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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Photos: Today in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, genesee county, Le Roy, photos, Stafford

The morning in Batavia started out kind of gloomy, but by the afternoon, the skies had cleared a bit and it was another beautiful day in Genesee County.

Above, a tree and barn off Selden Road, Le Roy.

A barn on Thwing Road, Stafford.

The view from Clinton Street Road, Stafford.

And below, three shots of Richard Oderkirk's sunflowers in Stafford.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Photo: Route 5 repaving in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy

Contractors are continuing work today on the repaving of Route 5 through the Village of Le Roy, creating a bit of a traffic snarl.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 8:30 am

Law and Order: Driver accused of possessing marijuana following accident in Le Roy

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

Gina Lee Colangelo, 22, of Main Street, Caledonia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and failure to keep right. Colangelo was allegedly the driver in an accident where her vehicle failed to remain in its own lane. Colangelo's vehicle was reportedly westbound on West Main Road, Le Roy, at 9:07 p.m. June 17 when it collided with a vehicle in the eastbound lane. In the course of the accident investigation, Deputy Joseph Graff allegedly found marijauna in Colangelo's vehicle.

Eric Joseph Smith, 29, of Gilbert Street, Le Roy, is charged with petit larceny. Smith is accused of stealing $107 in merchandise from Walmart.

A 16-year-old resident of Parsells Avenue, Rochester, is charged with petit larceny. The youth is accused of shoplifting from Walmart.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 11:30 pm

Serviceman returns from Middle East to big hometown welcome in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy

Le Roy resident Mike Risewick, returning from his second deployment to the Middle East, got a grand welcome home tonight, including a shuttle pick-up with friends and family at the Rochester Airport courtesy S&S Limousine. The Le Roy Fire Department provided a lights and siren escort from the I-490 into the village.

It's the kind of welcome, Risewick noted, that only happens in a small town. And only in a small town do friends and neighbors look out for the families of men and women deployed overseas.

"It's incredible," Risewick said of the welcome. "I certainly didn't expect it. It's easy for me to go do this, but all the time in the back of your mind, you're always worried about how the family back home is making out. Le Roy, the town, has just been great. The friends, all the carpooling rides, everybody coming together to make sure my wife and kids were taken care of. I couldn't ask for any more than that."

Risewick, who is with Bravo Company 6442 ASB (helicopter maintenance) has been in the military for 32 years, including three years active duty and the rest of the time attached to the National Guard. He was previously deployed to Iraq. This latest deployment -- which started in October with a trip to Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas -- was to Kuwait.

Risewick with wife Linda and sons Eric and Adam.

Sign outside Spirit's on Lake Street this evening.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Frost Ridge case attorneys wrangle with witnesses over what they knew and when they knew it

post by Howard B. Owens in business, frost ride, Le Roy, zoning

Marney Cleere, one of the co-plaintiffs in the pair of lawsuits filed against Frost Ridge over alleged zoning violations and live music at the venue, spent a lot of time on the witness stand today.

Cleere was called to testify in a hearing aimed at establishing when the statute of limitations' clock started ticking on a Le Roy Zoning of Board of Appeals determination that all activities at Frost Ridge are "grandfathered in," and whether that ZBA determination was made properly.

David Roach, the attorney Frost Ridge, and the campground's owners, Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell, called Cleere to try and establish what the Oatka Trails Road resident knew about the Sept. 25 ZBA decision and the day she knew it.

If she knew about it before April 8, it could mean there is evidence to establish that her and her co-plaintiffs did not file their complaint in a timely fashion. Depending on how Noonan interprets the law and case law, that could mean at least a portion of their suit against Frost Ridge could be thrown out of court.

Cleere testified today that she received a copy of the minutes from the Sept. 25, 2013 ZBA meeting on March 26, 2014.

Getting that admission from Cleere took dozens and dozens of questions from Roach and attorney Karl Essler, representing the ZBA, which is a co-defendant in the Cleere/Collins lawsuit.

Frost Ridge is also being sued by the Town of Le Roy.

Roach started his questioning by establishing that Cleere had an e-mail address with a username and password that only she could access.

He then showed her an e-mail from Patty Canfield, the Le Roy town clerk, to her e-mail address.  

Cleere never admitted to having previously seen the e-mail, but said she couldn't say that her e-mail account was hacked or that the e-mail could be fraudulent.

Once, when asked by Roach if the e-mail was sent to her, she responded: "It has my e-mail address on it, yes."

The e-mail is from early October.

It appears to have had three attachments (not included with the printed e-mail used as evidence). Those attachments were supposedly the ZBA minutes from June 11, July 23 and Aug. 27.

Roach quoted Canfield as writing, "I believe they will approve Sept. 25. minutes at next meeting."

Asked if the e-mail from Canfield was in response from Cleere for a copy of the Sept. 25 meeting minutes, Cleere said she would have to review her e-mails to answer the question.

She had no recollection of requesting those specific minutes from the town.

Later in her testimony, Cleere said she didn't request them until March because she didn't know that the minutes existed nor that Frost Ridge was discussed at the Sept. 25 ZBA meeting. Her request was prompted by communications with attorneys from both sides of the dispute, according to her testimony.

Asked several times in different ways if she took any action between October and March to obtain a copy of the Sept. 25 meeting minutes, Cleere responded, "I didn't know of that meeting, so what would have caused me to request those minutes?"

She obtained the copy of the Sept. 25 minutes from Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Steinbrenner, who, according to testimony by himself and other prior witnesses, kept all the minutes in a file in his office.

Cleere also testified -- while being questioned by her attorney Mindy Zoghlin -- that she became angry when she learned about the Sept. 25 meeting in March.

"Obviously, we were furious that we weren't made aware of this meeting," Cleere said. "We didn't understand why we weren't made aware of this, why it took six months."

Cleere said the package of material she received from Steinbrenner contained no application from Frost Ridge, no supporting documents and no notice of public hearing.

Part of what Zoghlin is trying to establish is that the ZBA's determination lacked jurisdictional validity. 

If she can show that the ZBA acted outside the scope of the law, the Sept. 25 determination would be meaningless and, potentially, the statute of limitations question becomes moot.

Zoghlin spent a lot of time today questioning David Luetticke-Archbell about his interpretation of communications from the town, what they meant, what he understood and what he believed, all in an effort to draw a distinction between the campsite zoning issues at Frost Ridge and the issue of live music.

Zoghlin argued that the zoning issues and the music issue are completely separate issues. The zoning issues, according to her, require a zoning variance, while the live music issue requires an area variance, a use variance or a special-use permit.  

If the ZBA wasn't considering live music at its Sept. 25 meeting (and Board Chair Debbie Jackett testified clearly that it did), then the ZBA determination is reduced to only a consideration of campsite placement and use.

As Zoghlin repeatedly asked questions to try and get Luetticke-Archbell to discuss these topics as separate issues, often with objections from Roach, the parade of objections eventually flared up, resulting in both attorneys making lengthy arguments to Noonan about why, or why not, the line of questioning was relevant.

"We can't just pull out of thin air the separation of the two issues because the record already states they're one issue," Roach said.

"The record" being a reference to a couple of documents already in evidence, including a letter from Steinbrenner to Frost Ridge that treats live music as just one in many alleged zoning violations.

"The communication that triggered the ZBA hearing didn't come directly from code enforcement (a reference to a supposed copy-and-paste by Steinbrenner of a message from Town Supervisor Steve Barbeau)," Zoghlin said. "That communication, while inartfully drawn, had the effect of mixing up and confusing two issues. ... 

"When we get to the jurisdictional issue," Zoghlin continued a statement or two later, "NYS town law and Town of Le Roy zoning code requires an application so we can avoid this kind of problem, so when the ZBA considers something, they have some type of idea exactly what they are being asked to rule on.

"There's no application here," she said. "To say the documents speak for themselves doesn't really help. To compound the problem, nothing was published anywhere so that anybody in town had any inkling the ZBA might consider a determination. The entire procedure is flawed from beginning to end so that it doesn't determine anything. I don't understand the thought process that says they're not asking for two things that are totally different in a way that makes any sense."

Noonan overruled Roach's objection, but also expressed skepticism about Zoghlin's line of questioning. 

"Maybe I'm missing something," Noonan said. "I realize zoning is a highly technical issue conducted by lay people who sometimes make mistakes in the process, but I don't see how going through the thought process of people gives us any enlightenment that will help me to decide this case when the case is based on documents."

With the hearing completed today, now we wait.

The attorneys will draft memos of facts and case law for Noonan to consider prior to issuing his ruling. Those documents are due Sept. 29. Noonan didn't indicate how long it would be after that before he issues a ruling on these motions.

Without a complete dismissal of the case, there will be more court appearances before the lawsuits are decided.

In the meantime, the Marshall Tucker Band is scheduled to play The Ridge on Sept. 6.

Noonan continued his order lifting the ban on live music at Frost Ridge, which allows the Sept. 6 concert to go forward as planned.

Two shows that were previously postponed because of the restraining order. John Michael Montgomery and Jason Michael Carroll have been rescheduled to dates near the end of October. The fate of those shows may depend on the status of the legal case at that time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 9:39 am

Big rig wreck in Le Roy, wires down, roadway blocked

post by Billie Owens in accidents, Le Roy

A tractor-trailer accident is reported at 8745 Lake Street Road in Le Roy, in front of Dr. Vladimir Gaspar's office. It is blocking the roadway and several wires were pulled down. Le Roy fire and medics are responding. National Grid has been advised, no ETA given.

UPDATE 10:53 a.m.: The Le Roy assignment is back in service.

UPDATE: Both doctor Gaspar's office and Urgent Care will beclosed for the remainer of the day so repairs can be completed of the damaged electrical lines.

Monday, August 25, 2014 at 11:39 am

Law and Order: Man accused of stealing knife at Walmart, using it as tool to steal other stuff

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, alexander, crime, Darien, Le Roy

Christopher James Clark, 34, of Pearl Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Clark allegedly stole a knife at Walmart and then while inside the store allegedly used it to try and open packages containing drill bits. He tried to abandon the alleged stolen property under the vehicle in the parking lot when police arrived.

Carrie M. Capizzi, 30, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with felony DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, driving without an interlock device and open container. Capizzi was stopped at 10:01 p.m. Thursday at 12 City Centre, Batavia, by Officer Chad Richards.

Kathleen E. Gonzalez, 52, of West Main Street Road, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Gonzalez is accused of stealing three packages of steak from Save-A-Lot in Batavia.

Lizbet D. Cramer, 37, of Lewis Place, Batavia, is charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Cramer allegedly left her 4- and her 15-year-olds unattended. The 4-year-old was allegedly abandoned at Austin Park for at least one hour before police were notified.

DaShawn A. Butler, 34, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Butler allegedly issued a verbal threat of harm to another person.

Brandon N. Benz, 19, of Clinton Street, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and forcible touching. Benz allegedly had inappropriate contact with a person under age 17 while at a playground at Jackson School at 4:33 p.m. on Aug. 11.

Nefetiria L. Turner, 32, of South Main Street, Batavia, was arrested on three warrants for alleged failure to appear on charges of unreasonable noise charge, aggravated unlicensed operation and harassment, 2nd. Turner posted cash bail and was released.

Deavin Herman, 20, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Herman allegedly stole a bicycle from a location on Walnut Street.

Shane Zimblis, 43, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Zimblis was allegedly found in possession of marijuana during a warrant arrest.

Scott Allen Cratsley, 43, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with dog running at large. Cratsley's dog was allegedly seen running at large by Officer James Defreze and Sgt. Dan Coffey. That breed of dog, a St. Bernard, has allegedly been seen running at large several times previously.

Alexander L. Jordan, 19, of Pine Terrace, Macedon, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a third-degree menacing charge. Jordan posted $500 police bail and was released.

Michael S. Garrett, 23, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, turned himself in on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a parking on city streets ticket issued March 18.

Forrest Ansel, 24, of Cone Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny and criminal contempt. Ansel allegedly went to the residence of a protected person. He allegedly stole property of that person.

Lawrence William Worsley, 34, of Presbyterian Street, Knowlesville, is charged with disorderly conduct. Worsley allegedly became verbally and physically abusive while at the Viper ride at Darien Lake Theme Park at 6:20 p.m., Sunday.

Jared Lewis Long, 44, of Clinton Street Road, Stafford, is charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Long allegedly took the Chevrolet Equinox of his girlfriend without her permission. The vehicle was returned to the residence and Long was ordered to stay away from the residence. He was later found by Sheriff's K-9 in a field behind the residence. 

Jessica Lynn Hill, 29, of Leonard Street, Mattydale, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to yield right of way and license restriction violation. Hill was stopped at 10:45 p.m. Thursday on West Main Road, Batavia, by Deputy James Diehl.

William Allen Roll, 54, of Clinton Street, Attica, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Roll allegedly punched another person in the face at 3:54 a.m. Saturday while at an apartment on West Main Street Road, Batavia. Roll was jailed on $500 bail.

Karen A. Lemaster, 54, of Batavia, is charged with driving while impaired by drugs, 1st. Lemaster was stopped at 4:30 p.m. Saturday on Ohio Street, Village of Medina, by State Police.

Rhonda L. Reisman, 42, of Batavia, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or higher. Reisman was stopped at 2:35 a.m. Sunday on Route 33, Stafford, by State Police.

Brian C. Reynolds, 33, of Rochester, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Reynolds was stopped at 11:32 p.m. Thursday on Route 20, Alexander, by State Police.

Erica A. Cook, 26, of Webster, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Cook was stopped at 11:45 p.m. Thursday on Route 20, Alexander, by State Police.

Zachary W. Plath, 21, of Le Roy, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08. Plath was stopped at 12:20 a.m. Friday on Route 20, Alexander, by State Police.

Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Phil Vassar: Happy to be back at Frost Ridge to play music and have fun with friends

post by Howard B. Owens in entertainment, Frost Ridge, Le Roy, music, Phil Vassar

He said it last year. Frost Ridge is a special place. Phil Vassar, a singer-songwriter with more than 10 Top 10 hits to his credit, said it again this year.

"It's very homey," Vassar said in an interview before his show Saturday night. "Everybody is so nice. You're just hanging out. We talk, even during the year, we look forward to seeing you guys come back, we talk and text each other. So it's fun. You get to hang out with your friends and play music.  There's nothing better than that. It's not like going to some venue where you just go in. It's got real character and real people. I love it."

Vassar loves it so much, he asked to come back this year.

Just a month ago, it didn't seem like Vassar's show this year would even be possible. Frost Ridge was locked down as a live music venue by a court order stemming from lawsuits filed by the Town of Le Roy and a pair of neighboring property owners.

As the lawsuits wind through the hearing process, taking longer than expected, Judge Robert C. Noonan lifted his ban on live music for a show last week and Saturday's Vassar concert.

The suits allege live music isn't allowed at the campground -- and even question the legality of the campsites themselves, while owners Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell and their lawyer contend that all of the current activities are grandfathered in, or are "prior, nonconforming uses."

Vassar takes a pretty straightforward view for the lawsuits, calling the controversy, "very silly."

"You have a lot of people who really want something and just a small number of people who don't," Vassar said. "I don't know about government, but it seems like to me it's by the people, for the people, all right. It's pretty simple. It seems like if you've got a majority who want something and it's a great thing. I don't understand it.  

"It's not like it's an every night deal," Vassar added. "It's a real special place. It's a special place to play music. You just kind of hope that everybody just kind of lets it go and has some fun. You know, people are stiff. I hate it. I hate it. I'm over it. People just need to get a life."

Through three sets of music -- the Kentucky Moonshiners, the Morgan Twins and Vassar -- several hundred music fans did have a life. And it was a party, especially with Vassar on stage making sure everybody had a good time.

The Morgan Twins are from Rochester and have appeared on such shows as The Voice and American Idol.

While Vassar was still on stage performing, a check of the sound level at Oatka Trail and Conlon Road, near the homes of plaintiffs -- the Cleere and Collins families -- found that once again, the crickets were louder than the music.

The next scheduled show at The Ridge, if it's allowed to proceed, is the Marshall Tucker Band, Sept. 6.

A fan brought in a homemade cake during the meet and greet with VIP patrons before the show.

Bottom photo: by Peggy Barringer. David, in red, and Greg, joined Vasar, along with the Morgan Twins, on stage for the show's final number, a sing-along of "Piano Man."

Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 10:22 am

Man already charged with criminal sexual act accused of raping another woman

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy
Michael Stack

A Le Roy resident already facing a felony charge for allegedly forcing a sexual act on a woman who was physically helpless has been arrested on a rape charge involving another woman.

Michael J. Stack Jr., 37, of 7450 Randall Road, was arrested by Le Roy PD and charged with first-degree rape.

Stack was arrested July 23 and charged with criminal sexual act, 1st, for allegedly having oral sex with a victim by forcible compulsion while the woman was physically helpless.

After the investigation into that allegation, another woman came forward and said she was raped.

Stack was jailed on new charge on $10,000 bail.

Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Hearing on motions in Frost Ridge case will determine fate of lawsuits, and campground

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Frost Ridge, Le Roy

Two witnesses in a hearing related to the Frost Ridge lawsuits testified today that a key document was filed with the Town of Le Roy months before an April 8 statute of limitations date that is part of the dispute over live music at the campground.

It's all more complicated than even that convoluted sentence, however.

The hearing wasn't even completed today. Judge Robert C. Noonan was scheduled to hear a case in Rochester at 2 p.m. and with at least one more witness scheduled to be called, continued the hearing to 10:15 a.m., Tuesday.

Before adjourning, Noonan continued the stay of his temporary restraining order barring live music at Frost Ridge, which means that the Phil Vassar concert scheduled for Saturday will go on as planned.

The concert is a fundraiser for the Golisano Children's Hospital.

Vassar has said Frost Ridge is one of his favorite places to play and asked to be included in this season's line-up.

The hearing was limited to two motions under consideration by Noonan: 

  • Whether the statute of limitations for challenging a ZBA determination that nonconforming uses at Frost Ridge, contrary to current zoning law, were "grandfathered in," and,
  • Whether there is what is known as a "jurisdictional defect" in the ZBA's determination.

The key document relevant to the statute of limitations motions is the Zoning Board of Appeals minutes from its Sept. 25, 2013 meeting.

At dispute is whether the minutes were filed with the town before April 8. 

If the minutes were filed before April 8, that would mean one of both lawsuits were filed after the statutory period for challenging a zoning board's determinations.

But, did the ZBA under the circumstances of Sept. 25 have the authority to make that determination, which is something the attorney for the Cleere/Collins side of the suit is challenging.

Noonan's eventual ruling on these motions could either allow one or both lawsuits against Frost Ridge to go forward, and perhaps to trial, or determine whether one or both will be dismissed. 

Frost Ridge and the campground's owners Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell are being sued by the Town of Le Roy and Frost Ridge neighbors, the families of Cleere and Collins (who are related to the original Frost Ridge owners). Cleere/Collins is also suing the ZBA.

First to testify was Town Clerk Patricia Canfield.

There is much about when the minutes were first publicly available that Canfield can't remember.

She testified that as standard and permissible procedure, the ZBA minutes are kept in a file in the office of Jeff Steinbrenner, zoning and code enforcement officer for the Town of Le Roy.

She couldn't recall with certainty when she first had reason to retrieve the Sept. 25 minutes from the file, but said they were requested more than once through various Freedom of Information Requests, including requests by Marny Cleere.

Canfield said Cleere filed more than five FOIL requests, but not more than 10, and she couldn't remember if the one requesting ZBA minutes came in 2013 or 2014.

She couldn't remember if any of the other FOIL requests for the minutes came in 2013.

Under questioning from Noonan, Canfield said most FOIL requests are written, though she accepts verbal requests. Written requests are kept on file, she said, but there was no indication that any written FOIL requests were in court today.

As for the ZBA hearing itself, Canfield testified that if there was a public notice published of a meeting to discuss Frost Ridge's non-conforming use, she would have known about it, and she said she was unaware of any such publication.

David Roach, the Frost Ridge attorney, also called Steinbrenner as an "adverse witness."

Steinbrenner was also questioned by attorney Karl Essler, representing the ZBA.

Under questioning from Essler, Steinbrenner said that once the minutes from a meeting were approved at a subsequent meeting, he would place those minutes in his file.

He agreed that the Sept. 25 minutes were approved by the ZBA board at its Oct. 22 meeting and that he probably filed the minutes that night or the next morning.

As for the meaning of the minutes, Steinbrenner danced around the issue, often skirting direct questions.

He said he didn't recall live music being discussed as a prior nonconforming use at the Sept. 25 meeting.

Roach and Steinbrenner wrangled over the course of several questions whether an e-mail Steinbrenner sent to Frost Ridge in August 2013 was meant to put them on notice that a long list of alleged zoning violations included live music.

Mindy Zoghlin, attorney for Cleere Collins, when cross-examining Steinbrenner, read off a list of alleged zoning violations related to roadways and the placement and setbacks of campsites. 

While never explicitly stated, the clear implication of the line of questioning is an attempt by the plaintiff's side to establish that the ZBA ruling, if valid, was limited to land use issues and the ZBA didn't at all consider, nor was it asked to consider, whether live music is grandfathered in.

"When we first started with Frost Ridge about this, we saw two aspects to it," Steinbrenner said. "There was a need for special use permit for the campsites and one for concerts. At the time, we decided to go after the campground sites at Frost Ridge and the go after the concerts once they were up to compliance and in code."

Steinbrenner's August e-mail twice uses the word "etc." when referring to the alleged zoning violations.

When Roach would ask in various ways whether "etc." includes live music, Steinbrenner repeatedly deflected the question by staying he was merely forwarding what Town Supervisor Steve Barbeau had said was discussed at a prior town board meeting (which Steinbrenner didn't attend).

Under questioning from Roach, Steinbrenner admitted that he had verbally told David and Greg that live music shows were a possible zoning violation.

The third and final person to testify today was Debra Jackett, chairwoman of the ZBA.

Jackett testified that the board approved its minutes from the Sept. 25 meeting at its Oct. 22 meeting and that Steinbrenner received a copy of the minutes at that time, and she considered them filed with the town at that time.

Zoghlin asked several questions related to public notification of hearings and filing of notices and Jackett answered each time that it wasn't the board's job to deal with notices and outside communications.

"Our only job is to show up at meetings and make decisions," she said.

Over the repeated objections of Roach (each overruled by Noonan), Zoghlin kept asking about what happened at a ZBA meeting in 1998. 

Jackett was a member of the board in 1998, when the ZBA issued a determination that Frost Ridge was grandfathered in as a campground, even though it was an agriculture/residential area.

The meeting was 16 years ago, Jackett said, and she couldn't remember specifics about the meeting, but Zoghlin persisted.

"If you're going to ask me what I said 16 years ago, I'm going to tell you, I don't recall," Jackett said at one point.

Roach objected to the line of questioning because it's his contention that what happened at the meeting in 1998 isn't material to the plaintiff's motion that the ZBA decision of 2013 suffers from a "jurisdictional defect."

Another ZBA board member is expected to testify Tuesday. Noonan's ruling on the motions will come some time later.

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