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State Solicitor General See nominated to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A state official has been nominated to serve in the Biden Administration.

The White House announced Thursday that Solicitor General in the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office Lindsay See is a nominee to be a Commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recommended See as a nominee.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will be made up of five members, with no more than three from the same political party.

See manages appellate and high-stakes litigation for the state. She regularly appears before the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia and the Fourth Circuit, as well as other state and federal courts.

See is a 2011 graduate of Harvard Law School and clerked for the Hon. Thomas B. Griffith on the D.C. Circuit. She’s originally from Michigan.

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Musselman’s Morris Propels Lady Applemen to First Regional Title

(Story by Luke Wiggs)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — When 17 of the first 24 points of the Class AAAA Region II co-final belonged to Musselman’s opponent, the Lady Applemen needed to respond. And respond they did, by outscoring Martinsburg 43-19 for the rest of the game to claim their first ever regional title, 50-36.

Martinsburg’s strong start was propelled early on by timely shooting from Aania Gedeon. She scored 7 of her 9 points in the first half. Gedeon nailed a left wing triple to force a Musselman timeout midway through the second quarter with the Bulldogs up 17-7.

Out of the timeout the Lady Applemen finished the half on a 5-2 run, but still trailed 19-12 at the break.

“We went into halftime and knew we struggled, Martinsburg had their way,” first-year Musselman head coach Tim Potter said. “But we were only down a few possessions in a win-or-go-home scenario. We needed to turn up the heat because we had nothing to lose. And they bought into that.”

Musselman came out of the locker room with added defensive intensity, forcing a series of turnovers culminating in a Jasmine Morris and-1 to give the Lady Applemen a 22-21 lead with 3:41 left in the 3rd quarter. It was their first lead since it was 5-4 minutes into the first.

“We made some tweaks on defense and ramped it up.” Potter said. “Then we started to make shots which really helped. These girls behind the scenes have been working so hard for this moment.”

Sophomore Bri Benjamin scored a pair of baskets to balloon the lead to 28-21 before Martinsburg threw their last counter punch of the game. A pair of Hayley Martin free throws, a Chloe Irving putback layup and a Serenity Ritchie three tied the game at 28 early in the fourth quarter.

Musselman then went on a 12-0 run to regain a lead they would not relinquish.

After freshman Emily Stevens hit a three, Ciara Puller and Jasmine Morris forced multiple turnovers for layups including an acrobatic and-1 from Morris, who made it 38-28 Musselman with a made free throw with 4:33 left. Morris finished with a game-high 23 points.

“Big time players make big time plays, and she certainly did tonight.” Potter said.

“I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work tonight and I needed to push through it.” Morris said. “And my teammates helped me through everything. We wouldn’t be here without each other.”

After the timeout, Musselman continued to wreak havoc with full court pressure, finishing the game on a 12-6 run.

Emily Stevens finished with 10 points for the Lady Applemen. Gedeon and Irving lead Martinsburg with 9, Kaydence Bradley and Tianna Sanabria each scored 7.

The Lady Applemen head to Charleston for the first time in program history and as a No. 8 seed. They will take on top seed George Washington Tuesday evening at 7:15 in the quarterfinals.

“It’s amazing, first time in school history and I’m on cloud nine right now.” Potter said. “I’m so proud of them for making history for this school, they really deserve it.”

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Top teams start strong at WVSSAC State Wrestling Tournament

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — University coach Ken Maisel and Parkersburg South coach Shaun Smith had simple messages Thursday before the start of the WVSSAC State High School Wrestling Tournament at Marshall Health Network Arena. 

“Keep wrestling as hard as you can. Give me your best three days,” Smith said.

Both teams are the main contenders for the 2024 team title in Class AAA.

“It’s another tournament. Why do anything different. Nothing’s changed,” Maisel said.

On opening night, all coaches hope their favorites come through and avoid any upsets. And after the opening session, the coaches left positive. University went 10-2 with the losses by one and two points. Parkersburg South posted a 12-1 record. The Patriots lead with 41 points followed by University with 35 and Region 3 winner Woodrow Wilson in third with 33.

Parkersburg South is defending champion. The Patriots won the Region 4 crown handily.

In the final coaches poll, University held the top spot and Parkersburg South was second.

University won the Ron Mauck OVAC tournament, the Region 1 tournament and beat Parkersburg South to win the West Virginia State Team Duals. The Patriots won the WSAZ Invitational, which University took second in.

Smith admits his team does hear its fair share of boos and they like the attention. Nearly half the team is comprised of wrestlers competing in the state for the first time.

“No one likes us. We feel it,” Smith said. “We’re young. I told them have fun and go for it.”

Parkersburg South’s top threat is Gage Wright at 175. Also a standout football player for the Patriots, Wright will prolong his wrestling career at Virginia Tech.

University had two wrestlers seeded No. 1 — Luca Felix at 165 and unbeaten Brock Kehler at 285.

Kehler wrapped up the night for the Hawks with a win by pin.

“Definitely confident,” Kehler said of the team’s frame of  mind. “Unbeaten. Don’t worry about the record. Help the team.”

“We had some good tournaments,” Maisel said. “It’s something about Parkersburg South when they come here. As much as people hate them, they do it. They’re prepared.”

In Class AA, Point Pleasant came in ranked No. 1 and defending champion Fairmont Senior No. 2. Point Pleasant beat Fairmont Senior for the State Duals title in their class.

The Big Blacks had nine champs while winning Region 4. They have five No. 1 seeds in the state. Fairmont Senior has two.

“We need to stay focused,” Point Pleasant coach John Bonecutter said. “Tunnel vision. It’s what we do. Can’t make this any bigger than it is.”

The Big Blacks went 9-3 in round one and lead with 35 points. Oak Glen is second with 29.5 after a win by pin at heavyweight. Fairmont Senior is third with 28.

Fairmont Senior coach Michael Fortier made no great speeches before the night. The Polar Bears, who won here last year, lost their 190-pounder via injury default.

“Come in and wrestle, have fun,” Fortier said.

Ravenswood leads Class A with 21 points. Wheeling Central is next with 15.

Tournament action continues Friday with two sessions. The first begins at 11:30 a.m. and features quarterfinal matches in the winner’s bracket. The third session starts at 7:30 p.m. and has semifinal action along with wrestlebacks.

Session 4 begins Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and features place matches in the consolation bracket.

And in a first, the girls will do all their wrestling Saturday starting at 10:30. They’ll have four mats to use go through until finalists are determined.

The championship round begins at 6 p.m. and there’ll be three mats in use. One for Class AAA, one for Class AA-A and one for girls. Starting weight class is 106 for boys and 100 for girls. This is the first year the girls have had their state at the same time as the boys.

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Sadaya Jones nets 33 points as Morgantown continues state title defense, 59-42 over University

(Photo gallery by Teran Malone)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown only trailed for about 30 seconds in their Class AAAA Region I co-final contest at University. After the lead changed hands in the third quarter, the Mohigans closed the game on a 30-12 run to clinch a spot in next week’s state tournament with a 59-42 win over the Hawks.

The defending state champions used a 9-0 first-quarter run to take a 14-6 lead at the end of the opening frame. MHS also led 22-15 at halftime.

University opened the third quarter on a 15-7 run to take their lone lead of the game, 30-29, on a three-pointer from Hannah Stemple. The Mohigans answered with a 15-0 run between the third and fourth quarters to take a double-digit lead that grew larger throughout the final frame.

“The progression of our season came through at that point in time,” said Morgantown head coach Doug Goodwin. “They just maintained their composure and their cool and they were able to build off it.”

Morgantown junior Sadaya Jones led all scorers with 33 points. She scored nine points in the opening quarter and a personal 6-0 run in the fourth quarter helped put the game out of reach.

“Sadaya is always capable of that type of performance for us. She played really patient tonight. She was very selective with her shots and she did a great job for us this evening.”

MHS freshman guard Kayli Kellogg scored 11 points, nine coming after halftime.

“Second half, on the take to the rim and the and-1, I thought that was huge for her. She missed some outside shots earlier. She built her confidence to get things going for us.”

Morgantown (16-8) has earned the No. 4 seed in the state tournament. They will face No. 5 Greenbrier East (21-4) Tuesday at 11:15 a.m. in the quarterfinal round.

“The great thing about getting there is these girls have experience of being down there. They know what is going to happen. We’re going to have great patience down there. We’re just happy to be back down again because it just doesn’t feel the same if you don’t get there.”

Stemple led University (14-10) with 15 points.

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2024 WVSSAC Class AAAA Girls Basketball State Tournament seeds/schedule

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Eight teams have qualified for the WVSSAC Class AAAA Girls Basketball State Tournament. The five-day, 28-game event will begin on March 5 at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. Radio broadcasts of all state tournament games will air on the MetroNews Radio Network and will be streamed at MetroNews will also produce HD video broadcasts of the four championship games.

Class AAAA State Tournament seeds:

  1. George Washington (21-3)
  2. Wheeling Park (21-4)
  3. Spring Valley (19-6)
  4. Morgantown (16-8)
  5. Greenbrier East (21-4)
  6. Huntington (11-13)
  7. Washington (12-10)
  8. Musselman (15-8)

Class AAAA Quarterfinals:

Game 1 – No. 4 Morgantown vs. No. 5 Greenbrier East – Tuesday, March 5, 11:15 a.m.

Game 2 – No. 1 George Washington vs. No. 8 Musselman – Tuesday, March 5, 7:15 p.m.

Game 3 – No. 3 Spring Valley vs. No. 6 Huntington – Wednesday, March 6, 11:15 a.m.

Game 4 – No. 2 Wheeling Park vs. No. 7 Washington – Wednesday, March 6, 7:15 p.m.

Class AAAA Semifinals:

Game 5 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner – Friday, March 8, 9:30 a.m.

Game 6 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner – Friday, March 8, 1 p.m.

Class AAAA Final:

Game 7 – Semifinal winners – Saturday, March 9, 12:30 p.m.

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PSC takes public comments in connection with Appalachian Power pollution equipment case

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Only one Appalachian Power Company customer spoke out during a Thursday evening public hearing hosted by the state Public Service Commission.

Phil Moye

Appalachian Power, along with his sister company Wheeling Power, filed last fall for a $37.2 million surcharge to pay for ongoing federal environmental requirements at three coal-fired power plants in West Virginia.

If approved by the PSC, the average customer’s bill would go up about $2.84 a month. Commercial customers would pay $7.61 more a month.

That’s too much according to public hearing speaker Beverly Hale of McDowell County.

“I am totally against this increase and probably any future increases,” Hale told the PSC. “They’re just killing people down here in McDowell County. Our electric is really high.”

Appalachian Power Spokesman Phil Moye said the case is about keeping its power plants

“The filing is all about the environmental equipment at our (John) Amos, Mountaineer and Mitchell plants and that equipment is needed. in order to comply with current EPA regulations and having that equipment will allow us to be compliant with those rules until 2040,” Appalachian Power Spokesman Phil Moye told MetroNews when the case was filed last October.

Moye said the PSC previously ordered Appalachian Power to pay for the pollution control updates on a ‘as you go’ basis.

“The surcharge has us to file for recovery of costs as the work progresses,” Moye said. “So this is just a reflection of the past work and expected expenses over the next 12 months on these projects.”

The improvements are on budget and on schedule, Moye said.

The work is expected to cost approximately $375 million.

The PSC will hand down a decision in a few months.

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House Judiciary Committee starts to move Senate bills

Story by David Beard, The Dominion Post 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  The House Judiciary Committee moved four Senate bills to the House floor on Thursday – and all are on first reading on the House floor on Friday. They deal with the U.S. motto, indecent exposure, sexual contact with minors and driver’s license photos for voter registration.

Andy Shamblin

The U.S. motto bill is SB 152, to require display of posters or framed copies of the U.S. motto in schools and state higher education institutions. It underwent two rewrites in the Senate and a third in House Education and a fourth in Judiciary.

The latest version requires the poster or framed copy to be displayed in every classroom in every public school – including charters – and every state higher education institution. An image of the U.S. flag must appear under the motto. It removed a size specification from prior versions. The pictures may be donated and the school may accept and use private donations.

Delegates raised several concerns. One was the cost. Previous versions mandated that the pictures be donated or bought with private funds. This version makes the donation optional, meaning a school may have to pay for them for hundreds of classrooms.

Delegate Sean Fluharty said the bill may prove unconstitutional because it forces a captive audience – students in classrooms – to see it.

Delegate Andy Shamblin, R-Kanawha, teaches at Nitro High and said the county may have to buy thousands of posters. “I think every classroom is excessive.”

Delegate David Kelly, R-Tyler, said he supported the bill but had reservations. “Sometimes we lose ourselves behind mottoes and we hide behind things. Its’ not what we have on our wall about God that’s going to make a difference in anyone’s lives, it’s how we live. … I think we need to live it before we start putting it on every wall in a classroom.”

Rick Hillenbrand

SB 160 is the indecent exposure bill. As it came from the Senate it updates the definitions of indecent exposure and increases the penalties, and creates a felony for indecent exposure to a minor under 16.

Judiciary spent an hour debating a committee rewrite and an additional amendment, only to find the changes muddied the bill too much. At one point, Rick Hillenbrand, R-Hampshire, said, “We are in a hole so deep we need a bigger shovel.”

So they returned to the Senate version with just one change, restoring an exemption for breastfeeding. They thought that the line was probably unnecessary given the new definitions, but decided to be cautious for the sake of judges adjudicating the crime.

SB 504 updates state code that says any teacher, principal, counselor, coach, other employee, volunteer of any private or public elementary or secondary school who has sexual contact with a student at the school, if convicted, is guilty of a felony. The bill adds school resource officers to the list and broadens the scope to include a student at any school – not just the school the employee works at.

The bill exempts any student enrolled in a secondary school and engaged in a wage-earning registered youth apprenticeship program as part of the Grow Your Own teacher pathway. Judiciary added a second exemption for students under 18 in secondary school in a career, technical education or school service personnel training program.

SB 623 would require the Division of Motor Vehicles to send driver’s license or photo ID images, for those who register to vote at the DMV, to the secretary of state’s office. The DMV already sends images of voter signatures to the office, which are sent out to the county clerks.

The committee adopted an amendment offered by Delegate Chris Pritt, R-Kanawha, prohibiting the DMV from forwarding pictures of non-citizens who get driver’s licenses.

A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office suggested the amendment may be redundant, since non-citizens can’t register to vote anyway, but the committee adopted it anyway in a divided voice vote.

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WVU hopes to turn momentum in Saturday’s Senior Day game vs. TCU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Half of West Virginia’s losses this season have come in the last three games. After a 22-3 start, consecutive losses to Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State have the Mountaineers searching for ways to turn their momentum heading into Saturday’s regular season finale against TCU.

Tip time Saturday is at 1 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on Big 12 Now/ESPN+. The game is the opening half of a doubleheader at the Coliseum with the men’s team set to host Texas Tech at 6 p.m.

In Wednesday’s 68-61 loss at Oklahoma State (14-14, 7-10 Big 12), the Mountaineers (22-6, 11-6 Big 12) trailed for the final three quarters and saw a fourth-quarter rally fall short.

WVU junior guard JJ Quinerly. Photo by Greg Carey

“A little bit of a difficult stretch for us right now. That’s something we haven’t experienced as a group. We’re learning and growing through this process. I was disappointed for sure in the Oklahoma State game. It just thought we didn’t have our normal punch,” said WVU head coach Mark Kellogg.

“We haven’t had a clunker of really a disappointing performance really much of the season. I guess every team at some point, you might be due for one. Maybe we got that one out of the way and we can regroup a little bit.”

West Virginia looks to complete a regular season sweep of the Horned Frogs. The Mountaineers defeated TCU in Fort Worth, 77-52 on February 13. TCU (19-9, 6-11 Big 12) is in the midst of a season with lengthy winning and losing streaks. The Frogs started the season with 14 consecutive victories. A number of injuries caused TCU to lose nine of ten games midseason and they forfeited two other contests.

However, with their top two scorers in Sedona Prince (21.3 points per game) and Madison Conner (20 points per game) back in the lineup, the Frogs have won four in a row.

“Entirely a 180. I don’t know if that game plan or watching that film back will help us a ton. Completely different because those two are so good. They are elite. The Conner kid can shoot it and score it. That’s a sweet stroke and her footwork is phenomenal. And Sedona Prince is healthy now. She has always been a phenomenal talent.

“And the other pieces around them are really, really good and gave us some problems at their place. It is an entirely different group.”

Saturday’s game is Senior Day for a trio of fifth-year transfer players. Jayla Hemingway has played four full seasons at WVU for three head coaches.

“It is kind of like a second home for me here,” Hemingway said. “I have been through lots of different coaching staffs. I think the environment and the people here in Morgantown and my teammates who I am here with everyday, they are a big reason why I am still here. I love being on the court with them everyday. Win, lose or draw, they are my family.”

WVU guard Jayla Hemingway (Photo by Teran Malone)

“A lot of our toughness and our identity needs to be wrapped up into her,” Kellogg said. “She had that little stretch where I thought she struggled a little bit this year for a couple weeks. Outside of that, she has been really strong and I think she is playing better than she has all year. She is shooting it with more confidence. Her minutes are going up and she deserved that right.”

Lauren Fields and Tavy Diggs will also play their final games in Morgantown.

“Lauren brings a lot, especially on the defensive end and making big shots,” Hemingway said.

“Tavy comes off the bench and brings all that energy and going down there and banging in the post. They are big parts of this program and I am really going to miss them.”

Prior to their three-game losing streak, WVU was in the mix for the Big 12 regular season conference championship. They have since fallen into a three-way tie with Iowa State and Baylor for the fourth and final “double-bye” spot in the conference tournament. The Mountaineers can finish anywhere from third to sixth in the final standings.

If the Mountaineers are unable to finish in the top four, they will open up play in the Big 12 Tournament Friday, March 8 in a second round contest.

“Focus on a win and we’ll figure it out,” Kellogg said. “We’ve essentially done it to ourselves I guess with a couple of these closer losses. That’s the position we’ve put ourselves in. Win, find some momentum, get to the tournament and play whoever is in front of you and figure it out.”

Despite the recent losses, West Virginia is ranked 21st in the NCAA NET ratings. In Charlie Creme’s latest ESPN Bracketology, the Mountaineers have slipped one seed line to a No. 8 seed.

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Six people graduate from Adult Drug Court in Kanawha County

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Six people are celebrating their recent recovery journey from substance abuse and graduating from the Kanawha County Adult Drug Court.

Kanawha County Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey presided over the drug court graduation Thursday during a ceremony in the historic Kanawha County Courthouse.

Amanda Taylor, Jamey Gillenwater, Raven Ratliff, Carroll Kirby, and Jaimie Logan were presented with their certificates of graduation after spending an 18-month stint in the program along with various rehabilitation and recovery programs in practice of a sober life. 

Bailey said all of the graduates Thursday were brought to the program out of the justice system as non-violent offenders, but were driven to criminal activity due to their addictions.

She said they were given the opportunity to work on themselves towards recovery rather than be incarcerated, and they have made a complete commitment to change their lives.

“Most of them have been here almost two years, participating in the program and learning about sobriety, learning about recovery, learning to accept support,” said Bailey.

All of the graduates told their addiction and recovery stories at the podium before receiving their certificates.

One of them, Amanda Taylor, said she had been in addiction since she was 15 years old and had been in trouble many times with the law.

However, she said she is grateful for a new beginning.

“I’m very proud of myself, I’ve come a long way, and it’s just really exciting to start my new life,” said Taylor.

Taylor said in order to complete the 18- month-long drug court program and graduate, clients must start by going to court once a week for the first out of three phases. She said they then take classes, work with sponsors, attend recovery programs, and receive support from other recovery community members.

Taylor said she’s now putting the past behind her and giving herself a fresh start.

“This was a new beginning to straighten everything out, I have completed a long-term rehab, and I’m now getting to reunite with my children again,” she said.

She said she also completed the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous during her time in the program.

Taylor said she has been working at Charleston Area Medical Center and plans to go back to school.

She encourages others who are on the recovery journey to keep pushing through and not give up, and to always reach out for help when they need it.

“You can’t do it alone, and there’s a lot of people out here with great stories, motivation to help you, anybody I’ve ever met in recovery is willing to lend a helping hand,” said Taylor. “Just take it one day at a time, get rid of all your junk and start a new life.”

Judge Bailey has been presiding over Kanawha County Drug Court since its inception in March of 2009 as the eighth county to start the program in the state.

She said those who work on the drug court assess the clients when they enter the program and then through rehabilitation and intense monitoring, the clients return to the community as drug-free, productive citizens.

Bailey said despite some challenges, they have managed to graduate numerous people within the program and its been very successful.

“You know, like many things we had some setbacks during Covid and we are still sort of coming through a regrouping of that, because this is a program based on accountability and actually seeing people and working with people,” she said.

Bailey said they generally graduate between five to eight people a couple times a year.

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Reaction to Allegheny Wood Products shutdown continues; resource fair planned for Preston County workers

KINGWOOD, W.Va.  — Former employees of Allegheny Wood Products are now searching for their next opportunity after the company announced its closure last week.

The 50-year-old company employed more than 600 people and used the services of a few hundred additional contractors statewide. It’s biggest sawmill was in Kingwood.

Samantha Stone

The Preston County Economic Development Authority will host a resource fair next Tuesday at Kingwood Christian Fellowship on state Route 7 from 10 a.m. to noon and in the afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Preston County Commissioner Samantha Stone said they had heard of the possibility of some changes but closing had never been in the conversation.

“The commission really was just as in shock as the normal person or even the employees,” Stone said. “I’ve heard speculation leading up that there could be some changes, but we never had it pegged for a closure.”

The owners of the company had been in talks to sell to the company when a refinancing deal fell through, leading to the abrupt closure.

“The hardest and most detrimental effect will be the loss of jobs here in our county,” Stone said. “The main mill there is operating; roughly between 75 and 100 employees have lost their jobs.”

Scotty Miley

In Grant County, where the company is headquartered in Petersburg, County Commissioner Scotty Miley said they learned of the closure when the workers did and were shocked. The company employed about 35 people there who worked in the office, warehouse, and kiln operation, but the loss of jobs won’t stop there, according to Miley.

“There are so many downstream positions; you have foresters, loggers, and truckers,” Miley said. “Everybody contributed to AWP, and it’s devastating.”

Miley said the Crites family, owners of the company, have been extremely supportive to the community over the years, and they are very thankful. He hopes there’s the possibility of a last-minute deal that could keep operations going.

“I’ve heard rumors of maybe an employee-owned company trying to take over operations,” Miley said earlier this week on MetroNews “Talkline.” “At this point, I think any idea or suggestion is on the table.”

Commissioner Stone said employers in the area are looking for workers, but many of those opportunities would force residents to either work outside the county or commute. She believes some of the workers could get jobs at Masontown-based Bionic Tire, a major recycler with plans to employ up to 50 by mid-2024.

“Our economic development director and I have heard from other employers that are hiring,” Stone said. “There are not necessarily employers in Preston County, but there are many jobs available.”

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