Gilford hires one police officer, promotes two


GILFORD — The Gilford Police Department has filled a longstanding vacancy with the hiring of Stephen Kessler as a detective, while also promoting two long-time officers within the department.

Lt. Kristopher Kelley assumed the position of deputy chief, which Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said had been unfilled for years, although the job description remained. Bean Burpee said there had been two deputy chiefs in the past, but the work had been handled by two lieutenants in recent years.

Also promoted was Adam VanSteensburg, who became a sergeant on Monday.

Kessler is returning to municipal police work after serving for 12 years as a state forest ranger. Prior to that, he had served with the Moultonborough Police Department, and he also served with the Belknap County Special Operations Group.

“It’s a great town to continue my career,” Kessler said after taking the oath of office yesterday. “I missed working out on the street, and I like the town of Gilford.”

He said the majority of his family resides in Laconia, with some relatives living in Gilford.

VanSteensburg came to Gilford from the Somerville, Massachusetts, area, having spent summers in the Lakes Region. He moved to New Hampshire permanently in 1998 and joined the Gilford Police Department in 2009. He served as a patrolman for his first two years, then was K9 officer for five years, until his dog’s death last February. He also served as field training officer for the past three years, which he said was a step toward becoming sergeant.

“It was a natural progression,” he said, adding that, since the loss of his canine companion, his goal has been to seek a promotion.

Kelley is in his 19th year with the Gilford Police Department, having started there as a patrol officer. He worked his way up, becoming a detective, then a corporal, sergeant, and lieutenant.

“I’ve been in various roles over the years, and now I’m deputy chief, as of today,” he said in an interview yesterday.

A graduate of the FBI National Academy, Kelley has been serving as Administrative Services Bureau Commander for the department, and Bean Burpee said that, together, they will continue making Gilford “the best police department in Belknap County.”

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Gilford Town Clerk Denise Gonyer administers the oath of office to newly hired police officer Stephen Kessler. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Gilford Town Clerk Denise Gonyer administers the oath of office to Adam VanSteensburg, who has been promoted to a sergeant’s position in the Gilford Police Department. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Gilford Town Clerk Denise Gonyer administers the oath of office to Kristopher Kelley, the new deputy chief of the Gilford Police Department. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)


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.”

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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)