Shoe prints lead to arrest in break-in

BELMONT — A man’s “unique shoe prints” that were found at the home of an 80-year-old burglary victim led to the arrest of a 19-year-old local man.
Caleb John Phillips of 46 Concord St., Belmont, confessed to the burglary after police matched the tread found at the scene of the burglary with his shoes, according to Detective Eliza Gustafson. Because the print was found under an overhanging roof, police were able to get an unusually clear print following the late July burglary, she said.
• On Aug. 6, police apprehended two 14-year-old runaways who tripped an alarm when they broke into Jordan’s Ice Cream. Gustafson said police found them a short distance away.
• Responding to a report of a suspicious person at Shaw’s Supermarket, police contacted Ronald H. Steele III, 23, of 19 Truland St., Laconia, who allegedly gave a false name to avoid an arrest for violating a protective order. Police said he was yelling at a woman in his company, in violation of the protective order. They charged him with obstructing government administration and violating a protective order, as well as filing a penalty drug charge.
• Police arrested Gregory S. Gilbert, 57, of 10 Range Road, Belmont, and Skye Gorgas, 32, of 5 Sweetbrier Way, Laconia, on Laconia police warrants.
• Police charged Leon Gary LaRoche, 48, of 38 Champagne Avenue, Belmont, with driving after revocation or suspension.
David G. Harper, 48, of 12 Jodi Drive, Belmont, faces a charge of driving while intoxicated following his arrest on Aug. 8.

Seeing faces in the rocks

Laconia artist brings life to natural formations

LACONIA — Richard Ostro says he always keeps an eye out for interesting rock formations.
“I always see a face,” he said. “It can be disturbing.”
An artist who was a custom painter and builder before retiring to his home in the Paugus Woods development off White Oaks Road, Ostro has been able to pick out turtles, lizards and monsters in the rocks, and has used his talents to bring out the natural features of the stone.
It was his neighbor whom he calls “Tom-Tom” who saw an Indian’s face in a stone outcropping at the side of Sarasota Road, leading into the development. The “eye” was readily apparent, and Ostro used paint and smaller rocks to highlight the features.
“It puts our development on the map,” he said, noting that strangers have driven up the road to take a look at the rock.
His and his neighbor’s yards also have examples of his enhancements to Mother Nature, from piranhas to monsters of the deep to a tyrannosaurus rex.
“I look to make things a little cooler,” he said, adding with a laugh that his wife sometimes says he needs to cool it with the rock painting.
Ostro has been coming to the Lakes Region for 20 years and he retired here last year. Also a motorcycle enthusiast, he has a 1972 Harley-Davidson that used to be a police vehicle before he customized it. He said he has been featured in magazines that include Easy Rider, Home & Garden, and Yankee.
“Mother Nature does most of the work,” he said. “I just do the shadowing.”

08 14 Indian Head
Richard Ostro with his embellishment of Mother Nature that highlights a natural stone Indian head. Ostro, an artist, custom painter, and builder who retired to the Paugus Woods development off White Oaks Road, Laconia, found the stone formation at the side of Sarasota Road. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

Colonial project delay

Extension to be sought in city loan for theater project


LACONIA — Mayor Ed Engler advised the City Council Monday that repayment of a city loan of $1.4 million to buy the Colonial Theatre will have to be extended to Dec. 31 and that refurbishment of the ornate structure won't start until Jan. 1, at the earliest.

Major renovation work on the 103-year-old building was originally planned to start early this year.

The city made the loan to the Belknap Economic Development Council, which is using a mix of state, federal, city and donor funds to bring the theater back to life.

Engler said the development group will come before the City Council on Aug. 28 to ask for the extension. The city will continue to collect $4,000 per month in loan interest.

When construction financing is finalized, the loan is to be repaid and the city is to grant a new one in the amount of $3 million, which can be rolled over into ownership of the theater after seven years. After it opens, the city has agreed to pay $120,000 yearly to rent the theater.

Engler said the extension is necessary because:

• A total of $2.4 million in federal historic building tax credits have not yet been approved, although the application has been praised and the award is seen as a formality.

• The project missed an April deadline for about $5 million in federal New Markets tax credits, designed to foster economic development. Mascoma Bank had to award the credits to another project and won't be able to issue credits for the Colonial Theatre refurbishment until late fall.

• Construction bids, originally projected at about $10 million, came in $3.3 million over budget. That figure was reduced through some project changes, and two sources of additional funding have been identified, but the city will still likely be asked to come up with “significant new money” in an amount still to be determined.

The overall project cost, including design fees and real estate purchase, is now estimated at $16 million.

Engler said the discrepancy between the original estimate for the construction and the construction bid arises from the complicated nature of the work to be done.

The project, part of an effort to revitalize the downtown core, is also to include 14 market-rate apartments and four retail spaces.