29 June 2008

More mr. Ray

At the risk of turning the blog into a mr. Ray commercial, here are a couple of photos of Ray performing at the Hillsborough Family Fun Day on Saturday, and another clip from YouTube.

28 June 2008

No Question - Great Show!

I was going to put up some photos of the fireworks from Hillsborough's Family Fun Day tonight, but I have a little problem. The show was so good, and I got so many cool images, that I have only been able to narrow it down to the 92 best ones!

I'd like to get that number to around 10 or 12 - maybe by Monday I'll post the really good ones.

In the mean time - what did you like best about this year's event? Do you think it was better than previous years? What would you do to improve Family Fun Day?

27 June 2008


Does the Erickson Retirement Community proposed development on Hamilton Road scare you? Are you afraid of the 1500+ units, the environmental impacts, the traffic?

Erickson thinks you are. And apparently they have a strategy to fight that.

The best way to make a scary proposition look tame - is to present you with something even scarier! That's what Erickson did Thursday night before the Planning Board and 150 members of the public. They artfully showed us what COULD be built at the site of the Royce Brook East golf course. Yes, under current zoning, that tract could be built up with huge offices, vast amounts of paved over parking, and even a heliport!

The retirement community plan looks mild in comparison - at least it did to me. Therefore I would say the strategy worked. The strategy of presenting the "worst case scenario" for the property may have been distasteful, but it was definitely useful. I would be interested to see the worst case scenarios under our present zoning for ALL of our undeveloped or underdeveloped properties.

Ultimately, the merits of Erickson's proposal will not and can not be decided based on worse alternatives. There are pros and cons to this project. I'll take a look at those another time.

26 June 2008

What's Missing?

At the Hillsborough Township Municipal Building, you will find, prominently displayed, the 1860 Farm Map of Hillsborough. Here is a portion of the map.
By 1876, this map would be radically changed. Do you know why? Here's a hint: In 1865 there was one, by 1872 there were three, by 1876 there were four - then back to three by 1880, and today we have two.
Any guesses?

24 June 2008

Hillsborough Historical Mural Project

There have been some exciting developments regarding the Hillsborough Historical Mural being put together by project leader Paul Ritz and artist Doreen Lorenzetti. The 125 foot long mural depicting people, places, and events from Hillsborough's first 240 years is expected to take about a year to complete at a cost of about $40,000, and will be displayed on the outside wall of the municipal building to the right of the main entrance.

Residents have already been scouring their attics and basements digging out old photos and other ephemera from Hillsborough's past - many of which will be represented in the finished mural. Armchair historians - myself included - have been googling like mad, and running to the libraries in search of other tidbits of our history.

Ms. Lorenzetti has enough material now to begin work on a twenty foot mock-up of the mural, which she plans to display at various locations around Hillsborough later this year.

I have been and will continue to be involved in this project as part of a a volunteer group that will oversee fundraising and other aspects of the project. I am very excited about what I have seen so far, and I know I will have more to say as this project develops. Keep reading!

23 June 2008


John Sala, owner of Hillsborough Landscape & Supply on Route 206 accepted a plea deal earlier this month, avoiding a trial over sign violations - where a guilty verdict might have brought a $125,000 penalty - and that's nothing to laugh about it. The plea arrangement will enable Sala to pay a reduced fine of $2500 for being in violation of Hillsborough's sign ordinance regarding temporary signs. Businesses can only put up temporary signs on their property for a limited amount of time - typically while they are waiting to have a permanent sign installed. Sala had his signs - one advertising that he sold propane, the other, firewood - up for a longer period than is allowed.

Sala initially fought the township - leaving his signs in place because he saw other similar signs around town, and believing that he was a victim of selective enforcement.

As the owner of the business, and the person who controls the property his business is on, Sala was at least able to deal directly with the Hillsborough Township officials regarding his signs. There are many small business owners and professionals in town who lease their storefronts and offices, and who have to deal with landlords and property managers regarding signs and sign regulations - some of which are more strict than Hillsborough Township ordinances.

I have a friend who is a professional in town with an office located in a newer mixed-use retail/professional plaza. He has been rebuffed on many occasions by the property managers who refuse to allow his business name be put on the prominent directory sign at a major intersection, instead relegating him to an inferior directory located away from traffic.

The strange thing is, the landlord is telling him that it is the Hillsborough Township sign ordinance that prohibits his advertising on a decent sign! Now THAT'S laughable!

22 June 2008

Class Clown

If you were to flip through my high school yearbook, you would be able to draw only one conclusion from reading the comments left by my friends. You would never figure out that I was a varsity athlete, or was the editor of the literary magazine, or had the second highest SAT scores in my graduating class. All you would be able to conclude is that I was the Class Clown.

The death of comedian George Carlin reminded me of the first time I heard the album "Class Clown", and especially the routine "The Seven Words You Can't Say on Television".

These days I am involved with the charity organization Autism Speaks. But back in the 70s, everybody was raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Even kids.

The big thing was to hold a kind of backyard carnival - raise money in the form of nickels, dimes, and quarters from all of your neighborhood friends - by selling lemonade and cupcakes, setting up silly games of chance, or even charging admission to a homemade haunted house.

One of my friends had a better idea. He got a hold of his mom's record player (remember those!), and his older brother's LP collection, and charged all of us ten-year-olds 50 cents apiece to listen to "Class Clown" in his dad's garage. I remember you had to give up your two quarters and be sworn to secrecy before the garage door was pulled down behind you. I believe the last cut on the album was the "seven dirty words", and to a ten-year-old, that was definitely worth the price of admission.

Oh, I almost forgot - a peek at one of his brother's Playboys was another quarter! Hey, anything for a good cause!

21 June 2008


I'm sure you've seen the signs around town, so I don't need to remind you that Independence Day comes to Hillsborough early this year in the form of the 4th annual Family Fun Day on June 28th. This well attended event kicks off at 4pm at Auten Road School with activities for the kids, music, food, and, of course - Fireworks!

So many people enjoy this event that it's hard to believe there are some who would like to scrap the whole thing, They contend that the reduction in state aid to municipalities, combined with annual increases in salaries, and now the incredible rising cost of fuel, make the fireworks event seem wasteful. Hillsborough Township could save several thousand dollars if the entire day was canceled and everyone just stayed home.

That idea is sound in theory, but in practice, it's all wrong. Hillsborough provides recreational activities for its residents at a much more modest level than other towns our size. For instance, I've seen recreation department offerings from other towns that require a book an inch thick to list them all! Our seasonal recreation offerings are in a book that is properly called a brochure!

Why is that? Because Hillsborough has always spent modestly - and that's the way it should be. But even the most frugal family takes a small vacation once in a while - and that's what the Independence Day Celebration is for Hillsborough.


Remember - the rain date is Sunday.

Shuttle bus service will be provided from the High School and the Middle School. If you live within a mile or two, like I do, I would suggest walking.

See you there!

19 June 2008

The Power of Words

This entry appeared in the blog just about one year ago. I repeat it now for the Hillsborough Township Class of 2008.

A few weeks ago I was asked to submit a sentence or two to be read at the Hillsborough Township High School Graduation. I was told it is customary for school board members to impart some "words of wisdom", or advice, in the form of a profound thought or a famous or meaningful quote. Something, perhaps, that I would have wanted to know 25 years ago at my own high school graduation.

Realizing that I would not be able to attend the graduation ceremony this year, I declined to participate in this tradition. But the power of the Blog allows me to reconsider!

When contemplating the impact of spoken language, one need look no further than the short dialogue "The Power of Words" by Edgar Allan Poe. Two angels, one "new-fledged", one older, discuss the physical power of words, and their ability to create. The poetry of the final exchange between the angels is beautiful.

AGATHOS. And while I thus spoke, did there not cross your mind some thought of the physical power of words? Is not every word an impulse on the air?

OINOS. But why, Agathos, do you weep- and why, oh why do your wings droop as we hover above this fair star- which is the greenest and yet most terrible of all we have encountered in our flight? Its brilliant flowers look like a fairy dream- but its fierce volcanoes like the passions of a turbulent heart.

AGATHOS. They are!- they are! This wild star- it is now three centuries since, with clasped hands, and with streaming eyes, at the feet of my beloved - I spoke it- with a few passionate sentences- into birth. Its brilliant flowers are the dearest of all unfulfilled dreams, and its raging volcanoes are the passions of the most turbulent and unhallowed of hearts.

But it is an earlier passage from this story that holds the most meaning for me. The young angel, Oinos, believes that since he has now graduated to immortality, he "should be at once cognizant of all things, and thus at once be happy in being cognizant of all."

The wise angel Agathos sets him straight: "Ah, not in knowledge is happiness, but in the acquisition of knowledge! In for ever knowing, we are for ever blessed; but to know all were the curse of a fiend."

Congratulations Class of 2008. Keep learning, be happy. Good luck!

18 June 2008

Look Both Ways

I meet my son at his school bus every afternoon. Before we cross the street in front of the bus, I always remind him to look both ways. Today he asked me, "Why do we have to look BOTH ways?" This is for him.

His Body Carried Half a Mile on the Engine - Mail Strewn on Tracks

SOMERVILLE, N.J. Aug. 9 - James E. Sherman, a letter carrier on a rural free delivery route of the Somerville Post Office, was instantly killed at the Roycefield crossing on the Lehigh Valley Railroad near this city, this morning, by a fast eastbound express. When Sherman reached the Roycefield crossing, where there are no gates, on his daily ride of twenty-four miles, he waited for a freight train to pass, and then drove onto the tracks directly in front of the express, which struck his rig broadside.

The horse was killed and hurled to one side, and the wagon and Sherman were carried along on the front of the engine for nearly half a mile before the engineer could stop the train. The body was taken to Somerville. The wagon was wrecked and the mail strewn on the track.

An inquest will be held tomorrow. A small boy was the only witness of the the accident, and he was so frightened he does not remember the particulars. Sherman was married, and besides a widow leaves a year-old boy.
[The New York Times 10 August 1907]

17 June 2008


Erickson Retirement Community has scheduled a presentation of their proposed development to be held at the Municipal Building multi-purpose room at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 26. This will be Erickson's second presentation - the first one was six weeks ago at the Days Inn and was for residents whose homes are located near the proposed complex off Hamilton Road.

Although I don't believe this presentation is part of the official approval process, it will be before the Planning Board, and will be open to all residents. I have also heard that preliminary plans for the development are at the Planning Office right now.

The 1500 unit development is interesting because it is something we do not already have in Hillsborough. For that reason alone it should be considered carefully. Hillsborough has a nursing home, and we have two assisted living facilities. We also have a 55 and over community and another on the way. Erickson, with its residents aged 75 and over, medical staff on site, retail, restaurant and service amenities on the property, and gated, self-sufficient (according to Erickson) community, doesn't properly fit into any of these categories.

I hope to be able to attend the presentation on June 26. Regardless - I will have a lot more to say about this development, and I know you will too!

14 June 2008

What's the Deal With the Seal?

The Second Continental Congress adopted the stars and stripes as the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. Here's a great old poster commemorating the flag's 140th birthday.

Woodrow Wilson declared June 14 as Flag Day in 1916, and the U.S. Congress finally got around to formalizing it in 1949. Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, however - just a day for venerating the flag.

Towns like Hillsborough don't have their own flag. Instead, they have a Town Seal. Seals can be plain or fancy. I've seen a few - ours is fancy! In fact, we are such a fancy town that we have TWO seals.

Hillsborough NJ original seal

Hillsborough NJ new seal

Both of these seals can be found on the township web site, and although they have similar elements, they are really quite different. I'll let you pick out the differences yourselves, but being a map lover, I have to say that there is really no excuse for getting the shape of the township wrong! I don't think it's correct on EITHER seal.

So, what's the deal with the seals? Does anyone know how we ended up with two?

13 June 2008


Okay, I'll admit it - I cut and pasted the title for this blog entry. It's one of those words you don't see or hear very often, there was no way I was going to try to type it!

This is probably the only time you'll see paraskavedekatriaphobia in print this year. Before you click on the link, try to figure out why.

Oh, and be careful out there!

12 June 2008

Garage Sale Math

How do you lose $3607 at a yard sale? It's easy - but first let me tell you about the new Garage Sale Map at MyCentralJersey.com. Just click on the link in the last sentence, and you will find an interactive map of all the local garage sales. This looks like it will be a nice feature, and I'm sure area bargain hunters will be using it weekly.

Where I live in Rohill, there are two big neighborhood garage sales each spring. This year, I worked it out so my dump day was AFTER the sale. As it turns out, I didn't have very much to "dump", because we did really well at the sale. We got rid of a ton of useful (yes, useful) items - primarily kids clothes and other items that were too nice to be dropped in one of the charity clothing bins and sold by the pound.

In fact, we made $400! I was ecstatic! Wow, I thought, we should do this every week. Until I remembered what my Dad always said - to make $400 at a garage sale, you have to give away $4000 worth of stuff. So that accounts for the -$3600 on the balance sheet!

And the other $7? That's what the ladies down the street charge you for running the ads and putting up the signs. I wonder if they made any money at the sale?!?!?

11 June 2008

Consolation Prize

How do you console two dozen eleven-year-olds after they have just been knocked out of the playoffs? What do you say - how do you say it? Do you tell them to grow up, snap out of it, there's no crying in baseball? Or do you choose a more sympathetic approach - we'll get 'em next year? Is one style better than the other?

I was at the Willow Road Baseball Complex Tuesday afternoon before my son's T-ball game. A team had just come off the field after a season-ending loss and were sitting in the 100° heat listening to their coach sum up the season. The voice sounded familiar, but from where I stood, I couldn't see who it was.

His speech to the kids was right on. He spoke about the fun they had that season and how much they had learned - he pointed out that at the beginning of the campaign no one really knew how to bunt, and now they were ALL bunting. He pointed out contributions from individual team members - noting how one player had a really great at-bat, even though it was obvious from the remark that the young man must have made an out.

This guy is good, I thought. He should do this for a living. The perfect combination of Walter Matthau in The Bad News Bears and Bill Murray in Stripes. Check out these two clips to see what I mean.

And when I got a better view of the coach, I realized that, although I've never really seen him at work, this must be exactly what he does for a living! I know he made those kids feel a lot better, and I felt better for having heard it.

08 June 2008

Let's Play Two - Not

It sounded like a good idea. It should have been a great day. Then came the heat wave.

As an early Father's Day gift, the Brownies of Girl Scout Troop 255 planned a Father-Daughter trip to Commerce Bank Ballpark on Sunday [June 8] to see the Somerset Patriots. This wasn't an easy decision for the seven girls. Reportedly it came down to the baseball game, or a day at the Camden aquarium. In retrospect....

The heat on Sunday was brutal. Sitting in the stadium was like sitting in an electric frying pan - on high. For most of the game my daughter was miserable. She didn't even want any stadium food, so I knew she was out of it! We couldn't stay in our seats for more than half an inning at a time. And we weren't alone. There were more people taking refuge on the concourse than in the stands.

I think we were all hoping the game would be over quickly. Of course, the Patriots didn't cooperate - choosing Sunday to bang out 15 runs in their highest scoring game of the year.

A pitcher has to go five innings to get credit for the win and a game isn't considered official until 5 1/2 innings have been played. There was no way we were going to reach either of those milestones.

We got out of there after just four innings. I cranked up the AC in the car, and we just sat there for a minute trying to recover.

I never thought I would hear myself say this, but, I would have rather been in Camden!

07 June 2008

The Traditional First Anniversary Blog

I was going to start off this blog entry by writing something like, "It's hard to believe it's been a year already!", but that isn't even close to being true. It definitely feels like a year. Or maybe I could write, "I can't believe I'm still doing this, I didn't think I would last a week!", but that would be a lie. I knew I could and would stick with this for AT LEAST a year.

No, the hardest thing to believe about the first anniversary of Gillette On Hillsborough is that somehow there were 130 days that I did NOT write anything for the blog! I don't know where those 130 days went. I'm not sure where I put all of those extra hours, all of that free time, but I must have put it to good use! I guess.

As for the 235 days where I did sit down and come up with something - I remember each of those vividly. Whether it was a long entry about Hillsborough's history or a current contentious topic, a personal anecdote about my life in Central New Jersey, or just a photo and a few sentences, I am pleased to have had the time to put my thoughts down on paper.

So much paper, in fact, that it may be time for a new notebook. And what better traditional gift for a first anniversary than a notebook!