Klamath Basin News, Wednesday 2/15 – Veterans Memorial Project Accept Applications for Brick Dedication Memorial Honors, Due by Feb. 28th

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The latest and most comprehensive coverage of local News, Sports, Business, and Community News stories in the Klamath Basin, Southern Oregon and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM / 102.5FM and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insuranceyour local health and Medicare agents.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 40. Calm wind becoming south southeast around 6 mph in the afternoon. Overnight low of 17.

Thursday Partly sunny, with a high near 41.
Friday Partly sunny, with a high near 44.
Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 47.

See Road Camera Views

Lake of the Woods   
Doak Mtn.   
Hiway 97 at Chemult   
Hiway 140 at  Bly       
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr.            
Hiway 97 at LaPine

Today’s Headlines

Sky Lakes Medical Center’s free CNA training program application is open again.

This program is funded and supported by Sky Lakes Medical Center and hosted at Klamath Community College. Sky Lakes will cover the cost of the program and required materials. Those who successfully complete the program will be offered full-time employment at Sky Lakes Medical Center.

You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school degree or earned a GED, successfully complete the interview process, and pass a background and drug screening to enroll in the program.

Learn more and apply by visiting the Sky Lakes Medical Center’s website. https://www.skylakes.org/

22nd Living Well Community Health Fair

Klamath County Fairgrounds 3531 South 6th St. Exhibit Hall 1

Sky Lakes is bringing back the Living Well Community Health Fair! Join us at the Living Well Community Health Fair for free health screenings and exhibits from Sky Lakes Medical Center and our community partners for all ages.

These preventative health screenings will be available to the public for free:

  • Cholesterol screening (recommended 8-12 hour fast)
  • Blood glucose screening (recommended 8-12 hour fast)
  • Blood pressure check

For more information, go to https://www.skylakes.org/healthfair/

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) is bringing forth a new era for the families the systems serves — and Klamath County is at the center of it.

The ODHS Child Welfare Division announced the Vision for Transformation roadmap last March, changing how the systems approach and handle the cases of families involved in services.

Three districts were selected to serve as pilots for the new program — Klamath, Multnomah and Douglas.

Johnson, who manages Klamath and Lake counties, explained that if a family should have to enter the system, the goal is to do so in the “least restrictive way,” aiming to prevent more children from being placed in foster care.

And it’s working.

In the past few years, the number of children in foster care in Klamath County has dropped from the 300s to about 130.

Some of the self-sufficiency programs included are Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), emergency aid for victims and survivors of domestic violence and assistance in registering for Medicaid.

Families involved in services work with an assigned “family coach” from the self-sufficiency support staff which works with the family from start to finish. Johnson said that even when a family’s child welfare case is closed, their coach continues to work with them in attaining and receiving self-sufficiency support services.

Though the ODHS Vision for Transformation stems partly from the Family First Preservation Act that was passed by the 2018 state legislature, this change in gears dates back even further in Klamath County.

Family Stability was a collaborative project which incorporated SSP into the Child Welfare Division’s approach to cases.

The impact was noteworthy, leading to Klamath County’s involvement in the formation of the statewide Family Preservation project which incorporates most aspects of the Family Stability project.

Klamath County Sheriff’s Department has nine new members, sworn in by  Klamath County Sheriff, Chris Kaber.

Civil Clerks Haley Roberts and Lynda Grounds, Patrol Deputy Quillan Klus, Civil Clerk Linsie Mabee, Corrections Deputies Tylor Cook and Guillermo Arceo-Bigoni, Patrol Deputy Ashley Anderson, Corrections Deputy Faith Maples and Volunteer Donnie Miller all joined the KCSO team.  

Opportunities still exist in the department.  Contact the sheriff’s office online, in person, or by telephone for more information.

The Veterans Memorial Project is ready to accept applications for more brick orders.

Spring brick orders are due by Feb. 28 for bricks dedicated to military veterans to be placed at the Veterans Memorial.

The Veterans Memorial Project is a community-wide project which honors and recognizes Veterans who have served this nation. The memorial features a pavilion, war monuments and more than 5,000 dedicated bricks meant to be a lasting legacy to military individuals. Each brick is a tribute to a military member and their service. Bricks can be ordered for $50 each and dedicated to any United States veteran, regardless of where they live and whether they are living or deceased.

A brick order form can be downloaded from the city website at www.klamathfalls.city/262/Veterans-Memorial.

For more information, contact the City of Klamath Falls Development Services Office at 541-883-4950 or email cityparks@klamathfalls.city.

The deadline for the second year of the Alleyway Activation Project is fast approaching.

In 2022, Healthy Klamath was able to install four pieces of art on the exterior wall of a building downtown thanks to the AARP 2022 Community Challenge grant. Due to the success of this initial project, Health Klamath has announced a plan to continue these beautification efforts.

The Alleyway Activation Project is designed to beautify alleyways in the downtown corridor of Klamath Falls. Recruiting from the abundantly creative regional community, a selected artist’s work will be mounted to one of the historical buildings off Main Street. This is an opportunity to be a part of the effort to make Klamath falls a livelier and more beautiful place.

Artists will be given a 4-foot-by-8-foot space to paint on that will be mounted to a steel frame. Taking great care, these frames will be mounted to the building in a safe and preserving manner so the integrity of the brick and mortar remains intact.

Each artist will be given a $600 stipend for their time and creativity spent on the piece as well as an allowance for paint. To apply, artists must provide a conceptual drawing of what they plan to create.

Applications are due Feb. 28 and selected artists will be notified by March 2 with a mandatory meeting March 6. Paintings must be completed by May 22.

If artists fail to complete their paintings, they will forfeit their stipend. Artists are responsible for purchasing their own paints and will be reimbursed for any costs associated with creating their piece.

Artists will have to coat the final product in a sealant to preserve the paint from fading and moisture. Artists will be asked to paint on plywood, but multi-media art is welcome, as long as the wood is coated with a sealant. Plywood and marine varnish will be provided at the mandatory meeting with the project coordinator.

Healthy Klamath is looking for a range of artistic styles, themes, techniques and experience levels. The organization asks that if painted, make the design picture based, not word-based. Designs that include logos, copyrighted or trademarked images, advertisements, or political, commercial, religious or sexual symbols, themes or messages will not be accepted; however, special exceptions may be granted for logos that connect the community to existing themes. Designs should be appropriate for a diverse, broad-based audience.

The Fremont-Winema National Forest has a new forest supervisor: Erik J. Fey was recently selected by Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa to lead the 2.3-million-acre forest in south-central Oregon.

Fey joins the Forest Service from more than 20 years at the Department of Defense, where he most recently served as the chief of operations for the Defense Health Agency’s Small Market and Stand-Alone Military Treatment Facility Organization at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas. Fey began his new position in Lakeview on Jan. 30. He replaces previous Forest Supervisor Barry Imler, who retired in September 2022.

Fey’s experience includes military and civilian leadership positions to support safety and security measures, including through the COVID-19 response.

He began his public service career in 1991 in U.S. Air Force law enforcement and continued in security forces and information operations positions in the Air Force Reserve and Washington Air National Guard. In 2013, he served as deputy director of operational protection for the U.S. Army Africa directing day-to-day operations in Italy and in 53 nations on the African continent.

Fey’s leadership experience includes directing several first-ever programs. In his role at the Small Market and Stand-Alone Organizations office at Defense Health Agency, he managed all non-medical operations for more than 140 military medical and dental treatment facilities and standalone clinical operations throughout the United States. During his time working in the Department of Defense, he also served in key operational leadership positions managing

Fey has a bachelor of science degree in geography from Western Oregon University in 1998, a master’s of science in environmental management from National University in 2000 and is working toward a doctor of management from Colorado Technical University.

The Fremont-Winema National Forest consists of 2.3 million acres in south-central Oregon. The heavily timbered western portion of the forest is bordered by the Cascade Mountain Range and Crater Lake National Park and stretches east into the Klamath River Basin. To the north and east, stands of ponderosa and lodgepole pine grow on deep pumice and ash that blanketed the area during the eruption of Mt. Mazama (now Crater Lake). The eastern portion of the forest, offering expansive views, dramatic cliffs and solitude, is known as Oregon’s Outback providing opportunity to discover nature in a rustic environment.

Around the state of Oregon

Student Brandishing Replica Pistol Near North Medford High School Prompts ‘Secure’ Status

At 10:55 am the North Medford High School on campus School Resource Officer (SRO) was contacted by a staff member reporting that a juvenile was seen with a handgun across N Keene Way Dr. This street runs along the west side of the school near the front entrance.

The SRO went to investigate and was contacted by a citizen also reporting that a male juvenile was in a red vehicle parked across the street and he had been holding a handgun. The SRO located the vehicle in the LDS church parking lot, which within 100 feet of the School. The vehicle was occupied by several subjects. Due to the report of an armed subject in close proximity to the school the SRO initiated a “Secure” for the North Medford High School campus.

Additional Officers arrived to assist and conduct a high risk contact of the occupants in the vehicle. The officers contacted 5 juveniles who are all current students at North Medford High School. One of the male juveniles contacted inside the vehicle admitted to being in possession of a pellet pistol and that he had been shooting it at a nearby tree. The replica pellet pistol was seized and is very realistic looking and difficult to distinguish from a real firearm. 

The juvenile was cited and released to his parents for Disorderly Conduct 2. The case will be forwarded to the Jackson County Juvenile department for review. Although they were trespassing on the property the other juveniles were released without any charges.

The high school was in “Secure” for approximately 15 minutes. When a school is put into “Secure” it is different than being put into “Lockdown”. Secure means that all doors are locked to keep potential threats outside and learning proceeds as usual. Students can also move around inside the school if escorted by a staff member. When it comes to keeping our students safe at school we make those decisions in an effort to protect them and disrupt their learning as little as possible. 

December White City Armed Robbery Suspect Arrested in Las Vegas

JCSO 22-7060 — The suspect from the December armed robbery of the Purple Parrot in White City has been arrested and is lodged in the Jackson County Jail. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) detectives tracked down the suspect with help from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents in Medford and Las Vegas, and the Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) in Klamath Falls. The suspect, Francisco Javier Diaz-Ramirez, 44, of Las Vegas, has been charged with two counts of first-degree robbery.

Diaz-Ramirez Mugshot
Diaz-Ramirez Mugshot

On December 5, 2022, at 5:54 p.m. JCSO deputies responded to a panic alarm in the 7300 block of Highway 62 in White City. Upon arrival, deputies learned an adult man and woman came in to the store, pointed a gun at the cashier, and stole an undisclosed amount of money and products. The suspects left the scene and deputies were unable to locate them.

Upon further investigation, JCSO detectives identified Diaz-Ramirez through a collaboration with BINET and the ATF. On January 19, detectives presented evidence to a Jackson County Grand Jury and an extraditable arrest warrant was issued. LVMPD arrested the suspect on February 2 and served a search warrant at his residence uncovering evidence from the crime including the firearm used in the robbery. Jackson County Jail Transport deputies flew to Las Vegas on February 12 and escorted Diaz-Ramirez to the Jail. On February 13, JCSO detectives interviewed Diaz-Ramirez and he confessed to the crime. 

Unknown Suspect

Diaz-Ramirez committed the armed robbery with an unidentified Hispanic female adult in her 20’s with brown/red curly hair, wearing a skull mask and a black zip up sweatshirt. The accomplice has not been identified and is not known to be from Oregon. If you have any information on the unknown suspect’s identification, call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case 22-7060.

During the course of the investigation detectives determined Diaz-Ramirez attempted to sell old, rare coins in Southern Oregon. If anyone has purchased coins from Diaz-Ramirez (pictured here) contact the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case 22-7060.

BINET consists of investigators from Homeland Security Investigations, Oregon State Police, and Klamath Falls Police Department.

Major Crimes Team Investigating Death of Glide Man

IDLEYLD PARK, Ore. – The Douglas County Major Crimes Team is investigating the death of a Glide man. 

On Sunday, February 12, 2023, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a male who was deceased on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Idleyld Park. 

Deputies responded to the reported area and confirmed the death of 35-year-old Glide resident, Austin Mitchell Clark. The cause of death has been ruled a homicide; the circumstances of which remain under investigation. Detectives state the death is an isolated event and there is no threat to public safety.

The Douglas County Major Crimes Team is investigating the incident, with the Sheriff’s Office assigned as the lead investigating agency. Anyone with direct knowledge of Clark’s activities prior to Sunday, February 12, 2023, are encouraged to contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division at 541-440-4458.

The Douglas County Major Crimes Team consists of investigators from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Roseburg Police Department and Oregon State Police working in consultation with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.

Oregonians who received a pandemic relief payment from the state in 2022 can now file their tax returns, the IRS said, and don’t need to report the $600 check as taxable income.

The federal agency earlier this month asked tax filers in Oregon and at least 18 other states who had received special payments or state tax refunds last year to hold off on filing their 2022 tax returns.

On Friday it gave the all-clear for most of the states, including Oregon, saying it had determined taxpayers not need to report the payments “in the interest of sound tax administration and other factors.”

Oregon last summer issued $600 economic stimulus payments to 236,000 qualifying households. Most tax filers who qualified for the Oregon Earned Income Tax Credit on their 2020 tax filing received the payments automatically, either by direct deposit or mailed checks.

The Oregon Department of Revenue had said those payments aren’t taxable income, but the IRS wasn’t so sure and said it needed more time to examine the question before reaching the same conclusion.

Oregon Lawmakers Working To Make A Deal On Major Housing And Homelessness Bill

Lawmakers are working quickly to pass a massive housing and homelessness bill: House Bill 2001 is a combination of five housing bills which adds on to GovernorTina Kotek’s proposals.

House Bill 2001, a combination of five housing bills, adds on to Gov. Tina Kotek’s emergency order she signed on her first full day in office last month. It includes a number of different initiatives that both parties and various stakeholders have reached compromises on.

Lawmakers say they want it to be on the governor’s desk for signature by the end of March.

Kotek’s homelessness state of emergency left out 26 rural counties in Oregon. Her order was based on point-in-time counts. Those counts are one-time physical counts of homeless individuals that every region does each year. It determines how most federal funding is distributed.

The governor’s order included only the regions that saw a 50% or more increase in unsheltered homelessness over six years. HB 2001 looks to set aside extra money for the rest of Oregon.

“This really allows the rest of Oregon that felt that the PIT counts are hard to do in really large areas where you don’t necessarily see people who are houseless from the road,” said Rep. Maxine Dexter, D-Portland. “It allows for them to get investments.”

How much money that will include has not yet been determined, but Dexter said it will be separate from the $130 million Kotek has asked for.

At the beginning of her term in office last month, Kotek urged lawmakers to spend $130 million to add 600 low-barrier shelter beds, keep nearly 9,000 at-risk families from becoming homeless and to help get 1,200 unsheltered Oregonians off the street by the end of this year.

The package of bills also increase eviction protections, adds more resources for homeless youth, and funnels money toward housing development.

Eviction protections sparked a lot of public interest from the start of this year’s legislative session. A few weeks ago, a public hearing on Senate Bill 799 was packed with landlords and tenants testifying for and against the bill. Lawmakers and stakeholders on both sides had to compromise, and a watered down version on that bill is now part of this larger package.

“The bill retains six of the critical issues that were in Senate Bill 799, and it removed two of the issues that were in Senate Bill 799,” said Sybil Hebb, an attorney with the Oregon Law Center.

For example, it removes a 60-day safe harbor period that would give tenants more time to seek rent assistance, but it increases the notice for nonpayment eviction from the current 72-hour notice to a 10-day notice.

Dexter, who is sponsoring the package, said it took a lot of work behind the scenes to reach an agreement.

“There were conversations that followed up on that hearing to get to a place where both tenants and landlords felt like they were moving a bill with the package that everyone could either be supportive of or neutral,” she said.

She said the best way the public can have influence in the conversation around these bills is to engage with the different advocacy groups that represent the different constituencies or the different stakeholders.

The five bills that fall under the umbrella of House Bill 2001 are:

Have your voice heard. A public hearing in the House Committee on Housing and Homelessness is scheduled for House Bill 2001 Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 8 a.m. in HR F at the Capitol. Read more about the bill, register to testify and submit testimony hereRead the -1 amendment, which contains the details that will be discussed Tuesday.

Three Bills Being Considered In Oregon Would Ban Or Reduce The Use of Some Plastics

Three bills could soon make grocery shopping and dining out more sustainable.

Styrofoam is polluting our environment. Let's #BanTheFoam. - Environmental  Defence

Senate Bill 545 would allow consumers to use their own clean containers at grocery stores and restaurants.

SB 543 would ban the sale of prepared food in polystyrene foam containers, and the sale of those containers, as well as foam packing peanuts, in Oregon.

And SB 544 would create a program to reduce the use of single-use plastic food ware and packaging.

The public can weigh in on the proposals at a public hearing from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 14 in the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, in Hearing Room B at the Oregon Capitol.

Study Shows “Slow Down, Move Over” Has Not Improved Tow Driver Safety In Oregon

New studies from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveal just how dangerous it is to be stranded on the side of the road. Researchers say 60% of first responders and tow workers have experienced a roadside near-miss and 15% have survived being hit by a passing vehicle. 

Between 2016 and 2020, more than 1,700 Americans were killed while outside a disabled vehicle; ten of those in Oregon. An average of two emergency responders are struck and killed every month in the U.S., including tow truck drivers.  

Every state has its own version of “Slow Down, Move Over.” In Oregon, drivers are required to reduce their speed and change lanes, if possible, when going past a vehicle on the side of the road with flashing lights or other signs of distress.

But the AAA Foundation found flashing lights, cones and flares caused drivers to change lanes but not slow down Bentley – now a Safety and Training Specialist for AAA-Oregon – says most people will move over if they see law enforcement on the side of the road, but not other emergency vehicles or a disabled motorist, “I think it comes down to: people don’t want to get a ticket, essentially. But I wouldn’t say the ‘Slow Down, Move Over’ rule has – I wouldn’t count on that one bit to have made a difference in our safety, day to day.”

The AAA Foundation found vehicle-mounted digital signs work best in getting people to obey the law. Bentley says that’s why drivers who break down need to take precautions before that help arrives, “Think of your safety, your passenger’s safety, because you’re really the one who’s looking out for yourself. So, get as far off the road as you can.”

For drivers passing disabled vehicles at highway speeds, he adds, “Whether it’s a tow driver or a construction zone or even just someone who’s broken down, I would recommend: be considerate, imagine it’s yourself in that position and react accordingly.”

(Salem) – Most Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive emergency allotments in February but that is the final allotment according to the state of Oregon.

In February, approximately 416,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $71 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits. This will be the final emergency allotment provided to Oregonians.

March 2023 will be the first month since April 2020 that most people on SNAP in Oregon will only receive their regular SNAP food benefits. 

“We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families,” said ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht (he/him). “As Oregon continues to be impacted by COVID-19 and the rising cost of food, we know that without these emergency food benefits some in Oregon may experience hardship and hunger. We encourage people who are concerned to start planning for this change today. Having a plan ahead of time will reduce the chance of experiencing an emergency or crisis later. There are food supports available to everyone in Oregon, you can find what is available in your community by contacting our partners at 211, the Oregon Food Bank or by visiting needfood.oregon.gov.”

“It’s critical that Oregonians facing reduced support for groceries know that food remains available to all who need it,” said Susannah Morgan (she/her), Oregon Food Bank CEO. “Across rural, urban and suburban communities, more than 1,400 free food markets, pantries and meal sites are moving mountains to make sure families have the resources we need to fill the gap. And everyone is welcome — regardless of race, gender, religion or immigration status.”

“The end of the emergency allotments, as we all know, will be a very hard time for many folks and families, but we know there are great people at 211, ODHS and our partner agencies who stand ready to help and will lead with compassion to help the community navigate this change,” said Kerry Hoeschen (she/her), 211info emergency management director. “At 211info we are available 24/7 to provide information and referrals to agencies offering support for a wide variety of needs such as rent and utility payment support. This includes more than 1,000 food resources across Oregon and Southwest Washington like food pantries, farmers markets, community gardens, fresh food distribution and summer food programs for all Oregonians. To find out more about general resources and food programs contact us! Language interpreters are available.”

Current SNAP households will receive emergency allotments on Feb. 10. Emergency allotments will be issued Feb. 27 or March 1 for households who did not receive benefits in the first monthly issuance.

Oregonians who receive SNAP are encouraged to prepare for this change in the amount of food benefits they receive. Having a plan ahead of time will reduce the chance of experiencing an emergency or crisis later.

Find out what your regular SNAP benefit amount is. Knowing your regular SNAP benefit can help you budget. You can check how much your regular benefits are by accessing your EBT account online at www.ebtEDGE.com or by logging into your ONE account at Benefits.oregon.gov.

Questions about your SNAP benefits can also be directed to the ONE Customer Service Center at 1-800-699-9075. The ONE Customer Service Center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time. 

Regular SNAP benefits are added to EBT cards between the first and the ninth day of the month.

You can report changes to your income or household in many ways: 

  • Online at: Benefits.oregon.gov
  • By mail at: ONE Customer Service Center, PO Box 14015, Salem, OR 97309
  • By fax at: 503-378-5628
  • By phone at: 1-800-699-9075 or TTY 711, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Know what food supports are in your area. There are many different organizations providing food support in communities throughout Oregon:

More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/About-SNAP.aspx.

Resources to help meet basic needs

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, families and individuals with low incomes in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits. For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.

FREE Nature Pub Talk – Agate Desert

February 28, 2023, Medford, Ore. – Southern Oregon Land Conservancy (SOLC) hosts a free Nature Pub Talk on Agate Desert, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Grape Street Bar and Grill in Medford (31 S Grape St, Medford).

A panel of experts will provide a glimpse of the natural beauty located near the base of the Table Rocks at the Agate Desert Preserve. Topics that showcase this unique and threatened landform will range from the life of the federally threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp covered by Land Steward Rebekah Bergkoetter, geography and geology with Professor Emeritus Pat Acklin, the Agate Desert ecology with Dr. Michael Parker, and a land acknowledgement and how the Table Rocks came to be from the Takelma perspective with David West.

No registration necessary, event is open to all ages. Early arrival is strongly recommended. For more information call (541) 482-3069 or email info@landconserve.org.

# # #

ABOUT THE SOUTHERN OREGON LAND CONSERVANCY: The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy’s (SOLC) mission is to protect and enhance precious land in the Rogue River region to benefit our human and natural communities. One path to achieving this mission is to engage community members—youth and adults—in programs that encourage a greater appreciation and understanding of our natural environments.

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