Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Letter: Don’t burden U.S. citizens with red tape

April 22, 2014 — 

Bureaucracy delays licensing

Are readers as upset as I am by the State of Oregon and the Department of Motor Vehicles? They’ve put their burden of mismanagement on the shoulders of the citizens by requiring us to provide our birth certificate to get renewals, or a new driver’s or chauffeur’s license.

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Letter: Don’t waste Douglas County taxpayers’ money

April 22, 2014 — 

Challenging nonprofits

Susan Acree has now turned her attacks on non-profits by attempting to revoke their tax exempt status. After refusing to recognize the decline in the real estate market, as all the appraisers, realtors, insurance agents, bankers, mortgage brokers and property owners have, she is now on a quest for more sources of revenue.

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Letter: Choose the candidate who understands Douglas County and its needs

April 22, 2014 — 

Vote Smith for commissioner

Here’s a novel, refreshing idea: a candidate for commissioner who actually cares about the people of Douglas County. He won’t pander to any special interests groups. He won’t take people’s hard-earned money driving a publicly owned vehicle home and back every day. This alone would save a lot.

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Letter: Try infilling, instead of urban sprawl in Roseburg

April 22, 2014 — 

New strategies needed in town

To all the ambitious folks running for office on the county commission and for city positions, here’s an idea that I have heard has worked in other small cities.

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Editorial: On the dole and feeling bummed in Douglas County

April 22, 2014 — 

Douglas County last week got its unemployment check.

The Bureau of Land Management sent $9.5 million, the county’s share of the Secure Rural Schools program, a politically popular handout. Counties in 41 states and Puerto Rico get money.

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Letter: Choose leadership and commitment in Douglas County Commissioner

April 21, 2014 — 

Vote for responsiveness

For many years now, I have had the opportunity to work with Tim Freeman. As a non-profit director of an agency that is dedicated to strengthening families, I have always appreciated Tim’s straight-forward approach and his knowledge of the issues affecting children and families in Douglas County. As a legislator, I have always been able to trust Tim to be honest and up front as he tackles complex issues.

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Letter: Elect Douglas County Commissioner who is willing to take time to answer questions and solve problems

April 21, 2014 — 

Freeman serves county voters

Tim Freeman is one of the most personable elected officials I have ever met. He is always willing to take the time to answer any questions I might have or solve any problem. Just recently I asked him about bringing my granddaughter up to Salem to be a page in the legislature.

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Letter: Support a dynamic, honest, intelligent candidate for Douglas County Commissioner

April 21, 2014 — 

Vote Smith for commissioner

Please join us in supporting Monte Smith for Douglas County Commissioner. We have known Monte for years, and Monte seems to know everyone else! Monte makes a great and lasting impression on everyone he meets; his honesty, warmth, and humor are immediately apparent. We were pleasantly surprised when he decided to run for office. It’s refreshing that a normal, earnest, upstanding citizen has such interest in serving our county.

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Letter: Freeman’s track record shows his diligence on behalf of Douglas County residents

April 21, 2014 — 

Understanding county needs

Writing a letter to the editor is not an easy thing to do, but I feel strongly that Tim Freeman, as a candidate for Douglas County Commissioner, is worth the effort. He took his job as a state representative very seriously and when I or anyone else needed his help, he was always available. As a dedicated public servant, he worked hard for the people in this district and will continue to do the same as a county commissioner.

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Editor’s Notebook: It’s election time: Get informed, share your opinions

April 20, 2014 — 

You don’t need us to remind you that an election is nearing — you’ve seen the political signs dotting the roadways of Douglas County and beyond.

You might like to know how we’re approaching this election season, however, and some important deadlines.

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Publisher’s Notebook: Does the BLM think cows are more threatening that tree-sitters?

April 20, 2014 — 

My one take-away from the Nevada dust-up between the government and a cantankerous rancher named Clive Bundy was this: Cows and tree-sitters should be treated equally.

If we assume that the Bureau of Land Management actually owns the 247.3 million acres of America’s land — and not we the people — it has a right to protect its land from deadbeat cows and cranky ranchers. Much as it has the right to protect its land from tree-sitters, or other squatters.

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Letter: Is religious freedom for Christians in America the new target of discrimination?

April 18, 2014 — 

Courts rule out Christian values

“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” the discarded military policy regarding homosexuality, is still in force in America, except that it no longer applies to what a person does in the privacy of his or her bedroom, but rather to a person’s religious beliefs – if they are Christian beliefs.

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Letter: Douglas County needs realistic valuation and taxation

April 18, 2014 — 

Despite experience assessor gets “F”

If you needed to hire any professional to provide a service, what would you base your selection on? Most people would say experience and/or knowledge. But just because someone has been doing something a long time doesn’t mean they are providing quality in what they are producing.

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Editorial: Roses & thorns

April 18, 2014 — 

Stellar speller

Peter LaLande was calm and confident each time he stepped to the microphone and spelled the word pronounced for him at last Saturday’s Douglas County Spelling Bee. His demeanor and stellar spelling paid off. The home-schooled sixth-grader from Dixonville was named champion of the annual bee, taking home a laptop computer and printer.

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Letter: Know the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center requirements for transportation after a colonoscopy

April 17, 2014 — 

Long-standing appt. canceled

I would like to make any veterans in the area aware that if they have a colonoscopy in the future at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, they must have a friend or relative sign them in at the clinic. The only alternative to this is staying overnight at the hospital after a 2-hour procedure. There are no exceptions.

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Letter: Real estate broker backs Hartman for Douglas County Assessor

April 17, 2014 — 

I’ll vote for Roger Hartman

I have been a real estate broker in Douglas County for 37 years and have never seen the assessment department in such poor shape as it is now.

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Letter: Efficiency and experience required for Douglas County assessor

April 17, 2014 — 

Acree is best for assessor

I support Susan Acree for re-election as Douglas County assessor because she is the only candidate who goes to work in the assessor’s office. She is doing a great job of representing everyone. She has done her work in the assessor’s office in a very quiet manner with great efficiency for more than three decades.

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Letter: Use election to jumpstart Douglas County economy

April 17, 2014 — 

Vote Atherton for Dist. No. 2

Between Susan Morgan and Tim Freeman, Republicans have held the House District No. 2 seat for the last 14 years. What do we have to show for it? We have nothing; no new jobs, no new businesses, no new industry, no new infrastructure, and no new hope!

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Letter: Choose Douglas County Assessor based on qualifications

April 16, 2014 — 

Acree has the job experience

Roger Hartman has zero experience working in an assessor’s office.

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Guest column: Rural VA hospitals can run effective intensive care units

April 16, 2014 — 

The latest installment of “Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center can’t have an intensive care unit and here are the reasons why” was the same old rhetoric that the veterans of Douglas County and Southwest Oregon have heard for the past five years.

Booz Allen Hamilton’s expert Dr. Ken Kizer and former undersecretary of the Veterans Health Administration was asked by Rep. Timothy Hutchinson, R-AR, at a congressional hearing proposing the 1996 Veterans Health and Eligibility Reform Act, “What guarantees there might be to ensure that hospital and VISN directors would not arbitrarily eliminate specialized services because of the high cost involved.” Dr. Kizer answered the committee and told them that oversight by stakeholders in the form of management assistance councils would be set up as oversight so this would never happen.

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Guest column: Green tariffs may help attract businesses to Oregon

April 16, 2014 — 

On the last day of February, the Oregon Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 4126 on to Gov. John Kitzhaber for his signature. This relatively small bill could potentially mean big opportunities for Oregon, and represents an all too rare win for rural communities in the state.

Pacific Power, along with every other Oregon public and private electric utility, supports this legislation as a “grand bargain” on energy policy this year.

Under bi-partisan leadership, House Bill 4126 provides additional flexibility for consumer-owned utilities that are facing significant growth, so that they can affordably meet Oregon’s renewable energy standard. Additionally, the bill a establishes a process for the investor-owned utilities, namely Pacific Power and Portland General Electric, to offer large customers access to renewable energy in a more direct way than is currently possible.

What does this means to the average electricity customer? Why is this a win for Oregon’s rural communities and their too often struggling economies?

The answer to those questions emerged last fall when Pacific Power was approached by several large businesses interested in investing in Oregon and creating jobs here.

These businesses included global leaders in high-tech manufacturing, social networking, consumer electronics, and the biggest names in retail. They all wanted to know how Pacific Power could provide them with more clean and renewable energy because their business plans and future investments are often tied to their sustainability goals. The utilities’ ability to offer a simple, direct means of using renewable power to run their operations is crucial to attracting more business and jobs to Oregon.

In short, HB 4216 allows utilities to offer these businesses the option of choosing, and paying for, renewable energy to meet their business needs, and to do so in a way that does not impact other ratepayers. Other states have this flexibility in their utility regulation. In the utility business, this is called a “green tariff.”

How exactly does a green tariff work? A customer walks into an ice cream store and only sees vanilla ice cream on the menu, but has a craving for mint chocolate chip. Currently, under the Oregon regulatory system, as an investor-owned utility Pacific Power would have to tell the customer that only “vanilla” is available. However, with a “green tariff” Pacific Power could provide different customers with different products — Customer A, mint chocolate chip; Customer B, strawberry; and Customer C could still choose to have plain vanilla.

Prices are still regulated by the state and an investor-owned utility will still need to justify the rates they propose — that doesn’t change. A green tariff will simply allow investor-owned utilities to be able to serve their customers with the flavor of product they want — and are willing to pay for.

This change is particularly important for rural Oregon, where smart energy policy, when coupled with available land, an eager workforce and friendly business climate, can help our state compete for new investment.

With the governor’s signature, Oregon will join states such as Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina and others in offering the renewable energy services that will help build our economy while seeking to keep rates for everyone as low as possible.

Scott Bolton is vice president, community and government relations at Pacific Power. He is responsible for the company’s legislative and governmental relations agenda and economic development for Oregon, Washington and California. Questions may be directed to Monte.Mendenhall@pacificorp.com.

Guest column: Legislature seeks reasonable approach on pot dispensaries

April 16, 2014 — 

Last week I attended a special meeting of the Roseburg City Council as they discussed the issue of marijuana dispensaries. My purpose in being there (at their request) was to explain what had happened during the Legislative Session on the subject.

Since that time I have been under attack on Facebook by people who “know more than I do” on the subject. Let me say I acknowledge there are some medical benefits to marijuana, but it should also be acknowledged that smoking it has higher carcinogen levels than tobacco.

I will also state that I oppose legalization based on what is currently happening in Colorado and Washington. Because of federal law, and the restrictions around banking and background checks relative to a schedule one narcotic, it would be safe to say all that has happened is the drug cartels now have legitimate outlets.

I think we should wait to see how things evolve in those states before we take any action in Oregon.

The original version of the bill the Legislature considered on dispensaries was relatively simple. It basically said that cities and counties could develop their own policies and procedures on the issue, in the same way they currently can in dealing with any other business.

The pro-legalization crowd did not like that, and so the compromise was to give local government a very short window of opportunity to institute a ban. The reason we felt this was necessary is because, due to the legislation passed in 2013, dispensaries had the ability to be anywhere they chose (except within 1,000 feet of a school) and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

By instituting the ban it would give a city or county the ability and time to develop rules and regulations. In the end they could still allow a dispensary to be sited in their jurisdiction, but they would have control over the process. I think this is a reasonable approach and it is what I encouraged the City Council to enact.

There are still a lot of issues yet to be resolved on this subject, and it will be dealt with in the 2015 Legislative Session.

One issue would be the need for a level of training for anyone operating one of these establishments. To administer any other scheduled drug a person has to be a pharmacist.

Shouldn’t there be a training requirement for this drug as well?

This is just one of several questions we don’t have answers to yet, and we need to have better answers before we move forward.

Medical marijuana was passed by the people in 1998. I have been involved in trying to make the program work and be accountable since that time. I will continue my efforts at the state level, but I also like the local control aspect of giving cities and counties a say in the process.

I hope the city of Roseburg and other cities adopt an ordinance, both for the purpose of having control and also for the protection against lawsuits that would probably happen if they don’t.

This really is a reasonable approach.

Jeff Kruse of Roseburg represents District 1 in the Oregon Senate. You can read his past newsletters at www.leg.state.or.us/kruse/ He can be reached at sen.jeffkruse@state.or.us.

Guest column: This county needs common sense, not divisiveness

April 16, 2014 — 

I’ve gone from pulling green chain to owning and operating a small logging business. I’ve been a realtor, small ranch owner, carpenter, property developer and businessman. I’ve been a jobs creator and business starter and owner for 39 of the 40 years I’ve been proud to call this county my home.

In several recent News Review issues a political ad accused me of having placed a small (nonpartisan) campaign sign on another candidate’s billboard and then putting it on private property without consent. The property owner was understandably upset, thinking I had willfully committed this inappropriate act. I immediately phoned Bill Woods after learning of this accusation. I explained that neither I, nor any of my volunteers had any knowledge of this event; and I offered an apology for any inconvenience he had experienced.

It seems in this new hysterical political environment we live in we must blame the entirety of one group or another for any real or perceived grievance.

Mr. Woods did raise the important issue of property rights.

As a veteran and home and rural property owner, I have fought to preserve these rights. I take our civil liberties and our property rights seriously.

I am no career politician, but the breadth of my experiences in this county has been extensive.

My father always said, “Son, it doesn’t matter what they say about you so long as they spell your name correctly.” And that’s about all Mr. Woods got right in his paid political ad.

What this county needs is an honest and open conversation about the ills of and remedies for this community. Not a mud bath or a phone slam poll that denigrates this person or that, but a real plan for putting our labor force back to work with living wages, and a plan for educating our children to give them the tools and skills needed to make them desirable to business and industry and the knowledge to not just be job ready, but job makers.

What we need is actual common sense, cooperation and the ability to listen, not the shrill voice of division.

Mark Vincent of Roseburg is a retired restaurateur and a candidate for Douglas County commissioner. He can be reached at friendsofmarkvincent@gmail.com.

Editorial: Failed wave energy project leaves lessons in its wake

April 16, 2014 — 

Wave energy may someday benefit Americans, but don’t expect ocean-generated electricity to flow to a plug near you.

For eight years, Ocean Power Technologies floated the notion of installing buoys off the coast of Reedsport to generate electricity for onshore customers.

There’s nothing like it in the United States. Despite that, or perhaps because of the novelty, hopes were high. From the sea came the siren call of renewable energy.

The New Jersey company enjoyed the support of Reedsport, Douglas County, Douglas Electric Cooperative and the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, a public-private partnership.

The project seem poised for a breakthrough in 2012. The New York Times wrote an upbeat article about the company’s plans to put in 10 buoys, capable of powering 1,000 homes.

The year passed, and the project treaded water. In 2013, it started taking on water.

The company blamed delays on the weather, a lack of money and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Midyear, the company announced it wouldn’t put a buoy in the water during 2013.

This month, the company made official what had become obvious — it was pulling out of Reedsport. Meanwhile, it has a new project and will get millions of dollars from the Australian government’s renewable energy agency.

Good luck, mates. Ocean Power Technologies has been around for 30 years, has executives with six-figure salaries and has never been profitable. It has subsisted on government contracts, primarily from the Navy and U.S. Department of Energy. The Navy is interested in offshore electricity for reasons related to coast surveillance. For wave energy, this is a practical application.

Powering homes, on the other hand, is not.

The Department of Energy put $4.4 million into the Reedsport project without making enough juice for a night light. But even if the project had succeeded in creating electricity for 1,000 homes, it was a questionable endeavor.

Turning the ocean into a power plant presents risks to fish and fishermen. The risk would be taken for a form of energy that would be expensive, difficult to maintain and require huge public subsidies. As a topper, we don’t need wave energy.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council estimates that Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana can meet 85 percent of its demand for more energy by making appliances, machines, etc. more efficient. The rest can be obtained from wind towers and natural gas power plants.

The Northwest already has a relatively small carbon footprint. It will get even smaller, even with more natural gas generators, in the next decade as coal plants in Boardman and Centralia, Wash., close.

Various forms of renewable energy are intriguing as small-scale operations championed by entrepreneurs. But local governments and utilities should be wary of the next big thing. They may get soaked.

Letter: Ticks are more prevalent in Douglas County this year

April 15, 2014 — 

A tiny problem in our county

I think I can put to rest the question of whether or not ticks are out in full force in Douglas County.

Recently, I took my dog for a walk through the fields behind our house, as I have done at least once a day for years. Afterward, I found two ticks on myself, so I decided to give the dog a good bath. Even after the bath, which was apparently non-effective, I removed four ticks from him. The next morning, I found two more ticks crawling up the wall inside the house, apparently from the dog or the clothes I had removed.

We’ve always had a tick problem here in the spring and summer, but this is the worst I’ve ever seen, and the earliest.

Jay Altizer

Winston

Letter: Gun control won’t reduce crime or increase public safety

April 15, 2014 — 

Why disarm Americans?

It is heartening to see the high degree of non-compliance by gun owners in Connecticut and New York with their states’ most recent “gun control” effort. These law-abiding Americans are now branded as felons for their defiance of the recent mandatory registration of semi-automatic rifles and standard capacity magazines. Many New York sheriffs have publicly stated that they will not enforce Cuomo’s so-called SAFE Act. As you know, many sheriffs, including our own, have taken similar stands.

It would be one thing if there was a shred of evidence that “gun control” laws worked to reduce crime and increase the public safety. They emphatically do not. Registration is always the precursor to confiscation. Why do they want us disarmed anyway? Even if you do not own a gun, you should answer that question honestly.

Michael D. Heath

Myrtle Creek

Editorial: Spirit of cooperation a building block in Kanipe park campground

April 15, 2014 — 

In 1749, a young Virginian used his family connections to secure the position of official surveyor for Culpeper County. The 17-year-old was paid well enough to purchase land in the Shenandoah Valley and launch himself on his way to greatness.

No other surveyor is likely to chart a resumé like George Washington’s. Still, it’s a good field to enter, and a handful of Umpqua Community College engineering students seeking related experience got the lay of the land last week at Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park near Oakland.

The students were happy to get the opportunity, but they weren’t the sole beneficiaries of their work. Nor do their responsibilities stop at surveying. By the time the five of them graduate in June, they will have plotted out a campground and designed a water system connected to a ready water supply. They will have made room for an equestrian as well as a non-equestrian area. They will have devised a plan to widen the entrance road by 24 feet to meet safety codes. They will also have saved $15,000 to $20,000 in engineering fees, according to Douglas County Parks Director Gary Groth.

After a long and rocky wrangle over the future of Kanipe park lands, a compromise put forth by county commissioners has led to a series of cooperative efforts.

Commissioners early this year put on hold a plan to log 20 acres at the north end of the 1,100-acre park. The were looking for revenue to help sustain the park no longer supported by a trust fund willed in 1983 by rancher Mildred Kanipe to the county along with the property.

The logging proposal was met with protests from the Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park. After hearing members’ concerns, commissioners told the group it had six months to raise $65,000. The grace period ends July 31.

On Friday, the Friends group announced it had received a $10,000 grant from the Whipple Foundation Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation. That total pushed the amount collected to more than $62,000. Barring some huge debacle, the logging will not go through, but the campground will. And it will go through as a result of the collaboration of many people proving that it’s possible to unite over a contentious issue.

The campground project also illustrates the ways in which good deeds can reap rewards. UCC instructor Clay Baumgartner pointed out that without the student labor, the county would have had to hire surveyors (though probably not at rates that would enable them to buy prime Virginia real estate). This not only would have been an added expense, but also might have delayed construction of the campsite.

Instead, UCC is able to offer express gratitude for the funds the county contributed several years ago to help establish the college’s engineering program.

Throughout the public debate and discussion surrounding the fate of the park, people often cited their beliefs about what Mildred Kanipe would or would not have wanted under various scenarios related to her land. While it’s dangerous to assume we know her thoughts, it’s clear she would have been pleased at how so many people, businesses and government representatives came together to create something that will leave a lasting legacy.

Perhaps it will be an inspiration to others faced by conflicting interests and seeming impasses.

Letter: Statistics and analytical skills needed by Douglas County Assessor

April 14, 2014 — 

Re-elect Acree for assessor

Qualities a person should bring to the position of Douglas County assessor include a good knowledge of statistics, finance and analytical skills. Because there are more than 20 employees currently working in the assessor’s office, it is also important to have good administrative and management skills.

Susan Acree is a proven manager who encourages excellence from her employees. She is a hard-working public official who is intelligent, honest and possesses the leadership qualities needed to oversee more than 77,000 property tax accounts in Douglas County.

Four years ago, Tony Page told us there was a crisis in the Douglas County Assessor’s Office that he would fix with “fairness.” Today, Roger Hartman, shifting from his role as Page supporter to assessor candidate, is parroting the same misleading accusations Page made in 2010.

However, Hartman doesn’t answer how his plan will affect our schools and other special districts that rely on those funds to operate. He doesn’t answer how his approach would meet the legal requirements of the voter-mandated Measure 50 property tax rollback that has saved Douglas County homeowners thousands of dollars since its passage in 1997. Hartman doesn’t explain.

In summary, Hartman is short on answers and long on anti-government rhetoric. Douglas County deserves a better choice and Susan Acree is that candidate.

I am proud to vote to re-elect Susan Acree for Douglas County assessor, and I hope you will join me.

Mike Baker

Roseburg

Letter: Vote out the bums and protect our rights

April 14, 2014 — 

Do we trust God or Man?

In the first chapter of his book, The Man in the Mirror, Patrick Morley writes: “America was founded by men who sought spiritual freedom to worship God. Where are the descendants of these men? Was their courage not hereditary?“

I wonder how the descendants of these great and noble men can justify sitting by watching our great nation being destroyed by the very people who have been voted into office to preserve our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.

These descendants have got to wake up and vote all the bums out of office. This fall we will have another chance to make a real change. We need representatives who will protect our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. We must institute term limits on every government office from city council to the White House.

We have to put our trust in God, not in the elected. Every voter must remain vigilant and hold every elected representative accountable. When the elected fails to uphold our Constitutional Rights we must get rid of him or her!

Mike Ayers

Myrtle Creek

Letter: Incumbent recommended for Douglas County Assessor

April 14, 2014 — 

Acree qualified on all counts

Experience, integrity and dedication are the hallmarks of a good public servant. Susan Acree, incumbent candidate for the office of Douglas County assessor, qualifies on all counts. She has worked her way through the ranks of that county office, was elected to the post and has served honorably. She has earned the confidence of her constituents, deserves to be re-elected and will have my vote.

Ada Duncan

Roseburg

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