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Look For Our BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL SPECIAL In The August 4th Issue Of The County Transcript

Issue Home July 20, 2004 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago
Along the Way...With P. Jay

From the Desk of the DA
Earth Talk

Slices of Life

And Yet Again

The raspberries are picked once more, and just in time. It’s raining again. Now don’t get me wrong. I like rain. It has lots of advantages, such as forcing me in from yard work, which I don’t want to do in the first place. It cools us down when the temperature hits triple digits. It keeps the lawns green and full; the garden watered. But this rain today has been ridiculous.

I headed down the street with the sun shining. I hadn’t gotten a quarter of a block when it began to pour. Luckily I’d seen that a few times already this morning, so I had taken an umbrella. It wasn’t much as umbrellas go. A tiny, short-handled travel number, but it kept parts of me dry. The important paper I was delivering went under my windbreaker next to my heart where I could keep it from sliding out onto the ground. As soon as I arrived at my destination the rain quit. Before I got the block and a half back home it was raining again.

After working around the house the rest of the morning, I started walking downtown again. This time I decided to incorporate my daily walk with my errands. I started at the post office and went on to the bank. Beautiful weather. When I came out of the bank, the showers had started again. And this time I didn’t have an umbrella.

Later I did a load of laundry. This was what we refer to as hand washing that doesn’t get put in the dryer. So I checked the sky and it was blue and clear with the sun shining. One by one I hung out the pieces of laundry. Five minutes later it was pouring.

Now the good thing is that I hang my laundry through an open window on my back porch, so I didn’t get very wet bringing the clothes back in. Just my shirtsleeves. I left the clothes in the basket, thinking I’d put them on the clothes rack once I finished what I’d been doing in the kitchen.

Lo and behold! The rain stopped, the sun came out with a promise that it would not rain again. What the heck. I’d give it one more go. So back I went to re-hang the clothes. Guess what. Another five minutes and it was pouring again. By this time they were even wetter than when I had taken them from the washer. Well, that did it! I unpinned them once again, while soaking my sleeves, and this time I did put them on the clothes bars.

From years of experience I know it will take them much longer to dry now than it would in the winter when the heat is on. But eventually they will dry.

It reminds me of the time a neighbor had a house fire in the summer and I volunteered to wash the curtains and draperies. I didn’t want to put them in the dryer because I wasn’t sure what the fabric was, and thought they might shrink or come apart. It rained for days and I’ve got these heavy drapes hung everywhere in my house. I began to smell mildew. I think I finally stood over the ironing board in the muggy summer weather and ironed all the draperies and curtains dry.

Weather can be so non-cooperative. But for today I’m done playing guessing games with the showers. I’m going to go do some work at the computer, then finish the invitations to the family reunion. Let’s hope if doesn’t rain that day with forty people at my house!

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100 Years Ago

GREAT BEND: Hon. C.F. Wright, of Susquehanna and Mr. Ballard, accompanied by P. L. Lahey, of this place, whipped the placid waters of the Susquehanna for eels last Monday. Catching eels with live bait requires the greatest skill known to sportsmen, but Mr. Wright was equal to the occasion. After making a few throws the Congressman felt a tug at his line very similar to that of a black bass, and much time and line was given to the big fellow in order to tire him before landing. The bran span-new landing net was gotten ready and at the proper moment the scoop was made, when it was discovered that a monster eel was in evidence. Spectators on the river bank who witnessed the landing claim that the tactics displayed in the final capture surpassed those at Port Arthur and it is asserted that upon the new landing net, the clothing and boat, enough mucilage was secured to equip a first class glue factory. The eel was one of the largest ever caught here.

SUSQUEHANNA: Joseph P. McMahon has purchased of Carrington brothers, the Drinker street barn in Susquehanna, in which he conducts a livery stable. AND: Four automobiles are now owned in this place.

AUBURN: One of the greatest electric and wind showers of the season known for many years occurred here Tuesday, which uprooted trees, leveled grass, oats, corn, besides the big wash-out by the pouring rain. R. Harris' barn was blown down, his reaper being in it was made into kindling and he says $500 damage was done on his fine timber lot. John Burns says he thinks he hasn't one apple tree standing. L.W. Titman had a dozen or so [trees] besides some nice maples along the road go down. AND: In Retta, Sunday night, during the severe electrical storm, the Methodist-Episcopal church was struck by lightning, badly demolishing the tower and vestibule and injuring one side of the auditorium. The loss is partially covered by insurance.

HARFORD: Chester Blanding, of Hallstead, was looking over our creamery recently and pronounced it one of the best equipped and cleanest plants he ever saw. AND: The 15th annual reunion of the descendants of Capt. Oliver Payne will be held Saturday, Aug. 6th, at the home of Elmer D. Smith, near Tingley Lake, one mile northwest of Harford village. Geo. B. Tiffany, Sec.

FOREST LAKE: The descendants of Canfield Stone will hold their reunion July 30th.

MONTROSE: The old picket fence has been removed from the East side of the Abel Turrell residence and a nice gas-pipe fence put in place of it by Mr. Pickett. The best fence in a town is no fence, but next to that, the gas-pipe fence is the thing. AND: Mrs. Armithea Park, the oldest resident of Montrose (97 years) has been seriously ill this week, but yesterday morning Dr. Decker reported her condition as improved. AND: The Junior Base Ball team is composed of the following members: Ernest Spence, Harrold Warner, Frank Gardner, Frank Morris, Jr., Frank Upton, Phil Allen, Brayton Gardner, Mont Roberts and Guy Strous.

LIBERTY TWP.: The death of Jacob Chalker, on May 10th, removes from this county one of its oldest residents and one of Liberty townships most prominent citizens. His parents were pioneers who endured the hardships that such life enforces. His knowledge of law made his advice sought for, particularly in town affairs. He was an efficient officer serving as supervisor, constable and collector. During the Civil War he furnished substitutes for those who appealed to him for help. He was a keen observer, a wise adviser, a staunch friend, a devoted husband and father. Thus has passed from among us one who spent his entire life, nearly 88 years, in the town of his birth. Two sons and several grandchildren survive him.

CHOCONUT: On Saturday night the residence of Thomas Monahan, near Choconut [located on the Quaker Lake road, about two miles south of Hawleyton], was destroyed by fire and Mr. Monahan's son, Clarence, was burned to death. Clarence had been at the barn during the evening and having finished his work returned to the house at about 9 o'clock. As he entered he smelled smoke and upon investigating found the upper part of the building on fire. His father and the hired man came in response to his calls, but their efforts proved insufficient to cope with the rapid spread of the flames, and they turned their attention toward saving the furniture. When all had been done that was thought possible young Monahan remembered that a deed and several other papers of value were in the upper part of the house. He immediately started after them and did not return. The young man was 27 years of age, a blacksmith by trade. The funeral was held from St. Augustine's church at Silver Lake. His parents, four sisters and three brothers survive.

SOUTH GIBSON: Mrs. Basher, nee Grace Belcher, of east Mountain, arrived home Saturday from Africa, where she went as a missionary last fall. She felt obliged to return owning to constant illness in that hot climate.

QUAKER LAKE: A ride through the country and especially along the Lake, is delightsome just now. The fresh verdure, which clothes the landscape, stretching away like an immense rolling sea, makes a picture of unusual charm. Above the lake and across on the hill are the Giblin homes and "Fairy Lawn." Lovely farmhouses in this country gives an additional beauty to the surroundings.

LAWTON: Now is the time/To give those vegetables care/That you intend/To take to the Lawton Fair!

EAST LENOX: Nelson Carr, our popular mail carrier, has sold the mail route to Daniel Newman. AND: The Belcher family reunion will be held August 25 at R.M. Archibald's.

FAIRDALE: A well-known Fairdale farmer, while engaged in loading hay one day last week, suddenly was seized with a very strong desire to sneeze, and he did it proper. But when he recovered, his false teeth were missing and diligent search among the succulent clover and timothy failed to reveal the missing imitation molars. They are "jollying" him something terrible about his misfortune down that way, and they do say that breakfast food has taken a jump in price in the quiet little town, while the gentleman in question is carrying one less can of milk to the creamery each day. There is consolation in the thought that perhaps one of his cows may come across the missing teeth, and equipped with an upper and lower set can make up for the present shortage. We'd like to let you on to the name, but Jake is a good friend of ours, besides being bigger and since the muzzling law has gone into effect we really don't care.

NEWS BRIEFS: Before a man is married he may have been a dude, but after he is married he is a subdued. AND: Friday while men and women were picking berries in the Moosic Mountains, near Farview, a nude man held up a woman and took a pail of berries from her. She offered no resistance and he ran away after getting the pail without attempting any violence. He is supposed to be a man who has escaped from some insane institution.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

The right way, the wrong way, and...

One of the first things they taught me when I went into the military is that there are three ways to do things, -the right way, the wrong way, and the army way. You vets out there know what I mean. My friends for years I was delighted to shed the army’s way of doing things. Seemed like whatever methodology I would apply in support of doing something the right way, the army way prevailed.

I have been out of the military for more than 50 years but recently it dawned on me that I have been witnessing this same logic right under my nose for years. Breaking it down into simple language, there still are three ways of doing doings, -the right way, the wrong way, and the county way.

For example, take a gander at the upcoming silent auction the county is planning as a way to get rid of some surplus merchandise. This is a dandy. I challenge you to keep a straight face as you read this.

I have attended many, many silent auctions in my lifetime. The way they generally function is quite simple. There is a sheet of paper in front of the item being auctioned. If you want to bid on the item, you jot down your name and price at the top of the page. If I come along and decide to bid higher, I write my name and bid price below yours. The sequence continues until the end of the auction. All papers are collected and the highest bid on each sheet gets the item. Simple enough right?

Now let’s take a look at the county’s way. I go to the auction and look over the merchandise. I see a dozen or so items I would like to bid on. I need to take a piece of paper, write down the item and the number if there is one, along with my bid. I then have to put that piece of paper in an envelope and seal it. At the end of the auction, the envelopes will be opened one at a time and the bids inside them will be taken out. The person with the highest bid gets the item.

First of all, opening the envelopes and taking down the bids is time consuming. Second, what happens if five people are tied for highest bid? Do we now go from silent auction to voice bid? Or do we put the five names in a hat and pull out the winning bid? And, last but not least, do people going to the auction realize they must bring sheets of paper and a supply of envelopes in case they bid on several items?

There is another issue about this auction gnawing away at me – the time schedule. The auction will take place on Saturday, July 31. Items will be displayed in one of the county’s parking lots by the courthouse. They can be looked at from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. which is starting time for the auction. You will then have one hour to place your bids. Bidding will close at 10 a.m. and the envelopes will be opened, presumably in front of each item. High bid gets the item. We already mentioned a problem if there are two or three or more tied with high bid.

Now for the grand finale. All bidders will have until Noon to remove the items they purchase. So, if you are planning to buy a desk you will need to bring a truck to the auction and at least one extra guy to help you put the desk or any bulk item in the truck. If you happen to buy one of the three motor vehicles to be auctioned, better bring a tow truck just in case it will not start.

The right way, the wrong way, and the county way.

When will they learn

Want another example of county ingenuity?

When the commissioners decided to move their meetings to the basement of the county office building on Public Avenue, I asked them to consider using a sound system with speakers and microphones so everyone could hear what was being said. The commissioners responded with a public address system of sorts that includes one microphone that is placed in the center of the table where the commissioners sit when the meeting is convened. So we hear Commissioner Roberta Kelly loud and clear but struggle to catch what Commissioners Loomis and Warren have to say.

They put a podium up front with a microphone for people in the audience who have something to say. But Mrs. Kelly is reluctant to ask a person to step to the podium and speak into the microphone. As a result, some speakers in the back don’t even stand up when they address the board.

Last week two people that were in the audience told me they could not hear everything that was being said. This apparently is not of any great concern to the commissioners.

The right way, the wrong way, and the county way.

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BUSH DEFENDS Iraq War – What else could he say? He and his cabinet started it. "We are safer now," said the President, "that we have Saddam." How many of our men and women have been killed in this senseless war? Just to get Saddam! Why didn’t we just form a unit, "just to go after Sadaam?" We could have saved a lot of lives! No doubt our troops will have to remain in Iraq for a long time. Is that what we want? Do we want our troops to patrol the world? Seems like Mr. Bush wants to feed his ego by keeping our troops overseas. If we have given the Iraqis back their country, let them patrol it. Bring our troops back home – where they belong. But no! We are planning on sending more and more troops to a terrorist-filled country. How many more coalition lives must we lose? One more life is one too many. At a political function, Mr. Bush said, "Because we acted, the dictator (Sadaam), the brutal tyrant is sitting in a jail cell." Yes, Mr. Bush, he is, but at the expense of our troops, and billions of dollars.

MORE ON "SLOTS" – When the slot money starts flowing, in July, 2006, school districts without a wage tax will be able to qualify for tax-reduction money. That means they could get reductions, without a wage tax for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years. The Montrose, Susquehanna Community, Blue Ridge, Wayne Highlands, Western Wayne, Wallenpaupack Area and Pocono Mountains school districts don’t have wage taxes.

But they and all school districts that didn’t have a referendum in November of next year will have to have a referendum in November, 2007, according to the bill.

That referendum will force districts to ask taxpayers if they want to shift from property taxes toward higher or first-time wage taxes and how the wage taxes should be.

Even if voters say no to the November, 2007 referendum, districts can keep on imposing the .1 percentage point wage-tax hike. Districts without a wage tax will have to levy one at .1 percent to keep getting slots taxes to cut property taxes.

The law also caps future property tax hikes by school districts that cut taxes without slots money.

Gov. Ed Rendell, Pennsylvania, signed a bill July 5, to legalize slot machines. Some of the slot machines will be placed at Pocono Downs, in Plains Township. It is believed that the machines may generate $80 million in gross revenue per year. Most of the money will be used for Economic Development, Public Health and Safety, and to cut local property taxes by an average of 20 percent. Rendell said that 61,000 machines will be placed in the state. Gamblers will have to wait until at least next summer before they can start pulling the levers. The machines will be placed at 14 sites, with the closest at Pocono Downs.

THOMPSON Batting .263 – Rich Thompson, a Montrose High School graduate and outfielder with the Nashville AAA team, has been at bat 182 times, has 54 hits, 36 runs, 22 stolen bases, and a batting average of .263. (Stats are as of July 3.)

CUBS "In the Fight" – The Chicago Cubs of the National League are only two games out of first place (July 3), a feat that is making Cub fan Dave Taylor, of Thompson, a very happy Cub booster. (Hey, Dave, how about a Yankee/Cub World Series?)

OVERTIME – My husband, a big-time sports fan, was watching a football game with our grandchildren. He had just turned 75 and was feeling a little wistful. "You know," he said to our grandson, Nick, "it’s not easy getting old. I guess I’m in the fourth quarter now."

"Don’t worry, Grandpa," Nick said cheerfully. "Maybe you’ll go into overtime."

TOO MANY COPIES – Kids have a greater need for speed than classroom computers can deliver. Impatient to turn in his term paper, one restless student kept clicking the "print" command. The printer started to churn out copy after copy of the kid’s ten-page report. The topic? "Save Our Trees."

A BIG EGG – The last thing my friend Christy needed was an invitation to a costume party. Eight and a half months pregnant, she was in no shape for any conventional costume. Still, she wanted to go, so she painted a big yellow circle on an extra-extra-large white T-shirt, dug a pair of red devil horns out of her kids’ Halloween junk pile, and went as a deviled egg.

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From the Desk Of The DA

As a public service, the Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office prepares a monthly sentencing report and provides that information to the local papers for publication so that the public knows who has been sentenced in Susquehanna County and the exact sentence received. I frequently receive questions about the manner in which the court determines the appropriate sentence. Although this is a complicated process, I will try to give a general synopsis of the factors used in making a sentencing determination.

First, the court must follow the Sentencing Guidelines, which were implemented by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing. Prior to any sentencing proceeding, the Susquehanna County Probation Department will prepare a pre-sentence report, which contains personal information concerning the individual defendant, as well as the specific sentencing guidelines for that individual defendant. Essentially, the Sentencing Guidelines provide the court with a range for sentencing, which the court must follow unless the case presents some unique circumstances that would warrant a deviation from the suggested sentencing range. In essence, the Sentencing Guidelines are intended to provide some uniformity to the sentencing process, so that a defendant in Susquehanna County will be sentenced in a consistent manner with a defendant in another county.

There are several crucial factors that the Sentencing Guidelines consider in determining the appropriate sentencing range. First, each criminal offense has been assigned an "offense gravity score." The potential offense gravity scores run from 1 through 14, and the higher the number, the more serious the offense. For instance, possession of drug paraphernalia has an offense gravity score of 1, the lowest possible offense gravity score, while murder has an offense gravity score of 14, the highest possible offense gravity score. Thus, prior to sentencing, the Probation Department will research the particular offense to determine its offense gravity score for sentencing purposes.

Second, each individual defendant has a "prior record score," or a numerical designation to demonstrate an individual’s prior convictions. The Sentencing Commission has assigned numerical designations for prior record scores running from 0 through 5, with 0 representing little or no prior convictions, and 5 representing an individual with serious and repeated convictions. For the most serious offenders, there is a prior record score designation known as "RFEL," denoting a repeat felon. Under the sentencing guidelines, an individual with a higher prior record score will be treated more harshly than a person with a lower prior record score.

A simple example may help to illustrate the manner in which the Sentencing Guidelines operate. The crime of possession of drug paraphernalia is punishable by a period of incarceration up to 12 months, but has an offense gravity score of 1, the lowest possible score. If a person were convicted of this offense, and had a prior record score of 0, then the Sentencing Guidelines generally require a standard range sentence of probation with supervision up to 12 months. If, however, an individual was convicted of this offense, and had a prior record score of RFEL, the highest possible prior record score, then the Sentencing Guidelines generally require a standard range sentence with a minimum period of incarceration of 3 to 6 months with a maximum period of incarceration up to 12 months.

If the same individuals were convicted of a different offense, the same prior record scores would apply, but the applicable offense gravity score would be different, and, as such, the sentences would change. For instance, if the same defendants were convicted of arson, which has an offense gravity score of 9, the applicable sentencing ranges would likewise change. Therefore, as to the individual with a prior record score of 0, the Sentencing Guidelines generally require a standard range sentence with a minimum period of incarceration of 1 year to 2 years and a potential maximum of 20 years. As to the individual with a prior record score of RFEL, the Sentencing Guidelines generally require a standard range sentence with a minimum period of incarceration of 5 years to 6 years with a potential maximum of 20 years.

There are other factors that a court may consider at the time of sentencing. Generally, however, the two most important factors are the offense gravity score and the prior record score. Everyone expects a court to consider these factors when making a sentencing determination, i.e., how serious was the offense and has this defendant been in trouble before. Most people, however, do not understand that there are numerical designations assigned to each of these factors by the Sentencing Commission. As a result, the Sentencing Guidelines generally restrict the discretion of the court in making a sentencing determination.

Please submit any questions, concerns, or comments to Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office, P.O. Box 218, Montrose, Pennsylvania 18801.

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Dear EarthTalk: What is "Multiple Chemical Sensitivity" and what causes it?

Sara Morris, Houston, TX

People suffering from otherwise unexplainable medical problems such as headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, and even chest pains may have everyday chemicals to blame. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a medical condition whereby such symptoms can be attributed to the combined exposure to synthetic pollutants commonly found in detergents, perfumes, pesticides, solvents and even some foods and medicines.

While MCS goes by many other names – including "Environmental Illness" and "Total Allergy Syndrome" –perhaps none captures the essence of its causes and effects quite as well as "20th Century Disease." Between 1940 and 1980, the production of synthetic organic chemicals worldwide increased from less than 10 billion pounds per year to more than 350 billion. MCS has been called "an allergy to modern life," literally a physical reaction to many of the common chemicals now widely distributed.

No longer rare, MCS reportedly affects 10 percent or more of Americans. Nevertheless, the medical community rarely takes the condition seriously. "Because MCS does not fit any of the three currently-accepted mechanisms of disease – infectious, immune system, or cancer – traditional medicine has not known how to explain MCS, and so has often labeled it ‘psychogenic’ – originating in the patient's mind," writes Dr. Peter Montague in Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly. "This has left MCS sufferers in limbo. Told they are crazy, or imagining their disease, or making it up, they find themselves passed from physician to physician without any satisfactory answers and often without relief from their very real distress."

According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), "There is insufficient scientific evidence to confirm a relationship between any of these possible causes and symptoms." While OSHA does not verify the legitimacy of MCS, it does offer some relief by regulating the use of cleaning products and other air quality contaminants. But some of the most ubiquitous MCS offenders – perfumes and air fresheners – are not subject to testing for toxics, and as such remain unregulated.

"It’s oxymoronic to talk about perfumes and other fragrances that can be used by people with chemical sensitivities," says Albert Donnay, director of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Referral & Resources. In order for perfumes and air fresheners to give off a scent or be effective, he explains, they must contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Even "all-natural" products give off some VOCs. "People with chemical sensitivities have to give up wearing perfume products, and people that do wear perfume need to be sensitive to the needs of people with chemical sensitivities. It’s not much different than smoking, only you can see second hand smoke," adds Donnay.

CONTACTS: Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly, (888) 272-2435,; Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), (800) 321-6742,; Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Referral & Resources, (410) 889-6666,

Dear EarthTalk: What are the special environmental threats to Native Americans and their lands?

Amber Wilkie, Jackson Hole, WY

Like other minority and economically disadvantaged groups in the United States, Native Americans struggle disproportionately with environmental problems. Native lands in particular are impacted by the mining, forestry, oil and gas drilling industries, and in recent years have been increasingly targeted for nuclear waste storage. According to David Conrad, executive director of the National Tribal Environmental Council, "some of the biggest pollution sources that affect Native American lands are from federal facilities, usually defense-related, and located on or near tribal lands."

"Basic necessities such as safe drinking water and sewage treatment are often in short supply on reservations," says the website of Environmental Health and Safety Online (EHSO). And many of the 565 recognized tribes throughout the U.S. are located in remote areas without municipal landfills. Waste, from both legal and illegal dumping by residents and non-residents alike, can accumulate to levels that pose direct health hazards while polluting waterways and contaminating fish, a staple of many Indian diets.

For example, the abnormally high cancer rates among the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River Basin tribes can be attributed to the widespread contamination of area salmon and trout. In 2002, researchers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found 92 pollutants – including heavy metals, PCBs, banned pesticides such as DDT, and chemicals produced during chlorine bleaching of paper pulp – in the area’s fish. With tribal members in these areas eating fish at rates greater than six times the national average, they are at especially great risk from such contaminants.

The issue largely boils down to economics. Since 1993, the EPA’s General Assistance Program has helped many tribes nationwide, through grants, to deal with solid waste, groundwater and soil contamination, air quality and other problems. And some tribes have used their newfound wealth from gaming and casinos and other industries to pay for their own environmental protection programs.

But wealthy tribes are the exception, rather than the rule. "Most tribes are running much smaller scale gaming operations and a good deal of the revenue generated is still going back to the initial investors," says Charlene Dunn, tribal coordinator with the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "In any case, that doesn't allow us to abrogate our responsibilities to tribal governments. [The EPA] is still responsible for providing them with adequate environmental protection."

CONTACTS: National Tribal Environmental Council, (505) 242-2175,; Environmental Health and Safety Online,,; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tribal Programs,

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; or submit your question at:, or e-mail us at:

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