LCHIP: $500,000 to Colonial

Seven Lakes Region projects to benefit from grants


CONCORD — Seven projects in the Lakes Region, including the restoration of the Colonial Theatre in Laconia and expansion of the Page Pond Community Forest in Meredith, were awarded $858,747 in matching grants by the Land and Community Heritage Program, which Thursday announced that this year it is distributing $3.5 million to 31 cities, towns and nonprofit organizations to protect and preserve historic, cultural and natural resources.

The lobby of the Legislative Office Building was filled with officials and residents of communities from one end of the state to the other, who were reminded by Gov. Maggie Hassan that their projects are "maintaining the culture that makes New Hampshire what it is and makes us what we are. Conservation," the governor continued, "is a good investment," returning $8 for every $1.

• Laconia received $500,000 toward the renovation and restoration of the Colonial Theatre, which represents the largest grant the program has awarded since it began 16 years ago. Justin Slattery, executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council, said that the grant is an essential element of the approximately $14.5 million financial package needed to renovate, restore and reopen the theater. He explained that since proceeds from two of the major components of the package, the sale of New Markets and Historic tax credits, represent a percentage of the amount raised from other sources, the LCHIP grant is especially significant.

This is the second time LCHIP has supported restoration of the theater. In 2011, when a fundraising effort was begun to purchase the property LCHIP contributed $150,000 toward acquiring it. But, the buyer and owner failed to negotiate a price and the transaction never closed. Nevertheless, Slattery said that the LCHIP has taken a strong interest in restoring theater and worked closely with the Belknap Economic Development Council to ensure the success of the project.

• The Belknap Mill Society received a grant of $23,217 to undertake a historic building assessment of another landmark in downtown Laconia — the oldest unaltered brick textile mill in the country. The assessment will identify the immediate and future steps required to ensure the future of the mill as well as consider the programmatic objectives of the Belknap Mill Society. Allison Ambrose, president of the society, said that "the assessment is an important step in establishing the Belknap Mill Society as a key contributor to Laconia's revitalization," and added that "the board of directors is unified in its commitment to expand the Belknap Mill's engagement as an educational resource for students of all ages." In particular, she said that the society is seeking to provide STEAM-based programming in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

• LCHIP awarded $250,000 to the Trust for Public Land, which in partnership with the Conservation Commission is seeking to add approximately 200 acres to the Page Pond Community Forest, which sprawls over 562 acres on Meredith Neck. The property consists of two tracts, one of 117.5 acres and another of 84.5 acres on the east side of Barnard Ridge Road south to its junction with Pleasant Street. It includes 2,500 feet of frontage on the west side of Page Pond and 1,500 feet of frontage along Page Brook while another 1,577 feet abuts land protected by a conservation easement. The property contains 35 acres of prime wetland as well as 3,850 feet along an important tributary to Meredith Bay. A part of the property was long a working farm, laden with rich agricultural soils, while remains of grist mill testify to historical and cultural significance of the land to the town of Meredith.

Mark Billings, chairman of the Conservation Commission, estimates it will cost $1,125,000 to acquire the property, including the cost of services and fees, which will be met by a mix of conservation funds and grants supplemented by a private contributions and a town appropriation.

• The town of Center Harbor will apply its grant of $21,280 to completing the rehabilitation of the Town House, built at the geographic center of the community in 1844. which served as a town hall, polling station, school house and meeting place for more than a century. After standing vacant for some years, the Town House has earned a place State Register of Historic Places and undergone some rehabilitation and restoration. With the LCHIP grant the will complete the exterior rehabilitation of the landmark, including both cosmetic and structural repairs, as all as conduct an archaeological study.

• The Gilmanton School District was awarded $17,250 which will be applied to repair and restore the Kelley Corner Schoolhouse #1, built in 1778 as the first of 18 schoolhouses dotted about the town and the only one of them still standing. The school operated until 1940, and since 1949 has been leased by the school district to the Lower Gilmanton Community Club to host community events. When the club withered the schoolhouse fell dark. But, in the last decade a revived Lower Gilmanton Community Club has secured the schoolhouse a place on the National Register of Historic Places and undertaken its renovation. The grant will contribute to funding repairs, including restoration of the chimney to enable the building to be heated with a wood stove.

• The Belmont Public Library, built in 1927 as a gift from George and Walter Duffy, brothers who owned the Belmont Hosiery Company, received $7,000 toward funding a study of the institution. The colonial revival building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Small in dimension and simple in design, the one story, gable roofed building is considered among the finest examples of the popular colonial revival architecture constructed in the state after the First World War and easily the best preserved of eight others of the same style.

• Finally, Moultonborough received a $40,000 grant, which the town will apply toward purchasing a 37 acre parcel known as the Lee's Pond Preserve or Moultonborough Falls Conservation Area. The land fronts on Lee's Pond , the Red Hill River and NH Route 25 and was part of the village of Moultonborough Falls that thrived in the 19th century. The acquisition will extend the Red River Conservation Area, a continuous undeveloped corridor stretching from Sandwich to Lake Winnpesaukee. The buffer alongside the river and densely forested upland contribute to mitigating the impact of storm water run-off into Moultonborough Bay Inlet and so sustaining water quality in Lake Winnipesaukee.

Since LCHIP was established in 200 it has awarded $39 million in 372 matching grants to 149 communities, which have leveraged $244 million in funds from other sources to protect nearly 200 historic structures and conserve 283,000 acres for agricultural production, timber management, wildlife habitat, recreation and protecting water quality.

 12-09 LCHIP gathering

With matching grants for both the Colonial Theatre and Belknap Mill, the city fared well when the Land and Community Heritage Foundation announced its awards for 2016 this week. Those on hand to accept the awards were, from left, Peter Karagianis Jr. of the Belknap Mill Society; Doug Cole, chairman of LCHIP; Gov. Maggie Hassan; Randy Eifert, president of the Belknap Economic Development Council; Allison Ambrose, president of the Belknap Mill Society; Dijit Taylor, executive director of LCHIP; Executive Councilor Joe Kenney; Justin Slattery, executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council; and Ed Engler, mayor of Laconia. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Called to action - Tilton woman an eyewitness to history at Standing Rock


TILTON — Jennifer Hyslop found much to admire in the water protection activists she met when she went to North Dakota last month to show support for those fighting to prevent an oil pipeline from being built which threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Reservation, the Missouri River.

“It's like building a pipeline around Lake Winnipesaukee,” said Hyslop, who is the secretary of the Laconia Indian Historical Society, and felt motivated to make the trip in order to use her skills in photography and bring back video footage which would enable her to tell the story about what is happening.

“No one seems to be aware of what is happening there. I think it is important that we show support for this effort to protect the water and for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe,” said Hyslop.

She said she grew up attending the annual pow wows held by LIHA on Labor Day weekends in Sanbornton, and now works with the other members of the organization to try and keep Native American heritage and traditions alive, including respect for the earth and the environment.

On Nov. 15 she left Tilton with two friends, Kayla Lent and Amanda LeBrecque, and the trio drove for nearly 30 hours to reach Cannon Ball, North Dakota, a trip that covered 1,426 miles.

“Our Subaru was to packed to the max with donations, so much so that we had to strap some to the roof. I fund-raised over $700 and over $1,000 in donations on my own. Going to Oceti Sakowin was a life-changing event. I met many kind people and I have a lot I would like to share,” said Hyslop.

Before she arrived at the camp, she and her friends stopped to rest and celebrate the fact that they had reached South Dakota. She was so excited that they were nearing their goal that she did a little impromptu dance to celebrate and ended up landing awkwardly, breaking her left foot.

“At first I thought it was going to be all right. But a few hours later thee was a burning sensation and it was starting to swell, so I ended up going to a hospital and having a boot cast put on my foot,” said Hyslop, who was determined to complete her journey despite the pain and discomfort from the injured foot.

Once she told the nurses at the hospital where she was going, they expressed fear for her safety and told her to be careful.

“That really unsettled my friends, but at that point I had no fear. I was just proud of what we were doing and feeling very humble at the same time.

The one thing she noticed when she first arrived at the camp at Oceti Sakowin was how there was a law enforcement presence just about everywhere and how huge searchlights, trained on the camp, were on as soon as it got dark and stayed on throughout the night.

The effort to halt the pipeline has been in the national news for months and nearly 6,000 people have joined in the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the most recent being 2,000 military veterans who arrived last weekend in North Dakota. After the Standing Rock Sioux tribe lost its court battle seeking an injunction to stop construction, state authorities ordered them to leave the camp or face arrest. But as the deadline for leaving approached, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not permit an easement through federal land and temporarily halted the construction of the pipeline to allow an environmental impact review.

Hyslop was cheered by the news about the easement, but said she is concerned that Donald Trump will reverse the action next month after he becomes president. She said she will continue to try and explain how important it is to keep the pipeline, which will take crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, from being built.

She said that one of the most impressive people she met while in the camp was Lee Sprague, an instructor at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, who stands nearly 7 feet tall and was teaching his fellow activists water rescue techniques which could be used in the river which passes through their camp.

“He's an amazing person and talked to us a lot about how deeply the Native Americans feel about the way the land and is being violated,” said Hyslop.

She said that shortly after they left on Nov. 18 to return to New Hampshire the canoes and boats that he had been using were stolen by private security guards hired by the company which is building the pipeline and taken to Turtle Island in the river, where they were smashed and dented and secured behind a razor-wire enclosure. Sprague eventually was able to cut the wire and bring back the canoes and boats, which had been rendered virtually useless, and that a fund drive has since been launched to replace the boats.

“It was an experience that I'll always remember. And I want to share it with as many people as I can who will listen,” said Hyslop, who is 22 and holds a degree in art education from Plymouth State University.

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Kayla Lent, Amanda LeBrecque and Jennifer Hyslop stand with Lee Sprague, an instructor at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, one of the water protectors engaged in a protest to prevent an oil pipeline from being built in North Dakota. (Courtesy photo)

IMG 1350 North Dakota-63
Jennifer Hyslop, left, of Tilton returned recently from Standing Rock, North Dakota, where she joined with activists, shown in main photo, right, who are trying to prevent an oil pipeline from being built which threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Reservation. She is on crutches after having broken her foot in an impromptu victory celebration after having arrived in North Dakota. (Courtesy photos)

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Dragged - City police sergeant has close call when trying to arrest wanted man


LACONIA — City police captured a wanted Belmont man who had skipped out on his recent sentencing hearing in Superior Court but it took a police chase and the dragging of a city police sergeant to do it.

12-08 Joshua LevesqueA city police sergeant recognized Joshua Levesque, 26, of 12 Countryside Circle in Belmont as he was traveling on Valley Street around 4 a.m. Wednesday.

According to affidavits, the sergeant activated his blue lights on Stark Street. Levesque, who was headed toward him, drove past the sergeant but stopped.

A second officer in the area arrived and saw the sergeant out of his cruiser and talking with Levesque through the driver's window. Affidavits said that Levesque was still in the car and the second officer saw that Levesque's car wheels were spinning in snow as he tried to inch forward.

He said the sergeant opened Levesque's door and told him there was a warrant for his arrest, but Levesque's wheels caught some traction and he started driving away, dragging the sergeant, whose feet were sliding in the snow as he hung on to Levesque's open car door.

The sergeant let go of the door and fell away from Levesque's car. He told the second officer that Levesque was driving that car and to follow him cautiously as it was snowing.

The officer followed Levesque through downtown Laconia, but when Levesque passed a snowplow and headed into Belmont at speeds of 30 to 60 mph the officer stopped chasing him.

City police began an investigation into where Levesque could have gone and received information that his car had recently been seen on Edwards Street. Police found his vehicle abandoned at the end of Truland Street with his female passenger sitting on the steps of one of the houses.

Officers followed Levesque's tracks in the snow, which went through three back yards on Joliet Street, across Dolloff Street, and eventually to a back door on Cottage Street.

While police were speaking with a resident of the Cottage Street home, one of the officers saw what looked like a jacket in the bushes in the front of the house. He peering in and recognized Levesque, who began running.

The officer tackled Levesque in the front of the neighbor's yard. He was carrying two packages of suboxone and taken into custody.

Last week, Levesque had been scheduled to appear in Belknap County Superior Court where he had agreed to be sentenced to serve a 3- to 7-year sentence for various counts of possession of drugs, including methamphetamine, buprenorphine and alprazolam, as well as resisting arrest.

Levesque, who was out on bail, came to court that day but his hearing was postponed until the next day. When he failed to show, the court issued a warrant for his arrest.

Levesque faces new charges of felony reckless conduct for dragging the sergeant, two counts of disobeying an officer, one count of possession of drugs and one count of resisting arrest.

He is being held on $20,000 cash-only bail.

Police Chief Chris Adams said Wednesday that the sergeant was not injured in the incident. Adams said he was glad it was snowing because his sergeant was able to slide on his feet and not be dragged under the car.

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