Staff Writer

ASHTABULA - - Visitors to Saturday's obsolete-equipment auction at old Harbor High School took time to share memories of basketball games in the gymnasium, lunch in the cafeteria and drama on stage. But a someone found something to steal in the lobby, as well.

A 22-inch, circular, plaster relief was stolen from the school's front lobby, off Lake Avenue, police said.

Titled "Winter" and portraying Boreas, the windy god of winter, the relief dates back 1911 with the construction of the building.

It's one of two plaster reliefs of classical Greek luminaries in the school. Each was scheduled to be taken from the building, painstakingly restored and moved to one of the new school buildings. And while the effort to preserve the art may seem small compared to the $115 million school project, it is nonetheless a very high priority.

"(The missing relief) is priceless to the school district," said Al Peck, operations manager. "Everybody who went to Harbor High School remembers it."

Ashtabula Police Sgt. Perry Johnson, who responded to the call Saturday, said the relief was on the top half of the wall in the front entryway.

"Someone had to climb on a wood cabinet to reach it," he said. "I understand it's quite valuable."

If the relief is returned right away, there will be no questions asked, Peck said.

"But if we have to find out who did it, then we'll prosecute," he said. "It might be worth $5, or $50 or $5,000, but we want it back."

Capt. Gerald Cornelius said auction-goers gave police a description of the perpetrator, but no one knew the man's name. Apparently, no one realized the man did not buy the relief when he was taking it from the wall, he said.

The man is described as a tall, slender, white male, who's in his 30s or early 40s. Anyone with more information, should call police at 992-7172.

Star Beacon Print Edition: 12/12/2006

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