Communities

EAST COUNTY REALTORS WILL PROTEST EL CAJON PROPOSAL TO HIKE PROPERTY TAXES WITH SEWER BILL

East County News Service

March 7, 2020 (El Cajon) – The Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR), one of San Diego’s largest real estate trade associations for realtors, has announced it is planning to protest a proposal by the El Cajon City Council to add sewer charges to property taxes paid by El Cajon homeowners. PSAR members say they will voice their opposition at the next city council meeting at 3 p.m., Tuesday, March 10, at city hall, 200 Civic Center Way, El Cajon.


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GLADLY COFFEE IN SPRING VALLEY SHOWCASES WOMEN MUSICIANS SUNDAY MARCH 8

By Miriam Raftery
 
March 7, 2020 (Spring Valley) – In honor of international women’s day, Gladly Coffee in Spring Valley (formerly Butler’s) presents “Center Stage,”  an all-female musical showcase this Sunday, March 8 at 3 p.m.

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FREE ART WORKSHOPS IN BORREGO SPRINGS FOR ALL AGES

By Miriam Raftery
 
March 6, 2020 (Borrego Springs) – Candlewood Arts Festival Gallery is hosting free art workshops for all ages each Sunday in March from 1 to 5 p.m. Aspiring artists are invited to make new projects with different artists each week:
 
Drop in anytime and stay as long as you wish at Candlewood Arts Festival Gallery, 587 Palm Canyon Drive, #125, at the mall in Borrego Springs.
 
For more information, visit www.CandlewoodArtsFestival.org 

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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: WHITE-TAILED KITES

East County News Service

March 5, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Debbie Merrill snapped these photos of a pair of white-tailed kites nesting in East County.


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LONG-TIME PUBLISHER SUNBELT MOVING FROM EL CAJON TO PHOENIX

Update March 26:   Sunbelt's move to Arizona has been put on indefinite hold due to the pandemic. The Sunbelt warehouse is temporarily closed in compliance with state mandates to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The company plans to reopen the warehouse on April 13, 2020 if it is safe to do so.
 
 
East County News Service
 
Photo: Lowell and Diana Lindsey at Sunbelt’s warehouse in El Cajon
 
March 5, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Sunbelt Publications, known for its award-winning books about natural and cultural history, outdoor adventure, regional reference, and travel, has been sold to American Traveler Press of Phoenix, Arizona. Sunbelt will be closing its El Cajon warehouse at 1250 Fayette Street on March 31 with all stock moving to Arizona beginning April 1. Sunbelt is offering discounts of 30-50% off on all titles during the month of March and is open during regular business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Sunbelt also has a selection of free books available to shoppers. For more information, call 619-258-4911 or 800-626-6579. Check the website to view books published and distributed by Sunbelt Publications: www.sunbeltpublications.com
 

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RAMONA’S CHRIS ANDERSON WINS REALTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD (AGAIN) FROM SAN DIEGO’S LARGEST REALTORS ASSOCIATION

East County News Service

March 5, 2020 (Ramona) – Ramona resident Chris Anderson, a realtor with Coldwell Banker West (CBW), was recently honored by the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors (SDAR) with the 2019 Realtor of the Year Award.


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RAMONA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO EMBEZZLING MONEY FROM ZOO

By Miriam Raftery

March 5, 2020 (Ramona) – A Ramona man who worked as a biologist at the San Diego Zoo has pleaded guilty to stealing over $236,000 from the zoo, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Diego.

Investigators found John Anderson, 49, made fake vendor invoices from 2008-2016 for third parties that then made payments to Anderson.  He was charged with theft or conversion concerning programs receiving federal funds. 


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LEMON GROVE SALES TAX MEASURE S FAILING

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

March 5, 2020 (San Diego) Measure S, which was designed to raise sales taxes by ¾ of a cent and bring in an estimated $3 million to the financially strapped city of Lemon Grove, is failing.

According to the San Diego Registrar of Voters the primary had a 28% voter turn-out. With 100% precincts reporting, 59%,or 2,069 voted no on the measure and 41%, or 1,421 voted yes. There are 350,000 outstanding ballots to be counted as of early Wednesday.

Without more revenues to fund needed services, Lemon Grov could be pushed to seek disincorporation as a city, reverting back to county control.

ECM obtained reactions to the election outcome from the measure's leading advocate and staunchest opponent.


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REIMAGINING CASA DE ORO: A NEW VISION TAKES SHAPE FOR “A SMALL TOWN WITH A BIG VIEW”

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Jay Steiger

March 2, 2020 (Casa de Oro) – “This has been an 18-month effort,” Bob Yarris, president of the Casa de Oro Alliance, said at a community visioning workshop held Feb. 25 at the Spring Valley Academy. A half-million dollar grant has been awarded to the Alliance, a 501c3 nonprofit, by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to create design guidelines and revitalize the heart of Casa de Oro.

More than 50 community members saw a presentation by county officials, then had an opportunity to share their ideas in breakout sessions, adding a variety of creative visions.


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SANTEE COLLECTS BETTER THAN EXPECTED TAXES, HAS $1.5 MILLION SURPLUS TO SPEND

By Mike Allen

Photo by Mike Allen: Left to Right: Councilman Rob McNelis, Councilman Stephen Houlahan, and Councilman Ronn Hall.

 

March 2, 2020 (Santee) -- As some East County cities grapple with dwindling revenue and even contemplate disincorporation, Santee appears to be improving its bottom line, thanks to better than expected revenue from property and sales taxes.

At its Feb. 26 meeting, the Santee City Council got an update on the city’s financial situation and discussed how it might best use a projected $1.5 million in surplus funds at the end of the current fiscal year in June.

The city usually adds most of any net profits from its operations to its reserves, but because the reserve balance now exceeds the prescribed target of 20 percent of the city’s operating budget by about $1.5 million, the council can allocate this money to other uses, said Tim McDermott, Santee’s finance director.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: BALD EAGLE IN EAST COUNTY

East County News Service
 
March 1, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Photographer Debbie Merrill snapped these spectacular close-ups of a bald eagle, America’s national symbol.  The photos were taken at an East County location that is not being disclosed to protect the bird’s safety.
 
Bald eagles are rare in San Diego County, with only a handful of nesting pairs in recent years. Sightings have previously been reported in the Cuyamaca, Lakeside, and Lake Morena areas.
 

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FOOTHILLS CHURCH IN EL CAJON HOSTS `BLESSED WITH A DRESS,’ FREE FORMAL DRESSES FOR YOUNG WOMEN

East County News Service
 
March 1, 2020 (El Cajon) – Foothills Christian Church, 365 West Bradley Ave., El Cajon, will host “Blessed with a Dress,” a free event for young women needing high-quality, fashionable formal wear for school dances and other special occasions. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, young women are invited to visit the church campus and select a free dress, pair of shoes and jewelry for any upcoming formal event. Hundreds of formal dresses will be available for selection, said church officials.
 
Church officials are seeking donations of gentle used dresses, shoes, jewelry and other accessories. Items can be dropped off Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the church office, 350 Cypress Lane, Suite B, El Cajon.
 

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HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: BRIAN SESKO, LAKESIDE PLANNING CHAIR RUNNING FOR COUNTY SUPERVISOR

By Miriam Raftery

“I believe the county planning commission should be banned and that authority should be vested in each individual planning board,”—Brian Sesko

February 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Last week, we published interviews with three of the four candidates running for the 2nd supervisorial seat being vacated by Dianne Jacob through term limits. Now we’ve interviewed in depth the fourth candidate, Brian Sesko.

He’s chairman of the Lakeside Planning Group and a member of the Lakeside Design Review Board. He’s also a homebuilder, realtor, and a rancher who calls himself a “real life cowboy.”

Click the audio link to hear the full interview and scroll down for highlights.

Audio: 


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APPEALS COURT BLOCKS RELEASE OF “BOLDER THAN MOST” RAPIST

By Miriam Raftery
 
February 27, 2020 (San Diego)—The appellate court on Monday voted to block release of Alvin Quarles, dubbed the “Bolder than most” rapist, into Jacumba Hot Springs.
 
The appellate court overturned a decision made by Superior Court  Judge David Gill to grant a conditional release to Quarles, who drew criticism for holding closed-door hearings that shut out victims and the public. 
 
A bill supported by District Attorney Summer Stephans, called the Sexually Violent Predator Act, has been introduced in the State Senate to require that hearings on release of sexual predators be held in open court, unless a judge can provide a compelling reason for secrecy.
 

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BARTO FILES POLICE REPORT, ALLEGES VIOLENCE BY CVUSD STAFFER. CVUSD DENIES INCIDENT, THREATENS ECM AND TRIES TO SUPPRESS NEWS REPORT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Barto's bruised and swollen hand after the alleged door-slamming incident

February 26, 2020 (El Cajon) – Cajon Valley Union School District trustee Jill Barto has filed a police report alleging that executive coordinator Naomie Rodrigues intentionally slammed a door on Barto’s hand at the district office on Dec. 19, causing pain, distress and injury.  ECM journalist Paul Kruze has told police that he witnessed the alleged injury.

The district calls the allegations of the door-slamming and injury to Barto “false.” The district’s law firm, Artiano Shinoff, has sent a letter threatening ECM with legal action after learning that ECM intended to publish a news report on the alleged physical attack.

The alleged door-slamming injury occurred just two weeks after Barto filed a federal lawsuit against the district alleging violations of her civil rights and First Amendment free speech rights, as ECM reported. The district then filed a countersuit against Barto. The legal threat to ECM, moreover, came just two days after journalist Kruze filed his own claim against the district alleging  "false and harmful" defamatory statements..

Audio: 


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DA SPONSORS BILL TO KEEP SEX OFFENDER COURT HEARINGS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

East County News Service
 
February 26, 2020 (San Diego)-- San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is sponsoring SB 1023, legislation authored by Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) to require that proceedings for the civil commitment of a sexually violent predator and later hearings on a predator’s potential release be in open court and on the record, unless compelling and extraordinary circumstances justify closing the courtroom to the public. 
 
This bill would require a notice to all parties of any proposed closure at least 10 calendar days before a closed court hearing. 
 
“This important legislation supports the principles of democracy and transparency in our justice system by making sure court hearings for sexually-violent predators are open to the public,” DA Stephan said. “As District Attorney, I hear the pain from victims who’ve been terrorized by a sexual predator but are left in the dark and not able to learn pertinent information guaranteed to them by our open courts system.”

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SUPERVISORS TO HOLD HEARING FEB. 26 ON PROPOSED ZONING LANGUAGE FOR FORMER FOREST CONSERVATION INITIATIVE (FCI) PROPERTIES

 

East County News Service

February 25, 2020 (San Diego) – On Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 9 a.m., San Diego County’s Planning & Development Services will present to the Board of Supervisors a Zoning Ordinance amendment to include “Former Forest Conservation Initiative Properties Overlay of Part Five: Special Area Regulations” on former Forest Conservation Initiative lands that lie outside of Village or Rural Village boundaries.

The Forest Conservation initiative passed initially by voters once protected extensive forest lands in the vicinity of Cleveland National Forest, but the measure expired through sunsetting and was not renewed by Supervisors.

The Overlay does not change underlying land use regulations or General Plan densities. However, it requires additional analyses and findings before approval of any proposals that increase residential density on these lands beyond what is currently allowed by the General Plan.

The Supervisors meeting will be held in the County Administration office at 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, Room on the north end of the third floor.


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DANCING WITH THE STARS LIVE TOUR COMING TO SYCUAN ON MARCH 26

Tickets are now on sale

 

Source Sycuan

 

February 21, 2019 (El Cajon) -- America’s favorite dance show is going back on tour this winter with “Dancing with the Stars – Live Tour 2020.” The longest tour to date will be dancing through Sycuan Casino Resort on March 26 at 8 p.m. The all-new production will feature fan-favorite professional dancers wowing audiences with every type of dance style as seen on ABC’s hit show Dancing with the Stars.


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PROTEST AT LEMON GROVE TOYOTA FEB. 29 TARGETS COMPANY’S SUPPORT OF TRUMP LAWSUIT AGAINST CA OVER EMISSION STANDARDS

By Miriam Raftery

February 21, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – Toyota positions itself in marketing as a green company. But the company recently joined the Trump administration in a lawsuit against California seeking to overturn our state’s clean emission laws for vehicles.

On Saturday morning, February 29, protesters are organizing a march through Lemon Grove ending in a rally at Larry Miller Toyota in Lemon grove.  A press release issued by Toyota Loves Trump, an environmental justice campaign organized by Activist San Diego, states, “Toyota management wants to put their profit above our health. We must let them know this is unacceptable."

All who care about clean air, healthy bodies and freedom from fossil fuels are invited to meet at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 29 at 7065 Broadway I Lemon Grove, outside a vacant social services building. The group will march to the Toyota dealership, where they will hold a protest rally and hear from several speakers.


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DO NOT DRINK NOTICE ISSUED FOR JULIAN’S “APPLE WATER IS GOOD” WATER SYSTEM

Potential drinking water contamination due to water system repairs
 
February 20, 2020 (Julian) -- The County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health (DEH), is advising the public that the Apple Water Is Good water system, located at 4360 Highway 78 in Julian, California, has been directed to immediately issue a Drinking Water Warning. The water system serves drinking water to the Apple Tree Inn, three residences, and a restaurant.
 
The public is advised not to drink tap water supplied by the Apple Water Is Good water system until further notice. The Do Not Drink Notice will remain in effect until laboratory results confirm the absence of contamination in the water supply.

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​PASSAGES: RHONDA BURT, 57, HIKING LEADER

By Miriam Raftery
 
February 20, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Rhonda Burt, 57, died doing what she loved most – hiking.  On Saturday, Feb. 15, the hiking leader was on the trail with the Jacumba Hikers group through rugged terrain in the Anza-Borrego desert when she suffered a fatal heart attack.
 
She had stopped to rest several times. Another hiker looked back, saw her lying on the ground and rushed to assist her. 911 was called, A Sheriff’s helicopter and ambulance responded, but efforts to resuscitate her failed. Burt, a resident of Imperial, was pronounced dead at the scene, on McCain Valley Road in Boulevard.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS SUE SANTEE OVER CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

East County News Service
 
February 20, 2020 (Santee) – A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Santee, claiming the city erred in passing its Climate Action Plan and a related environmental impact report without accounting for potential emissions from Fanita Ranch, Home Fed’s proposed project that would add 3,000 homes and increase traffic on already congested roadways.
 
The suit was filed in San Diego Superior Court by three environmental advocacy groups: Preserve Wild Santee, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Climate Action Campaign.

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CHULA VISTA POLICE PROBE SLAYING OF GOOD SAMARITAN HELIX STUDENT, SEEK VIDEO

By Ken Stone
 
Photo: GoFundMe
 
Reprinted from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association
 
February 20, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Helix Charter High School student who tried to help a friend under attack nearly three weeks ago died Sunday of stab wounds, and police are looking for witnesses and potential assailants.

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YEAR-LONG CLOSURE OF I-8 REST STOP AT BUCKMAN SPRINGS STARTS IN MARCH

Source: Caltrans
Photo: cc via Bing
 
February 19, 2020 (Buckman Springs) -- Crews have begun work on the Interstate 8 (I-8) Buckman Springs Safety Roadside Rest Area (SRRA) Sewer/Water Systems Restoration Project that will require fully closing the rest area for about a year, reported Caltrans officials. 
 
The Buckman Springs SRRA located along I-8 near Pine Valley in eastern San Diego County may be closed as early as March 2 for the duration of the year-long project that will construct a new sewage treatment system. The work is needed to bring the rest area in compliance with state and federal water quality standards.

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LEAP OF KINDNESS IN LAKESIDE

East County News Service

February 19, 2020 (Lakeside) – This Leap Year, the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce is hosting a “Leap of  Kindness Day.” The public is encouraged to drop off canned foods, dry goods and school supplies for people in need during the month of February to help people in need.   

Drop-off bins are located at the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce office as well as at Café 67, Mary’s Donuts in Lakeside, the German American Club in El Cajon, and Acai Addiction restaurant in Lakeside.

Donated items can be dropped off now through February 27th, and will distributed to people in need on Leap  Day, February 29th.


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JIMMIE JOHNSON TO RACE AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY, HIS LAST CA EVENT BEFORE RETIRING, AFTER BEING SIDELINED IN DAYTONA 500 CRASH

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo (left) credit: Jimmie Johnson Twitter

February 18, 2020 (El Cajon) - El Cajon native, NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, will race March 1 at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway even after being sidelined inadvertently by Ryan Newman’s dramatic car crash at the Daytona 500 race on Feb. 16. This will be his last southern Californian appearance. 

View video of crash: https://www.nascar.com/video/franchise/nascar-cup-highlights/the-big-one-takes-out-the-leaders-at-daytona/ 

Ryan Newman, who was hospitalized after the crash, is ‘awake and speaking’ according to WESH Orlando on Feb. 18.  NASCAR provided an update today indicating Newman is in serious condition in the hospital but is awake and talking with his family.

Johnson tweeted a photo of himself with Newman, noting that they were in the same rookie class with “big dreams in a big sport. Turns out we both have had long successful careers, a lot of laughs together, started families and even won some trophies. Yesterday was a reminder how dangerous racing can be. I’m so thankful he is okay.'"


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SANTEE-BASED SAN DIEGO COUNTY GUN OWNERS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE ANNOUNCED ENDORSED CANDIDATES FOR MARCH PRIMARY ELECTION

East County News Service
 
Photo: Michael Schwartz (left). Scott Sherman (right).
 
February 18, 2020 (Santee) – San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO), a Santee-based political action committee promoting Second Amendment rights, has announced its endorsement of candidates for the March 3 primary election.
 
Leading SDCGO’s list of endorsed candidates are two candidates for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and one candidate for mayor of San Diego. The Supervisor candidates include Joel Anderson, a former State Assemblyman and State Senator, for the District 2 seat and Alex Galicia for the District 1 seat. The seats are open due to term limits for the incumbents. The top two vote-getters who finish first and second in the primary, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to a November runoff.
 
Anderson is hoping to succeed Dianne Jacob, who has served for the past 28 years. Jacob, first elected as Supervisor in 1992, is termed out after six terms. The Second Supervisorial District, the largest of the county’s five districts, features more than 2,000 square miles and more than 50 communities and cities in the East County, including the unincorporated communities of Lakeside, Alpine, Ramona and Julian along with the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee and Poway, as well as the city of San Diego communities of Allied Gardens, College Area, Del Cerro, Grantville, Navajo, Rolando and San Carlos.

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WITNESSES SOUGHT TO SHOOTINGS ON I-8 AND HIGHWAY 125 IN LA MESA

East County News Service
 
February 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – California Highway Patrol seeks witnesses to two separate shootings of a motorist Saturday night. The victim was driving on I-8 east near Waring Rd. around 9:30 p.m. when the driver of an unknown vehicle behind began firing a gun.  The victim turned onto State Route 125 north and the suspect followed, firing multiple rounds and striking the victim in the arm, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Salvador Castro.
 
The suspect fled and not been found. No vehicle description has been provided. The victim drove to his home in Grantville, where someone called for help. 

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DRIVER DEAD AFTER HITTING TREE IN EL CAJON

 

 

East County News Service

February 16, 2020 (El Cajon) – A man in his 30s was found dead this afternoon in a black 1998 Ford Explorer that struck a tree in the 1200 block of North Second Street. 

El Cajon Police officers and Heartland Fire personnel responded at 1:49 p.m., where  witnesses and an investigation indicated the Ford was traveling northbound when it drifted onto the center divider and hit a tree. The driver’s identity is being withheld pending notification of his family.

“It is unknown at this time if drugs or alcohol were a factor in this collision and no other vehicles or persons were involved,” says Lt. Jason Taub with Ell Cajon Police.


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MEET CANDIDATES FOR SUPERVISORS IN DISTRICT 2 FEB. 25 IN ALPINE

East County News Service 
 
February 15, 2020 (Alpine) – The Alpine Chamber of Commerce will host a business townhall and candidate forum for those running in the San Diego 2nd Supervisorial District to fill the vacancy to be left by Dianne Jacob’s retirement. The forum will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 5-7 p.m. at the Alpine library, 1752 Alpine Blvd., Alpine CA 91901.
 
All four candidates running have confirmed that they will attend. They are former State Senator Joel Anderson, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, behavioral health consultant Kenya Taylor, and homebuilder/rancher Brian Sesko.  

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