Local News Articles

Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival Coming July 3 & 4

June 9, 2015
Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival Coming July 3 & 4

Come one, come all to downtown Smithville for the 44th Annual Fiddlers' Jamboree and Crafts Festival. This year's event will be held Friday, July 3rd and Saturday, July 4th. The Festival begins at 9:00 am each day, and continues until the final competition has been awarded. With over 35 music and dance categories, streets full of hand-made crafts, and over a dozen food booths, there is something for everyone at the Jamboree.

Preliminaries will be held in the following categories on Friday, July 3:

Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (Solo); Junior Clogging (ages 13-39); Junior Buck Dancing (ages 13-39); Old-Time Appalachian Folksinging (Duet, Trio, Quartet); Dobro Guitar; Mountain Dulcimer; Hammer Dulcimer; Novelty Event (Spoon Clacking, Jug Blowing, Washboard, Tub, Saws-Appalachian Related Only); Autoharp, Gospel Singing (Solo); Country Harmonica; Old Time Banjo; Youth Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers); Gospel Singing (Duet,Trio, and Quartet); Mandolin; and Old Time Fiddle Band.

The top three acts in each category will be called back for the finals on Friday night and a first, second, and third place will be awarded.

All first place winners get $125, except the Old Time Fiddle Band, which gets $525 for first place and Youth Square Dancing which is awarded $300.
Second place winners get $100 and third place winners receive $75. The Old Time Fiddle Band second place winner gets $425 and $325 for third place. The Youth Square Dance second place team is awarded $200 and $100 goes for third place.

A United States flag and a Tennessee State flag will be presented on Friday evening. The flags, which have flown over the state capitol, go to the persons who travel the greatest distances, both from inside and outside the country, to get here. The flags will be presented by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody.

Fiddler's Jamboree Craft Awards will be presented during the weekend for "Best of Show", "Best Appalachian Craft", "Best Newcomer", and "Best Craft Display"

On Saturday, July 4, preliminaries will be held in the following categories:

Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39); Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over); Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over); Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over); Bluegrass Banjo; Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39); Flat Top Guitar; Contest Fiddle for the Neil Dudney Award; Bluegrass Band; Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over); and Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers).

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back Saturday night to compete for first, second, and third place.

Prize money in most categories is $125 for first place; $100 for second place; and $75 for third place. Awards for Junior Fiddlers and Senior Fiddlers are $225 for first place; $175 for second place; and $150 for third place. Prizes for Bluegrass Band are $525 for first place; $425 for second place; and $325 for third place. Awards for Square Dancing are $400 for first place; $300 for second place; and $200 for third place.

The winners of the Junior and Senior Fiddling competition will square off for the Grand Champion Award, the Berry C. Williams Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the festival. The winner gets $300.

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held Saturday afternoon, July 4 during the Jamboree featuring competitions for children, up to age twelve, in the categories of Buck Dancing, Clogging, Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, Five String Banjo, Flat Top Guitar, and Fiddle.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be brought back to compete for first, second, and third place.

Prizes are $100 for first place, $75 for second place; and $50 for third place. One child will receive the Best Overall Instrumental Entertainer Trophy Award and $125 and the top fiddler will get the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Trophy and $175.

In addition to the on-stage musical entertainment, the Fiddlers Jamboree will feature many crafts, plenty of delicious food; and lots of shade tree picking around the public square.

WJLE will broadcast most of the on-stage entertainment LIVE on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and LIVE Streaming at www.wjle.com.

To learn more visit http://smithvillejamboree.com/

Board Amends School Calendar

June 9, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County School Calendar for the 2015-2016 year has been amended to correct a mistake.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW AMENDED SCHOOL CALENDAR FOR 2015-16)

1321_001.pdf (54.18 KB)

"Due to an oversight when we were adding up the days for the school calendar we made a mistake. We counted the days wrong. So instead of the last day of school being May 24 we'll have to add two days which would make May 25 the administrative day and the last day of school will be May 26," said Attendance Supervisor Joey Reeder.

The Board of Education voted to make the change during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting.

Under the new calendar, registration for all students will be Monday, August 3.

Tuesday, August 4 will be an administrative day for teachers only

The first full day of school for all students will be Wednesday, August 5

A system wide in-service day will be Tuesday, July 28

All teachers will report to their individual schools on Wednesday and Thursday July 29 and July 30

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 7.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 12-23

Students will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 25, 26, & 27 and for the Christmas break December 21 through January 1. Friday, December 18 will be the last day students attend before Christmas break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Monday, January 4 will be a stockpile day for teachers. Students will return after the holidays on Tuesday, January 5.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 18; for President's Day, Monday, February 15; and Good Friday, March 25.

Spring break will be March 28 through April 1

Stockpile Days will be Friday, September 4 and Monday, January 4.

Students will not attend on Wednesday, May 25. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Thursday, May 26 and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 6 and Thursday, March 17 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 8 and Tuesday, March 22 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

DCHS report cards will be sent home on Monday, October 5 and Tuesday, March 15 and at all other schools on Tuesday, October 6 and Thursday, March 17. All schools will send home report cards on Thursday, January 7 and on Thursday, May 26.

(UPDATED) Body of Man Recovered from Center Hill Lake (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

June 8, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Body of Man Recovered from Center Hill Lake at Floating Mill

After a search that lasted more than four hours, the body of 57 year old Timothy Majors of Ashland City was pulled from Center Hill Lake near Floating Mill Monday afternoon.

Majors is believed to have drowned but an autopsy will be performed to confirm the cause of death.

The man had been with three other family members on a pontoon boat they had rented Monday morning at the Floating Mill Camp ground. After launching the boat, Majors and two others on board decided to go swimming. The pontoon was about 100 yards off shore when they jumped into the lake.

A woman who remained on the boat tossed life jackets to all three but Majors went under before he could reach his. He never resurfaced alive.

Central dispatch received the call of a possible drowning at 10:33 a.m. and members of the TWRA, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers converged on the scene to begin the search using sonar and underwater cameras. Once the body was found, a diver from the Rescue Squad went down to bring it to the surface. The discovery was made in about twenty five feet of water at around 3:15 p.m.

The search was only temporarily halted due to a passing thunderstorm during the afternoon.

DeKalb EMS was also on the scene.

Woman Arrested for Selling Pills to Off Duty Drug Detective

June 8, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Stephanie Marie Jagneaux
Michael Brandon Redman
Forest Andrew Mathias
Jim Thomas Flesher, III
Travis Lee Baisden
Nathan Joe Trapp
Tisha Elaine Burns
Laura Ann Smith-Gaskins

A woman trying to sell drugs picked the wrong customer with whom to do business, an off duty Sheriff's Department drug detective.

43 year old Stephanie Marie Jagneaux of Student's Home Road, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Percocet), sale and delivery of a schedule IV drug (Xanax), and sale and delivery in a drug free zone. Her bond totals $75,000 and she will be in court August 13.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Jagneaux approached the detective Sunday night, June 7 not knowing who he was and asked if he wanted to purchase some Percocet and Xanax pills she was trying to sell. The detective, who also didn't know Jagneaux, arranged to meet her early Monday morning in the parking lot of PeKing Restaurant where the transaction took place within 1,000 feet of the Smithville Elementary School building. After selling the detective three Percocet and two Xanax pills, deputies quickly arrived on the scene and took Jagneaux into custody.

Meanwhile, a prisoner has been charged with assaulting a correctional officer in the jail annex.

30 year old Michael Brandon Redman of McMinnville is under a $2,500 bond and he will make a court appearance June 18.

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, June 8 Redman put a covering over a surveillance camera after he was placed in the holding tank following his involvement in an altercation inside the annex.

Redman refused when asked by a correctional officer to uncover the camera. Redman then grabbed the officer from behind his head when he entered the cell leaving scratches on his neck.

21 year old Forest Andrew Mathias of McMinnville is charged with a third offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond is $2,000 and he will make a court appearance August 27.

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, June 1 a deputy stopped a white car for a light law violation. The driver, Mathias, could not produce a driver license. A computer check confirmed that his license were suspended for a truancy law violation on March 21, 2011. Mathias also has two previous violations for driving on a suspended license in DeKalb County.

19 year old Jim Thomas Flesher, III of Village Place, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will make a court appearance June 18.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, June 3 a deputy was dispatched to Redman Road on a public disturbance complaint. Upon arrival, the officer found Flesher hiding in the woods. Flesher had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He was staggering while walking and his speech was slurred. For his safety of that of the public, Flesher was placed under arrest for public intoxication.

28 year old Travis Lee Baisden of Eagle Creek Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court June 11.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, June 4 a deputy was dispatched to Eagle Creek Road on a physical domestic complaint. Upon arrival he spoke with Baisden's mother and another man who said that Baisden had assaulted her. According to the mother, she and Baisden began arguing. After he spat in her face three times, she grabbed him by the throat and they started fighting. The woman had several marks and bruises on her head and body. Baisden was determined to have been the primary aggressor and he was placed under arrest.

32 year old Nathan Joe Trapp of Magness Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued citations for violation of the implied consent law and driving on roadways laned for travel. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court August 27.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, June 6 a deputy stopped a white vehicle traveling east on Highway 70 due to a traffic violation. After stopping the vehicle the officer spoke to the driver, Trapp. His speech was slurred. He admitted to having taken Suboxone. Trapp submitted to and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He refused to take a blood test.

44 year old Tisha Elaine Burns of Cookeville Highway, Smithville is charged with evading arrest. She is further cited for simple possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine). Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court June 11.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, May 26 a deputy conducted a traffic stop on J. Hutchings Road. Burns jumped out of the automobile and ran in an attempt to escape from law enforcement. The officer caught up with her and placed her under arrest. In addition to the evading charge, she was served with another active warrant against her. During a search of Burns' pocketbook, the officer found a small amount of methamphetamine.

46 year old Laura Ann Smith-Gaskins of Floyd Drive, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy was dispatched to Floyd Drive on Wednesday May 27 in reference to a verbal domestic complaint. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Gaskins and her mother. As the officer read Gaskins her rights, Gaskins allegedly made statements to the deputy about wanting to kill the children that were there.

City Installing New Automated Read Water Meters

June 8, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Matthew Johns of Advanced Utility Services (left) and City employee Riley Bullard (right) installing new automated read water meters
City Installing New Automated Read Water Meters

The City of Smithville is in the process of replacing all customer water meters with new automated read meters.

In January, the aldermen accepted a bid from Advanced Utility Services of North Little Rock Arkansas to supply approximately 2,500 new meters at a cost of $532,600. The project is funded under a USDA Rural Development grant/loan program.

The new meters are expected be more accurate to help prevent water loss. According to city officials, the system is expected to save the city time, money, and wear and tear on city vehicles. "Instead of taking seven working days to have two men read meters, it will only take one day with these meters. Labor wise it will save a lot of money over time. From what we understand in talking to other utility districts, automated meters are a lot more accurate and usually revenue increases," said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

The new system also keeps a 90 day history of customer's water usage and sensors are on the meters to alert city officials in the event of tampering or unusually large amounts of water usage.

Any city employee no longer needed to read meters will be reassigned to other positions in the public works department. No one will lose his job due to the new system.

City officials also stress that no increase in water or sewer rates would be needed to pay for it.

According to City Public Works Director Kevin Robinson, Advanced Utility Services has until August 16 to complete the project under terms of its contract, but work is ahead of schedule.

Eight Year Old Boy Seriously Injured in Boating Accident

June 6, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

An eight year old White County boy was seriously injured in a boating accident Friday afternoon on Center Hill Lake.

According to the TWRA, the boy was with family and friends aboard a moving pontoon boat when he fell into the water and was struck by the propeller as the vessel traveled over him. The accident reportedly occurred about a mile downstream of the Ragland Bottom Recreation area.

The boy was placed back on the pontoon and brought to shore at Ragland Bottom where he was picked up by DeKalb EMS and transported to a helicopter landing zone set up just east of Sligo bridge in a field off the highway. From there he was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital.

The youngster reportedly suffered several serious injuries and at last report was still critical but stable.

The accident was investigated by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and the Midway and Johnsons Chapel Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene.

Community Remembers Colten May with Candlelight Vigil and Balloon Release

June 6, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Balloon Release in Remembrance of Colten May
Candlelight Vigil held to Remember Colten May

Just four days shy of what would have been his second birthday, caring members of the community joined friends and family of Colten May in a remembrance program Saturday evening.

The observance, held downtown at Evins Park, featured prayers, words of encouragement from Chris Moore of the Smithville Church of God, and LIVE music, along with a candlelight vigil and a balloon release in remembrance of Colten and to promote child abuse awareness.

Colten died on Sunday, May 17. His mother's boyfriend, 23 year old Cody Key was indicted two days later for felony murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of the child. Colten's mother, 19 year old Jessica May was indicted on a charge of aggravated child neglect.

"I don't want you to walk away from here today just with a heavy heart and say I've done my part because I attended this service. I want you to find your courage," said Jennifer Wilkerson, Executive Director of the Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center, who was the keynote speaker for the program.

"I challenge each and every one of you to get involved. To contribute in some way. Ask yourselves what can we do and how can we prevent this from happening again? Find the courage to educate yourself about the signs and the symptoms of abuse. Find the courage to get involved with programs in the community. Find the courage to develop the prevention programs in your community. Talk to your children and listen to what they have to say. Most of all I encourage you to report abuse. The law in Tennessee says that any person who has a suspicion that child abuse is occurring is required by law to report that abuse. If you suspect that something is going on with a child, report it. If you report it, you could possibly save a life. This is how we can honor Colten May," said Wilkerson.

Woman and Two Children Injured in UTV Rollover Accident

June 6, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Woman and Two Children Injured in UTV Rollover Accident
Three Hurt in Polaris UTV Rollover Accident on Dry Creek Road

A 60 year old woman and two children were injured in a UTV rollover accident Friday afternoon on Dry Creek Road near Dowelltown.

Barbara Poss of Dowelltown was operating a Polaris UTV heading south with two children passengers aboard when she went off the right side of the road and plunged down a steep embankment. As the UTV overturned, the children, both girls ages 10 and 11, were thrown off. Poss was trapped underneath the UTV as it came to rest upside down. A passerby and two county volunteer firefighters, who arrived in their own vehicles, came to the aid of Poss and were able to lift the UTV off of her as the county fire department's rescue truck was enroute. Poss and the children were brought back up to the road and transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

The accident was investigated by Sergeant Eric McCormick of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were also on the scene. Poss was issued several traffic citations.

School Board Adopts Revised Budget for 2015-16

June 5, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Board members W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, Shaun Tubbs, Jerry Johnson, and Jim Beshearse
Board members Danny Parkerson, Kate Miller, and Doug Stephens

The Board of Education is curtailing some costs in its proposed budget for the 2015-16 year.

After the county budget committee Tuesday night, June 2 rejected the original spending plan offered May 28, the school board Thursday night, made some cuts.

In the revised version adopted Thursday night, the board is cutting the request for two RTI positions down to one, hoping federal money can be used to fund the other. No local money will be included to cover extended contracts which are no longer funded by the state. The board has decided to save $4,100 by no longer having a billboard on the side of the road near the high school, which has been there for the last several years showing a picture of high school graduates with the theme "Education Counts in DeKalb County". And the board is freezing funding for five positions in the school system, which have been left vacant with the recent retirement or resignation of former employees. While the funding for those five jobs will remain in the budget, it will not be spent unless the school system's average daily membership numbers increase, requiring them to be filled. The board is also considering dropping its association with AdvancED for accreditation of the schools which would save the school system money. In the school transportation category, the board had budgeted $250,000 for the purchase of two buses but the cost is not expected to be that much. The board has cut $20,000 from that line item of the budget.

The board is still asking that a computer teacher be added at Smithville Elementary School, a new part time janitor position at DeKalb West School, a new school nurse, technology and equipment upgrades, additional supplies for classrooms and intervention programs, a deaf education contract, a new scrubber, and a few other proposed new expenditures.

Even with the changes, the school system is still expected to overspend it's budget. Last year, the school board had to appropriate about $250,000 from its fund balance or reserves to cover expenses. At least the same is expected again this year.

The board's revised proposed budget will be presented to the county's budget committee Tuesday night, June 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the courthouse.

Randy Caplinger Files Lawsuit Against City of Smithville (READ ACTUAL COMPLAINT HERE)

June 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger
Sarah Cripps

Former Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger is taking his case against the City of Smithville to court.

Caplinger's attorneys Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County Circuit Court on Thursday, June 4.

(CLICK PDF LINK BELOW TO READ THE ACTUAL LAWSUIT)

caplinger complaint and _001.pdf (3.22 MB)

"We are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," said Cripps in an interview with WJLE Thursday.

In the lawsuit, Cripps and Cox are asking for a declaratory judgment "to construe the charter for the City of Smithville and to determine which provision controls and governs the number of votes required by the Board of Aldermen to ratify or confirm the mayor's decision to remove an employee of the city". Cripps and Cox are also urging the court to find that the Board of Aldermen violated a section of the charter by not convening a meeting to ratify the mayor's suspension of Caplinger without pay prior to the due process hearing. They are further asking that the court "hold and declare that Caplinger's suspension without pay effective March 13, 2015 is invalid, and hence, a nullity" and that Caplinger be allowed to "receive all accrued back pay from March 13, 2015 until the date of the hearing in this cause".

After a seven hour due process hearing Friday, May 8 the Smithville Aldermen voted 3-2 to uphold Mayor Jimmy Poss' termination of Caplinger. Aldermen Gayla Hendrix, Danny Washer, and Jason Murphy voted in favor of the mayor's action. Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Josh Miller voted against it.

But the vote itself became an issue and is one of the key components of the lawsuit.

Cripps and Cox insist that the city's charter requires a two thirds majority vote (four out of five) to confirm a mayoral termination. And Aldermen Jacobs and Miller said at the due process hearing that they had spoken with legal representatives of the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) who told them that according to the city's charter, four votes were required to approve the action of the mayor.

Article III of the Smithville City Charter regarding Organization and Personnel. Section 3.01, subsection (2) states that "All officers and employees of the city, except as otherwise specifically provided by ordinance, shall be appointed and removed by the Mayor but only with the approval of at least two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Council present voting upon the appointment or removal, and the employees shall be under the direction and control of the Mayor."

But during the due process hearing City Attorney Vester Parsley cited another section in the charter, which seems to conflict with Section 3.01 in that it allows for only " a majority of the board" to approve removal of employees by the mayor. Parsley recommended that the aldermen follow this section of the charter.

The section of the charter to which Parsley referred is Section 3.08 in Article III which states that "The appointment and promotion of employees of the city shall be on a basis of merit, considering technical knowledge and education required to perform satisfactorily the work, experience in the particular or similar line of work and administrative or supervisory qualifications. The Mayor, or the City Administrator, if established by the Board, may, with the approval of a majority of the Board, make appointments, promotions, transfers, demotions, suspensions, and removal of all employees".

In the lawsuit, Cripps and Cox are asking the court to preserve both sections of the charter but to find that Section 3.01 (requiring a 2/3 super majority vote) controls because it is more specific than Section 3.08. "Essentially what we are asking the court to do here is to tell us what provision of the city charter controls the removal of officers or employees of the City of Smithville, such as Chief Randy Caplinger. We contend that Section 3.01, subsection (2) controls. We have two statutes that appear to be in contradiction to one another. What we're asking the court to do is construe both of those statues in such a way that both of them can remain standing. In other words, the scope of Section 3.01, subsection (2) is very narrow. It deals with the ultimate employment actions that anyone can take which is appointment and removal. For those ultimate employment decisions that can be made by the mayor that section tells us that those must be approved by a super majority vote by the board. Section 3.08 is much broader and more general in its scope. It is much more far reaching in that it controls appointments, suspensions, demotions, promotions, and lateral transfers from one department to another. Furthermore it differs from the prior section (3.01) in that it says these decisions can be made unilaterally by the mayor or city administrator. The third way this section (3.08) differs is that it says these decisions must be ratified only by a simple majority of the board. What we say is both of those sections can stand if the court holds that the more specific statute controls. To hold that the general statute controls would result in a complete nullification of the entirety of 3.01, subsection 2 so we wouldn't be allowing both sections to stand. We are saying that applying that concept of statutory interpretation the more specific statute controls (3.01)," said Cripps.

Cripps and Cox also contend that the aldermen violated section 3.08 of the charter in that they failed to convene for a vote to ratify the mayor's unilateral suspension of Caplinger prior to the due process hearing. "We are saying that Chief Caplinger's employer, being the City of Smithville violated the provisions of the city's own charter in that they violated Section 3.08. How did they do that? Well on March 13 the mayor suspended Chief Caplinger and the Board, as required by Section 3.08 is supposed to convene a meeting and call for a vote on the question of whether or not to ratify the suspension of an officer or employee. The Board failed to abide by its own city charter. We contend therefore that this renders the suspension of Chief Caplinger a nullity and it renders it invalid," said Cripps.

"The final facet of our suit deals with a petition for other relief where we are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," Cripps concluded.

The City has not named a successor to Caplinger and Captain Steven Leffew remains as the “officer in charge” of the department.

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