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Alleged bank robber 'did what he had to do'

LACONIA — A man who allegedly robbed the downtown branch of the Bank of New Hampshire Friday afternoon told police "he did what he had to do", according to police affidavits obtained from court yesterday.

Johnathan Ellinger, 43, who police listed as "transient," allegedly said, "Yup, I did it," when police caught up to him within a few hours.

He was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail after appearing by video in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday afternoon. Ellinger was represented by a N.H. Public Defender who offered no argument regarding bail.

Ellinger allegedly walking into the main office of the Bank of New Hampshire and told one of the tellers he had a gun and wanted money. The teller described the man as about 5-feet 8-inches tall with a scruffy beard and wearing a ball cap. He left with more than $1,000.

Police said she was "very distraught" by his alleged actions.

Police searched the immediate area but didn't find anyone matching that description. When the video image of Ellinger leaving the bank reached police, a number of the officers recognized him and later found him walking along Church Street, near the Messer Street intersection.

Prior to police finding him, they said they checked a number of places frequented by homeless and transient people.

Laconia Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation head Capt. Bill Clary said he has been in touch with the FBI — bank robbery is a federal crime — but this appears to be an isolated case and not part of a series of robberies that have occurred in other parts of the state.

He said the FBI was willing to offer any assistance but noted Ellinger's prosecution will be determined the the Belknap County Attorney and the U.S. Attorney.

According to a representative of the N.H. Judiciary call center, Ellinger pleaded guilty to one count of burglary and one count of theft by unauthorized taking in 2002.

He had also failed to appear for a review hearing for a shoplifting conviction in the Laconia Circuit Court on December 23, 2013. Arrested on a bench warrant, he appeared in court by video a few days later and agreed to pay restitution.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 02:49

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7 Belknap County towns get LCHIP grants

CONCORD — Seven of the 11 municipalities in Belknap County — Laconia, Alton, Barnstead, Belmont, Gilford, Meredith and Sanbornton — were among the 39 cities and towns awarded grants in the 12th annual round of funding by the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP).

The grants were announced yesterday by Doug Cole of D.S. Cole Growers of Loudon, who chairs the Board of Directors of LCHIP, at the Legislative Office Building before some 75 representatives from most of the 39 communities who braved the foul weather to celebrate the news.

"You are the real heroes of the LCHIP story," Dijit Taylor, executive director of LCHIP, told the crowd.

Altogether the grants totaled $542,835, of which $440,000 will be applied to conserving natural resources and the balance to renovating and preserving historic buildings. The grants represent 21 percent of the estimated $2,550,692 it will cost to complete the projects, with the balance to be raised by matching funds.

Alton and Gilford shared the largest grant of $340,000, awarded to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and Lakes Region Conservation Trust to fund the acquisition and protection of four parcels covering 950 acres on and near Mount Major. The Belknap Range Conservation Coalition (BRCC) together with the Conservation Commissions of Alton, Gilford and Gilmanton are contributing to the $1.8-million project.

The four parcels cover 30 square miles of land crisscrossed by more than 70 miles of hiking trails. Three of the parcels lie on or near Mount Major in Alton. These include some 75 acres that straddle the two major trails leading up the mountain from the parking area off Route 11, 100 acres abutting the 60-acre Mount Major State Forest at the summit, and 455 acres to the west of the summit. The fourth parcel, 331 acres in Gilford, lies on the eastern reach of the Belknap Range on the slope of Piper Mountain at the head of Moulton Valley, which is riven by the falling waters of Moulton Brook.

Bear-Paw Regional Greenways received $100,000 toward the $794,000 needed to purchase a conservation easement on some 500 acres of woodland in Barnstead, Pittsfield and Strafford, which includes the frontage on Crooked Run, a tributary of the Suncook River. Bear-Paw has already received a $350,000 grant from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Aquatic Resource Mitigation (ARM) Fund. The property, which is owned and operated by the Boy Scouts of America , Boston Minutemen Council, is heavily forested with 25 wetlands covering 133 acres, including 4,000 feet of frontage on Wild Goose Pond, and provides prime habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species.

Belmont will apply its $15,000 grant from LCHIP to the restoration of its Victorian bandstand, which was recently moved adjacent to the library as part of the revitalization of the village. Built in 1908, the ornate octagonal structure on a high latticework base features turned posts and balusters beneath a shingled roof with flared eaves. The project is estimated to cost $35,000.

The smallest of the 39 grants, $5,750, was awarded to Sanbornton to renovate the exterior of the Lane Tavern, home to the Sanbornton Historical Society. Built in the early 1800s, the tavern was donated to the society in 1965, when it began undergoing a renovation. Once a way station for horse-drawn coaches plying the road between Concord and Plymouth, the tavern, after passing through many hands over the course of two centuries, is a centerpiece of the community and host to its history.

LCHIP awarded the Meredith Public Library $70,000 to restore masonry and repair gutters on the exterior of the building. Last year a report on the condition of the library suggested that an investment of between $260,000 and $383,000 would be required to overcome safety issues, undertake immediate repairs and ultimately restore and preserve the building. The library sought a grant of $184,622 from LCHIP, but has also approached the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Committee and Board of Selectmen for funding in the 2014 budget.

In Laconia, the Belknap Mill Society was awarded $12,085. The figure represents half the estimated cost of repairing and renovating the cupola atop the oldest unaltered brick textile mill in the United States, which was built in 1823 and operated until 1969.

CAPTION: Among those from the Lakes Region on hand to mark the awarding of grants by the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program were, from left, Vicki Abbott of the Sanbornton Historical Society, Peter Ellis of Gilfdord, president of the Belknap Mill Society, Senator Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia), Dave Witham, president of the Sanbornton Historical Society, Representative David Huot (D-Laconia), Ed Engler, Mayor-Elect of Laconia, and Linda Frawley, chair of the Belmont Heritage Commission. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 02:48

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Downtown bank robbery suspect quickly arrested

LACONIA — Three-and-a-half hours after allegedly robbing the main office of the Bank of Bank of New Hampshire on Pleasant Street of an undisclosed amount of cash, Jonathan C. Ellinger, 43, was apprehended by police.

In what police described as "an armed robbery," Ellinger allegedly entered the bank shortly before 3:24 on Friday afternoon. He approached a teller and demanded money then fled on foot. A surveillance camera released to the media pictured him leaving through the doorway on Pleasant Street.

Police did not specify what kind of weapon he was carrying or claimed to be carrying.

Within less than a minute the robbery was reported to the Police Department. The bank was closed immediately after the incident as detectives and officers, with the assistance of Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin, mounted an investigation and search for the suspect. A notice on the locked doors of the bank directed customers seeking to transact business to nearby branch offices.

At 7 p.m., police announced a warrant had been issued for Ellinger's arrest and released his mug shot to the media. While seeking assistance from the public in determining Eliinger's whereabouts, police warned that he was considered "armed and dangerous and should not be approached." Moments later police reported that Ellinger had been arrested.

Last Updated on Saturday, 04 January 2014 02:21

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Belmont police investigating 3 burglaries

BELMONT — Police are seeking information from the public regarding three burglaries in various sections of town over the past few weeks.

At 2 p.m. on December 12, a Brown Hill Road resident arrived home to find his home had been entered by some one who broke a window to get access.

On December 28, at 1 p.m. a Jamestown Road resident came home to find the front door of his home had been forced open. Police said a number of high value items, including electronics, were taken.

On January 2, a Turkey Drive resident arrived home to find his place had been entered through a rear door and electronics and firearms were stolen.

Police said all of the burglaries took place while neighbors were home and they are asking people to report any suspicious people or cars in their neighborhoods.

In addition, police are recommending people take digital photos of their expensive items, especially jewelry, for later identification. They also recommend digitally recording serial numbers of electronics and taking photographs of the interior and exterior of homes so police can tell if anything has been tampered with in the event of a burglary.

Anyone with any information regarding these burglaries or any other crime is asked to call the Belmont Police at 267-8350 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717 to leave an anonymous tip.

Last Updated on Saturday, 04 January 2014 02:08

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