Colonial countdown - $2M goal for donations must be reached by Dec.


LACONIA — The next phase of fundraising for the Colonial Theater renovation is well underway, as the Belknap Economic Development Council continues to solicit local businesses for financial contributions.

Since purchasing the theater in July of 2015, the BEDC has been working to secure funding for the $15 million renovation project that is due to start in January 2017, pending all monetary contributions are secured by Dec. 1.

"The common misconception is that the renovation project has already started," said Mayor Ed Engler. "But really the only work done has been basic demolition, so that now investors are able safely tour and see whether they would want to invest. We still need to acquire all the funds for the renovation to begin."

The necessary funds needed to begin the renovation are expected to come from various federal and private financial backers, as well as through the capital campaign presently being put on within the local community. The capital campaign is specifically aiming to raise the necessary $2 million community financial contribution.

"Since the start of the capital campaign, we have been received an outpouring of support from people and businesses in the Lakes Region," said Justin Slattery, Executive Director of the BEDC, adding that they are making good progress with the money that has been raised so far.

Over the past few months, the $2 million goal has been advanced by various donations from local businesses and corporations, including The Bank of New Hampshire, which donated $500,000 this past June. Additional funding from the community is still being sought to meet the Dec. 1 goal. The BEDC has high hopes that local businesses will continue to come forth and donate to the campaign.

Donations and cash pledges are extended to all members of the community, including but not limited to businesses, corporations, organizations and individual donors. As part of the donation process, the BEDC has partnered with the existing 501(c)3, Culture Arts Center of the Lakes Region, which allows all financial donations to be deemed tax deductible. Additionally, as an incentive for donating, the BEDC will offer donors a plaque in the main entrance of the theater if the contribution exceeds $500.

Donation forms can be obtained by clicking on the "Donate Today" button, found on the Colonial Theater block renovation website at For further information on the capital campaign or how to get involved with the fundraising initiative, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Simply classic - Noted auto restorer still enjoys racing around the track

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The steering wheel and dashboard of Jim Lowrey’s 1932 Ford Roadster, is done in a  Hi-Boy style, which he recently took to a Cruise Night at the Tilt’n Diner. (Roger Amsden/for the Laconia Daily Sun)


TILTON — Jim Lowrey grew up with a love of hot rods in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, where his father's garage was a center for the building of the popular and highly sought after street machines. Today, he's living his dream and continuing the family tradition at Lowrey's Auto Restoration on School Street here, where he's developed a nationwide reputation as one of the top auto restorers on the East Coast.
Lowrey's Auto Restoration began in 1960 when Jim Lowrey Sr. started his first shop at home, eventually opening a collision shop where the focus became designing and building award winning hot rods and restoring classic antiques.
Jim Jr. started restoring his first coupe at age 14, and over the years has developed a strong sense of style and craftsmanship heavily influenced by growing up surrounded with timeless classics, historic hot rods and "diamonds in the rough" awaiting a creative vision.
Jim Jr. took over his father's business in 1987 changing it to strictly antique restoration and building hot rods. Outgrowing his location, he moved the business to a former dairy farm in Tilton. The shop now consists of a three-level barn for storage and new buildings for fabrication, painting and assembly. Jim and his crew work on fabrication and complete buildups of their projects. Jim Sr., who now lives in Meredith, still contributes by rebuilding his famous flathead Ford motors and full race versions of the same.
The Lowrey' have restored quite a few well-known historical hot rods. Two notable Dry Lakes Roadsters were restored for Kirk White; The Bob Shaeneman Deuce Roadster and the Ray Brown 99C Roadster. Both were restored to their original racing configurations.
The Ray Brown Roadster was the only hot rod to ever win the "Past Presidents Cup" at Hershey, PA., and is now stored in the Petersen Museum.
Jim Lowrey Jr.'s work has been featured in dozens of hot rod magazines as well as in Ken Gross' 2008 classic "The Art of the Hot Rod," which featured a full chapter on Lowrey's work.
More honors came his way earlier this year when the a 1933 Ford Roadster that he rebuilt for Dave Gazaway of Bow won first place in the 2016 Grand National Roadster Show in California. It also took first place at the Detroit Autorama.
Lowrey said that the roadster was one of four or five cars that he has built for Gazaway and was a complete restoration from the ground up which retained the traditional look of the 1930s era but incorporated many newer features such as modern stereo system.
"It was literally sitting in pieces on top of the chassis when we started the project which took us about a year and a half," says Lowrey. He said the windshield posts were dropped 4 inches and tubular cross members to the chassis.
The team added Ford Flathead power to the roadster, calling on the engine-building talents of Jim Lowrey Sr. who took a 1948 Ford flathead base and machined to the block to 276 cubic inches, creating a full-race V-8 which is topped with a supercharger. A five-speed transmission was also installed.
"That project was done nearly 10 years ago. It was really nice to win this year because it shows how well our work has stood up over the years," said Lowrey.
He said that he currently has 14 projects underway, including a 1934 Ford which will be powered by a 427 cubic inch modern engine and a 1937 Packard V-12 Victoria convertible, one of only 45 Packards built that year with the same body style.
"Packards were an elite car at that time and this one handles like a dream. It's a real pleasure to work with so much history," said Lowrey.
He owns two of the rebuilt cars, a 1932 Ford Roadster which has been redone as a Hi-Boy with no fenders and is powered by an Offenhuaser engine, and a 1939 Ford Deluxe which is powered by a Ford Flathead that his father rebuilt.
Lowrey has been racing cars himself for over 30 years and his career includes many feature victories in midgets, super modifieds and dirt modifieds, with championships in midgets and super modifieds.
This year he's won four out of the six races he's taken part in at Lee and at the Thompson Speedway track in Connecticut. He'll be racing tonight in the Super Modified class at Lee and head to the Nutmeg state Saturday morning with his modified racer,
He's also looking ahead to Vintage races later this summer at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where he'll test his driving skills in the modified class against the like of Ray Evernham, who was Jeff Gordon's crew chief of the NASCAR circuit for many years.

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Jim Lowery of Lowrey's Auto Restoration in Tilton stands next to one of his own cars, a 1939 Ford Deluxe that he restored and enjoys taking to cruise nights and classic auto events. Lowery heads one of the largest auto restoration businesses on the East Coast. (Roger Amsden/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Jim Lowery stands beside one of the current restoration projects at Lowrey Auto Resoration in Tilton, a 1937 Packard V-12 Victoria convertible, one of only 45 manufactured that year with the same body style. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Bogus bills found by local businesses

LACONIA — The Police Department has received several reports from businesses in the city and surrounds that counterfeit bills, in denominations of $20 and $50 are being passed. Store clerks should look closely before accepting currency, particularly in these denominations.

Police urge anyone with information about the origins and circulation of counterfeit currency to contact the Laconia Police Department at 524-5252.

  • Written by Michael Kitch
  • Category: Local News
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