30 April 2011

First Night in Hillsborough

Patty and I just passed the 18-year-mark as Hillsborough residents.  As we get further and further from the Spring of 1993, details seem to slip away.  I do remember that we had already asked our landlord if we could break the lease on our apartment, and then - as the completion date for our new house in Rohill kept getting pushed back - asked him if we could stay a little longer.  Not once, but twice.

April 30 eventually became the mutually agreed upon drop dead date to get our stuff out of Freehold and up to Somerset County.  We pressed the builder with daily phone calls to put all resources into OUR house.  Kind of silly now, as we had no kids and could surely have found a place to stay.

In the event, we had our closing on April 29 - and if I recall correctly, the moving van did roll on April 30 - along with my much beloved 1980 Pontiac Phoenix, completely filled with clothes and personal items - the last trip that car ever made.  It died right here in the garage on Conover Drive, and remained there for months.  

Beekman Lane and Conover Drive, Spring 1993
  After spending more than 6,000 nights in Hillsborough, I think back to what my grandfather said to me during his one visit here later that summer, "this house feels like home".  Eighteen years later, this still feels like home - just a bit more crowded!

25 April 2011

Drama in the 16th, Part 3

The cancellation this month of All My Children may have saddened some Central Jersey fans of the long running ABC soap, but there's still plenty of drama right here in Somerset County courtesy of the recent legislative redistricting.

Here's a recap of recent episodes.

[continued from part 2]

Episode Three: Write Him In - Assemblywomen Denise Coyle's abrupt withdrawal from the 16th district assembly race after primary ballots were already set posed two problems for Somerset County republicans. Finding a new candidate was easy - dealing with the fact that his or her name would have to be "written-in" in the voting booth might prove to be more difficult.

Current Somerset County Freeholder Jack Ciattarelli was a good choice to replace Denise Coyle. A lifelong Somerset County resident (Raritan and Hillsborough), Ciattarelli is a fiscal conservative with proven success at the county level.

Like a lot of Hillsborough residents, I consider myself to be on a "first-name-basis" with Jack. Thank goodness - because I don't believe I have ever spelled his name correctly. Close your eyes and try it with me: C - I - A - T - T? - E? - nope, that's not it.

Look, I would think that when you write in Jack's last name on June 7, anything close will be acceptable - but you never know. According to a recent campaign mailer, Jack will be providing step-by-step instructions to registered republicans some time in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, let's try again: C - I - A - T - T - A - R - E - L - L - I.

20 April 2011

Drama in the 16th, Part 2

The cancellation this week of All My Children may have saddened some Central Jersey fans of the long running ABC soap, but there's still plenty of drama right here in Somerset County courtesy of the recent legislative redistricting.

Here's a recap of recent episodes.

[continued from part 1]

Episode Two: Nearly Homeless - New Jersey's 120 legislators found out just days before the April 11, 2011 primary election filing deadline what their new districts would look like.  By law, Assemblymen and State Senators must reside in the districts they represent in Trenton - and with boundaries about to shift, odds were that at least a few local politicians would be left out in the cold; divorced from their district, foiled by the map!

Such was the case with 16th District Assemblywoman Denise Coyle who makes her home in Bernards, one of the towns in the Somerset Hills pared away from the district.  If she planned to run for reelection in November, she had just days to find somewhere else to live.  Indeed, all of the newspapers reported on April 12 that Ms. Coyle had decided to move to Princeton, now included in the 16th district.

I never believed she would do it.  As soon as I saw the new legislative map, I knew she would have a difficult choice to make, but from what I knew about Assemblywoman Coyle, I was convinced that she was not going to get some phoney baloney Princeton address.  If she was going to move, it would be for real.

A few days later, Ms. Coyle announced that she would nor be moving, and that she was withdrawing from the GOP primary.

To Be Continued...

16 April 2011

Drama in the 16th, Part 1

The cancellation this week of All My Children may have saddened some Central Jersey fans of the long running ABC soap, but there's still plenty of drama right here in Somerset County courtesy of the recent legislative redistricting.

Here's a recap of recent episodes.

Episode 1: The Map - Every ten years, after the US Census, New Jerrsey redefines its 40 legislative districts to account for population shifts.  Each district is supposed to have approximately the same population - which may be the only thing they got right this year, and even there they fudged a bit.  Districts are also supposed to be contiguous, compact, and conform as closely as possible to county boundaries. 

A good example of this is the current 16th district (map on the right), comprised almost completely of Somerset County towns (plus Morris County's Mendham Boro).  The new 16th (on the left) subtracts all of the towns north of Somerville (splitting them among three different districts, by the way) and adds a large chunk of the south part of Hunterdon County, Princeton and Princeton Boro from Merecr County, and, inexplicably, South Brunswick from Middlesex County.

How did we end up with this mess?  The map is created by a panel of five Democrats and five Republicans.  Instead of working collaboratively on one map - where's the drama in that? - they each drew their own maps.  Deadlocked - the eleventh member of the commission, appointed by the Governor, chose the map created by the Democrats because, in his opinion, it was the most like the current map.  What!?!?!?

Setting aside the fact that you would expect the Republican Governor's hand-picked arbitrator to choose the Republican map, the Republicans clearly made some mistakes here - including creating districts that actually tried to protect some incumbent democrats that they viewed as allies.  I'm pretty sure the map drawn by the Democrats included no such reciprocal courtesy.

To Be Continued....

11 April 2011

Who's in Charge Around Here?

At the annual townmeeting held at the house of Peter Williamson in the township of Hillsborough and county of Somerset, on the 2nd monday in April 1811, the following persons were chosen in office.

Moderator.....Peter D. Vroom
Town Clerk...Nichl. Williamson
Assessor........Peter D. Vroom
Collector.......Henry Brokaw

Commissioners of appeal - Nichl. Dubois, Dennis Van Liew, Abraham Ten Eyck

Chosen Freeholders - Nichl. Dubois, Martin Schenck

Surveyors of the highway -  Garret Quick, Gilbert B. Taylor

Overseers of the poor - Peter D. Vroom, Henry Brokaw, Peter P. Vroom

Constables - John Voorhees, Cyrenus Thompson

Judge of election - Henry H. Schenck

Pound keeper - Cornelius Williamson

Town Committee - Nichl. Dubois, Rynear Staats, John Sutphen, Peter D. Vroom, Martin Schenck

[Twenty-Four men were chosen as overseers of the roads.  Nineteen were newly appointed, only five continued with the same road they looked after in 1810.]                                      

10 April 2011

Route 206 Traffic

UPDATE: With three hours to go, April 10, 2011 has a chance to become my busiest blog day in 18 months. 

It's 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon and the Hillsborough traffic is out of control.

No, not the highway traffic.  I'm talking about the traffic on this blog!

With plenty of browsing hours left, visits to "Gillette on Hillsborough" are already triple what I would receive on an average day.

What accounts for the spike in popularity?  It has to be the story this morning in the Star Ledger about the Route 206 bypass project.  Once again, the newspaper has failed to provide the one thing that people are really interested in - A MAP!.  I know this because nearly all of the visits to the blog today are from people searching for "route 206 bypass map".

Just a few years ago, it would have been common to see a map accompanying a story like this.  In fact, computers made the creation of this type of graphic relatively easy - hence we saw a welcome increase in tables and charts and maps in the paper. 

Obviously someone realized that the person creating the graphics had to get paid.

Since I don't get paid, and therefore can't be downsized, you can click here to see my map of the 206 bypass.

09 April 2011

Blidget Widget

Do you have a web page or blog about Hillsborough or Central Jersey? Consider adding the Gillette on Hillsborough widget to your page! You can find the Gillette on Hillsborough widget down a bit in the right column of the blog. Click on "Get Widget" to bring up the embedding options.

08 April 2011

Introducing Doris Duke, for the Second Time

Many readers will know that evolving commitments on the School Board, Historic Preservation Commission, and Central New Jersey Walk Now for Autism, required me to ask to not be reappointed for another term on Hillsborough's Cultural Arts Commission.

Portrait of Doris Duke painted by sixteen-year-old Hillsborough resident Kathleen Fritz, which was unveiled Friday, becoming the third portrait in Hillsborough Township's Public Art Collection.
One of the last things I worked on as chair of the commission in 2010 was the selection of Doris Duke as the third subject for Hillsborough Township's Public Art Collection - an adjunct of the annual Art Show.  In preparation of the 2011 show, which was held last weekend, I met with Duke Farms chief Tim Taylor to discuss involving Duke Farms in the project - where the 2010 student grand prize winner is commissioned to paint a portrait of a notable Hillsborough resident under the tutelage of premier portrait artist Kevin Murphy.

To say that Mr. Taylor was enthusiastic about the project would be an understatement.  He pledged full cooperation of both himself and his staff, and I know their assistance was greatly appreciated by the Cultural Arts Commission.

Tim Taylor of Duke Farms addresses the assembled at the awards ceremony of the Hillsborough Cultural Arts Commission Art Show.
During our meeting last Fall, Mr. Taylor spoke about Doris Duke's love for the arts, and how she would have been so pleased to see young people engaged and participating in the arts.  He reiterated those themes when he spoke during the awards ceremony on Friday just before the unveiling of the Doris Duke portrait, but he also said something that I hadn't heard before.  Apparently Miss Duke only sat for one portrait during her lifetime.

In 1924, twelve-year-old Doris Duke was painted by renowned English portraitist John Da Costa.  Da Costa specialized in children's portraits, and a photograph of his painting of the young Doris Duke appeared in the December 21, 1924 edition of the New York Times.

07 April 2011

All Eyes on Eagles

Season three of Duke Farms' popular Eagle Cam premiered this week, with two of three eaglets already hatched by Wednesday.

Online TV Shows by Ustream As the babies grow they really become eating machines, devouring everything big daddy brings to the nest - including fish, eels, turtles, rabbits, and assorted roadkill.

06 April 2011

New Looks

Blogger has recently introduced five new, fun ways to view the blog.

Start here with "Mosaic", http://www.cnhillsborough.blogspot.com/view/mosaic#!/ , then check out the rest.

"Snapshot" is pretty cool - displaying every single image that has ever appeared in "Gillette on Hillsborough".  If you see something that looks interesting, just click on the pic to bring up the related blog post.

"Flipcard" has the ability to show thumbnails all of the nearly 700 posts on one page.

Have fun.