Klamath Basin News, Monday, Jan. 29 – Copco 1 Tunnel Plug Begins Drawing Down Reservoir Water; Sky Lakes Warns Of Scammer Phone Calls To Public; Decommissioned F-15 Fighter Jet Readies For Future Veterans Memorial Park Display

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, The Herald and News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insurance, your Local Health and Medicare agents. Call 541-882-6476.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Klamath Basin Weather

High Wind Watch in effect from Wednesday, January 31, 01:00 AM – 4:00PM PST

Sunny, with a high near 63. East northeast wind 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 41. East southeast wind around 7 mph.
Mostly cloudy, with a high near 57. South southeast wind 5 to 13 mph, with gusts at times. Overnight a 30% chance of showers, mainly after 4am. Snow level 7400 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 43. Very gusty winds 22 mph and higher expected for hours.
Showers, mainly after 10am. Snow level 6300 feet. High near 49. Windy, with a south southeast wind 29 to 33 mph, with gusts as high as 50 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.  Overnight showers, snow level around 5400 feet, low near 37. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Showers likely. Snow level 5100 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
Snow showers likely, mainly between 10am and 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40.
A slight chance of snow showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 38.

Today’s Headlines

Copco 1, the oldest of the three remaining dams on the Klamath River, was successfully breached Tuesday.

Crews blasted a plug in Copco’s adit tunnel, a 10-foot diameter tunnel that was drilled at the base of the dam last summer. Ren Brownell, spokeswoman for Klamath River Renewal Corporation, which is coordinating the removal of the dams, said crews went about 100 feet into the dam and left a 12-foot concrete plug at its upstream end. A steel pipe was installed on its exterior and covered with concrete and a large rock.

Earlier this year, openings were created at the two other hydroelectric dams, Iron Gate and John C. Boyle, as part of drawing down water from the reservoirs behind the dams. A fourth dam, Copco 2, was removed last year.

Videos of the explosion show a cascade of brown, sediment-filled water gushing through the opening. Brownell said as the plug was removed, water sprayed high into the air. No one was allowed on-site because of the force of the blast.

By next year, the Klamath will flow free for the first time in a century.

The seeds put in the ground this winter will germinate and grow into plants.  As the flora matures, the 38-mile-long reservoir reach will provide habitat for a myriad of native fish and wildlife. What was previously a dead zone will be brought back to life.

A video of the Copco 1 blast can be viewed on YouTube.


Sky Lakes Medical Center says be aware of scammer phone calls hitting the area.

Community members have reported scammers using our number to impersonate Home Health Services. They are requesting sensitive information such as social security numbers, dates of birth, card information, and money. Please be cautious and vigilant against potential scams!

Photo drawing with where decommissioned F-15 Fighter Jet will be displayed soon.
A decommissioned F-15 fighter jet from Kingsley Airfield in Klamath Falls arrived Friday at its future display in Veterans Memorial Park.

According to Mark Willrett, city public works director, the static jet display is expected to be completed within a month.

The city’s project sparked prolific controversy with city and county residents due to, among other reasons, its planned location and the use of $600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated 50/50 from the city and the county’s allotted provisions.

Willrett said there will likely be an unveiling ceremony the day the project is to be completed.


A Klamath Falls man was arrested on charges of kidnapping, strangulation and kidnapping on Thursday.

Robert John Tobol, 44, was arrested after allegedly kidnapping a woman he lived with at knife point, according to the police report.

“On Jan. 24, Tobol put a knife to [the victim’s] back and forced her into his vehicle and drove to his residence,” the report said.

The next day, according to the report, Tobol allegedly punched and scratched the victim in the head and face and proceeded to strangle her with two hands. The report said Tobol then strangled the victim with a blue sweatshirt he allegedly wrapped around her neck, forcing her onto the bed.

The police report said the victim reported having almost lost consciousness.

Tobol’s arrest marks the ninth alleged kidnapping charge in Klamath Falls since January 2023.

Eight of the nine arrests came from cases of domestic violence.

The other kidnapping case was that of Negasi Zuberi, a local man charged with interstate kidnapping after taking a woman from Washington, assaulting her and holding her hostage in a hand-built cage in his home last summer.  Zuberi is currently awaiting trial at the U.S. District Court of Oregon in Medford.


Five high schools in the Klamath County School District boasted graduation rates above 90% in 2023 and one of those — Bonanza Junior/Senior High School — hit a perfect graduation rate of 100%.

The other KCSD schools with above 90% graduation rates were Henley High School at 97.9%, Lost River at 91.7%, Gilchrist at 90.9%, and Chiloquin at 90.5%. Mazama’s rate of 88.4% was down from 2022, but still nearly 7 percentage points above the state average.

Overall, the county school district’s four-year on-time graduation rate of 79.90% represents a half a percentage point decrease from 2022, coming in at 1.4 percentage points below the state’s rate of 81.3%, according to data released Jan. 25 by the Oregon Department of Education.

KCSD’s rate includes Falcon Heights, an alternative high school for students who are behind on credits and at risk of dropping out. Falcon Heights, though tracking in at lower overall on-time graduation rates than the county’s six traditional high schools, has seen consistent increases over the past five years — from 29.49% in 2019 to 47% in 2023.

Graduates who earn GEDs or extended diplomas do not factor into the on-time four-year graduation rate, but instead are considered completers. The district’s 2023 four-year completer rate was 83.2%, and the five-year completer rate for 2023 was 85.8%.

District leaders say more social emotional supports, including a counselor in every school, as well as implementation of new math curriculum and small-group and project-based learning in the elementary schools is expected to positively affect student learning and, ultimately, graduation rates.


Klamath Basin Behavioral Health has announced its recent hiring of Joseph Mweene as chief financial officer.

Formerly from Dallas, Texas, Mweene is a seasoned finance leader with a strong background in healthcare administration. He brings over 13 years of financial management experience including analysis, reporting, budgeting, audit process and forecasting.

Mweene’s career is marked by transformational roles as the CFO of Aligned Health and the American Heart Association’s senior director of Financial Planning and Analysis. He holds an MBA in Finance and Strategy from Michigan State, and has a documented record of financial success.

In his personal life, Mweene is a spouse, parent and grandparent. He is enthusiastic about music, hiking and community service, and plans to seek ways to be actively engaged in the local community.

Kendall Alexander, CEO at KBBH, said “we conducted an extended search to find a CFO who brings both the financial acumen necessary to help lead KBBH into the future, and an excitement for living in Klamath County and furthering the vision, mission and core values of our organization.”

KBBH is the largest behavioral health provider for children, adolescents, adults and families in southern Oregon. KBBH is a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) and serves as the Community Mental Health Program in Klamath County.


Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies detained four juveniles early last Wednesday morning after they crashed a stolen vehicle during an elude outside Eagle Point, Oregon.

At 1:29 a.m., a JCSO deputy observed subjects with a case of alcoholic beverages running out of the White City 7-11 market to a green 2004 Toyota 4Runner. The vehicle eluded as deputies attempted to stop it.

The elude continued until the suspect vehicle crashed at 1:40 a.m. near the intersection of Agate Road and Old Highway 234 in rural Eagle Point. After the suspects were detained, deputies learned the female driver and three passengers were juveniles from Klamath Falls. One of them was listed as a runaway. 

Upon further investigation, JCSO deputies determined the suspects stole a red 2017 Jeep Renegade in Klamath Falls and drove to the Medford area.

The suspects admitted to breaking into multiple vehicles in the Central Point and White City area. The suspects ditched the Jeep Renegade near the intersection of Annalise and Cleo Streets in Central Point and stole the Toyota 4Runner they eluded in.  

The female driver was lodged in Jackson County Juvenile Detention for fourth-degree assault, attempting to elude by vehicle, reckless driving, three counts of reckless endangering, and criminal mischief.

Further investigation will continue for the unlawful use of a motor vehicle and theft charges. The remaining juveniles were picked up by parental guardians. This case is open and ongoing with deputies following additional leads. 


Last Tuesday, members of the Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET), arrested Klamath Falls resident Ashley K. Childress (37), regarding Childress distributing Fentanyl in Klamath Falls since 2023.

Since the investigation began, BINET served search warrants and conducted searches at multiple locations in Klamath Falls. Seized directly from Childress during the investigation was approximately 1,075.6 grams (2.32 pounds) of Fentanyl, approximately 258.9 grams (.57 pound) of Methamphetamine, 30 counterfeit oxycodone M30 tablets containing Fentanyl, thirtythree (33) firearms, and United States Currency believed to be proceeds of sales of Fentanyl.

Childress was lodged at the Klamath County Jail on charges of: · Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance – Fentanyl · Unlawful Delivery of a Controlled Substance – Fentanyl The investigation is ongoing. This BINET investigation included detectives from the Klamath Falls Police Department, the Oregon State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and an intelligence analyst from the Oregon National Guard.

BINET is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles local drug trafficking organizations. Residents of Klamath County are encouraged to report drug activity to the Klamath Falls Police Department Tip-Line at 541-883-5334.


Klamath County School District cooks spent an afternoon learning a recipe for Oregon-grown and school-grown lamb from Henley and Lost River FFA programs to determine the best way to serve the less familiar meat to students.

The cooks gathered at Henley High School’s kitchen Wednesday (Jan. 24) to prepare the test meal, replacing beef with lamb in a shepherd’s pie recipe. Students will get a chance to eat the lamb shepherd pie in school cafeterias Feb. 29 as part of the district’s Farm to School program.

KCSD Food Services Supervisor Jennifer Detwiler and the district’s Farm to School Procurement Coordinator Kekoa Taipin led the training. The lamb was purchased by the district through its Farm to School program. In total, 1,000 pounds of lamb will be used to feed students in 21 schools. Of that, about 240 pounds are from Henley and Lost FFA programs; the rest is from Anderson Ranches near Brownsville, Ore.

Nine cooks from six schools – Lost River Junior/Senior High, and Henley, Ferguson, Keno, Merrill – joined in. The recipe will be shared with cooks from the other KCSD schools.

KCSD’s Farm to School program works with local farmers to bring fresh produce and meat into school cafeterias. Each month, a different food is featured.


Each week, BasinLife.com and KFLS News 1450AM & 102.5FM feature a pet of the Week ready for adoption from the Klamath Animal Shelter.

This week’s pet is a kitty named ” Zoe “.

Zoe is a female Medium-hair, around 3 years old, she is grey and white with light green eyes, she weighs around 10 pounds.

Zoe’s family has a new person in the home that is very allergic to kitties. They said that Zoe is litter box trained, she lived in the home with children as young as 6 years, small and medium sized dogs and another cat named Winter who is also available for adoption.

If you are interested in adopting Zoe the shelter is located at 4240 Washburn Way,  Monday through Friday from 12:00 – 4:00, pet meet and greets are by appointment, you can reach the shelter at 541-884-PETS (541-884-7387)

View all adoptable pets anytime online at www.klamathanimalshelter.org


More people visited Crater Lake in 2023 than the year prior, but the beautiful national park still saw moderate crowds by recent standards. 

In 2023, a total 559,976 people visited the park, according to data released this month by the National Park Service, including 416,104 people who visited between June and September. That’s a 6% increase over the annual visitor count in 2022, but a far cry from the record 756,344 people who showed up in 2016.

Crater Lake Superintendent Craig Ackerman said while several issues are likely at play, he suspects two main reasons for the recent decline in visitor numbers: unpredictability with wildfires, and a concerted effort to reduce marketing of the park.

While wildfires were not a serious problem at Crater Lake in 2023, the possibility that they could be a problem may have been enough to sway some people to visit other, less risky places in the summer, Ackerman said. That’s a trend he’s seen over the past few years, after several seasons of devastating wildfires.

Meanwhile, park officials in recent years have also been working with state and local tourism agencies to tamp down the marketing of Crater Lake, he said, especially following the enormous crowds that came between 2016 and 2019, on the heels of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration.


Lake of the Woods is holding a Winter Snow Festival Feb. 10th and 11th.

The Lake of the Woods Winter Snow Festival is open to the public this month with many fun events and activities planned.

Folks can join in on a snow sculpture/snowman building contest, enjoy an outdoor bonfire with music, play cornhole, snowshoe the Ancient Trees walking loop and more. For an additional 10 bucks a person, you can even get in on a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

The Lake of the Woods Kite Fest, which is held on the second weekend of every February, was canceled. George Gregory of Lake of the Woods Mountain Lodge said  the cancellation was because the ice isn’t strong enough to support people.


Around the state of Oregon

The Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has learned that a mailing error occurred while sending the tax form 1099-G to those who have received benefits from the Unemployment Insurance program in 2023.

This error impacted 32,960 out of 122,245 mailings, meaning some individuals may have not received a tax form 1099-G at all, and others may have received an additional form not belonging to them.

A machine error caused some of this subset of tax forms to go into envelopes already containing a tax form 1099-G. DAS was first notified of this error during the ongoing printing and mailing process for tax form 1099-G and called for an immediate halt, which prevented the majority of these forms from being impacted.

This was an issue caused by a contractor but is ultimately the Department of Administrative Services’ responsibility. We take ownership of this error and are correcting this mistake immediately.

If you received a tax form 1099-G related to benefits from the Unemployment Insurance program that does not have your name on it, please immediately shred or otherwise destroy that document.

If you don’t want to wait for the paper form, you can also access your tax form 1099-G online through the Online Claim System. Click on the button titled “1099-G Tax Forms” toward the bottom of the page. A brief video tutorial on how to navigate the website is available online.


The most recent winter storm brought ice, high winds, heavy snowfall, whiteout conditions and below freezing temperatures to almost every corner of the state

While some communities and crews are still recovering from this storm and the full scale of the impacts remains to be seen, we have some impressive numbers to share between Jan. 12 and Jan. 19.  

Employees in Region 1, which includes the Portland metro area, portions of the Columbia Gorge and north coast, used 154,860 gallons of liquid de-icer and 2.5 million pounds of salt.  

Region 2, which includes the Willamette Valley, the northern half of Oregon’s coast and the Cascade Range, used 113,601 gallons of de-icer and 1.3 million pounds of salt – the most they’d ever used in a single storm.  

 Employees put in roughly 20,000 hours of overtime during this storm responding to many issues. From Jan. 12 to Jan. 19, employees responded to 511 reports of hazardous debris, 394 reports of hazardous trees, 95 landslides and rockfalls – and that doesn’t include miscellaneous events involving helping stranded motorists and addressing potholes.  

About 1.2 million people visited our travel conditions website TripCheck from Jan. 12 to Jan. 19, up a whopping 92% from the previous week. The busiest day was Jan. 13 when there were 375,000 visitors. 

ODOT says that Responding to winter storms takes significant funding, whether we’re talking about roughly $600,000 in fuel in a week or the costs of ensuring a robust response with more than 20,000 hours of additional staff time during this event.   


Nearly all commercial egg farms in Oregon and Washington must now keep their hens cage free, under laws that went into effect Jan. 1.

The nearly identical laws in both states were passed in 2019 but neither took effect immediately in order to give egg producers time to change their practices.

The laws mandate that commercial farms with 3,000 or more chickens give their birds room to move around and that any egg producers looking to sell within the states also have cage-free birds. Oregon Senate Bill 1019 outlines minimum space for chickens, and requires that they be allowed to “roam unrestricted, other than by external walls” and are “provided with enrichments that allow the hens to exhibit natural behavior, including, at a minimum, scratch areas, perches, nest boxes and dust bathing areas.”

Eggs prices, meanwhile, reached a historic high in 2023 for a variety of reasons, including higher costs for feed and fuel and outbreaks of avian flu, but economics say more ethical eggs can mean higher prices.

Shoppers might see both cage-free or free-range labels on their eggs at the grocery store. The difference? Cage-free hens may live entirely indoors while free-range hens have outdoor access.


A Portland man is starting his federal prison sentence for his federal court conviction from an Eagle Point marijuana grow operation armed robbery.

35-year-old Kenan Dizdarevic of Portland, Oregon, received a federal prison sentence of 107 months and three years of supervised release. The U.S. Attorney for Oregon (USAO) says Dizdarevic has “a lengthy criminal history” and also was ordered to pay restitution.

Court documents say Dizdarevic and another man impersonated police November 2, 2019, when they entered a residence on a secluded marijuana grow in Eagle Point wearing dark clothing, gloves, body armor, and ski masks and armed with firearms.  The record says Dizdarevic and his accomplice shouted, “police search warrant” before handcuffing and placing two people in the residence face down on the floor while, “Dizdarevic and his accomplice demanded money and guns from the two victims and eventually made off with more than 30 pounds of marijuana and one of the victim’s vehicles.”

USAO says when police located the stolen vehicle traveling with another car on Interstate 5, a police pursuit exceeded 120 miles per hour and included three counties before the stolen vehicle successfully eluded law enforcement.

The case record shows Dizdarevic was charged February 19, 2021, with interfering with commerce by robbery, conspiring with others to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and using, carrying, or brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, followed by his arrest June 29, 2022, and on August 23, 2023, he pleaded guilty to two federal criminal counts charging him with interfering with commerce by robbery and conspiring with others to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

145,509 Oregonians enrolled in health insurance coverage, a 2.4 percent increase over last year’s enrollment numbers, according to the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace.

The open enrollment period was from Nov. 1, 2023 to Jan. 16, 2024 for 2024 health coverage.

According to the Oregon Health Insurance Survey, approximately 95 percent of Oregonians are enrolled in some type of health coverage. Still, the Marketplace is working diligently to help eliminate disparities and connect all Oregonians to the health coverage that best meets their needs and budget.

The Marketplace offers high-quality health coverage that meets the basic needs of Oregonians, and covers much more. All Marketplace plans include:

  • Robust coverage for no cost preventive benefits,
  • Chiropractic and acupuncture care,
  • Emergency services and urgent care,
  • Reproductive health benefits,
  • Mental and behavioral health, and
  • Gender-affirming care.

People who missed the open enrollment deadline may still have an opportunity to get health coverage through the Marketplace if they experienced a qualifying life event such as moving, involuntarily losing health coverage, having or adopting a child, marriage, a change in citizenship, and being released from incarceration. Enrolled Tribal members, Alaska natives, and people who have lower income can enroll in health coverage at any time throughout the year.

The Marketplace is also offering a special enrollment opportunity for nearly 80,000 individuals who are losing Oregon Health Plan benefits as part of the COVID-19 public health emergency unwinding and are likely Marketplace-eligible. The Marketplace is working closely with the Oregon Health Plan to connect these people to coverage through the Marketplace.

Oregonians can preview plans and savings available to them by answering a few short questions at OregonHealthCare.gov. The website is also the best place to find a health insurance expert who can give free one-on-one help with the application and enrollment process by phone, email, or in person. Visit OregonHealthCare.gov today to get started.


A man who stormed the U.S. Capitol with fellow Proud Boys extremist group members was sentenced last week to six years in prison after he berated and insulted the judge who punished him.

Marc Bru repeatedly interrupted Chief Judge James Boasberg before he handed down the sentence, calling him a “clown” and a “fraud” presiding over a “kangaroo court.” The judge warned Bru that he could be kicked out of the courtroom if he continued to disrupt the proceedings.

Prosecutors described Bru as one of the least remorseful rioters who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. They say Bru planned for an armed insurrection — a “January 6 2.0” attack — to take over the government in Portland, Oregon, several weeks after the deadly riot in Washington, D.C.

Bru has been representing himself with an attorney on standby. He has spewed anti-government rhetoric that appears to be inspired by the sovereign citizen movement. At the start of the hearing, Bru demanded that the judge and a prosecutor turn over five years of their financial records.

The judge gave him a 10-minute break to confer with his standby lawyer before the hearing resumed with more interruptions.

Prosecutors had warned the court that Bru intended to disrupt his sentencing. On Tuesday, he called in to a nightly vigil outside the jail where he and other rioters are being held. He told supporters of the detained Jan. 6 defendants that he would “try to put on a good show” at his sentencing.

Boasberg convicted Bru of seven charges, including two felonies, after hearing trial testimony without a jury in October.

Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of seven years and three months for Bru, a resident of Washington state.


Oregonians  are still projected to spend nearly 30% more on utilities this winter than before the pandemic.

But differences in fuels, prices, and climate create large regional variation in household utility expenditures, especially during the winter months.

To determine the states most impacted by rising heating costs this winter, researchers calculated the change in monthly household utility costs from winter 2019–2020 to winter 2023–2024, then ranked states accordingly.

These are the key takeaways from the report for Oregon:

  • After remaining low since 2010, natural gas prices have risen nearly 27% since the winter of 2019–2020. Winter propane and heating oil prices also followed this trend, rising 23% and 39% during the same time period, respectively.
  • Nationally, natural gas is the predominant heating fuel, used as the primary source in over 60 million homes (46% of the total). Electricity ranks as the second most common fuel for residential heating, serving as the primary source for approximately 54 million homes.
  • Residents of Oregon—who primarily rely on electricity to heat their homes—saw average household utility costs of $180 each month during the winter of 2019–2020.
  • This winter, they’re projected to spend an average of $196 each month.
  • Based on these projections, households in Oregon will experience an 8.4% increase in their utility bills this winter.


Democratic lawmakers in Oregon on Tuesday unveiled a sweeping new bill that would undo a key part of the state’s first-in-the-nation drug decriminalization law, a recognition that public opinion has soured on the measure amid rampant public drug use during the fentanyl crisis.

The bill would recriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs as a low-level misdemeanor, enabling police to confiscate them and crack down on their use on sidewalks and in parks, its authors said.

The bill also aims to make it easier to prosecute dealers, to access addiction treatment medication, and to obtain and keep housing without facing discrimination for using that medication.

Voters passed the pioneering decriminalization law, Measure 110, with 58% support in 2020. But Democratic legislators who championed it as a way to treat addiction as a public health matter, not a crime, are now contending with one of the nation’s largest spikes in overdose deaths, along with intensifying pressure from Republicans and growing calls from a well-funded campaign group to overhaul it.

Researchers say it’s too soon to determine whether the law has contributed to the state’s deadly overdose surge, and supporters of the measure say the decades long approach of arresting people for possessing and using drugs didn’t work.

The bill, unveiled by Lieber and other Democrats serving on a recently created committee on addiction, is set to be introduced during the legislative session that starts in February. The Legislature adjourned over the summer, but concern over the state’s drug crisis led Democrats to launch the committee in between sessions. Since September, the committee has held multiple hearings and heard testimony from law enforcement and substance use disorder experts on the law’s accomplishments and shortcomings.


Coming to Central Oregon this summer…The Doobie Brothers! 

The Doobie Brothers band repertoire ranges wide from mellow roots vibes to rock and roll with a dose of soul. They’re taking it to the streets this summer cruising to Bend, Oregon on Tuesday, June 18 with special guests, and Blues Hall of Famers, The Robert Cray Band!  This is at the Hayden amphitheater in Bend.

Thursday, Jan. 25 at 10 a.m.

Friday, Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. online or
in-person at the Ticket Mill in the Old Mill District.


Also coming to Bend this summer at the Hayden will be the Dave Matthews Band

No strangers to our stage, Dave Matthews Band is arguably one of the most influential bands in music history, and it’s a guaranteed memorable night when they hit us with three hours of hits like “Satellite” or “So Much to Say” along with their famous sonic surprises. Experience it for yourself Tuesday, Aug. 27!

Friday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. online or
in-person at the Ticket Mill in the Old Mill District

Thanks for reading BasinLife.com from Wynne Broadcasting. 

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