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Carlton

State reopens Oak Orchard boat launch

Staff Reports Posted 17 July 2017 at 12:43 pm

Photo from State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

The Oak Orchard Marine State Park reopened today to boaters after being closed due to safety concerns from the high water on the Oak Orchard River.

The boat launch is located off Route 18 on Archibald Road.

Orleans County officials have estimated there about 7,000 boat launches each year from the site.

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Lakeshore residents determined that destructive high water ‘never happens again’

Photos by Tom Rivers: Sharon Lochman, a member of United Shoreline, said this year's "travesty" with Lake Ontario should never happen again.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2017 at 2:58 pm

State Sen. Robert Ortt addresses about 200 people who attended a rally and informational meeting about Lake Ontario on Friday at the Orleans County Marine Park.

CARLTON – United Shoreline, a citizens group that formed last month to fight the high Lake Ontario water levels, held its third rally on Friday and attracted more than 200 people to the Orleans County Marine Park.

“We need to ensure this travesty never occurs again,” said Sharon Lochman, a Unted Shoreline leader from Kendall. “Our shoreline is rapidly disappearing. We live daily with the heavy considerations of the surges and pounds. We are still one storm away from disaster.”

There are about 220,000 sandbags placed in Orleans County in Kendall, Carlton and Yates to help protect property. The state also placed 850 feet on an Aqua Dam in Kendall. That rubber dam is filled with water and 9 feet wide and 4 feet high.

Despite the fortification efforts, the lake remains high in mid July. For three months it has been eating away at land  and property.

Orleans County and state officials have estimated there are $11 million in shoreline destruction so far. That number will likely grow with more detailed assessments, said Dale Banker, the county’s Emergency Management Office director.

Dale Banker, the Orleans County Emergency Management director, said Friday was day 87 of the county being in a state of emergency due to the high lake levels along the shoreline in Yates, Carlton and Kendall. Banker praised highway superintendents for working extra hard to have sandbags available for residents.

In addition to the private property damage, the Orleans municipalities have totaled more than $200,000 in costs for overtime and other work in fighting the flooding. The governor has submitted the request for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide aid to reimburse municipalities for the cost.

The State Legislature also has approved a $55 million flood relief package. That includes up to $50,000 for property owners where the damaged lake property is their primary residence.

Second homes are eligible for assistance provided the total annual income of the occupants is less than $275,000.

PathStone is administering the relief program for New York in Orleans County. Click here for more information.

Two state legislators – Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Sen. Robert Ortt – faulted Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not opposing the lake level management plan – Plan 2014 – which was approved by the Internal Joint Commission and the Obama Administration. The IJC has members from the U.S. and Canada. They changed the management plan after 50 years.

“What has happened on this lake is unconscionable,” said Assemblyman Hawley. “What has happened to property along this lake is unconscionable. The property should be protected and should be of paramount importance to the governor.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley addresses the group on Friday evening. “This should never have happened and it should never happen again,” he said about the destructive high waters.

The new Plan 2014 was opposed by the Orleans County Legislature, Congressman Chris Collins and many elected officials on the southshore before it was finalized last year.

They feared the new plan would lead to more severe lows and highs with the lake levels. The IJC said record levels of rain are most responsible for the high levels this year.

Ortt said the governor should have heeded the southshore concerns last year before the destruction.

“It would have been real leadership to oppose it last year, but he never said anything,” Ortt told the crowd. “He is against it now, but it’s easy to be against it when people have homes and businesses that might be swept into the lake.”

David Krull, center, is the Carlton highway superintendent. The National Guard and community volunteers have all helped the highway departments get sandbags filled for residents. Krull also praised state inmate crews for working about five weeks to fill sandbags.

Ortt praised residents and businesses for their perseverance, but he said they shouldn’t have that kind of stress in their lives.

He wants President Trump to appoint new American commissioners on the IJC that are sensitive to property owners on the southshore. Ortt said the new plan was overly focused on wildlife.

“The (IJC) is more concerned about the muskrat, the frog and toad than the people who pay taxes in New York State,” Ortt said.

Sue Boss, director for PathStone’s flood relief program in Orleans County, said 30 applications have already been completed. Residents don’t need estimates for work to be done. She said the state has modified the process to help expedite funding for property owners. For more on the program, click here.

United Shoreline will hold its next rally from 7 to 9 p.m. on July 28 in Hilton at the High School Auditorium, 400 East Ave. The group wants to build a strong network along the southshore – “a permanent alliance from Niagara to Oswego,” Lochman said.

The group is pushing for restitution to property owners.

“We need responsible adaptive management of Lake Ontario to ensure the protection of this American shoreline with balanced consideration for its inhabitants and its wildlife,” Lochman said.

The Oak Orchard Lighthouse and the Oak Orchard Harbor are pictured at sunset on Friday.

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Friendly deer creates buzz at Point Breeze

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 July 2017 at 8:48 am

Provided photos: Arianna McGurn, 14, of Point Breeze greets a deer nicknamed “Breezy” at Point Breeze in this photo from June 13. Numerous people have met the deer and posted photos on social media with the animal.

POINT BREEZE – A deer nicknamed “Breezy” has become a local social media star, with numerous people posting selfies and videos of the deer accepting food and allowing itself to be petted.

The deer has been at Point Breeze for about two months. It naps in neighbors’ yards and happily accepts food from the public.

Nicole Bellnier, owner of the Breeze Inn Again restaurant, said many of her customers talk about the deer.

“It’s so friendly,” she said. “It nuzzles you like a cat.”

But Bellnier has become concerned about the deer as it gets bigger. One person said the deer head butted a child.

“We all got caught up in it,” Bellnier said this morning. “It’s getting to the point where something has to be done with it.”

The deer even walks the pier looking for food handouts at Point Breeze, going up to fishermen and people relaxing on the rocks. Bellnier is concerned the deer could lose its footing and fall in the lake, or catch some people by surprise who aren’t accustomed to a deer that isn’t spooked by people.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation has received many calls about the deer at Point Breeze, said Michael R. Wasilco, the DEC’s Regional Wildlife Manager, Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Photo courtesy of Karen Manella: Roman Manella, 8, and his brother Hudson Manella, 5, meet the deer at Point Breeze. They are joined by their father, Steve Manella. They recently moved to Albion after living in Oklahoma.

“Deer acting tame and approaching humans and allowing petting is most often a sign that the deer was in captivity at some point in its life,” he said in an email. “This could either be a sign that the deer was raised and released by a licensed rehabilitator who did not do a good job of preventing the deer from being habituated to human, or often it is a sign that the deer was illegally raised in captivity after someone picked it up as a fawn.”

The deer’s tame behavior usually isn’t a problem in does (females).

“But it can be very dangerous in bucks (males) when breeding season approaches, as the tame bucks see humans as potential competition for mates and will try to fight that competition,” Wasilco said.

The tame male deer are usually are removed before fall arrives, he said.

“If a female becomes aggressive, she would need to be removed as well, to prevent safety issues with the humans in the area,” he said.

The tame Point Breeze deer is a doe, Wasilco said. Bellnier and others on Facebook have said they think it is a buck.

Some people have been worried the tame deer may be sick, thinking that is the reason it isn’t showing the normal apprehension around humans.

“It is also possible that the deer is sick, but usually they would exhibit other signs of illness in addition to the tameness, which we have not received any reports of,” Wasilco said.

There also was a friendly deer in Holley in May. This photo shows that deer meeting members of a girls youth soccer team.

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Brown’s Berry Patch market building demolished

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 July 2017 at 10:45 pm

Photo courtesy of Paula Brooks

WATERPORT – The Brown family, which operated Brown’s Berry Patch for 30 years, knocked down the former market building on Route 18 on Friday.

The family on March 3, 2015 announced it was closing the market and its retail operation. The site was a popular destination in Western New York and earned the family state and national awards for agri-tourism.

Bob Brown and his wife Deborah retired from the business about two years ago, and the family closed the farm market, which also sold ice cream, baked goods and had a fun playground and petting zoo with farm animals.

The farm, which dates back to 1804, has put its focus on growing fruit.

“We will return it to how it was 30 years ago, for growing berries and fruit,” said Eric Brown, co-owner of the farm. “It’s turning a page.”

He said the site will have apple and cherry trees.

File photo by Tom Rivers: Here is how the farm market looked on march 3, 2015, when the Brown family announced it was closing Brown’s Berry Patch.

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Collins, local officials want FEMA disaster request from governor

Photos by Tom Rivers: Congressman Chris Collins gets a tour of Green Harbor Campground and Marina today from co-owner Barb Anderson. The campground in Carlton has been badly flooded for about two months by the high water from lake Ontario. About a quarter of campground remains off limits from the flooding.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 July 2017 at 4:52 pm

Residents, businesses and municipalities need help from flooding, erosion by lake

Some of the camp sites at Green Harbor remain under water.

CARLTON – A campground that has been flooded due to the high Lake Ontario water levels, causing lots of erosion at its beach and a channel for boaters, provided the backdrop today for Congressman Chris Collins and other officials.

They want to see Gov. Andrew Cuomo send an official letter to President Donald Trump, asking for the federal government to declare the southshore counties a disaster site.

That would make residents, businesses and municipalities eligible for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We want aid for the local people but not on the backs of other local taxpayers,” said Lynne Johnson, an Orleans County legislator.

Statewide there needs to be at least $27.3 million in damages to trigger the FEMA declaration. New York seems well past that.

In Orleans, the tally is up to $11 million following 2 ½ weeks of inspections from the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. That agency has already inspected damages at 400 lakeside properties in Carlton, Yates and Kendall, said Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management coordinator.

The number in damages is likely far higher because there 2,228 lakefront parcels in Orleans. Only about 25 percent have been inspected thus far by the state.

In Niagara County, the total in damages is up to $21.7 million, said David Godfrey, a Niagara County legislator.

State Sen. Robert Ortt (R-North Tonawanda), State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) and Assemblyman Michael Norris (R-Lockport) all joined Collins today at the Green Harbor Campground & Marina. They have signed a joint letter asking Cuomo to seek the FEMA disaster declaration. They said Cuomo may make the announcement on Thursday seeking the FEMA declaration.

Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson, center at podium, said the FEMA declaration is needed to bring relief locally without further burdening local taxpayers.

Don and Barb Anderson, owners of the Green Harbor Campground and Marina, said they are strapped financially due to the unexpected costs with fighting the flooding and erosion. They paid $15,000 to have gravel brought in for a road that was underwater – “and we’re not done yet,” Mr. Anderson said today.

They have been pumping water, cleaning debris and trying to get the campground fully functioning. They had to open about a month late for the season, and 23 sites remain off limits due to flooding.

Collins and the local officials said businesses need help to recover from the prolonged flooding.

Collins said a new lake level management plan by the International Joint Commission is most at fault for the high waters. The congressman is pressing the Trump Administration to repeal Plan 2014, reform the International Joint Commission, and fire the current U.S. commissioners who serve on IJC, the binational group (along with Canada) that regulates Lake Ontario water levels.

Plan 2014 moved forward and was approved by the Obama Administration last December, despite outcries from Collins and officials along the southshore of the lake.

The officials acknowledged there has been record setting rainfall in the spring, but they said Plan 2014 has been a contributing factor in the flooding.

Orleans County Legislator Ken DeRoller, at podium, said local, state and federal officials are working together to bring resources to help property owners suffering from flooding and erosion.

State legislators had pushed through a $90 million state relief package for southshore residents, businesses and municipalities. Gov. Cuomo trimmed that to $55 million during a special legislative session last week.

“The governor chump-changed it,” Collins said about the reduced funding.

Collins worries the residents with damaged properties will seek big reductions in their property assessments, which would impact the other taxpayers in their towns, school districts and counties.

Johnson, the Orleans legislator, doesn’t want to see a tax shift due to the erosion and property damages. That’s why she wants to see FEMA and the federal government step up.

The issue has the added impact of likely hurting the sales tax revenues for the southshore counties. Many of the lakefront businesses have seen a drop in boating traffic and other customers due to the flooding.

“It’s a grave concern,” Godfrey, the Niagara County legislator, said about the loss in tax revenues.

In Orleans County, sales tax generates more than $15 million annually for the county. Johnson said reduced traffic by the lake, plus falling gas prices, have county officials worried about the sales tax revenues.

“We’re going to take a hit with our tourism, no question about it,” she said about the high lake levels.

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Kuckville finds alternative holiday tradition due to high waters, switching from boats to golf carts for parade

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 July 2017 at 9:25 pm

Provided photos

CARLTON – The Saturday just before July 4th is a festive and fun day for residents in Kuckville, a Carlton lakeside community.

The neighbors usually gather for a boat parade and set off flares at 10 p.m. along the shoreline.

This year the high waters in Lake Ontario and Johnson Creek forced the community to change its plans. Many of the residents have yards under water and couldn’t set off flares. Some residents haven’t been able to return to their flooded properties so far this summer.

The community was still able to have a long line of flares. Residents also gathered by the shoreline to watch a boater with an American flag, while the National Anthem played.

Normally there are several boats decorated in theme for a parade along Johnson Creek. But the high water made it difficult to fit boats under a bridge on Lakeside Road. So residents decided the parade would go on – in golf carts.

The golf carts head for the bridge in this Carlton hamlet.

The close-knit community has been tested from the erosion and flooding, but Saturday proved a fun day for residents who rallied to keep up the community tradition just before July 4th.

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With rising river, marina works to raise its docks

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gatlen Ernst, left, and his father Steve work this morning on one of the docks that has been raised more than 2 feet at Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2017 at 4:02 pm

Galen Ernst has raised some of his docks so boats can get back into the Oak Orchard River, which he said has risen about 2 1/2 feet since early April.

POINT BREEZE – There’s normally a lot of energy this time of year at the marinas and docks along the Oak Orchard River.

Many boaters have their vessels in the water. Charter boat captains usually are busy taking anglers out fishing and pleasure boaters welcome the refuge at the lake.

But high Lake Ontario water levels have many of the docks under water. That has kept many of the boats on land.

One marina owner, rather than wait perhaps weeks – or longer – for the water to go down and make the docks accessible, decided to raise his docks.

It hasn’t been easy. Gatlen Ernst and his staff have been in the water in waders, tearing apart the docks and making them higher.

“It’s finding the right method,” he said.

Ernst and his crew, including his father Steve, have experimented, swapping out stringers and lifting the docks up about 26 to 27 inches.

Many of the boating slips remain underwater at the marina.

He has about 90 boat slips at Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina. After raising two docks, he now has 22 spots open for boats, and is working to have more docks available.

Ernst’s is about a half mile from the lake. Since the marina opened in early April, the water has gone up about 2 ½ feet, Ernst said. Even with little rain the past week, the water still inches higher each day, often with trees and other debris floating down the channel and out into the lake.

Ernst continues to keep the marina functional, launching boats and pumping gas.

Lois Caldwell, an Ernst employee, checks the gas pump today with employees from Reisdorf Oil & Propane. The marina remains operational despite the high water. Ernst has placed planks on pallets so people can walk on this dock.

The lake businesses and their customers have a short season when the weather is good. Ernst pushed to get the docks raised, so the boaters and Point Breeze area could get into the water and boost the Point Breeze economy.

“The high water is hurting business for everyone, for sure,” he said.

Ernst has a lot more work to do to get all of the docks raised. He estimated it takes about 2 ½ days to raise a dock, which have about 15 to 20 slips.

The marina wants to have spots for boaters with competitive fishing tournaments scheduled for next month, the Condor on June 9, and the Orleans County Open on June 10-11.

“Right now it’s an empty river,” Ernst said. “We just want to get people out here. That’s the main thing.”

Many of the docks remain under water along the Oak Orchard River.

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Campground by lake in Carlton expected expansion, not erosion and flooding this year

Photos by Tom Rivers: Don Anderson, co-owner of Green Harbor Campground and Marina in Carlton, looks at a flooded section of the campground. The flooding has made about a third of the marina’s 100 camp sites off limits, as well as all 30 boat slips, and abut 700 feet of beachfront.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 May 2017 at 3:38 pm

Barb Anderson is pictured with sandbags placed by the National Guard to help contain some of the flooding at the campground and marina.

Green Harbor Campground has been inundated with water past month

CARLTON – Barb and Don Anderson took a walk on the beach on Easter Sunday on April 16. Opening day for their campground was around the corner.

They had a new $200,000 septic system in place, which followed many upgrades in their 12 years of owning Green Harbor Campground & Marina, with water, electric and numerous facility improvements. There were expected to add 18 camp sites to the existing 100 this year.

A couple days after Easter, the lake was on the rise and on the move. A month later and their beach is covered in water. About 35 of the 100 camp sites – the ones closest to the lake – aren’t usable because of the flood waters. A channel for boaters has gone from a narrow slip to wide waters. About 20 feet of land along the channel has been eroded.

“It’s really sad to see,” said Barb Anderson. “It makes you sick.”

The Andersons have delayed the campground’s opening from April 28 to Memorial Day Weekend. They are hopeful about two-thirds of the campground can open. The sites closer to the lake could take a while to be ready. First the water has to go down – and then it will take a massive cleanup. Each day brings a new collection of floating logs, sediment and other debris from the lake.

The beach was cleared of debris about a month ago. Now it is full of logs, branches and other debris brought in by the waves from the lake. “It’s going to take a lot of work to clean this up,” Don Anderson said.

The Andersons said the campground is normally a colorful display of flowers this time of year, with well-maintained lawns from the campers. Instead, brown water is spread over many of the camping spots.

“The people here really take care of their sites,” Mr. Anderson said. “Right now, it’s just awful.”

The Andersons are Pittsburgh natives. They owned a site in Findlay Lake, Chautauqua County, for 15 years before acquiring Green Harbor 12 years ago. They filled 17 dumpsters the first year they owned Green Harbor. The campground is located off Lakeshore Road on the western end of Carlton near the Yates town line.

Al Cheverie of the Orleans County Health Department took this photo from a drone last Thursday. It shows the channel that used to be narrow, with barely room for two boats to pass each other. It’s about 20 feet wider now after erosion.

They have made steady improvements and attracted new campers by word of mouth. They had a waiting list of 20 more seasonal campers this year, and were planning on adding 18 new sites. But those plans are on hold.

“We don’t want to go deeper in debt,” Barb said.

They are losing revenue with cancelled sites, and lost sales for propane, gas, and for items in their store.

Many of their campers spend money at other local restaurants, stores and businesses, feeding the local economy. But the campground has yet to open and it’s eerily quiet.

“This is like a whole town gone,” Don Anderson said.

This sign by the lake used to be anchored in land. But about 20 feet of the jetty has been eaten away by the lake.

The Andersons were drawn to Green Harbor because they said there aren’t too many campgrounds along the lake with a beach and a marina. Campers can enjoy the lake, whether boating or just relaxing by the shoreline.

But the high waters and flooding have taken away those assets for at least the short-term.

The Andersons say another key asset remains: the friendliness of the campers. Many of them have reached out saying they will be back and are eager to help with the clean up.

This morning, one of the camper’s gazebo with patio furniture was floating down the channel and out into the lake. Two local residents hopped into a rowboat and retrieved the items.

It’s a surreal sight, the logs, drainage pipes, tennis shoes and other random items that are floating at the campground.

This section of the beach was clean and free of debris a month ago. Now there is driftwood and other items all over.

There used to be a row of rocks visible here at the western jetty at the marina. But most of the rocks are now underwater.

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Captain’s Cove owner says building will have to be torn down due to flood damage

Photos by Tom Rivers: George Lacey, owner of Captain’s Cove in Carlton, is pictured with two of his employees – Vicki Hollenbaugh, left, and Sheila Schlichter. The site has been flooded with water, making the 21 boat slips unusable and forcing them to clear out the building.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 May 2017 at 3:46 pm

George Lacey has emptied Captain’s Cove. He said the building will be torn down, and he will work to have a new one constructed.

CARLTON – George Lacey and his employees have emptied Captain’s Cove of all the bait, fishing lures and other merchandise.

The rising Oak Orchard River has submerged his docks, and flooded part of the building on the river. The furnace in the building is underwater.

Captain’s Cove includes 14 motel rooms and many of the people who had planned fishing trips for the LOC Derby have cancelled motel rooms and a spot at one of Captain Cove’s 21 dock slips.

The high waters and the flooding are battering his business, Lacey said today.

“Normally we’re full for the derbies,” he said this afternoon.

The water damage is going to force him to take down the marina building on the property, which he acquired in August 2015. He plans to build a new one.

The docks are also twisted and badly damaged from the high water and waves.

“People come here to have fun,” Lacey said. “This isn’t fun for anyone.”

He is working on a claim with his insurance agent, but Lacey said he didn’t have flooding insurance. He doesn’t think too many people do. It’s rare to have the Oak Orchard and Lake Ontario turn so destructive to property, not like what’s happening now.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, told members of the Albion Rotary Club today. He updated the group, which includes some residents near the lake, about the problem.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said about the damage. “It’s something one never expects to see.”

Hawley visited property owners in Orleans County and Hamlin last Friday, when waves were crashing against the shoreline.

He is hopeful there can be some direct financial assistance for the property owners, but right now there isn’t, he said.

New York State sent a trailer – a Mobile Command Center – to Point Breeze to help residents file insurance claims.

Some of the lakeshore residents were disappointed when they went to see a mobile command center from the State Department of Financial Services, which is set up at the Orleans County Marine Park on Route 98 in Point Breeze. The center will have staff at the Marine Park today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

Residents were hoping the state officials would have good news with assistance with breakwalls or funding for some of the property damage.

But the state agency is there to help people submit insurance claims. If people are denied from their insurance company for a valid claim, an official at the command center said the state agency could help challenge that denial.

Mike Walsh, a lakeshore resident at Point Breeze, said he was disappointed by the Department of Financial Services. He said residents know how to work with their insurance company to submit a claim. He said residents need more direct assistance.

Walsh said his home now has mold and other problems from the flooding.

“We’re not done with the damage,” he said. “There’s more damage coming.”

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Archers Club survives flood without serious damage

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 May 2017 at 10:43 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

WATERPORT – Much of the grounds at the St. Mary’s Archers Club remains flooded. The site, a fixture along the Oak Orchard River in Waterport for more than 70 years, was badly flooded in the severe thunderstorm a week ago. Persistent rain since then has left the Archers Club with lots of water. (This photo was taken Sunday morning. The Oak Orchard River is at left. Normally the area on the right is dry.

This photo was taken looking down from the road leading to the Archers Club.  The club is located off Clark Mills Road.

Foam from the waterfalls at the Waterport Dam floats by Sunday along the Oak Orchard River.

The big rain a week ago put water right up to the main buildings at the Archers Club. One appliance is a total loss, and there was other minor flooding damage.

The main buildings are no longer dealing with a foot of water, and no major damage was done from the flooding, said Dusty DeCarlo, vice president of the organization.

He was at the club on Sunday and said it was much improved after the deluge a week ago when about two inches of rain fell in a short time.

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