Local News Articles

DeKalb Jobless Rate Holds Steady at 10.7% in August

September 24, 2009
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's preliminary unemployment rate for August was unchanged from July at 10.7%, but 3.9% higher than the 6.8% rate recorded in August 2008.

The local labor force for August was 9,970. A total of 8,900 were employed and 1,070 were unemployed.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August 2009 was 10.8 percent, 0.1 percentage point higher than the July rate of 10.7 percent. The United States' unemployment rate for the month of August was 9.7 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for August 2009, show that the rate increased in 47 counties, decreased in 42 counties and remained the same in six counties.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, up from 6.9 percent in July. Lauderdale County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.7 percent, up from 19.5 in July, followed by Scott County at 19.2 percent, down from 19.5 percent in July.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 8.7 percent, up 0.5 percentage point from the July rate. Hamilton County was at 9.4 percent, up 0.3 percentage point from the July rate. Davidson County was 9.6 percent, up 0.4 from the previous month, and Shelby County was 10.6 percent, up 0.3 from the July rate.

Tennesseans File Nearly 36,000 Claims for First-Time Homebuyer Credit

September 24, 2009

With the deadline quickly approaching, the Internal Revenue Service today reminded potential homebuyers they must complete their first-time home purchases before Dec. 1 to qualify for the special first-time homebuyer credit. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act extended the tax credit, which so far has provided a tax benefit to more than 1.4 million taxpayers nationwide, including 35,892 in Tennessee.

The number of claims filed by Tennesseans is the 13th highest in the nation.
"IRS is glad to see that many Tennesseans have taken advantage of the homebuyer credit," said IRS spokesman Dan Boone, "but the clock is ticking for those who hope to and have not."

The credit of up to $8,000 is generally available to homebuyers with qualifying income levels who have never owned a home or have not owned one in the past three years. The IRS has a new YouTube video and other resources that explain the credit in detail.

The IRS encouraged all eligible homebuyers to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer credit but at the same time cautioned taxpayers to avoid schemes that help ineligible people file false claims for the credit. Currently, the agency is investigating a number of cases of potential fraud and is using computer screening tools to identify questionable claims for the credit.

Because the credit is only in effect for a limited time, those considering buying a home must act soon to qualify for the credit. Under the Recovery Act, an eligible home purchase must be completed before Dec. 1, 2009. This means that the last day to close on a home is Nov. 30.

The credit cannot be claimed until after the purchase is completed. For purchases made this year before Dec. 1, taxpayers have the option of claiming the credit on their 2008 returns or waiting until next year and claiming it on their 2009 returns.

For those considering a home purchase this fall, here are some other details about the first-time homebuyer credit:

The credit is 10 percent of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $8,000 for either a single taxpayer or a married couple filing jointly. The limit is $4,000 for a married person filing a separate return. In most cases, the full credit will be available for homes costing $80,000 or more.

The credit reduces the taxpayer’s tax bill or increases his or her refund, dollar for dollar. Unlike most tax credits, the first-time homebuyer credit is fully refundable. This means that the credit will be paid to eligible taxpayers, even if they owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax owed.
Only the purchase of a main home located in the United States qualifies. Vacation homes and rental properties are not eligible.

A home constructed by the taxpayer only qualifies for the credit if the taxpayer occupies it before Dec. 1, 2009.

The credit is reduced or eliminated for higher-income taxpayers. The credit is phased out based on the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). MAGI is adjusted gross income plus various amounts excluded from income—for example, certain foreign income. For a married couple filing a joint return, the phase-out range is $150,000 to $170,000. For other taxpayers, the range is $75,000 to $95,000. This means the full credit is available for married couples filing a joint return whose MAGI is $150,000 or less and for other taxpayers whose MAGI is $75,000 or less.

The credit must be repaid if, within three years of purchase, the home ceases to be the taxpayer’s main home. For example, a taxpayer who claims the credit based on a qualifying purchase on Sept. 1, 2009, must repay the full credit if he or she sells the home or converts it to business or rental use at any time before Sept. 1, 2012.

Taxpayers cannot take the credit even if they buy a main home before Dec. 1 if:

The taxpayer’s income is too large. This means joint filers with MAGI of $170,000 and above and other taxpayers with MAGI of $95,000 and above.

The taxpayer buys a home from a close relative. This includes a home purchased from the taxpayer’s spouse, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild.

The taxpayer owned another main home at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase. For a married couple filing a joint return, this requirement applies to both spouses. For example, if the taxpayer bought a home on Sept. 1, 2009, the taxpayer cannot take the credit for that home if he or she owned, or had an ownership interest in, another main home at any time from Sept. 2, 2006, through Sept. 1, 2009.

The taxpayer is a nonresident alien.
For details on claiming the credit, see Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit.

DeKalb Community Hospital Kicks off October Mammogram Drive

September 24, 2009
DeKalb Community Hospital Kicks off October Mammogram Drive

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In recognition, DeKalb Community Hospital is encouraging women to get their annual mammogram by doing a mammogram drive. Last year the hospital did more than 350 mammograms during the month of October. Bill Little, the CEO at DeKalb Community Hospital, states that this year “I hope we complete at least 400 of these potentially life-saving exams”.

As an incentive for women to get their mammogram the hospital is offering a free tote to those who come in during the month of October for their exam. The bags are also given out all year long when women schedule their first mammogram or come in on their birthday. Breast cancer is a type of cancer where cells in the breast tissue divide and grow without normal control. It is a widespread and random disease, striking women and men of all ages and races. It is the most prevalent cancer in the world today, with about 1.3 million people diagnosed annually. The exact cause of the disease is unknown, and at this time, there is no cure.

But there is hope. Thanks to heightened awareness, early detection through screening, improved treatment methods and increased access to breast health services, people have a greater chance of survival than ever before.

Carla Mick, the Director of the Radiology Department at DeKalb Community Hospital, also shared that “the hospital is proud to be able to offer a mammogram screening special to help those women currently without insurance or with insurance that doesn’t cover this screening. The much reduced special price is just $60.00 and includes the actual mammogram as well as covers the radiologist reading fee”. She adds that when registering the patient should let the admitting office know that they would like the screening special.

According to Carla, “all women should really get their first mammogram by age 40 and then yearly thereafter. If you have a family history of breast cancer then you shouldn’t wait until you are 40. Mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer early. We hope as many women as possible will call to schedule their mammogram. You can call 215-5530 to schedule yours today”.

(Radiology Department staff wearing shirts to promote Breast Cancer Awareness-
Pictured left to right: Front row: Kelly Curtis
Second row: Dama Agee, Carla Mick, Wanda Crouch, Shaun Tubbs
Third row: Chris Mick, Michele Roller, Misty Graves)

Salem Baptist Church to Commemorate 200 Years of Service to the Lord

September 23, 2009
Dwayne Page
Salem Baptist Church in 1880s
Salem Baptist Church in 1928
Salem Baptist Church today

The congregation of Salem Baptist Church at Liberty will celebrate the church's 200th year of service to the Lord on Sunday, September 27th starting at 10:00 a.m.

The church was established in 1809 and some of DeKalb County's earliest settlers, including Adam Dale, helped organize it.

Terry Martin, member of the church, says the worship service Sunday will include a reflection of the past and many of the former ministers will be returning to join in the observance. "We've invited former pastors and all the former pastors still living, except one, have agreed to come back and we'll give them a moment to speak. We'll also have a presentation of the history of the church. Lunch will be served and then there will be a video presentation that was actually created in 1986 called "A Walk Down Memory Lane". That video was actually redone again in 1994 and it's been updated to today. Some historical documents will also be out for people to view. That's one of the good things about the church, people have had the foresight to keep really good records, not only just the church minutes, but some of the original documents. There's just a wealth of information and it'll really be interesting for people to see."

Martin says Salem Baptist Church, which started as a branch of a church at Brush Creek, has itself given birth to many other churches since it's beginnings. "The church was actually started as a branch of a Baptist church at Brush Creek. Around 1805 an arm of that ministry was set up and the people met there for a while and then in August 1809 the church was actually constituted. We went from an original small log building to a little larger building in the 1850's and then finally in 1927 the first cornerstone was laid for the church pretty much as you see it today. Anybody who has driven down Main Street in Liberty or Highway 70 and looked to the south and seen the front of that church, that's a landmark in itself right there. So that church has been here for quite some time. It does set pretty much in the same spot as the original church in October, 1809. Soon after the church came into being, that building was placed there. Prior to that, they had met in other people's houses. They had a little building near the Forks of the Pike there where the flashing lights are now at Highways 96 &70 but once the church started it was set there where the building is now. Of course the building, as you see it now at the front, was started in 1927 and stayed pretty much consistently with updates through the years until 1997 when the church voted to put an addition on which included a fellowship hall, new classrooms, and redoing the basement, but one thing I think is important is that the building committee and the contractor who actually did the work, they built that new beautiful addition but they did it without detracting from that wonderful architecture at the front of that building so when you pull up now, you still see that same view that you have always seen. It blended real well together."

Martin reflected on the early days of the church and the founding members. "When you think about the history of DeKalb County, obviously the first name you're going to think of is Adam Dale and as we present our history you can't separate nor should you try to separate the history of the church with the history of Liberty and DeKalb County. Adam Dale moved into Liberty, selected his place there, sent for friends and family, and a large contingent of those people moved here during that time frame of 1809 and began the church. Adam Dale was actually the first clerk of the church so he was very instrumental in getting the church started and he was active in the church. When we first started there were thirty one members including Adam Dale and his brother William Dale. The original pastor who helped start the church was Cantrell Bethel and he was the pastor there for twenty eight years. He is buried there just to the east of the church (in Salem Cemetery) and it's almost symbolically as though he were looking over that church that he helped start."

Martin says the congregation today is carrying on the tradition of service to the Lord. "We've got a strong membership. On average, there are probably anywhere from 130 to 150 members and guests at the church on any given Sunday. We do have a very active church. We have an exceptional youth group going right now. They're just into everything. We try to do a lot of activities in the community, especially there in Liberty and DeKalb County so we're proud of the church and what God has given us to work with. Our pastor today is Mark Wade. He has been with us since about November, 2008 and the church is very excited to have him with us. He is very active and he takes a great leadership role in the church. We're so excited to be part of this 200 year history of this church but even though we want to celebrate the founding members and everything that's been done, as well as the history of the buildings, the records and all that, we still want to keep in mind that all of this is directly what God has done because none of this would have been possible without him and it's just an extension of the work that he is doing. Salem is considered the mother church of many other churches in the area and the significance of that is each one of those churches went on and created their own history and did their own work for God."

Early Voting Draws 757 DTC Members to Polls

September 23, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Election Commission has released early voting totals for the DTC Election of Directors.

Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley says a total of 757 DTC members voted during the early voting period from Monday through Wednesday, September 21st-23rd including 404 in Smithville at the courthouse, 200 in Alexandria at the fairgrounds; 100 in Woodbury; and 53 in Gordonsville

The following is a breakdown of the vote each day at each location:
Monday- 126




Directors will be elected in three exchanges, including the Alexandria (529), Liberty (536), and Smithville (215/597) exchanges on Saturday, September 26th. Voting for directors will take place at the cooperative's annual meeting.

The Alexandria exchange is represented by three candidates: Incumbent Bennie "Buck" Curtis and two candidates who qualified by petition - Wayne "Elmer" Fitts and Robbie "Donnie" Rowland.

Incumbent Randy Campbell in the Liberty exchange is running unopposed.

The Smithville exchange is represented by two candidates: Incumbent Ronnie Garrison and one candidate who qualified by petition – Paul Cantrell.

On Saturday, gates to the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria will open at 11:45 a.m., with voting from noon until 4 p.m. The business meeting will begin at 4 p.m. or once the last person in line at that time has voted.

Only DTC members may vote, and each member must present identification. For a single membership, only that individual may vote. Either member of a joint membership may vote, but not both. In the case of a business membership, a business affidavit is required.

For questions regarding membership and voting guidelines, refer to the by-laws section included in the current DTC phone directory, or call DTC at 615-529-2955.

City Resident Makes Complaint about Speeding-Asks for Speed Bumps on her Street

September 22, 2009
Dwayne Page

A concerned citizen came before the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen Monday night asking for speed bumps to be placed in the Morgan Drive/Gentry Avenue area.

Mary Smith of 428 Morgan Drive says speeding is a problem in the neighborhood and that she and others are concerned that someone could get hurt unless it is addressed. "Residents of Morgan Drive and Gentry Drive are concerned about our safety and our kids safety, being in the yards and on the sidewalks, because of the speeding cars. We would like for you all to talk it over and see if we can get some speed bumps on Gentry and Morgan Drive. There was even a city truck come through there the other day and he was flying. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said that the police department could step up patrols in the area but that speed bumps probably could not be put in because these are thru streets." We will step up the patrols over there and if anyone is caught speeding, they will get a ticket. I hope I don't have another report of a city truck going through there speeding."

"The board made a decision probably two or three years ago that on thru streets where EMS units and fire trucks go, we don't put the speed bumps on any thru streets. If it's a dead end street, it might be a different story, we might do one. I think there are maybe a couple (speed bumps) on one dead end street here in town. But on thru streets, it is just a hazard to EMS units and different people who have to come through there. I will guarantee that we will have extra patrols through there and you will see more city policemen patrolling that area."

City to Step up Enforcement of Ordinance Regulating Charitable Roadblocks

September 22, 2009
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville has an ordinance regulating charitable roadblocks which are often conducted at major intersections to raise money for various causes or needs.

However, Alderman Shawn Jacobs says he is concerned that the practice is being abused and wants the city to have stricter enforcement.

During Monday night's city council meeting, Jacobs cited a passage of the ordinance, which requires groups wanting to conduct a fund raising roadblock to show proof in writing to the Chief of Police that their organization meets non-profit, tax exempt status. "I'd like to call the board's attention to ordinance #329, it was passed on November 4th, 2002. It's an ordinance regulating the obstruction of highways and other passages where charitable organizations and others must provide proof of exemption from the IRS under 26 US Code 501-C3 or 4 in writing to the Chief of Police, it's proposed specific time and place of obstruction ,and the precautions to be implemented by the organization. This is in regard to setting up charitable roadblocks, such as at Highways 70 & 56. The reason I bring this up is I have had a number of citizens bring this to my attention that for a while it seemed like every Saturday there was somebody at that intersection collecting contributions. Sometimes it's people we know. Sometimes we have no idea who they are and I just wondered, is this ordinance being enforced and if not can we start getting it enforced because this is truly a hazard. I know a young person was actually struck by a car several months ago."

One of the concerns is that some groups may be setting up road blocks without contacting the city.

Police Chief Richard Jennings explained how his department handles charitable roadblocks. "If somebody is going to do a road block down there, they have to send me proof that they are a tax exempt organization. It has to be in writing and they have to schedule a day with my secretary and we keep a schedule of that and we keep those on file. My secretary posts it on the board that on this date, this group will be down there collecting money and if they (police) see somebody down there, they're supposed to come in and make sure their name is on the list. If not, they go down there and ask them to leave, and we have done that."

"They (groups collecting money) are required to wear the orange vests but sometimes they don't always do that and they are not supposed to stand out in the roadway. They are to stand over on the sidewalk. I have my officers check on it and if they're standing out there (in the road) they (officers) are to come down there and tell them to step over to the side of the road."

"I would like for the people who actually collect the money to be at least eighteen years old . I don't have a rule like that but that would be nice because there are children out there sometimes. It's very dangerous and if the board wants to address the problem, we could have more strict guidelines. I think we do need that but it's not in the ordinance. It doesn't address where they can stand, the age, or a time limit if we want to set one. It might be something the board would want to take a look at and tighten it up a little."

The aldermen seemed to agree that written permits should be issued to eligible groups seeking permission to conduct charitable roadblocks, a practice which is currently not being followed. Chief Jennings said he was unaware that written permits were required but that he would comply and begin issuing them.

County to Consider Purchase of Vacant Shopping Center

September 21, 2009
Dwayne Page
Town and Country Shopping Center
Town and Country Shopping Center2-

It was once an active and vibrant shopping plaza, but today the Town and Country Shopping Center on South Congress Boulevard, Smithville is no more and the buildings are vacant and for sale.

County Mayor Mike Foster says the 62,000 square foot complex could be just what the local government needs to help relieve overcrowding at the courthouse and to provide space for other community events and activities.

Foster says the county has been in negotiations with the owner of the property and has a chance to purchase it for around $750,000. The final decision will rest with the county commission. "We have been having some problems in the courthouse with space. We're running out of space to store things and some of the offices are extremely tight (needing space). We've been talking for two or three years about trying to build a building to take up some of that slack. We bought a lot on Highway 56 for that purpose when it was in a bankruptcy sale. We thought that was a really good situation and in a good location. But just lately, we started talking and negotiating with the guy who owns what was known as the Smithville Food Center shopping center. We've been talking with him for several weeks about that track of land which is about 5.2 acres located on Highway 56. The property goes over toward Bryant Street and down by the BP station and it backs up to Smithville Elementary School. It's about seven hundred feet on the back line and it's got 62,000 square feet of buildings there where several businesses used to be located. Of course, they're vacant now and have been for some time. It's actually appraised at $1.2 million which is what the current owner paid for it in 2002. The county budget committee authorized me to talk with him (owner) to see what we could come up with. He started out wanting $1.2 million and came down until he has finally priced it in the neighborhood of $750,000. We have signed a contract with him to give us thirty days to get engineers, etc to look at it and see if we could buy part or all of the shopping center and the land."

A lack of adequate courthouse space has been a problem for several years but if the county makes this purchase, Foster says some of the public officials on the second floor of the courthouse could relocate their offices to the shopping center, creating more room at the courthouse for record storage and more space for the Circuit, Juvenile, and Chancery Courts. Foster says the shopping center would still have plenty of space for rooms or buildings that the county could lease to non-profit organizations or have available for civic functions. "Of course there's more space in there than we would need for the courthouse. One of those buildings would do for that (courthouse annex). We think one building, we could divide into probably at least five good, large office spaces and have a conference room in there too and then move some of the court offices ( from the third floor of the courthouse) down to the second floor (of the courthouse) and relieve a lot of that space shortage. Most of our records, we have to keep forever, some of them we have to keep for seven years. We absolutely have no where do to that properly right now."

"Some of the other buildings (shopping center), we could only lease to non-profit organizations or state agencies. We have looked at maybe being able to rent to a couple of state agencies and if we could do that, we think we could at least pay the interest on that (debt) by renting. Plus we would still have some extra space that maybe we could have, for the lack of a better term, a civic center. But when I say civic center, I mean a place where people could have public meetings or events. One of the things we were thinking about is talking to Motlow State Community College or Tennessee Tech and maybe get them to have some college classes there for people who are working, but would like to take some college courses or work force development training to try and improve their employment opportunities. Those are the types of things that benefit the entire county."

"It's a good fix for a lot of our problems. I know for those people who talk about wanting a civic center like McMinnville, this doesn't meet that need, but it's way better than what we've got. We don't want to buy something to just sink money into but if the buildings pan out and the engineer says that everything looks good, I think this would certainly relieve the overcrowding at the courthouse. There would be plenty of open parking for people needing to do business with the county and it would certainly give us room for something in the way of community rooms where we could have meetings, maybe performing arts, exercise rooms, and things that kids, senior citizens, and everybody could use, and we could get into it for not much money."

The county commission may discuss the issue at their next meeting on Monday night, September 28th at the courthouse.

In March, 2008 the county commission voted to purchase a small lot near the public square as a possible future location for a courthouse annex.

The property, which belonged to Doug Hodges, became available as a result of a bankruptcy finalization stemming from the B. Don James case.

The county bought that property, about eight tenths of an acre, for $125,000 on a three year note.

That site, which the county still owns, is about 200 feet x 150 feet and is located between North Congress Boulevard, East Church Street, First Street, and East Walnut Street.

Thomas and Leduc Charged in local Burglary and Theft Investigation

September 21, 2009
Dwayne Page
Jonathon David Thomas
James Steven Leduc

Two men have been charged in a recent burglary and theft investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 24 year old Jonathon David Thomas of Nashville Highway, Liberty was charged on Thursday, September 17th with aggravated burglary and theft of property after an investigation into a break in on Tramel Branch Road. Another person, 34 year old James Steven Leduc of Gin Alley, Alexandria, who had previously been charged with theft of property, has now been charged with aggravated burglary. The two men went to a home on Tramel Branch Road, kicked in the back door and took several items including a black stove and ceiling fans from the home. The stove and fans were then sold to a business in Alexandria. The items have since been recovered. Bond for Thomas was set at $35,000 and Leduc's bond was set at $25,000 on the new charge. Both will appear in court on October 1st.

Meanwhile in other cases, on Monday, September 14th, deputies responded to a call on Highway 56 South where a "be on the look out" was issued for a wanted man, 48 year old David Petty of Houston Hollow Road, Alexandria. The described vehicle was stopped but the man in the automobile, Petty, tried to pass himself off as someone else. When Petty was asked for his name, he said it was Michael Petty and he gave the officer a fake date of birth and social security number. Petty, who was identified by prior bookings into the DeKalb County Jail, was charged with criminal impersonation. His bond was set at $2,500 and he will appear in court on October 1st.

On Tuesday, September 15th, deputies spotted a possible drunk driver on Highway 56 North. The vehicle could be seen weaving in the roadway. After the traffic stop, officers found 44 year old Richard Arthur Schilt of Allen Chapel Road Smithville to be under the influence. Schilt had an odor of alcohol on his person, slurred speech and he was unsteady on his feet. Schilt submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Schilt was charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law. Schilt will appear in court on October 1st. Schilt's vehicle, a 1998 Chrysler car was also seized. Meanwhile, a passenger in the vehicle, 40 year old Elsie Mae Judkins of Allen Chapel Road Smithville was also arrested. After a search of her person, deputies found a hypodermic needle hidden in her sock. Judkins was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and her bond was set at $1,000. She will appear in court on October 1st.

Judkins was also charged Tuesday after she tried to throw a pill under a deputy's patrol car after the officer made a traffic stop of her vehicle in the Big Rock Road /Vaughn Lane area. The deputy saw Judkins throw something under his car while he was talking to a passenger of vehicle and discovered that it was a perecot pill. Also found on Judkins were two hypodermic needles and a dilaudid pill. Judkins was charged with simple possession of a schedule II dug dilaudid, simple possession of a schedule II pill (perecot), and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond was set at $6,000 and she will appear in court on October 1st.

On Saturday, September 19th, deputies worked a one-car accident on Vaughn Lane in Smithville and arrested 44 year old David Lopez Reyes of Vinewood Road, McMinnville for a first offense of driving under the influence. Officers noticed Reyes to be under the influence. He had slurred speech, was unsteady on his feet, and he had an odor of alcohol on his person. Reyes submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Reyes was also issued citations for no driver's license and violation of the implied consent law. His bond was set at $1,500.

On Sunday, September 20th, deputies arrested 33 year old Jeremy Nelson Moulder of Old Smithville Highway, McMinnville for driving on a suspended license. Moulder was stopped for a traffic offense and he told the officers that he did not have a driver's license. Upon running a computer check, the deputy learned that Moulder's license was suspended for a failure to file insurance after an accident. Moulder's bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on October 1st.

SES Students Participate in Wildcat Fun Run

September 20, 2009
Dwayne Page

Students from pre-K to the second grade helped raise money for their school during the 18th annual Wildcat Fun Run held Friday at Smithville Elementary School.

The event was held in the gym due to the inclement weather.

The Fun Run is a project of the PTO, held each year in an effort to raise money for the school. Students are asked to accept pledges or donations prior to the day of the run. During the Fun Run, students walk or jog around a track with each lap being recorded for each student. After the event, the students then collect money from their pledges.


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