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The third person to email us with the correct name of this bird and what it is doing will win a pair of passes to Magnolia Plantations and Gardens to see a whole bunch more of birds, alligators, turtles, flowers and more during what some say is the best time of the year at the attraction. Photo by Michael Kaynard, Kaynard Photography.

Issue 5.25 | Monday, April 22, 2013
Who turned on the freezer?

FOCUS How transportation tax used
BRACK Cleaning up past messes
GOOD NEWS From a water trail to water wings
HISTORY Table Rock
FEEDBACK Platt criticized
BROADUS Moms' Run, 2013
THE LIST 5 reasons to love Charleston
QUOTE Gentle on the mind
CALENDAR This week ... and next

Transportation tax funds millions of dollars of local road projects
Public and media information coordinator
Charleston County RoadWise

Special to Charleston Currents

APRIL 22, 2013 -- In 2004, Charleston County voters approved a referendum that established a half-cent sales tax and authorized county government to issue $77 million in bonds for road projects. The move also added a $95 million dollar bond for greenbelt conservation, all of which will be repaid through the transportation sales tax revenues.

Two years later, Charleston County voters passed a second referendum allowing the county to issue bonds for an additional $205 million for transportation improvements. The bonds allow staff to move forward with large road projects now, at today's construction costs, therefore getting more bang for our buck, rather than waiting until the funds are collected before building.

Collection of the transportation sales tax began in May of 2005 and will continue for 25 years or until $1.3 billion is collected.

Since the inception of the program, $288,458,000 in sales tax funds have been collected, with 65 percent going toward road improvement projects, 18 percent toward mass transit projects and 17 percent toward greenbelt projects.

The largest projects in the program are called "bonded projects" because they are financed through government bonds. Charleston County voters approved solicitation of these bonds in November 2004. Such bonds are levied at a rate of 0.5 percent over a period of 25 years or until $1.3 billion is collected, whichever comes first.

Map of Charleston County (yellow) that shows most of the smaller, or "allocation" projects (purple dots). Image courtesy Charleston County RoadWise.

Charleston County also sets aside $10.5 million each year for smaller projects including road paving, resurfacing, drainage, intersection improvements, and bicycle/pedestrian paths and sidewalks. More than 300 of these smaller "allocation projects" have been completed to date.

Peter Valiquette, preconstruction manager for Charleston County RoadWise, explained that the allocation projects are generally submitted by municipalities, objectively evaluated and prioritized, and then selected for funding by Charleston County Council.

Of the 13 large bonded projects, six have been completed to date:

  • Palmetto Commerce Parkway Phase 1
  • Folly Road/Maybank Highway Intersection
  • Palmetto Commerce Parkway Phase 2
  • Bee Street and Courtenay Drive Improvements
  • Glenn McConnell / I-526 Improvements
  • U.S. 17 / S.C. 61/Wesley Drive

Substantially complete bonded projects include Johnnie Dodds Boulevard (considered "substantially complete" in December 2012 and crews are finalizing punch list items now).

Bonded projects currently under construction include Bees Ferry Road widening, Future Drive and Northside Drive Extension.

Coming bonded projects, for which construction has not yet begun, include Folly Road/Camp Road intersection, West Ashley traffic circle, Harbor View Road improvements [April 30 public meeting] and Maybank Highway improvements.

Charleston County Government has received numerous awards for the transportation sales tax program, including:

  • Charleston County was named one of America's Crown Communities for work on Palmetto Commerce Parkway by American City & County Magazine in December 2012.

  • Engineering Excellence Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) in February 2013 for the Bee Street and Courtenay Drive Improvements Project.

  • The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission presented Charleston County with the 2013 Organization Award for the Inland Rice Field mitigation project associated with Palmetto Commerce Parkway on in March 2013.

  • For public meeting notices and up-to-date news and information about all Charleston County transportation sales tax road projects, visit the official website at http://roads.charlestoncounty.org.

Cleaning up past messes as big problems languish
By ANDY BRACK, editor and publisher

APRIL 22, 2013 -- It's pretty ridiculous how House lawmakers with the job of drafting major ethics reform to improve accountability and transparency in government did their work in secret with virtually no public input.

But that's the odd way things have happened in this year's legislative session, characterized more by fixing dumb things done in the past than any grand moves to fix real and lingering problems, such as the poor states of education, health care and poverty in South Carolina.

Among the messes that state legislators are working to clean up with about six weeks left in this year's session:

  • Restructuring: After weeks of discussion this year and in years past, the Senate passed a measure that would create a cabinet-level Department of Administration to supersede most of the functions of the Budget and Control Board to give more authority to a governor. The measure, now in the House, is structural and won't make a big difference in people's everyday lives.

  • Candidates: After last year's embarrassment of more than 250 candidates removed from ballots for incomplete filing because of a state law snafu, the legislature seems to be cleaning up the mess this year so it won't happen again.

  • Hacking: After a hacker stole personal information of 3.5 million taxpayers and hundreds of thousands of businesses from the state Department of Revenue, it hasn't been too contentious for the state to approve more credit monitoring for taxpayers and more data security to fix the system. It looks like the state will pay for monitoring for 10 years.

  • Ethics reform: After embarrassing headlines for Gov. Nikki Haley and House Speaker Bobby Harrell over ethical allegations of impropriety in different cases, lawmakers are making moves to create a tougher ethics law to improve accountability and transparency. But while proposed measures are much stronger than what is in place now, it doesn't help that House members negotiated on components of the bill in private.

Although these issues are responses to problems of our own making, other work being done this year includes looking for ways to improve accountability for charter schools, trying to fix high property insurance rates along the coast, providing a $120 million incentive to Boeing so it will invest $1 billion in an expansion, boosting small job creation and more. The House also has passed measures to shorten the legislative session and redirect the sales tax on cars to roads.

"State lawmakers seem to be legislating around the corners and doing stuff that's comparatively easy, instead of handling the big problems that continue to vex us."

One Statehouse veteran observed that this year's session has been more of a breather than recent ones in which lawmakers faced huge challenges to keep state government going during the Great Recession.

The 2013-14 state-funded part of the South Carolina budget has about $6.7 billion in monies for legislators to spend -- about $400 million more than last year. Signs that the economy is recovering also comes in the $159 million in extra revenues received this year that were not expected last year.

So as the state is slowly rebuilding government agencies severely cut during the recession and getting a little time for recovery, state lawmakers seem to be legislating around the corners and doing stuff that's comparatively easy, instead of handling the big problems that continue to vex us.

The state needs leaders who will fly the flag of reform to fix education funding so that the opportunities provided in rural schools match those found in suburban ones. They need to ignore flash points like abortion, unions and expanding access to guns in bars. Instead, they should figure out a way to accept federal aid to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of people without health insurance. And it wouldn't hurt to find ways to improve the justice system with alternative sentencing options that will keep bad guys in jail, but have less expensive correctional options for non-violent criminals.

Bottom line: Find common ground of big issues on which we can agree on and get moving on those things. Set a statewide agenda. And keep in mind that people don't have much faith in state legislators. The way to earn their trust and respect is to achieve, not just float on along.

Andy Brack is publisher of Charleston Currents and Statehouse Report, where this commentary first was published. He can be reached at: publisher@charlestoncurrents.com.


Critical of Platt on secularism

To the editor:

In the previous issue of Charleston Currents, Eugene Platt complained about being ignored by the media because he is a third-party candidate. However, it's because of some media attention he did receive that I have decided not to vote for Platt.

The Secular Coalition for America grades candidates based on positions of importance to secular Americans. Eugene Platt received an overall "B" for his positions. However, he got an "F" on this question: "What role would religion play in the candidate's decision making in his or her role as a U.S. Representative?" On Platt's campaign website, he says his "political positions are informed by love for country and community and by his understanding of the Gospels."

Here's another question from the Secular Coalition: "Does the candidate support social policies that do not discriminate based on religion, such as marriage equality?" Platt makes no mention of marriage equality on his website. Could that be because the Gospels have nothing to say about gay marriage?

I don't vote for candidates who consult the Bible on how to vote. Many of us in the Lowcountry are tired of religion being inserted into local politics. If Platt wants to present voters with a real alternative, as he claims, he might think about basing his votes more on his understanding of the Constitution than of his Bible.

Incidentally, the other two candidates for the First District race received an "F" (Mark Sanford) and an "A" (Elizabeth Colbert Busch) for answers to the Secular Coalition for America questionnaire.

-- Herb Silverman, Charleston, S.C.

  • Send us your thoughts. If you have an opinion you'd like to share (150 words or less, please), send your letters to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com. Please include your name, address and phone number for verification purposes. We look forward to hearing from you!


The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Charleston Currents to you at no cost. In today's issue, we shine the spotlight on SCIWAY, South Carolina’s Information Highway. Pronounced “sky-way,” SCIWAY is the largest and most comprehensive directory of South Carolina information on the Internet. It includes thousands of links to other South Carolina Web sites, including Charleston Currents, as well as an amazing collection of maps, charts, articles, photos and other resources. To learn more about this extraordinary information hub that 7 million people visit a year, go to: http://www.SCIWAY.net.


Receiving tomb to get $118,000 in preservation work

The Magnolia Cemetery Receiving Tomb will undergo a $118,000 preservation stabilization effort as part of the Preservation Society of Charleston's efforts to preserve the city's architectural heritage.

The tomb, owned by the Magnolia Cemetery Trust, dates to around 1850, the time when the cemetery was built. It is attributed to Edward C. Jones.

Built of brick and covered in stucco with a slate roof, the Magnolia Cemetery Receiving Tomb was listed as a "Seven to Save" site by the Preservation Society in 2011. The Society undertook the development of a preservation plan for the Gothic Revival structure, which is threatened by erosion on its marsh-side site
and has been structurally compromised over time by various natural disasters.

A new foundation supported with micropiles will be constructed beneath the tomb, which will also be reinforced and repaired.

The $118,000 preservation effort is funded in part by a major gift from the family of the late Ted Ashton Phillips and Federal funds from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and administered by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

New Web site offers map of 760-mile coastal water trail

The Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail (SECT)has a new Web that helps people navigate continuous water trails that stretch from Virginia to Georgia.

The site, first introduced in Charleston at the East Coast Paddlesports & Outdoor Festival, is a primary source for all-inclusive information on navigating the coastal water trails of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Featuring detailed maps that highlight access sites, lodging and supply centers, paddlers can now travel an unbroken trail of tidal marshes and rivers more than 760 miles along the coasts of all four states.

To create this one-stop tool for boaters, the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) teamed up with a number of agencies, including the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, The Conservation Fund, the Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.

"Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission is proud to be a part of this national trail system," said Josh Hall, outdoor recreation programs manager.

For truly adventurous paddlers, the SECT also provides a connection between two well-known regional trails: the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail that stretches from Virginia to Delaware and the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, which extends from the Georgia-Florida border all the way around the state to the west end of the Florida panhandle. What could be called the 'Appalachian Trail of water trails,' boaters can now follow these three regional trails for approximately 5,275 miles through nine states.

"The new Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail website is a comprehensive resource that will not only make planning a trip by boat within or between states much easier for avid paddlers, it will also provide useful information for outdoor-lovers of all ages to get out and enjoy recreational boating in the Southeast," said Justin Boner, real estate director for North Carolina with The Conservation Fund.

Volunteers can earn "water wings" while helping local parks

For the third year, the Charleston Parks Conservancy is launching its Aqua Angels program in which volunteers donate at least five hours of time from May to September watering parks in downtown Charleston, West Ashley and Daniel Island.

Over the last five years, the conservancy has planted thousands of flowers, shrubs and bulbs in more than a dozen Charleston city parks. Those plants require regular care and maintenance, including a big drink of water during the warm months of summer and early fall.

Last year, Aqua Angels spent about 400 hours watering in the parks. Even though the Conservancy carefully selects native and drought-tolerant plants for the parks, they still need a drink, especially in parks with new plantings that have less established root systems, the organization said.
Volunteers have flexibility to water at times convenient to their schedules and in parks close to their home or work. No experience is needed. A member of the Conservancy staff will meet with a volunteer to explain proper watering techniques.

"This is the perfect volunteer opportunity for people who have less flexible schedules and need to volunteer at a time that works for them," said Neves Richards, volunteer director for the Conservancy. "If you can hold a watering hose, you can help us keep Charleston's parks blooming and beautiful all year long."

The Conservancy will host an Aqua Angel Kickoff Luncheon from noon to 1 p.m. May 1 in Allan Park, 365 Ashley Ave. in Charleston. Have a picnic in the park and learn more about this volunteer program and how to earn your "water wings" this summer.

Roper St. Francis wins study's recognition as top hospital system

A new study shows Roper St. Francis hospital system is one of the nation's top 15 for the first quarter of 2013.

"We are on a continuous journey to deliver high quality, patient-centered, coordinated care and we welcome the transparency associated with our present progress," said Dr. Todd Shuman, medical director of quality at Roper St. Francis. "Our organization gains valuable insight from the external assessment provided by organizations such as Truven. This national recognition is the result of hard work by all members of the Roper St. Francis family and provides knowledge that we are progressing in the proper direction to our vision of delivering the best outcome for every patient, every time."

According to a press release, Roper St. Francis was named to the Top 15 Hospital Health Systems list compiled by Truven Health Analytics and published in Modern Healthcare magazine. The Truven Health 15 Top Health Systems study culled data from more than 300 organizations and singled out 15 hospital systems that achieved superior clinical outcomes based on a composite score of eight measures of quality, patient perception of care and efficiency.

The study highlighted how the local hospital system had better survival rates than peer groups, lower mortality rates, fewer complications, shorter stays and better patient safety. To learn more about the study, visit this site.


Table Rock

Table Rock is a small mountain that rises dramatically above the surrounding landscape northwest of Greenville. It rises to 3,197 feet above sea level with a relatively broad summit shaped like a table, a characteristic that is said to have inspired the name given to it by Native Americans of the region long ago. Table Rock, located in the inner Piedmont belt, is just south of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness and Recreation Area, including Caesars Head and Jones Gap, both of which share a similar geologic history.

Like Caesars Head and Sassafras Mountain, Table Rock formed through the process of plate tectonics. Geologists believe that a continental fragment or island arc moved, as one plate slid under another, and then collided with ancient North America during the Ordovician period about 430 million years ago. The force of this collision generated heat and produced magma. This formed a large batholith miles underground that later cooled and hardened to form granite. Today the exposed rock of this batholith is found from Virginia to Alabama. During later collisions in the Devonian and Pennsylvanian to Permian periods, this granite was squeezed and reheated in a metamorphic process that turned the granite into a metagranite, or granitic gneiss. Over millions of years the land was uplifted, the ancient mountains eroded, and so the intrusive igneous rock of Table Rock was exposed at the surface.

At the base of Table Rock and visible along the trails at Table Rock State Park lies another interesting rock, amphibolite, which is metamorphic basalt derived from the ocean crust that was also emplaced during collision. These amphibolite schists and metavolcanics of the surrounding area have eroded faster than the harder metagranite of Table Rock, and so it has weathered to form an isolated hill called a monadnock.

Excerpted from the entry by Carolyn H. Murphy. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)


Moms' Run, 2013

Not only can you run for a good cause May 11 at the Moms' Run in Summerville, but you can enjoy all sorts of great activities, like the face-painting being done during the Family Fun Day after the race. This year's 5K race -- the 10th annual -- starts at 8 a.m. at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island with registration fees set at $25. After the race, runners can cool down and enjoy lots of activities for children, entertainment, food and music. The event by the Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation seeks to raise awareness about postpartum depression and raise money to educate and support women who experience postpartum depression. Photo from 2012 race courtesy of Coleman Photography.


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Five reasons to love Charleston

Back in 2007, Budget Travel magazine offered 25 reasons that it loved Charleston, which it observed "America's most genteel is behaving like a frisky debutante!" The top five reasons:

Modell city: Charleston, established in 2670, was designed "according to an elaborate, somewhat utopian plan referred to as the Grand Modell. It called for 70-foot-wide main streets and a town center at the intersection of Meeting and Broad," now known as the "Four Corners of Law."

Great greenery: The magazine loved grassy and green public spaces, such as White Point Garden, Marion Square and Waterfront Park.

Chicken: It highlighted the poblano-and-mozzarella fried chicken from Cru Cafe on Pinckney Street.

Hospitality: The article also remarked on the community's Southern hospitality, particularly at Market Pavilion Hotel and the Vendue Inn.

Tea: And it encouraged visitors to go to Charleston Tea Plantation.


Gentle on the mind

"I like to start the day early. It keeps me out of trouble."

-- Glen Campbell



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(NEW) Stand up to racism: April 24-27, YWCA, 106 Coming Street, Charleston. The YWCA will host four days of events to stand up to inequality and for human rights as part of the Stand Together Acclaim A New Day series. To learn about the kickoff, dramas and workshops, visit online here.

"Anything Goes:" Through April 27 at the historic Dock Street Theatre. Charleston Stage will offer Cole Porter's classic musical comedy as the grand finale of its 35th anniversary season. Tickets range from $38.50 to $57.50. Available online at: www.CharlestonStage.com

Burger luncheon: Noon, April 26, Fish restaurant, 442 King Street, Charleston. Local author Ken Burger will discuss his newest novel, "Salkehatchie Soup," at Blue Bicycle Books' Author Luncheon series. A champagne and dessert reception will follow in the bookstore, 420 King Street. Tickets are $25. More: BlueBicycleBooks.com

(NEW) Exhibition: "Indigo: Natural Blue Dye in the Lowcountry" opens April 27 at the Charleston Museum to explore the history of the crop and its role. The original exhibition runs through Sept. 2. More. Also on April 27, there's an Indigo workshop at the museum from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Register.

Where the Wild Things Run: 8:30 a.m., April 27, Caw Caw Interpretive Center, Ravenel. Run through the marshes and woods in this 5K race. Cost is $28 to $34. Online registration is open through April 26. More online at: www.ccprc.com.

(NEW) Southern Flame Fest: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., April 27, the Ponds, Summerville. Southern Flame Food and Music Festival will bring blues, bluegrass and barbecue to help raise money for the Summerville Miracle League. The event is free, but there is a parking fee. More is online.

Pencil Point: 11 a.m., April 27, Physician's Auditorium, College of Charleston. The Charleston International Film Festival will offer a screening of this S.C. Film Commission-award winning short film by Charleston-based composer Ayala Asherov-Kalus. More on the film.

Shaggin' on the Cooper: Gates open, 7 p.m., April 27, Mount Pleasant Pier. Charleston County Parks and Recreation will kick off its annual dance event series with live music by Groove Train. Other events will be monthly through September. Tickets are $10 per person; available in packages. On Folly Beach, "Moonlight Mixers" will open May 31. More.


(NEW) Reasonfest: 7 p.m., May 2, Gage Hall, 4 Archdale Street, Charleston. The Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry will mark the National Day of Reason and raise funds for a local homeless shelter at this event, which will feature comic Jennifer Bianchi and poet/songwriter Jim Lundy. More.

(NEW) Splish, spash: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays starting May 4. Charleston County's three water parks open on weekends only on May 4 with full-time summer operation starting May 27 until mid-August. More.

(NEW) Golftoberfest: 11 a.m. May 7, Wild Dunes Resort, Isle of Palms. The Charleston RiverDogs will hold its 8th annual charity golf tournament inspired by Germany's Oktoberfest. Each hole will be named after an authentic Oktoberfest beer tent and include German-themed fun. Learn more: RileyParkEvents.com

Industry Day: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., May 9, Charleston Area Convention Center, North Charleston. The Charleston Post of the Society of American Military Engineers will hold its annual industry day with speakers and networking opportunities. Register here. Contact: Melvin Williams.

Color in Freedom Experience: Through May 20, Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. This interactive exhibit involving the Underground Railway experience offers 49 works by artist Joseph Holston. More.

Photo contest: Images due by June 6. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is holding its annual photo contest for photos taken at the attraction between March 1 and May 31. Entry is $25. To enter and look at rules, visit the Lowcountry Photographic Club.

Bird walks: 8:30 a.m. to noon, every Wednesday and Saturday. This is the time of year that a great variety of migrating birds fly through the Lowcountry so what better time to take part in one of the regular early morning bird walks at Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel. Pre-registration is suggested. Cost is $5. Walks also are conducted on James Island and Folly Beach.Learn more online.


7/1: McGee: Monroe's new book

Williams: Avoiding foreclosure
Dewey: Preventing suicide
Hoover: Clean kitchens
Kulp: On breathalyzers

5/27: May: Hurricane prep lessons
Home converted into gallery
Roper Rehab hosts singer
White, Vinson: Digital library

4/29: Greenberg: Not insurmountable
Harleston: Transportation tax
Heister: How indigo used
Heister: Indigo's history
Angstadt: Manatees

3/25: Benson, Noble: Envision SC
3/18: Hedden: Walking tours
Koroglu: Dervishes
Richards: Teddy Bear Picnic

Thomas: Storytelling event
Logo contest
Anderson: 2-1-1's 10th
Colwell: Teen pregnancy

1/28: Ross: Root of stress
Roberts: SEWE 2013
Begin with Books update
Vail: Jr. Achievement


6/10: "A furious barbarian"
Recovery of Keokuk guns
"Turrets are coming!"
Preparing to attack
Blockade is broken
Stono Rebellion

Charleston Christmas
"Satan's Kingdom"
Christening ironclads
Beauregard's return
Second Battle of Manassas
Secessionville aftermath
Battle of Secessionville
Robert Smalls
Preparing for the attach
Yankee in charge?
Lee and Traveller
Stone Fleet


7/1: Brad Taylor's new thriller

Brookgreen Gardens
New fee bring us closer?
Great new library service
On Robert Ford

5/27: Drum Island's piles
Southern Crescent of Shame
Sanford win, gerrymandering
SC to get more angels

4/29: Pinckney's heroic story
Cleaning up messes
Take expansion money
Sanford tough to beat
With no vision ...

3/25: Candidates spend $2M
Eating on $35/wk
Ads aren't worth much
Scary SC-1 survey

Old-timey customer service
New House Speaker?
Reject Riley tax hike
Episcopal schism

Nullification talk wrong
Tailgaters: Back off!
A lot to be proud of
Myth of big government


6/24: GoodBiz Summit
Getting ready to evacuate
Tax policies
On good policy
Heirs' property
1/28: Two conferences

11/26/12: Consumerism
Can we be a better town
Permaculture, more
Bank on Charleston
Did you know?
Payday lenders hurt economy
Waterkeeper event
GrowFood difference
Earth Day festival
Lorax Project
More gardening tips
Food Waste program
Energy from farms
Turtles that fly
Art from beach trash

Coal ash, more
Boeing's solar farm
More eco-tours
More recycling ahead


4/15: Signs of spring abound
Great local parks
What's new in Charleston is old
1/21: Blaze a trail in 2013
12/10: Great holiday adventures


7/1: Mosquito facts

Curbing mosquitoes
Twitter tips
Help for job applicants
Summer projects

5/27: Hurricane tips
Cleaning up rooms
Traveling with friends
5 on melanoma

4/29: 5 on Cinco de Mayo
Best in Charleston
Generous cities
Spring cleaning tips
Vacation ID tips

3/25: Park and play
On the menu
Still no response
No response

2/25: Five on storytelling
Earth Day duties
For the heart
Home energy tips

Cold water boating
On Ted Stern
SMART goals
Dealing with email



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