WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

 

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Elderly man injured in Alsea Highway wreck

An elderly Waldport man was lucky to come out of a nasty wreck Thursday morning with hardly a scratch on him. Authorities say the man was headed west into Waldport on Highway 34 when he failed to properly negotiate a curve. He straightened it out causing his car to drift off the shoulder and down a steep embankment toward the Alsea River floodplain. The man was lifted into an awaiting gurney and then hauled back up the 30 feet to the pavement where he was loaded aboard an ambulance for a ride to the hospital to get checked out. Those at the scene said that the man looked so good that he had to have been wearing his seat belt based upon how far the car was off the road and down over the side.

Newport traffic crash – Eads at NE 1st lands car salesman in jail

Eads @ NE 1st, bottom photo, car salesman driver of black car
Click to enlarge photos

A cars salesman was arrested Thursday afternoon after the car he was “demonstrating” to a prospective buyer, slammed into a van containing two senior citizens who had just pulled out from the stop sign at Eads and NE 1st. Due to the high rate of speed the salesman’s Pontiac G6 was doing, and the fact that the senior citizen driver would not have seen the oncoming car until the very last split second, police cited the speeding driver. Several victims were transported to the hospital with neck and other minor injuries.

Newport officers got statements that indicated that the Pontiac car was going “very fast” and that as it entered the intersection at Eads and NE 1st, it swerved without braking, hitting the van, spinning it clockwize, coming to rest to where it was nearly facing the opposite direction of original travel. The Pontiac came to rest against the opposite side of the street on Eads.

Driver of the Pontiac complained of neck pain and was checked out by paramedics. He was then taken into custody by Newport police officers and transported to the county jail on charges of reckless driving, reckless endangering others and for driving on a suspended license.

Waldport’s new history mural coming along nicely.

Waldport Centennial Mural (portion) and artist Casey McEneny
Click on photos to enlarge

As you can see Waldport’s Centennial Celebration Mural that is being produced by local artist and high school art teacher Casey McEneny is coming along beautifully. When selected recently out of a field of highly qualified muralists, McEneny said “Well, now I know what I’m going to be doing over my summer break!”

The commissioned work sponsored by the City of Waldport and the Port of Alsea Bay is supposed to herald Waldport area’s rich and colorful history, with heavy emphasis on the Native Americans who were in the area long before the “white man.” It also will chronicle the rich Native American culture as it existed early on, and how it has bridged to the more modern era of river-based activities of the fishery and timber industries.

McEneny is painting the first of two panels that are expected to be placed on the south wall of the Waldport Samaritan Clinic when they are done. The panels are to be affixed to the wall, but can be removed and moved to another location is circumstances change.

Casey McEneny grew up in the south Lincoln County area and attended Waldport High Schools. After graduation he moved to southern California to pursue a Master’s Degree in art. McEneny is an art teacher at Newport High School and in active in promoting art in non-profit and after-school programs throughout Lincoln County.

Calling all Yaquina Bay Bridge lovers!!

WANTED: People who remember the Yaquina Bay Bridge construction or have memories about the bridge that would be fun to share with the community!!!

Were you in Lincoln County when the Yaquina Bay Bridge was built? Do you have memories of that era, either you or through a friend or family member? If so, the Lincoln County Historical Society, in conjunction with the Committee to Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Yaquina Bay Bridge, would like to talk to you on Thursday, Aug. 11 at 11 a.m. in the Carriage House next to the Burrows House Museum at 545 SW Ninth in Newport.

Dr. John Baker of Northwest Management will be facilitating the interviews. Dave Morgan of NewsLincolnCounty.com will be taping the interviews and will edit them for play at the main event of the celebration, an old-time picnic at the bridge Sunday, Oct. 2. The interviews also will become part of the permanent collection of the Lincoln County Historical Society.

If anyone with memories who can’t do an interview on Thursday, August 11 at the Carriage House, please call Diane Disse at 541-265-7509 to arrange a possible visit by the video crew at their location.

“Collecting and maintaining memories of people who have lived our history are important aspects of our mission, and the 75th anniversary of the year the bridge was built is an ideal time to gather these memories,” Loretta Harrison, executive director of the Historical Society, said.

For more information, call 541-265-7509.

Vehicle over an embankment on Alsea Highway (34) milepost 6

11:05am
First responders are enroute to a report of a vehicle over an embankment on the Alsea Highway (34) about five miles east of Waldport. No reports of any injuries.

11:17 am
Arriving first responder reports there is someone inside the vehicle, conscious, breathing. Elderly male, possible broken foot.

Lincoln City Rehab Center closing its doors – Money issues

Lincoln City

Lincoln City Rehabilitation Center to Close its Doors
Provided by Lincoln City Rehabilitation Center

Operators of Lincoln City Rehabilitation Center have announced plans to close the long-term care center. Pinnacle Healthcare Inc., the owner of the facility, cited financial obstacles and decreasing occupancy as the primary reasons for the decision. It leaves Lincoln City without a similarly equipped rehabilitation center for seniors and the disabled.

“Over the last few years the center has faced an increasing number of financial obstacles,” said Julie Carlson, president of Pinnacle Healthcare. “An analysis of the budget revealed that we were unable to meet our financial obligations and we could not risk sacrificing the quality of care we provide to our residents.”

The staff at Lincoln City Rehabilitation Center will be working closely with representatives from local and state Senior and People with Disabilities offices and the state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s office to help the center’s 32 residents plan and coordinate transfers to other facilities. The center will remain open until the last resident has been discharged, which will likely occur by the end of August.

Company officials will be conducting a career transition meeting for the 57 employees who work at Lincoln City Rehabilitation Center. They will assist with job placement at other Pinnacle Healthcare facilities, as well as with other local employers.

“We know that Lincoln City Rehabilitation Center is home to many people and we understand that the thought of leaving may be difficult,” said Blake Epp, administrator. “Our hope is to ease the burden of this transition, and we aim to assist residents and staff with this change in any way possible.”

In a prepared statement, Pinnacle Healthcare expressed gratitude to the patients and staff of Lincoln City Rehabilitation Center.

“The decision to close Lincoln City Rehabilitation Center was a difficult one. We don’t take this decision lightly, but it is one that had to be made,” the statement read. “We are proud to have served the Lincoln City community, and we offer our sincere thanks and gratitude to all of our residents, their family members and our staff of health care providers.”

Pinnacle Healthcare Inc. is a family owned long-term care company headquartered in Springfield, Ore. Co-owners Merlin Hart and Mark Garber operate 10 skilled nursing facilities throughout Oregon that house a total of 1,400 beds and provide a wide range of rehabilitation and nursing services.

Editors note: The Lincoln City Rehab Center has been struggling to meet state standards on levels of care. It was recently marked down again to a special status of needing to make major improvements. Staff continued to claim they would make those improvements.

Editorial: Newport City Council/News Media relations

Newport City Hall

Since the Newport News-Times broached the subject of Newport City Hall relations with the news media, some observations from our perspective seems in order.

Yes it’s true that there was a contentious discussion at a recent city council workshop over what appeared to us to be an effort by Mayor McConnell, to begin describing a point of view that can be easily described as moving toward a “managed relationship” with the news media. It all stemmed from the way we reported on the firing of now former city Public Works Director Lee Ritzman. Comments critical of our article came largely from Mayor McConnell and City Councilor David Allen who claimed we inappropriately used information we received from several sources, including a city councilor, about Mr. Ritzman’s reluctance to accept “light duty” for four months and then retire, in lieu of being fired outright. City Manager Jim Voetberg fired him right then and there (but effective the next day), and then wrote a rather rosy news release about Ritzman’s laudable service to the community, but followed by a statement that “the department needs new leadership.” In short, good job Lee, but you’re fired.

Ritzman, who most would agree, is one of the nicest people you’ll ever know, none-the-less attracted lightning bolts of criticism for missed grants, delayed constructions, and blamed for cost overruns (whether deserved or not) on the recent Bayfront Project and the town’s now under construction water treatment plant.

Ideas were flying around the city council workshop Monday ranging from “no councilor should say anything until ALL city councilors have read a particular news release” to “sometimes the Mayor might be in the best position to handle things.” Mayor McConnell suggested that the city hire a “media expert” to coach the councilors on when to talk and when to say “no comment.” There were also references made to what is, or is NOT, confidential information associated with news releases.

Off the top, a requirement that each city councilor must be muzzled until there is confirmation that ALL of them have read a particular news release is ludicrous. Do they mean simply read? Have questions answered? Draw conclusions after lengthy and deep thought? Such obstacles to timely comment from our elected leaders could draw out the comment “tirgger” for days. The net effect of such a requirement would be nothing but a veiled attempt to slow down or constrict the flow of information from our INDIVIDUALLY ELECTED city councilors. Our city council is made up of smart, caring, dedicated contributors to our community who are fully capable of commenting on important matters without worrying about who’s reading what and when. No Newport city councilor we know would comment on anything they aren’t comfortable talking about. Most major issues have been lingering for months (if not years) anyway.

Another thing. Legitimate news comes overwhelmingly from stories for which there are NO news releases.

“Maybe the Mayor should handle press releases or speak for the city.” Again, the mayor has only one vote. He (or she) holds the gavel to run city council meetings and helps assemble meeting agendas. But beyond THAT, he or she is JUST ONE VOTE. Each member of the council is individually elected and is expected to contribute his or her OWN UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE on city issues. None are anointed “more equal” than others. With rare, rare exception (such as in the case of fast moving, life or death events) there is little to be gained by the public getting their information that is “managed or funneled” through one person. It would also be an insult to other councilors who would have to stand off in the shadows and suffer in silence regardless of the probability that they would have valuable observations of their own to add to the discussion.

“We should hire a ‘media expert’ to help us know when to comment and when not to.” This is a slippery slope to encourage, if not promote, an ethic of how to “hide in plain sight.” So-called media experts are called in almost exclusively to “manage media access” to information and to direct it in ways that seeks “damage control.” Public servants are supposed to serve the public – not some vision of protecting city hall at all costs, including the image of some mayor’s “administration.” We elect our leaders to do the best job they can at keeping taxes as low as possible while charting a future worthy of our citizenry. It’s not about hiring somebody from the private sector who spends 99% of their time customizing “image management plans” for some company’s collective, or individual ego.

To be fair, there are valuable seminars and websites that clearly outline what aspects of information should be kept confidential. LEGITIMATELY confidential. Such information deals mainly with personnel, legal and labor issues. But even with labor issues, determining who is a public official or public figure can factor significantly as to what is “fair public comment” about such people. It IS, after all, the peoples’ government and we all have a right to know, and duty to know, how our tax money is being spent and how our “public servants” are behaving, on AND off the job, but mostly ON. There is constant debate over what is legitimately confidential information versus what is really just “sensitive information” that somebody in the bureaucracy doesn’t want “out there” in the public. Admittedly it’s a fine line, but it IS there. And it is something that each and every elected official must grapple with. Some instances are easier than others. But always, if they have a question, they should consult the city attorney. Unfortunately for our Newport City Council, they are not allowed to talk to the City Attorney (in Eugene) unless they clear it first with the city manager or the mayor. (If that doesn’t curl your hair, you’re not paying attention.) In Newport’s case, filtered access to legal advice is aimed at saving money. But it also means that the mayor and the city manager always have the upper hand over the entire city council through exclusive access to strategic legal information. It can also keep the rest of the council and even the city attorney herself unaware of problems that inevitably rise up when dealing with employee/management disputes, disputes like those that have erupted in a long list of severance packages that were recently paid only after a number of departing employees agreed not to sue the city over “unnamed potential grievances.” In addition, there are, still pending, a couple of potentially very expensive lawsuits that have been filed against the city by two prominent former employees.

But back on point, we think Mayor McConnell should bring the city attorney over to Newport to DEFINE public information, information which can and should be revealed to ANYONE, including the news media since they are no different than the public (except in Executive Sessions which, by law bars any media dialog, or public disclosures, PERIOD). The city attorney should take the councilors through a number of scenarios that will further clarify what is not only constructive public dialog but likewise what should not be mentioned because it is legitimately confidential. Elaborating further on what is sensitive versus confidential information should also be covered.

Rather than hire a ‘media expert’ who can chew up a whole day and run up a big bill wandering all around the mulberry bush talking about “The Zen of Communications” and how councilors shouldn’t hurt city hall, the council should simply have a public information session with the city attorney who can lay EVERYTHING out in an hour or two and at a much cheaper rate. What she will convey is that nearly every scrap of paper and 99.9% of what is said at city hall is within the public’s right AND DUTY to know, BUT WITH SPECIFIC EXCEPTIONS. It’s a short list. A very short list. And once this information is conveyed, there won’t be any need for “media management” schemes or backdoor suggestions on how to quickly get to “no comment.”

Not ready to build new homes yet, but Toledo C/C says ‘we’ll give ya the new zoning now.’

Toledo City Council

Southeast Toledo landowners Lyle and Diane Mattson got what they wanted Wednesday when the Toledo City Council approved new zoning to allow new home construction on ten acres they recently bought from the Lincoln County School District. It’s located on some moderately steep slopes north of Ammon Road, about a quarter mile east of Sturdevant. The school district decided it didn’t need the land anymore so they sold the property to the Mattsons who say they want to build homes on it someday. As long as the land was owned by the school district, there weren’t any property taxes paid on it. But by virtue of the sale to a private party, and the new zoning placed on it by the city council, the Mattsons are going to be contributing to the city’s property tax rolls that fund police, fire, library, pool, roads, etc. The Mattsons told the council via a letter that they don’t have any immediate plans to begin building houses or roads on the ten acres. But when they do, it will increase taxes on the property even further. The Mattsons live on an adjoining six acre parcel.

Toledo Bow-wow’s may soon get a new playground off East Slope Road

Newly proposed Toledo Dog Park area
(Click on photos to enlarge)

When the first proposed location for a first-ever Toledo Dog Park turned out to be too soggy most of the year, Toledo dog lovers started hunting around for a more suitable location where they can enjoy giving their furry friends a healthy romp while socializing with others.

Eventually they got wind that Georgia Pacific might be willing to give the city a long term lease on some land southwest of East Slope Park. It’s pretty overgrown, but there are the beginnings of some open areas that could be expanded. Ten acres would be lot of dog park if they cleared it all. City Councilor Nancy Lynne said GP has offered city use of the land for a dollar a year. She said clearing the land and setting up some sort of doggie structures will take lots of volunteer work, to be sure. But she said if things keep moving along, Toledo may soon be cutting the ribbon on its first-ever park devoted to dogs and their owners.

As possibly an omen for the dog park to be located there, there is already a plastic “poop bag” dispenser right on the bike path that runs by the site.

Rep. David Wu resigns effective at Midnight

Rep. David Wu

Embattled U.S. Congressman David Wu has resigned his office effective midnight tonight. It opens the process by which his replacement can be selected. The matter is now in Governor Kitzhaber’s lap. The story is in the Oregonian. Click here.

Yachats car hijack/kidnapping suspect arrested.

Antonio Mirelez, 21

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested a Yachats area man for kidnap, reckless endangerment, assault and menacing his girlfriend Tuesday. Deputies say Antonio Mirelez was arguing with his girlfriend at a residence just north of Yachats. As his girlfriend tried to drive off in her red Jeep, Mirelez jumped up on the hood, kicked out the windshield, took over the driver’s seat and drove off with his girlfriend screaming for somebody to call 9-1-1.

The Jeep was seen heading up Blodgett Road, into the mountains. A sheriff’s deputy arrived a short while later and headed up Blodgett but found no sign of them. Meanwhile Mirelez continued arguing with his girlfriend, during which he hit her in the face, according to the victim.

Mirelez eventually drove the woman to a residence in Yachats where they were confronted by law enforcement. Mirelez handcuffed and transported to the Lincoln County Jail on charges of Second Degree Kidnapping, Recklessly Endangering, Fourth Degree Assault and Menacing. His bail was set at $145,000.

Newport Police catch young burglars “red armed.”

Newport Police have arrested two young males after police say they caught them in the act of burglarizing a home while the owners were away.

Police received a call from a neighbor who said there was a flickering light shining inside the home at 349 NW 14th, and that they should come right away.

Police pulled up to see that the house had been ransacked. Then they heard the sound to running and the noise of somebody diving into some nearby bushes. Officers went to the spot where they believe the rustling noise had come from. There they found two young males, one 18, the other younger, who were acting very nervous. They also had bleeding blackberry bush scratches on their arms. After talking with officers they confessed to burglarizing the home.

The juvenile was taken to juvenile detention. But the 18 year old, Joseph Lusk, of Newport, was taken to the Lincoln County Jail and booked on charges of burglary and theft. Lusks bail was set at $157,000.

Police remind the community that if you plan to be gone from your residence for any period of time, you should enlist the help of trustworthy neighbors who can keep an eye on it until you return. It’s also smart to alert local police or sheriff’s offices that you’ll be gone a certain amount of time and for them to add your residence to their regular patrol duties.

Bridge maintenance work alert. Possible slight delays in August.

Provided by ODOT

NEWPORT—Mandatory work on several bridges in Lincoln and Tillamook counties will begin next week and will reduce travel to a single lane during construction. However, pedestrians and bicyclists will not lose access to the bridges at any time. ODOT crews will be prepping and sealing the decks of the bridges and will close one lane at a time according to the following schedule:

Little Nestucca River: US 101, milepost 92

Monday, August 8 and Tuesday, August 9—2 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wednesday, August 10 and Thursday, August 11—6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ojalla Bridge and Fuller Bridge: OR 229 (Siletz Hwy) — Milepost 20.6 and milepost 23
When: Monday, August 15 and Tuesday, August 16—6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Alsea River Bridge: OR 34, milepost 7

When: Wednesday, August 17 and Thursday, August 18—6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Flaggers will control travel over the bridges during construction. There is no complete bridge closure anticipated but motorists should expect minor delays during times of congestion. Motorists are encouraged to reduce speed and travel with caution through the construction zone. Bicyclists and pedestrians may also experience momentary delays.

Bridge deck sealing is expected to preserve and protect the bridge’s wear surface for the next 15 years.

Coming up: Registering your kids for school

Provided by Lincoln County School District

2011-2012 REGISTRATION SCHEDULE FOR LINCOLN COUNTY SCHOOLS

All students entering Lincoln County School District schools must register for the 2011-2012 school year. Kindergarten students should bring immunization records and proof-of-age documentation.

WEST AREA SCHOOLS

Newport High School and Newport Preparatory Academy
August 15, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Seniors
August 16, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.; 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Juniors
5 p.m. – 8 p.m. – All Grades
August 17, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Sophomores
August 18, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Freshmen
5 p.m. – 8 p.m. – All Grades
August 19 , 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Seventh and Eighth Grades

Newport Intermediate School and Isaac Newton Magnet School
August 15, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
August 16 , 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.; 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. & 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
August 17, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
August 18, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. & 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
August 19, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Sam Case Primary
August 16, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
August 17, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
August 18 , 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
*Spanish Translation will be available all dates and times at Sam Case

SOUTH AREA SCHOOLS

Crestview Heights and Waldport High School
August 16, 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
August 17, 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
August 18, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

EAST AREA SCHOOLS

Toledo Junior/Senior High School

August 17, 7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. All Grades
August 18, 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. All Grades
August 19, 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. All Grades

Toledo Elementary
August 15 , 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. All Grades
August 16 , 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. All Grades
August 17 , 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. All Grades
August 18, 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. All Grades

NORTH AREA SCHOOLS

Taft 7-12 High School
August 15, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Seniors
August 16, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Juniors
August 17, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sophomores
August 18, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Freshmen
5 p.m. – 8 p.m. All Grades
August 19 , 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Seventh and Eighth Grades

Oceanlake Elementary
August 15, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
August 16, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
August 17, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
August 18, 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
August 19 , 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.


Taft Elementary School

August 15, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
August 16 , 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
August 17, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
August 18, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. & 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
August 19, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

When things go wrong outside “The Jaws,” orange can quickly become your favorite color.

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Two couples and two dogs set out late Tuesday afternoon for a pleasant ocean jaunt up and down Waldport’s Bayshore in their 24 foot cabin cruiser. But suddenly things went sideways for the mariners when their steering broke and the motor quit running.

Boat owner Jim Loop worked on the problems for quite a while, but soon it got dark except for the brilliant overhead starry night sky. One of the women aboard called 9-1-1 on her cell phone to report that they were dead in the water somewhere near “The Jaws” where the Alsea River in Waldport meets the ocean.

Search and rescue units on the beach and in the water raced around the area trying detect any sign of the boat which by then was reported to be drifting dangerously close to the mouth of “The Jaws” due to no power and no steerage. And the caller said the boat was taking waves broadside.

By talking directly to the woman on the phone and then running emergency lights and flashlights at different intervals up and down the Bayshore Beach and asking her which direction they could see them and how far away, rescuers aboard a Central Coast Fire rescue craft were able to dead-reckon the boat’s location. Right about then was when the boat’s owner managed to get a little something out of his motor and was able to get closer in to be seen which was still hard because his navigation lights were still not working. But Central Coast rescuers spotted them, threw them a tow line and soon had them delivered to the Alsea Port Docks. Everyone was fine, right down to the two dogs that were also aboard.

Little Chief Restaurant Fire in Siletz

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For a few minutes the town of Siletz thought it was losing a dining icon Tuesday evening as a report came into 9-1-1 that flames could be seen through the windows of the Little Chief Restaurant in downtown Siletz. Siletz fire fighters pulled up and saw the flames and black smoke wafting up through the restaurant’s flue. Partnering up with Toledo firefighters who also responded, Siletz volunteers had the fire out very quickly.

As it turned out, the fire erupted on the grill in the back. Fire investigators said that the owner, earlier in the day, had cleaned the grease filters above the grill. When he finished, Bill Peck said he left a piece of cardboard on the grill surface and then locked up the restaurant and left. But unknown to him, when he was cleaning out the overhead grease filters, something he stood on or his knee hit the grill “on” controls. So by the time he had been gone for a while, the cardboard caught fire, and the flames ignited residual grease in the flue to the outside which was smoking pretty heavily when fire units pulled up outside.

But rather than having to battle ferocious flames from a blazing structure fire, firefighters got inside to learn that the grill’s automatic “hood fire suppression system” had worked like a charm and had kept the fire from spreading beyond the grill. There was no major damage.

However, The Little Chief Restaurant may be closed for a day or two to get an inspection and to get the grill’s fire suppression system re-charged. But it’s quite obvious, the owners dodged a disaster Tuesday evening thanks to that system.

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