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NOMINATIONS: Let’s have some nominations for the most beautiful buildings in Gwinnett! Photographer Frank Sharp clicked this image of the Hui Tz Temple facility at 1225 Satellite Boulevard, Suwanee, north of Old Peachtree Road as his nomination. The building is a private gathering place for people of the Dao Kin belief, where study classes are held. The building has about 35,000 square feet. It was completed in 2010.


Issue 12.66 | Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

:: School's director of encouragement

:: Put 'em in a room; lock the door

On Colombia, Partnership Gwinnett

Friends of Library, photos; Bigfoot

:: Duluth saves, Snellville art, more


:: Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

:: Disgrace

:: More on granite outcroppings

:: Groundbreaking

:: Lots of events on tap

:: Bird singing in December


ABOUT US is a twice-weekly online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

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Providence promotes Lussi to “Director of Encouragement”
Special to GwinnettForum | Permalink

LILBURN Ga., Dec. 7, 2012 – Lamar Lussi is the “Director of Encouragement” at Providence Christian Academy. It is a title he has officially held since 2005, but unofficially had for his entire career. As the director of facilities, he helped establish this unique, parent-sponsored Christian school in Lilburn, in the fall of 1991.


Providence Headmaster Dr. Jim Vaught explains: “In addition to providing for the care of facilities, his love and respect for students led to his increasingly being engaged in supporting their athletic and extra-curricular efforts. In time, his support grew to the point that we asked him to become our full time Director of Encouragement. It was a clear case of our adjusting his job description to fit the strength of his ministry in the lives of students and their families. I believe Lamar Lussi embodies the mission and vision of Providence Christian Academy as well as anyone in our history. There has been no greater supporter of PCA athletics since the school’s founding.”

As a result, the school’s administration and Board of Directors have named the school’s future 11-acre sports facilities enhancement, the Lamar Lussi Athletic Complex. The announcement was revealed via a 50 square-foot sign as part of the induction ceremony to make Mr. Lussi the ninth member of the Athletic Department’s Hall of Stars.

The complex will be funded through the $4.5 million capital campaign, “Providence Tomorrow,” of which the school has already raised $1.5 million. Last school year, Providence initiated Phase One of the campaign, including the first football program and multiple technology upgrades, like iPads for all 7th-12th grade students. Phase Two will include the future athletic complex and upgrades to existing fine arts facilities.

Of all this, Mr. Lussi says: “My cup runneth over and now the saucer is full and even the tablecloth is getting dirty.” Mr. Lussi attributes all of his success to his wife of 58 years, Shirley, whom he met on a blind date.

That evening, crowds of alumni, staff, and current PCA families came to shake hands with Mr. and Mrs. Lussi and sign a special guest book documenting his 200+ hat collection at a reception in his honor. The school went all out to show their love and respect for their 80 year oldest and dearest employee. More than 1,000 gifts were distributed in his name that night, even a one-of-a-kind Lamar Lussi bobble head. A life-size cardboard cutout of Mr. Lussi was also on hand for memorable photo fun.

"Athletic Director Michael Wood says: “It would be impossible to list the number of miles logged or games he has watched over his many years here thus far. I cannot think of another Providence non-athlete who is more deserving to be inducted into the Hall of Stars than Mr. Lussi. ”

All kidding aside, Mr. Lussi takes his job as Director of Encouragement very seriously. Starting very early in the morning, he prays for individuals, routinely calls thousands of people on their birthday, greets families in outlandish hats and sandwich board signs while directing traffic in the carpool line, travels near and cross country to visit the sick and grieving, and still finds time to personally challenge, encourage, and mentor hundreds of young people every day.

Lock politicians in one room and you'll get fiscal cliff solution
Editor and publisher |

DEC. 7, 2012 – How to solve the current fiscal cliff deliberations in Washington?


Well, certainly not the way the protagonists are going about it. About all both the Democrats and the Republicans do is shout at each other, and through the media, which infuriates both sides.

Oh, they meet with one another, hear the viewpoints, get nowhere, then dismiss, both saying that the other side isn’t doing enough.

So the media report on the people coming out of the meeting, putting their view of what happened on the various communications vehicles, before going back to the other side and checking out their views. Then the media fills the Twitters, the Facebooks, the radio and TV, and finally, the next day’s newspapers…..with this other side’s viewpoint of what went on.

Then the nation is left with consuming all this information with the feeling that the two parties may never gain common ground, but continue to argue distantly away from each other over an abyss. Meanwhile, the stock market, which fears uncertainty, yo-yos up and down on each tidbit of information, lacking stability. And today when you mention “stock market,” you are not just talking about Wall Street, but the markets in countries all the way around the globe.

It makes the United States seem like the cause of all the business insecurity.

Another of the problems in these deliberations is that the two groups had, to start with, about 45 days to get this done. This is far too much time. The two sides can take all sorts of “unswerving” positions on the subject with the deadline that far away. It isn’t urgent to them. “Let’s see what tomorrow brings,” they say, putting it off once again.

Charge all this against the always-present Washington partisan politics, and you see that this scenario is a wonderful example of how government functions these days, getting little done.

Is there a better way?

Yessiree. The key leaders of the two sides should go together to some remote spot, such as Camp David, and vow not to return to their loved ones and their everyday pleasures until an agreement is reached. For that is the essence of government, getting to that position where each side is somewhat unhappy with the progress they have made, but realizes the other side has given up quite a lot, but that they can compromise on this so far.

In effect, lock ‘em in a room, and tell them to find an agreement, and we’ll open the doors and let them out!

Locking themselves into a room until the problem is resolved will bring about movement quicker than anything else. Remember that means that these negotiators should be deprived of such everyday comforts as their families, their routines, vacations, perhaps their favorite food and drink and other pleasures, until the final agreement is inked and dotted on paper.

In other words, force it. That’s the type of leadership we expect, and seldom get, out of Washington these days.

Step forward, Mr. Obama, and show leadership to get the people together for a head-butting and come out with an agreement. Choose your place, and say, “Let’s start, and not break until we agree.”

That’s the leadership the people want, and would like to routinely see. So far, we haven’t had that from either side.

Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

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  • For a list of other underwriters of this forum, click here.

Finds Christmas times in Medellin, Colombia, most amazing

Editor, the Forum:

Iam writing this from Medellin, Colombia. I came back to see what the Christmas season was like here. Again, I was simply amazed...I've never seen such an "alive" city busting with people and traffic, which at first glance appears to be chaotic, but one infused in the crowds. It all seems to work like a giant ant's nest with everything just clicking along like a fine tuned watch.

The contrast of beauty in the people and its architecture against remnants of slums and hard times of the past, are most interesting. I've visited the slum areas as well, and found the contrast of a seeming happy people and robust economy thriving in such archaic conditions.

I really think there’s a lot to learn here, but haven't quite put my finger on it. But I do know when I'm on the streets or in one of their crazy cab rides, I am dumbfounded by how alive everything is, and how content and happy the people seem to be.

– Robert Forro, Peachtree Corners

Dear Robert: Thanks for the update. You make the area seem exciting and vibrant. (Mr. Forro is a homebuilder, the force behind Colonel Jones Park area of Norcross.)--eeb

Appreciates column on governmental support of Partnership Gwinnett

Editor, the Forum:
I have to commend you on your article posted December 4 regarding the support provided to Partnership Gwinnett from the County Commission and the Board of Education.  You have appropriately identified both the larger role that these taxing bodies play, as well as the fact that all taxpayers ultimately benefit from these investments.  Even though this funding is insignificant to their annual budgets, it may be among the best use of funds.
Thanks for pointing this out to your readers.

– Dick LoPresti, Berkeley Lake

  • We welcome your letters and thoughts. Our policy: We encourage readers to submit feedback (or letters to the editor). Send your thoughts to the editor at We will edit for length and clarity. Make sure to include your name and the city where you live. Submission of a comment grants permission for us to reprint. Please keep your comments to 300 words or less. However, we will consider longer articles (no more than 500 words) for featuring in Today's Focus as space allows.

Group seeks to reinvigorate Friends of Library via chapters

A group of library supporters is seeking to reinvigorate the Friends of the Gwinnett Libraries by establishing area chapters of the group. Two meetings have already been held and another is planned for a date to be set in January.

The inaugural meetings came to form the West Gwinnett Chapter of the group, with members representing Peachtree Corner, Norcross and Berkeley Lake. The idea behind the organization is to better serve the needs of library patrons in the individual communities that surround the 15 branches.

The West Gwinnett Chapter of The Friends of the Gwinnett County Public Library will support all of FOGL’s countywide initiatives and programs but will also focus on the needs of the branches and patrons who live in the Duluth, Peachtree Corners and Norcross areas.  They will host events, fundraisers and projects that benefit FOGL as a whole and the Duluth, Peachtree Corners and Norcross branches in particular. The West Gwinnett group will be manning the gift wrapping area at Barnes and Noble bookstore in Peachtree Corners on December 12.

Members promote library advocacy and raise funds to support the library systems cultural, artistic and literary events such as the award winning annual Fall into the Arts series of free programs, Gwinnett Reads, the annual countywide adult reading program, and the enormously successful children’s Summer Reading Program.

Photographs needed for National Recreation Trails contest

Show off your photography skills of the Karina Miller Preserve Loop Trail at Gwinnett Parks and Recreation’s Little Mulberry Park near Auburn by entering the annual contest for photographs of National Recreation Trails (NRT).  There are awards in several categories and the winning entry will be showcased on the NRT website. 

NRT is looking for good photos of trail users, volunteers, facilities, and other types of uses of the National Recreation Trails.  Deadline for photos is December 15, and photos must be in JPEG or TIFF format.  You can submit up to 10 images per trail via their website.

  • For information on contest rules and details on how to upload your photos, visit the NRT website.

“Bigfoot” is conference subject for 2013 in Dahlonega

With rapidly expanding interest in the subject of Bigfoot and the Internet abuzz with news of a DNA study telling the existence of these elusive beings, North Georgia will soon host the Midnight Walkers Southeastern Bigfoot Conference – the first conference of its kind ever held in the Southeast.

Set for January 12-13, 2013, at R-Ranch in the mountains near Dahlonega, the conference will feature speakers known for their expertise on a variety of Bigfoot topics, including language, tracking, home encounter cases, field techniques, interaction and even unique paranormal phenomenon frequently associated with Bigfoot. In addition, the conference will address the hidden history of giant skeletons and stone mounds found across the United States.

Tickets are $25 per day for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Event schedules start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. each day. Tickets may be purchased online at the conference Web site at Space is limited, so pre-purchase is advised. Anyone buying tickets by Dec. 15 will be entered into a lottery for a chance at a night of field research with one of the conference speakers during the weekend of the conference.

City of Duluth calls revenue bond, saving taxpayers $725,492

The City of Duluth has been able to save its taxpayers thousands of dollars by calling some of its outstanding revenue bond early.

The outstanding Series 2003 Revenue Bond obligation through the city’s Urban Redevelopment Agency was a $7,170,000 bond at a 4.10 percent interest rate.  The city was able to call, then re-finance the obligation at the lower interest rate of 1.63 percent.

As a result the city will save $725,941.99 net of issuance cost ($60,000 per year for the remaining 12 years), in interest on this bond obligation.  The City’s finance staff reviews obligations such as this and looks for ways to save money where possible.
The city has two other revenue bonds outstanding. They are a non-callable Series 2000 bond, a $4.35 million issue, with an interest rate of 5.29 percent; and a Series 2006 of $3.955 million, with a 3.8 percent interest rate, callable in 2016.

  • For more information about these revenue bonds call, contact Finance Manager Ken Sakmar or call 770-497-5293.

Brookwood High artists featured in December at Snellville

Works of students from Brookwood High School will be on display at Snellville City Hall for the month of December, as a continuation of the Art on the Wall at City Hall program. More than 30 pieces of work by the students are exhibited, including this piece, entitled “Yin-Yang” by Aurora Yi.

The public is invited to view original works of art by these talented students in December in the community room at City Hall during normal business hours. Artists and groups interested in having a solo show of their own at City Hall are encouraged to contact the Snellville art jurors.

95,000 Walton EMC members find credit on their electric bill

More than 95,000 Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) customer-owners are getting a refund without standing in long lines or trying to find an elusive receipt. All they have to do is look for the line on this month's electric bill that reads "Capital Credit Refund."

Customer-owners who received electric service during 1986, 1987 and/or 2011 are included in this year's $3 million refund. The total amount returned over the last 25 years is $46 million.

Issuing the refund via bill credits, instead of mailing customer-owners a check, saves tens of thousands of dollars in labor, printing and postage. However, checks are cut for refunds greater than $500.

Because Walton EMC operates as a cooperative and is owned by those who receive its service, it doesn't make sense to show a profit. After the bills are paid and a reasonable amount is held for emergencies, the balance of the funds is returned. The refund each person gets is based on the amount of electricity they bought. Walton EMC is a customer-owned electric utility that serves 119,000 accounts over its 10-county service area between Atlanta and Athens.

By J.M. Coetzee

“This novel by Nobel Prize winning-South African author J.M. Coetzee centers on a twice-divorced professor of literature.  After an inappropriate affair with a student leads to his dismissal from the University, he escapes to the countryside, where his agrarian daughter lives a life diametrically opposed to his urban sensibility.  Living on a working farm, the professor struggles to work as a farmhand and live under the norms imposed by his asexual daughter. Mid-way through the story, the main characters are victimized by local thugs. What follows this singular incident are lessons in acceptance, overcoming stereotypes, and human will in the face of pain, tragedy and hardship.  Coetzee peppers the story with a subplot that gives a brutal but realistic overview of an overburdened pet population. Part tale of redemption, part live-and-let-live sermon, this decade-plus old Man Booker Prize-winning novel is haunting in its fierce simplicity. It leaves you thinking about the larger implications of simple actions we take every day.” 

– Kitty Barksdale, Washington, D.C.

  • An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus what book you plan to read next. --eeb

Governmental action protects many of Georgia's granite outcrops

(Continued from previous edition)

Rock-rimmed pits that are deep enough to hold rainwater harbor a number of rare aquatic plants. Other depressions, which have accumulated a thin layer of soil and which lack a complete rim to retain water, support many unusual annual plants. Other distinctive habitats on the outcrops include deeper accumulations of soil over bare granite, seepage areas created by the slow discharge of water from patches of forest on the rocks, and the edges of nearby forests.

An unexpectedly large number of plant species occur only on Piedmont granite outcrops, which would seem to reflect their antiquity and isolation. Among others, this group includes the monospecific genera Diamorpha and Amphianthus. 

Environmental conditions on granite outcrops are harsh and differ sharply from conditions in the adjacent forest. Temperatures on the outcrops typically are much higher than in the surrounding forest because of the high absorption of heat by the rocks and low evapotranspiration. Temperatures in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit are common at rock surfaces during the summer months.

Shallow mineral soil overlying impervious rock and sparse vegetation cover lead to extraordinarily high water runoff.   It has been estimated that more than 95 percent of the annual precipitation in outcrop communities is lost as direct runoff. These conditions make the granite outcrops, despite their occurrence in a region that receives 45 to 50 inches of rain per year, like islands of desert embedded in a sea of deciduous forest.

Unfortunately, local landowners and government agencies alike have viewed most of the granite outcrops in Georgia as relatively worthless land, since such property cannot be used for construction, agriculture, or grazing. Thus, outcrops have frequently been used as dump sites for household or construction waste. Many others have been destroyed by quarrying or have been covered by lake waters after the construction of a dam.

Some sites, however, have been protected, either because of their inaccessibility to humans or because of timely action on the part of governmental or private agencies. These sites include Stone Mountain State Park in DeKalb County, Heggie's Rock in Columbia County, Davidson-Arabia Mountain Park in DeKalb County, Little Kennesaw Mountain in Cobb County, and Panola Mountain State Conservation Park, which spans Rockdale, Henry, and DeKalb counties.


The Senior Center groundbreaking for the second phase of the Gwinnett Senior Services Center was held recently. This phase will add a 12,000-square foot, fully equipped kitchen to prepare and package meals for the home-delivered and congregate meals program. The $2.9 million project was funded by the federal Community Development Block Grant program and will provide up to 2,000 more prepared meals for seniors per day. It is a LEED Silver building. Manning the shovels are, from left, Lynette Howard, Glenn Stephens, Mary Presley, Jamie Cramer, Ed Jennings Jr., John Heard, Renee Unterman, Charlotte Nash, Dr. James Bulot, Costas Miskis, Pat Baker and Phil Hoskins.


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2012, Gwinnett Gwinnett Forum is an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

Visit this site to see details of the upcoming funerals of Gwinnett Countians from local funeral homes. On the site, sign up at top right and we'll send you GwinnettObits each day.

Click on the names below to see details of their funerals.

What a bird singing in the dark of December means

"We are nearer to Spring than we were in September, ?I heard a bird sing in the dark of December."

– American Writer, Artist and Illustrator Oliver Herford (1863–1935), via Cindy Evans, Duluth.

Looking for that perfect, unique gift?

Consider a book about Gwinnett history.

Previously out of print, Elliott Brack's 850-page history, "Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta," is now available again. Since its original publication, the book was declared the winner of the 2010 Award of Excellence for documenting Georgia history by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board. It is also the winner of the Gwinnett Historical Society's Whitworth-Flanigan Award for 2011 for preserving the history of Gwinnett County.

The book includes 143 demographic and historic tables, with more than 4,000 names in the index, and 10,000 names in the appendix.Two versions of the book are available. The hardback edition is priced at $75, while a softback edition is $40. Books are available at:

  • Atlanta History Center, Atlanta
  • Books for Less, Buford
  • Gwinnett Historical Society, Lawrenceville
  • Vargas and Harbin Gallery, Norcross

You can also order books through the Internet. To do that, go to to place your order. For mail orders, there is a $5 shipping and handling fee. Purchases are also subject to the 6 percent Georgia sales tax.

Or call me (Elliott Brack) at 770 840 1003 and tell me how to dedicate a book to a friend (or to you) as he adds his signature!





(NEW) Pancake Breakfast with the Elves: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., Dec. 8, Historic Strickland House, 2956 Buford Highway, in Duluth. Christmas songs and sing-alongs plus special mailbox for Santa. Sponsored by the Duluth Historical Society. Call 770 232 7584 for details.

(NEW) History Tour and Lights Celebration, Historic Norcross Cemetery, South Cemetery Street. Free tour is 4 p.m., Dec. 8 with luminary lighting at 5:30 p.m. commemorating community members of times past.

Artists in the Home Tour in Duluth: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Dec. 8. Tour begins at City Hall. Four homes are included, one condo, one town home and two historic homes on West Lawrenceville Street, both dating to the mid-1800s. Tickets are $20 each and may be purchased at the City Hall. This is an event of the Duluth Fine Arts League.

(NEW) Advent Lessons and Carols: 4 p.m., Dec. 9, Christ Episcopal Church, 400 Holcomb Bridge Road, Norcross. Presented by the church choir. The service of seven lessons will include modern choral works by Conrad Susa, Jackson Berkey and others.  No tickets are required. Enjoy refreshments afterward in the Parish Hall.

Two Christmas Concerts by the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra and Chorus: 5:30 p.m., Dec. 9, Johns Creek Christian Church, 10800 Bell Road in Johns Creek; and 6 p.m., Dec. 17, at the Performing Arts Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, in Duluth, with the Youth Orchestra in a pre-concert. Both are free. Those attending are asked to bring non-perishable food items to support the local food bank. For more information, visit

(NEW) Atlanta Vocal Project concert: 7 p.m., Dec. 9, Lawrenceville Road United Methodist Church, 3142 Lawrenceville Highway, Tucker. This will be the 14th season for concerts sponsored by the United Methodist Men. Details: 770 939 3717.

Holiday Concert by the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve: 7 p.m., Dec. 10, Long Forum at Greater Atlanta Christian School. For tickets, contact the band's web site.

(NEW) Remembering Rich’s in the Atlanta Holidays: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Dec. 11, Norcross Welcome Center and Museum. Author Jeff Clemmons will share stories from his newly-released book about Rich’s Department Store, and sign copies. Enjoy caroling and refreshments, including Rich’s famous coconut cake. For more details, dial 678 421 2048.


12/7: Lock 'em in a room
12/4: On Partnership Gwinnett

11/30: Hera Lighting
11/27: Voting out scalawags
11/20: Arts alive in Gwinnett
11/16: Hope Clinic needs help
11/13: Casino coming?
11/9: GOP and Georgia Dems
11/6: Early voting, more
11/2: Will Sandy impact election?

10/30: Georgia and GI Bill
10/26: Barge making name
10/23: Our 2012 endorsements
10/19: Pet peeves, more
10/15: Long plane flights
10/12: NO on Amendment 1
10/9: Elisha Winn Fair
10/5: Lots of construction
10/2: Texting while walking

9/28: WSB sets lower bar
9/25: State Archive fracas
9/21: Charter concerns
9/18: Benefits of living here
9/14: Continuing objectives
9/11: Trip to France, Spain
9/7: Community pride

8/31: Conversation on guns
8/24: More robocalls ahead
8/21: Newspaper museum
8/17: Seem easier to vote?
8/14: Western ridges, fall line
8/10: Runoff endorsements
8/7: New UGA health campus
8/3: Primaries raise more questions


12/7: Duke: Director of Encouragement
12/4: Dorough: Food co-op

11/30: McHenry: CID redevelopment
11/27: Sutt: Gwinnett arts' questions
11/20: Urrutia: Grad wins award
11/16: Collins: Las Vegas
11/13: Barksdale: Storm prep
11/9: Houston: Kettle Creek
11/6: Stilo: Christmas Canteen
11/2: Crews: View Point Health

10/30: Willis: Amendment One
10/26: Brown: Doc's research
10/19: Hudgens Prize jurors picked
10/15: Urrutia: $2 million gift to GGC
10/12: Young: Lilburn city hall
10/9: Long: Charter schools
10/5: Jones: PGA golf to return
10/2: DeWilde: Suwanee's red code

9/28: Stilo: Pinter's Betrayal
9/21: Love: Model for Nigeria
9/21: Walsh: Childhood obesity
9/18: Ashley promoted
9/14: Wiener: CID's initiative
9/11: Olson: $50K Hudgens contest
9/7: Stilo: Acting classes for all

8/31: Havenga: Great Days of Service
8/24: Griswold: Casino for OFS site
8/21: Brooks: Taking the Megabus
8/17: Summerour: Newspaper family
8/14: Sharp: Newport visit
8/10: Thomas: On schizophrenia
8/7: Carraway: Amendment wording
8/3: Willis: Ready for school parents?


Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.

  • Development of a two-party system for local offices
  • Transparent operations to restore faith in Gwinnett's County Commission
  • Moving statewide non-partisan judge election runoffs to the General Election
  • Light rail for Gwinnett from Doraville MARTA station to Gwinnett Arena
  • Extension of Gwinnett Place CID area to include Arena and Discovery Mills Mall
  • Banning of tobacco in all Gwinnett parks
  • Making Briscoe Field a commercial airport for jet-age travel
  • Approval of Educational SPLOST in 2013
  • More diverse candidates for political offices and appointment to local boards
  • Physical move of former St. Gerard's Catholic Church in Buffalo, N.Y., to Norcross
  • Creative efforts to support the arts in Gwinnett
  • Advancement and expansion of city and Gwinnett historical societies
  • Stronger regulation of late-night establishments with alcoholic licenses


2001-2012, Gwinnett is Gwinnett County's online community forum for commentary that explores pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

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