Rt. 518. The first and third stages of the work will be done within normal working hours. The County will coordinate road closures with the Police for public notice. The work is scheduled to be completed by the end of December weather permitting.


The Township worked very closely with the County to move this project forward to insure the safety of all pedestrians and in particular, those students and staff members from Montgomery High School who walk to Skillman Park and/or the Village of Blawenberg before, during ,and after the school day.


Work will also commence on the Montgomery Road sidewalk connecting the Montgomery Road Sycamore Lane neighborhood to the sidewalk leading to Rocky Hill. The Riverside/Oxbridge Wastewater Plant Consolidation project is also underway. Township Engineering and Sewer Department staff will be very busy overseeing these projects.


Township Recreation Director Karen Zimmerman has been working with Public Works and Engineering on various park improvements and upgrades including the construction of a practice wall for lacrosse players at Van Horne Park and the repurposing of Lubas Field to create a multi- use lighted field that can be used by the various Township Athletic organizations These groups have long desired a location that has lights and can be used after dark.


Please remember that the Township Wildlife /Deer Management program has begun. Public properties identified for hunting have been posted. Please be aware when walking on the pathways and trails on those properties. If you have any questions please contact the Township. 

Book Discussion at Stonebridge Oct 10

Investigative reporter Stephen Kurkjian will be leading a discussion of his book, Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World's Greatest Art Heist, and the details of the case and the Boston underworld's role in thestill-unsolved case theft, at Stonebridge at Montgomery, 100 Hollinshead Spring Road, Skillman on Tuesday, October 10, at 12 pm.


On March 18, 1990, during the early morning hours, two thieves disguised as Boston police officers stole 13 works of art valued at $500 million from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet. Neither the criminals nor the works of art have been uncovered and the museum has doubled its reward to $10 million for information leading to the return of the. For additional information, call 800-218-3456.


A Boston native, Stephen Kurkjian spent nearly 40 years as an editor and reporter for The Boston Globe before retiring in 2007. During his career, he shared in three Pulitzer Prizes and won more than 20 regional and national reporting awards. Kurkjian was a founding member of The Globe's investigative Spotlight Team, and its editor for 1979-1986. In 1986, he was named chief of The Globe's Washington Bureau and for six years oversaw the work of the paper's 10 reporters in Washington. In addition, while at the bureau he covered the Supreme Court, the Justice Department and the Bush White House during the first war in Iraq. 

Meet the Four Candidates for Three School Board Seats

Four candidates emerged this summer for three seats on the Montgomery Township Board of Education will revisit themes of the past few years as.


MTSD board member Dale Huff is not seeking re-election and will exit after his two-year term expires on December 31. He was originally appointed to the board to fill the seat vacated by Anne Michaelson's resignation in mid-2015; then he was re-elected for the two-year term.


Christine Witt of Rocky Hill, who served as the school board president in 2016, is also not seeking re-election. She joined the board at the same time Miller was elected in November 2014.


Current Board Member Amy Miller is seeking a second three-year term and will be the lone incumbent.
Miller, a native of Pittsburgh, says her three years, from mass changeover on the board to infrastructure and the districts' referendum projects, have been illuminating. She will miss ideas and perspectives both Witt and Huff provided during board discussions.


"I am so happy the school board is working well as a cohesive team and trying to be more transparent. There is still a lot of work to do in bringing the board and our community together. We're getting there and we are working very hard. I know the candidates on this year's ballot, they are great people and would be terrific assets to MTSD too," she said.


Miller participated with administration, finance and curriculum staff involved in formulating the latest district Strategic Plan. Miller says the MTSD "Portrait of a Graduate" indicates a flow to success in all grades.


"We are getting a roadmap and amazing vision for where our schools are going for the next five years. The referendum showed us great teamwork as the board worked with administration, we got the word out. The board's communications committee makes residents aware, and the administration helps with project updates and weekly e-blasts," Miller said.


Paul Johnson of Spring Hill Road moved to Montgomery in 2004. He is a Rutgers "lifer" with a career as the associate vice president for enrollment management. "I work with pre-college, K to 12 program coordination, outreach, recruitment, and admissions decisions for both Rutgers' regular admissions and scholarship criteria as well as student success," he said. Johnson adds that his background at Rutgers is in strategic planning, research and departmental technology for admissions' enrollment management. He notes MTSD Strategic Plans and his interest in "seeking review of the process."


"Some review was done but pieces like strategies and timetables for implementation was done. I want to be involved in going next step, but there must be measurable goals for this compass of our school district," he said.


Johnson earned a B.A. in Mathematics with a minor in Education and Economics. He also has a Master's in Statistics and his Doctorate in Educational Statistics and Measurement from Rutgers Graduate School of Education. Johnson's wife also attended Rutgers and earned a doctorate in Clinical Psychology but in Montgomery High School she is known as a dedicated marching band parent for the couple's daughters.
Johnson grew up in Jersey City and attended public schools there. He moved here for excellent school system and quality of life. "My wife and I researched it before we moved here and we were not searching for good but for excellent. At the time we moved here Montgomery was number one in the state among comprehensive high schools and mean SAT score. If you go by that metric with the exception of magnet schools Montgomery is top 1%. I see this as a service opportunity as I am very grateful for the education and wonderful teachers we had here. Nothing is perfect, so I maintain ideas on how I can contribute to the board," Johnson said.


Two candidates who ran but lost in 2015 are back in it for the 2017 election. Paul Blodgett of Belle Mead is raising four young children, all under 10 years old, and he looks forward to helping our school community for more than the next decade. His youngest daughter just started at Kids Connection and his son is turning one year old.


"I know far more residents now than I did two years ago. At that time I put my hat in the ring because there were serious problems with the school board as three members had resigned. If the community elects me now I can see myself on the school board for hopefully six terms," he said.


Blodgett has a Master's degree in Physics and 15 years' experience in practice with the U.S. Navy. He was a submarine officer in New London, Connecticut, and taught physics at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Blodgett is active with the Montgomery Democratic Organization, now serving as vice chair. He doesn't see a conflict of interest as board role can hold no party affiliations. Blodgett says he's an engaged and conscious citizen of Montgomery targeting his local, non-partisan election "where the primary focus should be our children's education."


"There needs to be concerned citizens on the board. My focus is Montgomery's long term sustainability of excellence. That starts with finance and the appropriate administration of the schools," Blodgett said.
Meanwhile Ranjana Rao is co-chapter leader for Room to Read, a global education nonprofit. She loves contributing to literacy as well as gender equity through the organization.


"It is great to involve our youth to make them feel how fortunate we are to have educational opportunities. Individually we can be a part of changing the world. Through a strong education I believe it is possible," she said. Rao lived in Lawrenceville and Princeton before settling in Montgomery, but in between her company had an opportunity for her to live in Singapore for four years. Her children attended school there.
"One of the reasons to choose Montgomery was the very active role of parents and teachers in the district. From day one I have committed time. As I had the opportunity to live and work on different continents and having seen the importance of education, I feel that I can personally contribute to the board even better," Rao said.