Local News Articles

DeKalb Seniors Show Improvement in ACT Scores

August 29, 2012
Dwayne Page
Lisa Cripps

DeKalb County High School seniors last year improved their performance on the ACT test in 2012, earning a composite score of 18.7, up from 17.9 the year before, according to a report released last week by the Tennessee Department of Education. A total of 168 students took the tests.

"Its inspiring to see the progress they made on the ACT," said Lisa Cripps, Secondary Supervisor for the local school system in an interview with WJLE Wednesday.

DeKalb students improved somewhat in each area from 2011 to 2012 but still fell short of the state ACT averages. Cripps said local ACT scores began trending downward a couple of years ago after the state began requiring all eleventh graders to be tested. "We had a five year trend when we were really doing very well in 2008-09 but in 2010 we started testing all eleventh graders, whether they were college bound or not. We're only one of seven states that does that. As a result, we dropped down in our ACT scores," said Cripps.

"I'm really thrilled to say that we are back up almost a full point. I want to thank all the teachers because this is a building process where our middle schools and elementary schools all filter into that high school. This is just a real celebration for our high school and all teachers," she added.

The following are DeKalb County ACT results compared to the state averages for 2011 and 2012

DEKALB: 17.5 (2011) STATE: 19.4 (2011)
DEKALB: 18.7 (2012) STATE: 19.6 (2012)

DEKALB: 17.3 (2011) STATE: 19 (2011)
DEKALB: 17.6 (2012) STATE: 19.1 (2012)

DEKALB: 18 (2011) STATE:19.7 (2011)
DEKALB: 19.1 (2012) STATE:19.9 (2012)

DEKALB: 18.1 (2011) STATE:19.4 (2011)
DEKALB: 18.9 (2012) STATE:19.6 (2012)

DEKALB: 17.9 (2011) STATE:19.5 (2011)
DEKALB: 18.7 (2012) STATE:19.7 (2012)

Statewide, ACT scores for the high school class of 2012 show a slight improvement in all four subject areas — English, math, reading and science.

All public school students in Tennessee take the ACT in their senior year, which is over 68,000 students statewide, according to ACT results.

The average composite score for Tennessee seniors in 2012 was 19.7, a small increase over the average composite score in 2011 of 19.5. The percentage of Tennessee students earning scores that indicate readiness for college courses also increased in each of the subjects.

— In English, the average score increased to 19.6 this year from 19.4 last year. The percentage of students meeting the English college readiness benchmark was 59 percent this year, compared to 58 last year.

— In reading, the average score increased to 19.9 this year from 19.7 last year. The percentage of students meeting the reading college readiness benchmark was 43 percent this year, up from 41 percent last year.

— In mathematics, the average score was 19.1 this year, up from 19.0 last year. The percentage of students meeting the mathematics college readiness benchmark was 29 percent this year, an increase from 27 last year.

— In science, the average score increased to 19.6 this year from 19.4 last year. The percentage of students meeting the science college readiness benchmark was 21 percent this year, up from 20 percent last year.

DeKalb County Fire Department Receives Elite Award for 2011-12 Training Efforts

August 29, 2012
Donny Green

For the fourth consecutive year, the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department has been recognized as one of Tennessee’s elite fire departments for outstanding training achievement. And most notable among these awards is the department being awarded the Gold Level Award named as the #1 volunteer fire department in Tennessee for training hours. This year, the department logged 1,469 training hours, the second highest amount of training hours for any volunteer fire department in Tennessee, and was recognized as a Silver Level fire department in Tennessee for its 2011-12 training efforts. Additionally, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department ranks #25 overall considering all 732 fire departments in Tennessee, both paid and volunteer.

DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster commended the department’s members and officers for making DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department’s training program such a huge success. “It is amazing to see the level of commitment that we are getting from our volunteer firefighters who work hard and train hard to make sure our citizens have good fire protection here in DeKalb County. These rankings make it very clear that we have an excellent group of men and women who are willing to do whatever it takes to be ready to respond to the emergency needs of our citizens,” says Mayor Foster.

Chief Donny Green says he wants to personally commend Lieutenant/Training Coordinator Anthony Boyd and Lieutenant/Training Officer James Pennington for their determination in making our training program one of the best. “Properly trained firefighters are the best tools a fire department has. Without training, even the best equipment is useless. We emphasize to our members that being a professional firefighter has nothing to do with your status as "career" or "volunteer", it's entirely defined by how you perform.” says Chief Green.

The Department’s training was a core element in the recent Insurance Services Office (ISO) evaluation that resulted in a dramatic improvement to DeKalb County’s Public Protection Classification Rating of Class 6, a rating that many larger counties and cities do not have. This translates in significant savings to DeKalb County homeowners’ insurance premiums.

If you are interested in learning more about the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, or would like information on how to be on our team and become a volunteer firefighter, you can visit the Department’s website at: www.dekalbfire.com or call the Main Station at 615-597-2609 and leave a message. You can also visit the Department’s FaceBook group page.

Several County Officials Differ with Mike Foster Over Pay Scale Issue

August 28, 2012
Dwayne Page

Establishing a wage scale for county general employees remains under consideration by County Mayor Mike Foster and members of the county commission, but so far no plan has been formulated.

M2U00815 from dwayne page on Vimeo.
No pay raises were included in this year's budget, other than for employees due a raise in a four tiered salary pay scale for the Sheriff's Department which was implemented last year to bring their salaries in line with other law enforcement agencies in the area.

In June, Foster told WJLE that he hoped to have a wage scale for other county employees in place by later in this budget year. "We hope to institute a step system based on job classification and years of service. That would be primarily for all county employees, especially where there are like positions throughout the county," he said.

County officials, both in the courthouse and at the county complex, support step increases for their employees based on years of service, provided it can be funded without a property tax hike. But they are at odds with Foster on his idea of using job classification as a criteria.

On Tuesday, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, County Clerk Mike Clayborn, Trustee Sean Driver, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, and Clerk and Master Deborah Malone issued the following statement to WJLE as a group " We as county officials have only asked for step raises based on years of service. At this time, we don't feel that job classifications are in the best interest of DeKalb County. It is our belief that job titles will be divisive and will kill morale and unity of the county offices. Government will not efficiently operate without all offices working together. Therefore, we would hate to see anything done that would undermine this spirit of unity that exists now."

Aside from the elected office holders or appointed administrators, the number of employees in the courthouse and county complex offices are as follows:

County Mayor: two employees
Circuit Court Clerk: three employees
Clerk and Master: one employee
Election Commission office: one employee
County Clerk: three employees
Trustee: two employees
Register of Deeds: two employees
Assessor of Property: three employees

Each employee is budgeted to receive the same amount of pay $23,024 per year except for one of the employees in the assessor of property's office who receives $28,579. Under an agreement reached years ago, the salary for this employee's position was set at a higher level because he uses his own personal vehicle for making on-site reviews of property and is responsible for his own expense associated with that vehicle other than a county reimbursement rate for mileage which is currently 47 cents per mile for travel within the county.

During Monday night's county commission meeting, Foster reiterated his position that job classification should be taken into consideration. "Some counties are like us where nearly everybody makes the same amount of money. Some of them are grossly different from ours. We've got to do a lot more work before we try to figure out what we're going to do. A lot of that is going to be up to the department heads to come up with job descriptions so that we can implement the step raises. There's obvious differences in some of the positions. Some of them (employees) have been there a long time. In my office, I've got one (employee) who has been there for eleven years and one who has been there for one year and they make the same exact amount (salary). I agree that its probably not appropriate but that's the system we're under right now but I think we need to work to make some corrections but we're not ready to vote on it tonight. We will work on that and work with the department heads and see if we can come up with some solutions," said Foster.

Speeding Becoming a Concern at County Complex

August 28, 2012
Dwayne Page
County Clerk Mike Clayborn Points to Painted Stop Sign on Pavement
County Clerk Mike Clayborn Points to Area Where Speeding Is A Concern
Mike Clayborn Stands Near Area Where Speeding Is A Concern

Traffic control in the parking area of the new county complex has become a concern and county officials are considering options to address it.

County Clerk Mike Clayborn, who brought up the issue during Monday night's county commission meeting, said the travel lanes in front of the building lack proper signage and someone could get hurt. "We've got a big problem out there with traffic. Somebody is going to get hurt out there. I've almost gotten hit four times coming around the edge of the building. They are coming from that (Peking) restaurant and from that (On The Way) service station and they (motorists) are paying no attention. They don't even see the white stop sign (painted at the end of the travel lanes in front of the building) and we're fixing to have a horrendous crash," said Clayborn.

County Mayor Mike Foster said he and Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, who is also a county commissioner, are planning to speak with the city and county attorneys to see what can be done. "It's a county facility but its in the city," said Foster. Jimmy (Poss) is going to talk to city attorney Vester Parsley and we'll talk to Hilton (Conger) as to what we need to do as far as putting speed limits on that. We've talked about speed bumps and ripples. It does need something to slow it down. The worst I've seen is coming from the Farmers Market around the corner because they come through there pretty fast and its probably the same way on the other end," said Foster. There's about 550 to 600 feet through there (in front of the building). Its almost like a drag strip. I think there needs to be a set speed limit and something to slow the traffic," he added.

Driver License Renewal, Photo ID, and Duplicate Title Services Available Soon at County Complex

August 28, 2012
Dwayne Page
Kiosk for Driver License Renewal and Photo ID

DeKalb County residents may soon be able to obtain a duplicate title, renew drivers licenses, and get a photo ID at the county complex

County Clerk Mike Clayborn, during Monday night's county commission meeting, said he has been working for two years trying to obtain a contract with the state to be able to print duplicate titles in his office. Last week, state officials contacted Clayborn saying they were now prepared to offer a contract for this service. Clayborn said his office may also have the opportunity to produce new titles at some point in the future. "They wanted to include in my contract that I would do new titles, which incurs a whole lot more paperwork. I told them to go ahead and include it because I don't have to just automatically go into doing them. We can kind of feel our way through the duplicates, learn how to do them and then step up (to the new titles). But when we step up, its going to require more people. I'll need your (county commission) backing to do that. With the duplicates, we can handle that with what we've got (staff). But if we decide we want to do new titles, you've got to consider that you'll have individuals coming in. I don't know how many a day we'll do, but it'll be several. Then you have all your dealerships and they might bring in a week's work in one day. In other words, if you come in and do your title work, in three days you'll have a title instead of waiting two weeks. We don't have to go right into it. Its not something we've got to do in the next six months, or next year, or the next two years," he said.

clayborn from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Clayborn said the service of printing duplicate titles could be available in the county clerk's office by the first of the year.

Meanwhile, both Clayborn and County Mayor Mike Foster said that the county has reached an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Safety to set up a self serve Kiosk in the county complex for driver license renewal and to produce photo ID's. "All you've got to do is go in with a credit card. You'll put in your information. You'll swipe your card. It'll give you a receipt and they'll send you a renewal on your driver's license and make you a Tennessee ID," said Clayborn.

"It'll save you from having to drive to McMinnville or Cookeville to get a drivers license renewal or to go and get a photo ID," said Foster. "We've already signed a contract with them so that's a done deal. For those of you who go through airports a lot, a kiosk will be there. You punch in the numbers and the machine talks to you. It tells you what you need to do. It takes a picture and then gives you a temporary drivers license and when they check all the details, then they send you the license," said Foster.

The kiosks will be connected to the Tennessee Department of Safety's mainframe computer and will use face recognition software, comparing old drivers' license photos with the person standing in front of kiosk to insure the correct person is getting the new license.

Licenses and ID cards will not be printed at the kiosk due to security reasons.

Instead, a temporary driver's license will be printed in the form of a receipt, complete with a photo. The receipt will be valid for two weeks.

Man Arrested for Statutory Rape of a Child; Mother Charged with Child Endangerment

August 27, 2012
Dwayne Page
Bryan Thomas Thompson
Edna Jeanette Cox
William Anthony Miller
Nelson Pack Redmon
Heather Starr Trapp

A 19 year old man has been arrested for the statutory rape of a 13 year old girl and the child's mother is charged with child endangerment for allowing her daughter to have sex with the man in her home

Sheriff Patrick Ray said the case against Bryan Thomas Thompson and 48 year old Edna Jeanette Cox of Gentry Avenue, Smithville was investigated by criminal detectives of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. Thompson is also wanted in Smith County for a similar offense

According to Sheriff Ray, Cox allowed Thompson to move into her home and to stay in the same room with her daughter, knowing that he and the young girl were having sex. She had even advised them to use protection. Sheriff Ray said Cox was also aware that Thompson was wanted in Smith County for possibly having sex with a minor there. The actions of Cox, according to the warrant, placed her 13 year old daughter in danger.

Sheriff Ray said that Thompson has admitted to having engaged in sexual intercourse with the 13 year old girl on several occasions beginning June 30 and knew that it was wrong.

Bond for Cox is $15,000 while Thompson's bond is $36,500. They will be in court on September 13.

Meanwhile, in other cases 35 year old William Anthony Miller of McMinnville Highway, Smithville is charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest, and possession of a handgun while under the influence. His bond totals $4,500 and he will be in court on September 13.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, August 19 the sheriff's department responded to a call of an attempted suicide on Lee Braswell Road. Upon arrival, the deputy found Miller in a field holding a 40 caliber handgun. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and his speech was slurred. Miller resisted arrest and the officer took him to the ground. Miller was handcuffed and taken to the jail for booking.

32 year old Nelson Pack Redmon of Forrest Avenue, Smithville was arrested Monday, August 20 on a fugitive from Justice warrant out of Kentucky. His bond is $50,000 and he will be in court on August 30. Redmon is being held in the county jail awaiting extradition back to Kentucky to face a child support warrant.

32 year old Heather Starr Trapp of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville is charged with failure to appear and driving on a suspended license. Her bond totals $4,000 and she will be in court on August 30.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, August 21 a deputy was patrolling on Highway 56 when he saw a stalled vehicle at the intersection of Highway 56 and Bryant Street. Trapp, who was behind the wheel of the automobile, has an outstanding bench warrant against her for failure to appear in General Sessions Court on charges of driving while her license were suspended, criminal trespassing, and shoplifting. A computer check also showed her license were suspended for failure to satisfy a citation on June 15, 2011. She has a driving on a suspended license case against her pending in court.

Police Chief Releases Report on Recent Criminal Activity in Smithville

August 27, 2012
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger has released a report on recent criminal activity in the City of Smithville.

32 year old Cindy Sherrell is charged with public intoxication, possession of a schedule II controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Chief Caplinger said that on Thursday, August 16 Officer Matt Farmer received a complaint from Larry's Discount Grocery of a person causing a disturbance. Upon arrival, Officer Farmer spoke with Sherrell who appeared to be very intoxicated. She had slurred speech and was unsteady on her feet. She was arrested and transported to the police department where upon inventory of her purse, schedule II drugs and drug paraphernalia were found. She will be in court on September 13.

45 year old Melissa Poss Petty was arrested Thursday, August 16 on a sealed indictment returned by the grand jury charging her with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. She will be in court on September 17.

47 year old Janice Lynn Johnson is charged with driving under the influence. According to the warrant, on Friday, August 17, the Smithville Police Department received a call about someone passed out in a vehicle at Bumpers Drive-In. Upon arrival, the officer saw Johnson behind the wheel with the key in the ignition. Johnson had very slurred speech and was very unsteady on her feet. Johnson said she had taken muscle relaxers. She could not perform field sobriety tasks because of her level of intoxication. She did submit to a blood test. Her court date is September 13.

45 year old Jeffery Lee Johnson is cited for simple possession of a schedule V controlled substance. According to the citation, police stopped Johnson's vehicle for a traffic violation on Saturday, August 18. When Johnson was observed reaching into his pockets for unknown items, the officer asked for and received consent to search him. The officer recovered an unmarked pill bottle containing two schedule V controlled substances. Johnson will be in court on August 29

64 year old Willie Jewel Moser is cited for violation of the open container law. Police stopped Moser's vehicle to perform a welfare check concerning a possible DUI on Saturday, August 18. The officer found a half consumed beer inside a cup holder in the vehicle. Moser's court date is September 13.

38 year old Crissy M. Evans is cited for shoplifting. On Monday, August 20 Evans was observed by a Dollar General Store employee putting items in her purse and then attempting to leave the store without paying. Her court date is September 13.

30 year old Rhonda Michelle King is cited for simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance, a driver license violation, registration violation, financial responsibility law (no insurance) violation, and leaving the scene of an accident. King was involved in a hit and run accident on Tuesday, August 21 at Village Market. After leaving the scene, King was followed by a witness until officers made contact with her. King gave police consent to search her purse and vehicle. Detective Matt Holmes found in King's purse a clear baggy containing three (3) pills believed to be hydrocodone. Her court date is September 13.

34 year old James Fredrick Summers is charged with a fourth offense of driving while revoked. On Wednesday, August 22 Officer Joey Myers stopped a vehicle on West Broad Street for having a tail light out. The license of the driver, Summers, was found to be revoked for DUI in Warren County. Summers has three prior driving on revoked license offenses against him. Summers was placed under arrest due to the likelihood of this offense reoccurring. His court date is September 12

27 year old Benjamin Adam Caldwell is charged with shoplifting, possession of a schedule II & IV controlled substance for sale and delivery and he is cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. According to the warrants, Officer Lawrence Avera was called to investigate a shoplifting incident at Wal-Mart on Thursday, August 23. Upon arrival he made contact with Caldwell, who was wearing shoes that he had not paid for. Caldwell also had two more items that he had taken by removing the packaging. Upon searching for other stolen items, the officer found on Caldwell's person schedule II & VI drugs and drug paraphernalia. He will be in court on September 13.

32 year old Callie Lisette Howell is charged with burglary & theft. According to the warrant, Howell gained entry to a vehicle on Friday, August 24 while the victim was inside the BP Station on Highway 70. Howell allegedly opened a door to the automobile and began going through it, stuffing things under her shirt. She will be in court September 13.

25 year old Justin Clyde Hale is charged with burglary & theft. According to the warrants, Hale gained entry into and drove off in a truck from the parking lot of DeKalb County High School on Sunday, August 26. The truck was recovered later. He will be in court on September 13

24 year old Melissa Gail Andrews is charged with theft over $1,000. Andrews allegedly stole a vehicle on Sunday, August 26 and took it to AEI Recycling and sold it. The victim did not consent to the vehicle being sold. Her court date is September 13.

43 year old Timothy John Perricone is charged with domestic assault. According to the warrant, Sergeant Andy Snow responded to a possible kidnaping on Highway 56 north on Sunday, August 26. A passerby reported that a man was trying to force a boy into a vehicle. Perricone's court date is September 20.

32 year old David Allen Sullivan is charged with theft and simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance According to the warrants, Officer Stephen Barrett responded to a complaint of a possible shoplifter at Wal-Mart on Sunday, August 26. Upon arrival he made contact with Sullivan, recovered the stolen property, and found an unlabeled pill bottle on Sullivan's person that contained a schedule III & IV controlled substance. Sullivan was further cited for possession of a schedule IV controlled substance. His court date is September 20.

Meanwhile anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help Smithville Police solve a criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Aldermen to Act Soon on Re-Appointment of City Judge

August 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Hilton Conger

The term of Smithville Municipal Judge Hilton Conger ends this week and while Conger will most likely be re-appointed to a new two year term, the aldermen have not yet addressed the issue.

Conger's current two year term expires August 31st.

His salary as City Judge is $1,000 per month.

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen are scheduled to meet in special session Monday night at 5:00 p.m. at city hall, but only for the purpose of a public hearing and second reading action on an ordinance requiring absentee only voting for city property rights voters in the city liquor referendum in November. The next regular meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen is Monday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall. There will be no meeting on Labor Day, September 3.

The Municipal Court, up until 2002, had the same jurisdiction in city criminal cases as the General Sessions Court, and the City Judge held court several times each month with the City Attorney serving as Prosecutor.

After changes were made in the City Charter, the City Court's jurisdiction was reduced to mostly minor traffic offenses and city ordinance violations. The court now convenes usually once per month.

The City Judge, previously elected by city voters to an eight year term, now serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, appointed to a two year term.

Conger was last elected as City Judge in 1998. He was named to his first appointed term in 2006 and re-appointed in 2008 and 2010.

The changes in the City Charter, regarding the City Court, came following a State Attorney General's opinion in the fall of 2001 that only the District Attorney General and his staff had the responsibility of prosecuting state criminal action in municipal courts.

Coffee County Escapee Captured in DeKalb County After Pursuit by Law Enforcement Officers

August 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Mark Andrew Cope

An escapee from the Coffee County jail was captured Saturday afternoon in DeKalb County after crashing the stolen car he was driving on Bright Hill Road following a pursuit by law enforcement officers.

31 year old Mark Andrew Cope, who walked away from a work detail in Manchester on Thursday, was spotted in Warren County Saturday. He was driving a green 2003 Chevy Cavalier.

Warren County officers were in pursuit of the car on Highway 56 when the chase crossed into DeKalb County. Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Smithville Police Department also joined in the effort to get the vehicle stopped.

Trooper Jennings told WJLE Saturday that Cope led authorities from Highway 56 onto South College Street in Smithville where an officer had blocked the road. Cope then turned east onto Dearman Street from South College Street, crossed South Congress Boulevard (Highway 56) from Dearman, and then continued east on Dearman Street. From Dearman, Cope got onto Bright Hill Road and subsequently wrecked, going off the road and hitting an embankment before stopping. Cope jumped out of the car but officers quickly converged before he had a chance to flee.

Cope was placed under arrest and turned over to Warren County authorities. No one was injured.

Tigers Maul Bulldogs 65-0

August 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Tigers Maul Bulldogs 65-0

The DeKalb County Tigers cruised to a 65 to 0 road win at Clay County Friday night to go 2-0 on the young football season.

DC got on the board with 8:38 left in the first quarter on a ten yard touchdown pass from quarterback Lucas Phillips to Cody Puckett. The P.A.T. by Ben Driver was good and the Tigers led 7-0


In the second period, Lance Ball caught a four yard touchdown pass from quarterback Phillips with ten minutes left to put the Tigers up 13-0. The P.A.T. try by Ben Driver was no good.

With 6:38 left in the half, Chris Chapman scored on a four yard run. Driver's P.A.T. was good and the Tigers led 20-0.

The Tigers got a safety with 4:36 left in the second period as the Clay County quarterback fumbled near the goal line and the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone. The score was 22-0.

On the ensuing free kick, Will Molander raced 62 yards for a touchdown. The P.A.T. by Driver was good and DC built the lead to 29-0.

Sonni Fullilove added another touchdown for the Tigers on a 22 yard pass play from quarterback Phillips with thirty five seconds until halftime to give the Black and Gold a commanding 36 to 0 lead.

In the third quarter, Sonni Fullilove scored on a 14 yard pass play from quarterback Phillips with 5:55 left and the Tigers moved out front 43 to 0 after the Ben Driver P.A.T.

With 11:47 left in the fourth period, Devonta Milan scored on a 67 yard touchdown run. Driver's P.A.T. was good and DeKalb County led 50 to 0.

Milan scored again later on a nine yard run. Driver picked up the ball on a bad snap on the P.A.T. try and raced for the endzone, scoring on the two point conversion to put the Tigers up 58-0.

The last score of the night came on a 40 yard touchdown run by A.J. Mooneyham. The P.A.T. by Driver was good and for the second week in a row, DeKalb County has held it's opponent scoreless, this time winning 65-0.

Next Friday night the Tigers open the district schedule at Cannon County.. WJLE will have LIVE coverage from Woodbury at 7:00 p.m.


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