Pole now props up Indian sculpture in Opechee Park


LACONIA — The backward lean of a huge sculpture in Opechee Park, “Giant Indian – The Defiant One,” has become so bad that the city has had to prop it up with a big wooden pole.

The 36-foot, 12-ton red oak piece depicts the face and headdress of a Native American man. Peter Wolf Toth, the artist who created it 32 years ago, recommended the additional support and the city quickly propped it up.

“We thought it was better to be safe than sorry,” city Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunleavy said.

He made a plea in June for contributions to save the structure.

“It hasn't been a strong response,” he said Friday.

Estimated repair costs and related expenses are $7,000. About $1,000 in donations have been received.

“At some point we may approach the City Council for additional funding if we fall short of what we need for funding,” Dunleavy said.

A couple of exterior sections have fallen into disrepair, but the main problem is inside, where deterioration from rot and insects is causing the sculpture to lean back on interior supports. The city has put a fence behind the statue as a precaution to keep people away.

If nothing is done, it could eventually fall or have to be removed.

Toth has volunteered to supervise repairs, which would include hollowing out the back of the statue, installing more interior supports and replacing rotten material with wood-colored fiberglass.

He has done similar sculptures in every state as part of his “Whispering Giants” series, and has had to make such repairs elsewhere.

Toth fled his native Hungary as a child. He has said he views his art work as a gift to America in return for the gift of freedom he received from this country. A sculpture he created in Hawaii in 1988 allowed him to complete his goal of placing one in each of the 50 states.
To help out, contributions can be made out to the City of Laconia and either dropped off at the Laconia Community Center or mailed to Laconia Parks and Recreation, Native American Sculpture Fundraiser, 306 Union Avenue, Laconia, NH 03246.

Dunleavy can be reached at 603-524-5046 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

08 19 Indian statue propped 1 08 19 Indian statue propped 2

The Opechee Park Indian statue had to be propped up recently for fear deteroration will result in it falling over. Donations to fix the artwork have been slow to come in. (Rick Green/Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Rick Green
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New watershed group brings together lake protection efforts


BELMONT — The newly formed Winnisquam Watershed Network plans to coordinate efforts to protect the lake and ensure it remains clean for future generations.

President Lisa Eggleston of Meredith, elected during the group’s charter meeting on July 29, described the need for a single lake association that could protect and advocate for Lake Winnisquam, and celebrate all aspects of the lake. She said, although many groups have an interest in the lake, there had been very little coordination between the various groups.

She said several groups have been conducting volunteer water quality monitoring on the lake through the state’s Lake Lay Monitoring Program and the Volunteer Lake Assessment Program, and representatives from the steering committee had met with the coordinators of the two monitoring programs to discuss a more coordinated and comprehensive monitoring program. As a result, they developed a tiered monitoring plan for Winnisquam that had volunteers starting work this summer. The association plans to expand the monitoring program as more resources become available, she said.

The group also plans to work at preventing and controlling milfoil and other invasive aquatic species and encouraging regional planning for watershed protection.

The charter meeting, at Leslie Roberts Park, attracted 50 members who approved the bylaws, elected a board of directors, and passed a budget.

Also elected at the meeting were Vice President Cliff King of Sanbornton, treasurer Ed Stephenson of Belmont; secretary Dean Anson II of Laconia; and directors Tom Mead of Tilton, Judy Hughes of Meredith, Jim Chapman of Belmont, Terry Rasp of Sanbornton, Frank Maaz of Meredith, and Tony Carita of Meredith.

Tom O’Brien, executive director of the New Hampshire Lakes Association, opened the meeting by describing how the group had come about, with a steering committee having worked over the past year to establish the association.

Eggleston read a letter from Amy Smagula, the exotic species program coordinator with the state Department of Environmental Services, that discussed milfoil management. Smagula said the new organization could help to establish long-term management plans for early detection and management of the invasive species.

The DES is surveying the lake so it can use the findings to update the management plan for the lake, and the association will pursue grants and donations to pay for milfoil treatment.

The association is supported by member dues as well as donations by individuals and other organizations, including Grey Rocks on Newfound Lake and the Lake Winnisquam Drive Association, comprising Black Brook residents, in Meredith.

Anyone interest in water quality monitoring, weed watching, website management, social media development, grant-writing, newsletter-writing, or fundraising is encouraged to send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


  • Written by Tom Caldwell
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Belmont Police pepper-spray fleeing man

BELMONT — A 42-year-old local man faces multiple charges of resisting arrest after allegedly fleeing and assaulting an officer who was pursuing him.

Police used pepper spray to subdue Salvatore Vespa of 129 Cotton Hill Road on Aug. 12 after he fled without identifying himself during questioning about a bike in his possession that was believed to have been stolen.

According to police, he fled from the Belknap Mall on Route 3, along the railroad tracks leading to Laconia. When an officer attempted to arrest him, he assaulted the officer, which led to the use of pepper spray, police say.

In addition to resisting arrest, he is charged with obstructing government administration and simple assault. He also was wanted on two bench warrants.


  • Police charged Isabella Dominy, 19, of 216 Green St., North Smithfield, Rhode Island, with possession of a controlled drug on Aug. 14, after responding to a disturbance on the Laconia Bypass.
  • Police arrested Frederick W. Avery, 34, of 190 Franklin St., Franklin, on a warrant from Tilton police after pulling him over for reckless operation on Aug. 15.
  • Krystal R. Robarge, 27, of 12E Batchelder St., Laconia, faces multiple theft charges involving checks taken from a building.
  • Also on the 15th, police charged Michelle A. Gagne, 37, of 64 Merrimack St., Laconia, with four counts of simple assault.
  • On Aug. 17, police charged William J. DeRoche, 34, of 236 Suncook Valley Highway, Epsom, with possession of controlled drugs following a motor vehicle stop.
  • Police arrested Chad Jacob Young, 35, of 30 Wakeman Road, Belmont, on a warrant from Laconia police.
  • Written by Tom Caldwell
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