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Will Tackaberry explains Honor Flights to Rotary

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Each flight costs $75,000

On February 21, Will Tackaberry from the Litchfield Rotary came down and spoke to the the Benld Area Rotary about the Land of Lincoln Honor Flights for veterans. It was a regular scheduled luncheon as the retired military serviceman delighted the Rotarians.

Tackaberry began his 37 year military career in the Navy in 1948 and he retired from the Air Force in 1985. He serves as a radar specialist in the Navy, and as a combat air crewman and a full-time technician with the Missouri Air National Guard.

He now works as a volunteer for several organizations and assists veterans in the Litchfield, IL area. He is on the Board of Directors for the Area Agency on Aging and a delegate for the Veterans Assistance Commission, as well as the coordinator in Montgomery County for the Land of Lincoln Honor Flights.

“We watched the Russian submarines,” Will explained, “They were cracking all of our ships and we let them know we knew they were there. They weren’t invisible!” Right now, Will is working on a website where heroic stories of United State Military Veterans are featured. You can access the site by clicking here.

The site features the Veteran’s stories. The stories come from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War while pictures are featured of the war service and any other awards or medals that the veteran wants. “It is a really interesting program,” Will noted, “We will be going on PBS in a couple weeks and be filmed as Illinois Stories.”

According to Will, most of the veterans do not like telling their story or opening up to anyone. It is different with the site though. He went on to say that the veterans feel more open in describing what they experienced and their stories. “They look great on the site.”

About four years ago, a hub was formed around our whole area for Honor Flights. “The purpose of the Honor Flight is to give our World War II Veterans a trip to go to Washington to see the monument,” Will explained, “Most of the guys have never seen the dedication, but we give them the chance to see the memorial along with the Korean War and all the other memorials in Washington D.C.”

The veterans do not pay a penny as it cost the program $400 per veteran to experience the trip. The guardians, which go with the veteran are never an arm’s length away from them, have to pay the $400 to go with the veteran after the undergo an application process. The guardian has to undergo training to go on the flight, so they know how to “take first class care of the veterans.” The veterans are getting old and have to have constant care. Oxygen tanks and wheelchairs are always needed as a nurse goes on every flight.

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The day starts out at 5:30 in the morning when the flight takes off from Capitol Airport in Springfield. They fly directly to Washington and the tour buses are there waiting for them. All the meals, refreshments, tours, and flights are free. The tour buses take them to all the different memorials throughout the day and if it is raining, they go to the space museum.

The first stop in Washington is usually the World War II memorial and then they move to the Korean War memorial. Finally, they go the Vietnam memorial. “The funds come from organizations that raise money for us,” Will explained, “It cost us $75,000 to take one flight up there. Sixty to seventy veterans are present along with sixty to seventy guardians.” A lot of the veteran organizations donate too, according to Tackaberry.

The big event is coming home as the trip is just a one day trip. About halfway back on the aircraft, each veteran is handed a “mail call.” Schools send letters and grandchildren send the veterans letters. All the letters are kept in Springfield and sorted into bags for each veteran. The bags of mail are handed out to the veteran halfway home so they can read through them before landing in Springfield.

“The other highlight is the arrival in Springfield Capitol Airport,” Will noted, “They get one heck of a reception.” Military color-guards, bands, school children, and family are waiting for the veterans to enter the airport. They make one big aisle for the veterans to walk through. “The reception is outstanding,” Will went on to say, “Most of these veterans did not get a good homecoming.” Some of the fellows that were in WWII hardly got a parade or anything, so this makes up for what they missed out on.

Will is looking forward to when they start taking the Vietnam veterans and seeing their arrival home. He went on to say they are taking all the WWII veterans first, then the Korean veterans, and finally the Vietnam veterans. “The Vietnam veterans should go this summer,” Will explained, “They never got a welcome home and we will see that they get a good welcome home.”

The Honor Flight is going to start taking Korean veterans in May of 2012 and the Vietnam veterans should go this summer. The flight in April is all World War II veterans.

 

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Benld City Council approves $1.5 million appropriations ordinance

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City resident Ben Marcacci appeared briefly before the council to propose a program to install public art pieces along the Benld-Gillespie Bike Trail.

The Benld City Council on Monday night approved a $2.2 million appropriations ordinance governing municipal spending for the current fiscal year. Council members also approved a previously tabled business license for a tax preparation service, agreed to advertise for bids for grading work at the new Benld Sports and Recreation Park, and approved a long-delayed lease for the Benld Post Office during the panel’s regular monthly meeting at city hall.

Though required by law, the appropriations ordinance is not a budgetary device. It sets spending limits for various line items for the fiscal year. In practice, most municipalities spend less than the amounts appropriated.

The appropriation approved Monday night includes $639,390.25 in proprietary funds (sewer and water funds, Motor Fuel Tax funds, and other funds that can be spent only for the purposes for which they were collected) and $1,514,612 in general funds, for a total appropriation of $2,153,002.25. The newly approved appropriation ordinance is $140,571 less than last year’s ordinance.

The $638,390.25 appropriated for proprietary expenditures compares with $1,018,820 appropriated last year. The new ordinance appropriates $165,315.50 for Sewer Department expenditures, compared with $382,320 last year, which included funding to complete the city’s sewer improvement project. A total of $318,074.75 is appropriated for the Water Department, compared with $501,500 last year. A total of $155,000 is appropriated for trash pick-up, compared with $135,000 last year. Motor Fuel Tax expenditures are capped at $111,000, compared with $105,000 last year.

The appropriation for General Funds, breaks down as follows: $272,060 for Police Protection, compared with $257,260 last year; $271,457.50 for Maintenance, compared with $171,075 last year; $208,394 for City Property, compared with $144,059 a year ago;  $41,891 for Administration, compared with $36,300 last year; $35,000 for legal fees, which is unchanged from last year; $17,450 for the city’s annual audit, compared with $15,900 last year; and $1,500 for the city cemetery, compared with $1,400 last year. The ordinance appropriates $1,200 for unemployment insurance, $7,859 for city parks, $3,500 for the public library, and $1,500 for the municipal band, all of which are unchanged from last year.

The appropriation also caps expenditures at $650,000 for development of a new sports complex on the former site of Benld Elementary School. The amount represents proceeds of an Open Spaces Land Acquisition and Development grant administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The new ordinance was unanimously approved on a motion by Finance Chair Jerry Saracco, seconded by Ald. Dustin Fletcher.

TAX PREPARATION BUSINESS LICENSE

After tabling action last month, the council voted 4-1 to approve a business license application of Ed Rieffer, who said he planned to open a tax preparation service at 207 East Central Avenue. The council tabled the issue last month because Rieffer was not present to address questions the council had about the nature of his planned business. Rieffer’s application identified the business, called Fast Cash Now, as “taxes and loans.” Council members deferred action out of concerns that Rieffer planned to open a pawn shop or pay-day loan business.

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Appearing before the council Monday night, Rieffer said he is a licensed tax preparer and planned to operate a tax preparation service at the address. He added that he “might” buy and sell real estate, using the storefront as a base of operation, and confirmed that one of his primary reasons for establishing a business is to facilitate renovating and renting three apartments in the building. City ordinance requires an operating business on the ground floor for any building on Central Avenue renting second floor apartments.

City Attorney Rick Verticchio initially recommended approving the business license.

“We told him before that we didn’t know what kind of business he wanted to start,” Verticchio said. “He’s told us that now. He’s going to prepare taxes and possibly buy and sell real estate.”

Rieffer told the council he bought the building for $5,000 and intends to renovate the structure to serve as an office and rental property. The building currently has broken windows and a frequently unsecured back door, all of which Rieffer said he planned to address contingent of the council’s approval of his business license. He said he wanted to do something downtown because “Benld is basically a ghost town.”

“If this town is a ghost town, why do you want to open a business here?” Ald. John Balzraine asked.

Rieffer said he wanted to do something to help “build up” the community. He said he plans to make his swimming pool installation business a part-time concern in order to devote full-time to the tax preparation service.

City Attorney Rick Verticchio asked if Rieffer plans to have the business open throughout the year, or if it will be open only during tax season. Rieffer said the tax preparation license requires him to be open a minimum number of hours per year. He produced a tax preparer’s license that he secured through Jackson Hewitt for the 2022 tax season. Under questioning by Verticchio he acknowledged he does not have a current license, nor is he licensed to buy and sell real estate. Rieffer said, however, that he plans to obtain both certificates before opening.

“You came to this council and told them you’re certified,” Verticchio said. ‘Then you tell us you didn’t renew your certification last year. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for the council to ask you to show them that you’re certified to do taxes now.”

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“I don’t see why he has to have a license right now for us to approve a business license,” Ald. Fletcher commented. He said the city’s ordinances would empower the city to inspect the building and apartments, and to revoke the business license if Rieffer fails to meet his commitment to the city.

“I think we should table this until he actually has his tax license or real estate license,” Ald. Saracco indicated.

“I’m not going to spend more money on the building without approval,” Rieffer responded. “I’m not going to start work until I get approval. I’ll cut the grass and board up the windows, and let it rot.”

Ultimately, the council approved the business license contingent upon Rieffer securing a license to prepare taxes and subject to city inspection of the premises in compliance with city ordinances. Council members voted 4-1 to approve the business license with Ald. Balzraine voting “no.”

“I want to tell you why I’m voting ’no’,” Balzraine told Rieffer. “I don’t trust you, pure and simple.”

GRADING BIDS

On a motion by Ald. Fletcher, the council voted unanimously to advertise for bids for grading work at the new Benld Sports and Recreation Complex on the former site of Benld Elementary School. The action is contingent upon the city engineer delivering drawings and bidding specifications for the project within the next two weeks.

Mayor Jim Kelly said HMG Engineers were working on plans to minimize the amount of grading and excavation needed to prepare the site for ball fields and other amenities. In the meantime, he said two bids have been received for playground equipment, both of which are less than the engineer’s estimate.

POST OFFICE LEASE

By a unanimous vote, the council agreed to enter into an agreement to lease a building on East Central Avenue to the U.S. Postal Service.

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The lease had been in limbo for several months as City Attorney Verticchio negotiated with the Postal Service to reach the final terms. A major sticking point was a provision carried over from the previous lease requiring the city to provide snow removal service, although the city never fulfilled that aspect of the previous contract.

The new five-year lease retains the snow removal provision and will start Oct. 1, 2025. Under the currently lease, the city receives $3,300 annually. Under the new lease, the city will net $4,794 after paying the Postal Service’s lease broker’s fee.

PUBLIC ART PROPOSAL

City resident Ben Marcacci appeared briefly before the council to propose a program to install public art pieces along the Benld-Gillespie Bike Trail, creating an “art trail” people can experience on bike or by walking. Marcacci, who creates art himself in his Benld-based studio, said he spoke with Rick Spencer, who teaches welding at Gillespie High School, and that Spencer expressed interest in involving students in the project.

Marcacci said he has traveled extensively in connection with his job to 87 countries and countless small communities, many of which turned to art to attract visitors and enhance the quality of life for local residents.

“What brings people in is art,” he said. He cited Casey as an example of a small community uniting to create public art pieces to attract visitors. Casey gained notoriety as the home of the “world’s largest” wind chimes, world’s largest golf tee, world’s large mailbox and other “world’s largest” attractions. “Casey is two miles off the interstate, we’re three,” Marcacci said.

Ald. Balzraine expressed concerns about vandalism.

“That would be taken into consideration,” Marcacci said, adding that the sculptures he makes are made from quarter-inch steel. “I’d be more concerned about people climbing on them.”

Marcacci said the council would have approval of subject matter for all the sculptures. Additionally, he pointed out other communities have had success with public art projects ranging from murals to sculpture parks or art trails.

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“Other people are doing this, guys,” he told the council.

PUBLIC NUISANCES

Following a 20-minute executive session, the council took action to declare as public nuisances properties located at 200, 209 and 211 East Central Avenue. In a separate action, the council voted to declare 215 East Central Avenue a public nuisance, and tabled consideration of acquiring the property.

BUILDING INSPECTOR SALARY

Voting 4-1, the council approved a measure to increase the building inspector’s compensation from $40 per inspection to $55. Ald. Saracco cast the sole negative vote, later explaining he had concerns about the number of inspections performed.

Mayor Kelly asked aldermen to make a list of properties in need of inspection and turning it over to the building inspector.

“That was my concern,” Saracco said. “That’s why I voted ’no’.”

OTHER ACTION

  • Set a special meeting for 3 p.m., Monday, June 24, to discuss possible uses for the city’s $51,000 share of a multi-community Climate and Equitable Jobs Act grant administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
  • Thanked the Italian Club for purchasing a new stove for the city park pavilion.
  • Approved purchase of $5,559.60 in materials for the Maintenance Department.

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Gillespie Police Report: June 9-15, 2024

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SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2024

An officer was dispatched to Gillespie Police Department to speak with a couple in reference to a civil issue.

An officer was dispatched to Gillespie Police Department and spoke with a female in reference to a civil issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of East Elm Street in reference to criminal trespassing to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Easton Street in reference to a theft.

An officer was dispatched to First Street in Gillespie in reference to a noise complaint.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of South Street in reference to a well-being check.

An officer was to the 300 block of East Chestnut Street in reference to reckless driving.

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An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of South Main Street in reference to a dog at large.

An officer was dispatched to the 10,000 Louis Lane at Gillespie Lake in reference to a 911 call.

An officer was dispatched to the 900 block of First Street in reference to a noise complaint.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of Montgomery Street in reference to a domestic disturbance.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Dorsey Road in Mt. Clare in reference to a suspicious circumstance.

MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of West Oak Street in reference to a theft.

An officer was dispatched to Welfare Park in reference to a suspicious vehicle.

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An officer was out in the 300 block of North Macoupin Street in reference to a well-being check.

An officer was dispatched to Macoupin Street and Walnut Street in reference to a suspicious male.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to a civil issue.

An officer met with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference toa theft in the 200 block of West Oak Street.

TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Easton Street in reference to criminal damage to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of North 6th Street in Benld in reference to a burglary.  John A. Crisel, 62, of Benld was arrested for burglary.

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 400 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to discovered property.

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An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of Burton Street in reference to a well-being check.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to harassment by telephone.

An officer was out with a male in the 100 block of North Macoupin Street in reference to a well-being check.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of East Walnut Street in reference to a dog at large.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of Park Avenue in reference to found property,

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of Park Street in Benld in reference to a medical assist.

An officer was dispatched to the 1000 block of South Madison Street in reference to an ordinance issue of trash accumulation.

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An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of East Elm Street in reference to a dog at large.

An officer was dispatched to Gillespie Police Department to speak with a female in reference to identity theft.

An officer was dispatched to Gillespie Police Department to speak with a male in reference to a child custody issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of West Wilson Street in reference to an alarm sounding.

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Springfield Road and Illinois Avenue in East Gillespie. A 16-year-old female from Benld was issued citations for speeding and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of Henry Street in reference to a reckless driving complaint.

An officer was dispatched to Route 4 and Dorsey Street in Benld in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Chestnut Street in reference to an alarm sounding.

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An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to a 911 call.

THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 2024

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 200 block of Southern Street in reference to a burglar alarm sounding.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Baker Street in reference to illegal burning.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of North 6th Street in Benld in reference to a well-being check.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Baker Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was out at 4th Street and Hickory Street in Benld in reference to unwanted solicitors.

An officer was out in the 100 block of East Wilson Street in reference to a camper parked on the sidewalk.

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An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of North 4th Street and the 200 block of East Locust Street in Benld in reference to a 911 call.

An officer was dispatched to Route 4 and Staunton Road in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to Adams Street and Virginia Street in East Gillespie in reference to a medical assist.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of East Walnut Street in Benld in reference to juvenile issues.

FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of Richard Street in reference to a domestic dispute and criminal trespass.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to a well-being check.

An officer on normal patrol in the 400 block of Charles Street found a car door open.

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An officer was dispatched to Gillespie Police Department to speak with a female in reference to fraud.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of North Hard Road in Benld in reference to theft of a motor vehicle.

An officer was dispatched to the 1000 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to criminal damage to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of West Charles Street in reference to a security check.

An officer was dispatched to Oregon Street and Broadway Street in reference to an item falling out of a truck onto the roadway.

An officer was dispatched to Gillespie Police Department to speak with a male in reference to a child custody issue.

An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a burglary in the 100 block of East Dorsey Street in Mt. Clare.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Gillespie Street in reference to criminal damage to property.

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An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to a well-being check.

SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2024

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Broadway Street and LJ Avenue. Evan T. Webb, 19, of Benld was issued citations for improper use of evidence of registration, no valid registration, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, and possession of cannabis in a motor vehicle.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of South Illinois Street in Benld in reference to a domestic dispute. Josh N. Danis, 39, of Benld was arrested for resisting or obstructing a police officer.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of South Main Street in Benld in reference to criminal trespass.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of Broadway Street in reference to harassment and neighbor dispute.

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Hard Road and Mt. Clare Drive in Mt. Clare. Jessica J. Woyan, 34, of Bunker Hill was arrested for improper use of registration, no valid driver’s license, and expired registration.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of South Street in reference to a suspicious person.

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An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of West Baker Street in reference to an ordinance issue of illegal burning.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of West Hickory in Benld in reference to a well-being check.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of East Elm Street in reference to a 911 call.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of Broadway Street in reference to a noise complaint.

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 900 block of North Hard Road in Mt. Clare in reference to a medical assist.

An officer was dispatched to the 900 block of First Street in reference to a noise complaint.

All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Macoupin County man arrested on child pornography charges

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Attorney General Kwame Raoul charged a Macoupin County man with dissemination and possession of child pornography. The case is part of Raoul’s ongoing work, in collaboration with federal law enforcement agencies and local law enforcement officials throughout Illinois, to apprehend offenders who download and trade child pornography online.

The Attorney General’s office charged David Crane, 34 of Brighton, in Macoupin County Circuit Court with one count of dissemination of child pornography of a victim under 13 years old, a Class X felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison; and 10 counts of possession of child pornography, Class 2 felonies, each count punishable by up to seven years in prison. Sentences must be served consecutively and are ultimately determined by the court. Crane is currently detained at the Macoupin County Jail. His next court appearance is July 9.

“Children who survive exploitation can face a lifetime of trauma, which is why we must help them receive justice by holding the offenders who commit these horrific crimes accountable,” Raoul said. “I will continue to work with state and local authorities to ensure these individuals are unable to victimize other innocent children.”

Raoul’s investigators, along with officers from the Brighton Police Department, Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office and the Illinois State Police (ISP) South Central Illinois Drug Task Force conducted a search of Crane’s residence in the 600 block of Brown Street in Brighton on June 13. Crane was arrested when investigators discovered evidence of child pornography.

“Illinois State Police special agents continuously investigate cases where there is evidence of child sexual abuse, and we will do everything in our power to arrest predators and protect our children and youth,” said ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly.

Raoul’s office is co-prosecuting this case with the Macoupin County State’s Attorney’s office.

The public is reminded that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Raoul’s office, with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, runs the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force that investigates child exploitation crimes and trains law enforcement agencies. The task force receives CyberTips, or online reports of child pornography, from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Over the last several years, CyberTipline reports have steadily increased. In 2023, reports to the ICAC increased by 46% over 2022.

Illinois’ ICAC Task Force is one of 61 ICAC task forces throughout the country and is comprised of a network of more than 185 local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Since 2019, the Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force has received more than 46,150 CyberTips and has been involved in more than 755 arrests of sexual predators. Since 2006, the Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force has been involved in more than 2,145 arrests of sexual predators. The task force also has provided internet safety training and education to tens of thousands of parents, teachers, students and law enforcement professionals.

Attorney General Raoul is reminding the public that child sexual exploitation can be reported online at cybertipline.com and child abuse at dcfsonlinereporting.dcfs.illinois.gov. In addition, local child advocacy centers can be found at childrensadvocacycentersofillinois.org.

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Assistant Attorney General Jenifer Peck is prosecuting the case for Raoul’s High Tech Crimes Bureau.

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