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Howard B. Owens's blog

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Suzanne Corona jailed on drug sale charge

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Suzanne Corona

Suzanne Corona

With the exception of a petit larceny charged a year ago, Suzanne Corona has pretty much been able to keep her name out of the news since 2011.

The 45-year-old Osterhout Avenue resident became an international sensation in June 2010 when he was caught in a sexually compromised situation on a picnic table in Farrall Park.

The illicit tryst for the married woman led to a rare criminal charge of adultery, which sparked news headlines in tabloids from New York to London to Australia. 

Over the next year, her exploits continued to make news, especially in Western New York, but then she faded from view.

Her arrest by the Local Drug Task Force on Tuesday has her facing her most serious criminal charges yet.

Corona is accused of selling suboxone to an agent of the task force.

She is charged with fourth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

The charges are the fist time she faces a possible felony conviction.

Corona was jailed pending a bail review today.

Top: File photo from 2011.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Woman tied to 420 Emporium pleads guilty to facilitating drug trade in federal court

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A woman who once represented herself as an owner of a group of infamous smoke shops involved in the sale of bath salts and synthetic marijuana entered a guilty plea yesterday to a federal charge in connection with the drug sales.

Amber Snover, 24, faces up to four years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to using a communication facility to facilitate a controlled substance.

The chain of smoke shops was known as the 420 Emporium, and on social media, Snover claimed to be the owner of locations in Brockport, Fulton, Henrietta and Syracuse, though never claimed ownership of the Batavia location that was at 400 Ellicott St.

When bath salts were a hot issue in Batavia in 2012, The Batavian contacted Snover and she denied owning any of the stores before hanging up on a reporter.

She later called Greece police and tried to have the reporter arrested.

Public records uncovered later indicated Charles Fitzgerald owned the first four locations and Joshua Denise owned the Batavia location.

Fitzgerald and Snover were apparently living together at 21 West Hill Estates, Greece. Their home was raided on the same day, July 25, 2014, as the Batavia location as part of a nationwide DEA crackdown on synthetic drug manufacturing, sales and distribution

Authorities recovered more than $770,000 in cash at the Greece residence.

Snover's conviction covers a federal contention that the woman used a phone to order various synthetic controlled substance analogues for the store in Batavia.

She will be sentenced June 23.

The 420 Emporium employees arrested in the raids have entered guilty pleas to various charges and await sentencing.

Fitzgerald entered a guilty plea in January to possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and faces a possible maximum federal prison term of 30 years. He will be sentenced April 15.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 10:57 am

Van Halen plans tour stop at Darien Lake

post by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, entertainment, music

With David Lee Roth back in the fold, a new live album, and an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Van Halen is about to hit the road for a tour that will include a stop in Genesee County.

The legendary rockers will play Darien Lake on Aug. 25.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd will open the show, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m., April 4.

For more information, visit LiveNation.com.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 10:46 am

Home show this weekend at Falleti Ice Arena

post by Howard B. Owens in business, chamber of commerce, Home Show

Press release:

The second annual Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Home show takes place this weekend March 27-29 at the Falleti Ice Arena.

Sixty-three area businesses will be displaying their products and services at the Home Show and offering home improvement tips and suggestions on a face-to-face basis to the general public that attends.

“Our first Home Show last year was a tremendous success and we have just continued to build on that success this year,” said Chamber President Tom Turnbull. “We have sold out all of the 88 booths that were available.”   

The Home Show will be open Friday, March 27 from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday, March 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission to the event to $3 with children 12 and under admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Discount $1-off-admission coupons are available at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce office, 210 E. Main St., Batavia, or at any of the participating businesses.

There will also be a drawing for a $500 gift certificate that can be used at any of the participating Home Show businesses. The drawing will take place on Sunday at 3 p.m. The winner need not be present.

Food concessions will be provided by the award-winning restaurant Alex’s Place.
A complete list of participating businesses and a map of the booth layout is available at:  www.geneseeny.com/homeshow

For more information call the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce at 585-343-7440.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Law and Order: Central Avenue resident accused of using gun in robbery and assault

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy
Tyshon Taylo

Tyshon L. Taylor, 18, of Central Avenue, is charged with assault, 1st, robbery, 1st, unlawful possession of marijuana, and menacing, 2nd. Taylor allegedly pointed a handgun at another person while demanding property at a location on Central Avenue, Batavia, at 8:45 p.m., Friday. Taylor allegedly struck the individual in the head with the handgun and then punched the person. Eventually, Taylor took the property from the person. He allegedly possessed marijuana when arrested. A 16-year-old, whose name was withheld by police, was also arrested and charged with assault, 1st, and robbery, 1st.

Madalyn R. Muntz, 29 of Le Roy, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Muntz, a former Walmart employee, is accused of stealing more than $1,500 in cash from November through February.

Nicole A. Mickey, 25, of Colonial Boulevard, Batavia, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Mickey was arrested following a complaint of a disturbance at her residence at 11:48 p.m., March 16. Mickey allegedly drove from that location to another location while intoxicated.

Erin Kathleen Hinrich, 34, of Bank Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged possession of a hypodermic instrument. Hinrich turned herself in to Batavia PD.

Richard J. Stack, 23, of Thomas Avenue, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Stack is accused of throwing items at a woman and flipping her out of a chair during an argument. He was jailed on $750 bail.

Deborah E. Lamartina, 34, of Linnet Street, Rochester, is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd. Lamartina was allegedly found in possession of heroin and cocaine while already in custody on unrelated charges. She was jailed without bail.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 5:20 pm

National Grid grant helps fund 'Innovation Zone'

Press release:

The Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC), the real estate arm of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), recently received a grant of $50,000 from National Grid that was used to build the Innovation Zone.

The Innovation Zone has been designed to be an affordable, high quality networking and incubator space and will be located in the 34-acre Upstate MedTech Park in Batavia. It is strategically located across from Genesee Community College, which was recently designated as a START UP NY site. The grant from National Grid is through the company’s CleanTech Incubation Program.

“The concept of creating a space that not only brings entrepreneurs and start-up businesses together, but also allows these individuals to collaborate, has the potential to enhance economic development opportunities in Genesee County even further,” said Dennis Elsenbeck, regional executive for National Grid in Western New York. “From the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park to STAMP, economic development officials in Genesee County have proved that the ‘build it and they will come’ approach works and I am confident it will in this instance.”

To accommodate an existing tenant of the Upstate MedTech Park, construction included the addition of 1,075 square feet of space to expand opportunities for high-tech manufacturing and a loading dock facility. The GGLDC also plans to build out 2,300 square feet of vacant space to increase marketability of the site and allow for a quicker turnaround of market demands. The total capital investment of the project is $155,000 and is expected to create 10 new jobs over the next five years and three new jobs within the first year.

“The new incubator will support the expansion of the Upstate MedTech Park, which will help us attract entrepreneurs in emerging industries such as life sciences and medical device manufacturing among others,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “This grant is just another example of National Grid’s tremendous support of economic development initiatives in Genesee County.”

National Grid officials and local and state government representatives will participate in a ribbon-cutting event on April 10 in the Innovation Zone to formally unveil the new facility and amenities.

The National Grid CleanTech Incubation Program supports the development of a self-sustaining entrepreneurial and innovation “ecosystem.” The program is intended to stimulate and support the growth of new businesses that, in turn, generate jobs and investment in National Grid’s Upstate New York service territory. Information about National Grid’s suite of economic programs is available at www.shovelready.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Batavia, Notre Dame advance to mock trials finals

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, mock trials, Notre Dame

Photos by Tom Rivers, Orleans Hub.

Batavia and Notre Dame will meet in the mock trials finals tomorrow after securing victories in the semifinals Monday evening in the Orleans County Courthouse.

Batavia went 2-0, 113 points to 110 points, against Attica. Notre Dame was 1-1, but with 109 points to 106 points against Avon.

In the top photo, Dylan Beckman serves as an attorney for the team from Batavia and questions a witness.

Amanda Conrad, a witness for Attica, responds to questioning from Becca Canale, an attorney for Batavia.

Becca Canale was one of the attorneys for Batavia. She presents her closing argument to Chad Murray, the judge for the competition.

Madhu Vihani, a lawyer for the Attica team, presents documents to the team from Batavia.

Nic Culver, of Medina, a freshman at Notre Dame, was a witness for his team.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Surplus should be used for Upstate economic stimulus, Hawley says

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) said today that Upstate economic development would be the best option for the state’s $610 million surplus, obtained as result of a recent bank settlement. Hawley criticized Gov. Cuomo’s proposed Upstate Revitalization Fund for pitting communities against each other and said surplus funding should be appropriated in a more equitable fashion.

“The surplus would best serve the people of this state by promoting economic revitalization in Upstate New York,” Hawley said. “The governor’s competition plan is a misguided approach that pits communities against each other and creates three winners and four losers. By splitting this money evenly among the seven regions or combining it with the governor’s plan, we could ensure that more regions see tangible economic development. The state’s financial investments in businesses and local projects over the past several years have been hugely beneficial, especially in the rural areas of my district. This surplus funding should be invested back into Upstate communities and support projects that will attract new businesses and jobs to many struggling areas of the state.”

Hawley’s comments come after a press release issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services revealed that Commerzbank has paid a $610 million fine to New York State as part of a punitive package for financial and accountability crimes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Annual burn ban in effect until May 15

post by Howard B. Owens in burn ban

Press release shared by Genesee County Emergency Services:

With the start of spring and warmer temperatures expected, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminds New Yorkers that residential brush burning in towns with less than 20,000 residents is prohibited in the state through May 14.

"Along with the milder temperatures that come with spring, the risk for wildfires also increases," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "New York prohibits residential burning during the high-risk fire season to reduce the number of wildfires and protect people, property and natural resources. Since being enacted in 2009, the ban has been very effective in reducing the number of wildfires, and we want people to be aware that they need to put safety first."

Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in the state. When temperatures are warmer and grasses and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and the lack of green vegetation.

New York has had strict restrictions on open burning since 2009 to help prevent wildfires and reduce emissions. The regulations allow residential brush fires in towns during most of the year, but prohibit such burning in spring months -- March 16 through May 15 -- when most wildfires occur. Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should never leave such fires unattended and must extinguish them. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round.

In the five-year period since the ban was enacted, the average number of spring fires per year decreased by 43.2 percent, from 3,297 in 2009 to 1,425 to 2014.

Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. To report environmental law violations call 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267) or report online on DEC's Web site.

Some towns, primarily in and around the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park, are designated "fire towns," and open burning is prohibited year-round in these municipalities unless an individual or group has a written permit from DEC. To find out whether a municipality is designated a "fire town" or to obtain a permit, contact the appropriate DEC regional office. A list of regional offices is available on DEC's Web site.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Council Notes: New City Court judge appointed; Memorial Day parade discussed

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

New City Court Judge:
By unanimous vote Monday night, the City Council selected local attorney Durin Rogers to become the new City Court judge.

Rogers is Deputy County Attorney, is active in the Genesee County Bar Association, and a graduate of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and the University of Florida.

He replaces Michael Del Plato, who resigned effective the end of his six-year term.

Memorial Day Parade:
Plans are coming together for the city's Memorial Day Parade with a couple of new twists for 2015.

The committee is planning on changing the parade route so the procession comes further west on Main Street and turns north on Bank Street, with the parade ending at the War Memorial. Marching bands would enter with drum taps sounding only, which Rose Mary Christian described as a solemn, moving remembrance.  

There will also be a request for parade participants not to toss candy to children. There's concern throwing candy is more festive than respectful of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their country.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 11:41 am

Council told of strategy for dealing with stray cats in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, batavia, cats

A small platoon of volunteers could deal with the army of stray cats in Batavia, the City Council was told during a long discussion of the issue Monday night.

Three representatives of the pro bono animal program at the SUNY Buffalo Law School recommend a trap, neuter, vaccinate and return program that they say has been successful elsewhere, even in small towns in Western New York.

West Seneca provides an example, said Joseph Smith, a law student working with the pro bono program. That community instituted TNVR and it made a huge difference.

"You can have as fast as a year turnaround," Smith said. "You can get direct results and significant results within a year."

The results include fewer nuisances from cats and fewer stray cats.

Problem cats fall into two categories -- community cats, which are cats who were once domesticated, but somehow became ownerless, and feral cats, which are cats born to a homeless cat and never domesticated.

Smith, along with fellow student Nicole Komin and Vice Dean Kim Diana Connolly, outlined the program's benefits, especially when compared to alternatives.

Stray cats will always be with you, both Smith and Komin emphasized. If you try to capture them and keep them, they'll overwhelm any such system. If you try to kill them, other strays will just move into the territory.

Cats tend to go where they can get food and shelter, be it a cat lover who feeds them, scraps from a restaurant or plentiful prey. If all the cats are removed from an area of food and shelter, other cats will just take their place.

TNVR solves that problem by returning non-breeding cats to those their former haunts.

Once fixed, cats fight less, howl less and spray less, making them much less of a neighborhood nuisance.

And if you can eliminate the breeders, there are fewer feral cats and eventually fewer community cats. They never disappear from a community, but over time, their numbers are greatly reduced.

The life expectancy of a homeless cat is seven or eight years.

Assistant City Manager Gretchen DiFante invited Smith, Komin and Connolly to speak with the council because she's been tasked with coming up with a program to deal with stray and feral cats.

Council members expressed an interest in learning more and supporting a task force to study the proposal further. 

Such a program could be implemented at no cost to the city because there are volunteer and community groups that can be tapped to help set up the program and take care of the task of trapping cats and getting them neutered and vaccinated before they're returned to the location where they're trapped.

Cats who have been through the program get a notched ear so they're identifiable as neutered, and once released, they've learned about the trap and will never allow themselves to be captured that way again, Smith said.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 9:19 am

Today's Poll: Should Batavia adopt a trap, neuter, vaccinate and return stray cat program?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls

Answer this question later today on the smartphone app Reacht for a chance to win a $5 gift certificate from Southside Deli. To download Reacht on your smartphone, click here

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Public documents reveal deep financial hole for local medical business

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Advanced Imaging, business

A Batavia-based medical business has piled up a long list of financial woes, according to public documents obtained by The Batavian.

There are mechanics liens, money judgments, property seizures and demands for back pay to employees against Advanced Imaging, 35 Batavia City Center, Batavia.

The current owner even has pending criminal charges against him for allegedly issuing bad checks.

All told, the pile of debt exceeds $1.3 million.

Advanced Imaging was once owned by Dr. Mitchell Chess, and it's uncertain which if any of the debts were accumulated during his ownership tenure, during the tenure of Mark Zdrojewski, or both.

Attempts to contact Chess and Zdrojewski were unsuccessful.

Zdrojewski has been charged with issuing a bad check at least four times, both to a local contractor and to an employee.

The Department of Labor investigated complaints of unpaid wages to employees and concluded, according to a letter sent to one of the employees, "We have found that your employer owes wages and/or fringe benefits to one or more current or former employees."

As a result, the department issued a formal "order to comply," demanding payment to employees.

Zdrojewski still has time to appeal the ruling.

Former employees also complained that Zdrojewski took checks sent to Advanced Imaging for health insurance premiums under COBRA and used the funds for other expenses instead of paying the premiums.

There are mechanics liens from local contractors exceeding $14,000.

The real eye-popping sums come, however, from the list of money judgments against Advanced Imaging:

  • $966,598 to General Electric
  • $108,988 to Phillips Healthcare
  • $105,145 to Caritas Medical Arts Building
  • $69,410 to Caritas Medial Arts Building
  • $35,792 to Insight Health Corps
  • $3,699 to the Commissioner of Labor
  • $794 to the Commissioner of Labor
  • $13,229 to the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance
  • $13,242 to Turnbull Heating and Air
  • $4,475 to the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance
  • $600 to the Commissioner of Labor
  • $1,343 to the Commissioner of Labor
  • $6,789 to Medrad

The City of Batavia issued tax liens for more than $47,000 in back property taxes according to filings with the County Clerk's Office.

The three parcels of property in City Centre once owned by Advanced Imaging have been seized by the Sheriff's Office on behalf of Philips Healthcare and will be sold at auction at 10 a.m., May 4, at 165 Park Road, Batavia.

Some of the other money judgments may already be satisfied through other means.

Meanwhile, Advanced Imaging remains open for business.

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Law and Order: Driver charged with DWI after leaving scene of reported argument in Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bergen, crime, Le Roy, pembroke

Alexander Natal, 28, of Lake Street Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd. Natal allegedly left the scene of an altercation in Bergen and drove a vehicle on Buffalo Road at 2:42 p.m. Saturday while intoxicated. Natal was stopped by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Ryan N. Pyatt, 22, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an unlicensed operation, 3rd, charge. Pyatt posted $250 cash bail.

Seth R. Doster, 23, of Alleghany Road, Darien Center, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a parked on sidewalk charge. Doster turned himself in and was issued an appearance ticket.

McKayla J. Kosiorek, 20, of South Jackson Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to pay fine imposed by City Court. Kosiorek turned herself in and posted $100 cash bail.

Maria K. Frieday, 41, of Franklin Street, Batavia, is charged with reckless endangerment, 2nd, and tampering with physical evidence. Frieday was allegedly involved in an incident at 1:45 p.m. March 12 at 127 North St., Batavia.

Kory R. O'Grady, 42, of River Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. O'Grady was charged following an alleged domestic incident reported at 4 p.m., Sunday. He allegedly pushed another person and threatened to kill everyone if his daughter was removed from the residence.

Brock Thomas Barry, 27, of Blackwell Lane, Henrietta, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, and failure to stop at stop sign. Barry was stopped at midnight Sunday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

John Joseph Simmons, 42, of Bedford Street, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, failure to dim headlights, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, and driving without an interlock device. Simmons was stopped at 2:02 p.m. Sunday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Michael Lute.

The Grand Jury of Genesee County also released the following indictment:

Justin L. Pyatt is indicted on a count of menacing a police officer or peace officer. It's alleged that Pyatt, on Feb. 16, while at 113 Jackson St., Batavia, did attempt to place a police officer in reasonable fear of physical injury or even death by displaying a knife.

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Stray cats on tonight's Batavia City Council agenda

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, community cats

Tomcats, alley cats, stray cats, may strut around howling at the moon, but don't call them feral.

They're community cats and a community problem.

The Batavia City Council will be asked tonight to look at a possible community cat ordinance that has reportedly worked well elsewhere to help reduce the unowned cat population and made them less of a nuisance.

The proposal is the result of research into the issue by Assistant City Manager Gretchen DiFante.

The most successful method for deal with stray cats, tail in the air and otherwise, is the trap, neuter, vaccinate and release method, according to a written report provided to the council.

"Properly managed sterilization-vaccination programs do not create cat overpopulation -- the cats are already there," according to the report, prepared by the Humane Society. "The choice is between making progress or continuing to experience an unmanaged problem. Well-designed and implemented community cat programs are in line with public opinion and can mobilize an army of compassionate, dedicated people who care about cats, wildlife and their communities."

Also on the agenda for tonight's 7 o'clock meeting:

  • City fire has an opportunity to receive a $515,000 Homeland Security grant to fully fund six firefighters for two years. The funding will help fill vacancies that have increased over time as City fire has struggled with unfilled openings. The grant fully funds the positions for those two years, but the city will responsible for the expense once the grants expire.
  • The council will receive an update on the city's efforts to deal with vacant and abandoned properties.
  • Councilman Eugene Jankowski has requested a council discussion on the process for adopting budget resolutions.
  • The water plant needs a roof replacement.
Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Photo: Work begins to replace Oliver's Candies sign

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Oliver's Candies

The steel frame for the new Oliver's sign was anchored in place today.  The concrete foundation needs to set for as much as four weeks before the new sign is put on the frame. The same day the new sign is installed, the old Oliver's sign will be removed and taken to storage.

Previously: Oliver's Candies planning new neon sign with message board

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:03 pm

City School teachers picket against governor's education budget proposal

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education

Batavia City School teachers held what they dubbed a "positive picket" outside Batavia Middle School for about 30 minutes this morning as students were arriving for classes to call attention to their concerns with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal for education spending.

Union President Mary Ann Marley said the governor's proposals are hurting local school districts since aid to schools hasn't been increased and Cuomo is withholding funds as leverage to change teacher evaluations.

The governor isn't even giving school districts an estimate of anticipated aid, Marley said.

"Our district is having a hard time establishing a budget for next year when they don't know what numbers to work with," Marley said.

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Photos: Benefit for the family of Alyson Krzanak

post by Howard B. Owens in pembroke

Folks in Pembroke organized a fundraiser Sunday for the family of Alyson Krzanak.

Krzanak died of injuries sustained in a motor-vehicle accident on Route 20 in Bethany in late February.

Photos by Rebecca Grela.

Alyson's parents, David and Renee.

The Clevelands consider their choices.

Reese likes basket 114.

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 9:04 am

Today's Poll: Should teacher evaluations be tougher?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls

New York TimesCuomo Fights Rating System in Which Few Teachers Are Bad

Answer this question later today on the smartphone app Reacht for a chance to win a $5 gift certificate from Southside Deli. To download Reacht on your smartphone, click here

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