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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

First Fridays Downtown Muskegon - Safe Kids Day May 5th With Mercy Health

Last year, it all got underway Downtown Muskegon with a brand new event that was designed to be family friendly, interactive and for the most part...free.  The idea of First Fridays came about and with the first couple of events it was pretty clear to see that Muskegon was more than ready to embrace something new, unique and fun....in DOWNTOWN.

Safe Kids Day on Facebook

Social media exploded.  There were pictures of disbelief as to how many people from near and far were out to stroll the streets, see things from performance art to monster trucks and experience the rejuvenation of our "Main Street" called Western Avenue.  First Fridays come on with an exclamation point and as we're looking into the future...2017 will see the event grow and the crowds that follow, it will all add to how we see our city, and other see it too!  It's very much a step in the right direction.

As the events kick off this Summer, May 5th from 6p-8p at the Muskegon Farmers Market you'll find Safe Kids Day.  It's an opportunity for kids and parents learn a little more about some areas of childhood safety you may not otherwise stop and think about.  Water safety, fire safety, pedestrian safety, automotive safety, medicines even safety around such common household items as laundry soap.  See?  I told you that you didn't thing about them all!  All of those will be featured, along with so much more.  It's probably a good time too to bring kids around some first responders.  Often the only time kids are exposed to public safety officials is in a very stressful situation.  They should know that they are there to protect them too.

I was able to catch up with Megan Jones, who's new to Downtown Muskegon and Holly Alway from Mercy Health to talk about the features of this great event and to offer you a warm welcome to come down on May 5th with your kids to enjoy!

It's a great Summer coming up!  First Fridays are designed to bring us all together with a fun theme to be the ice breaker, but really....it's about people getting out of the house, off the computer and seeing fist hand just how great things are moving along.  Catch up with some old friends..make some new ones and let the feeling of pride swell inside you!  We've taken some bold steps here in Muskegon and there is Much to be proud of!  Enjoy First Fridays Safe Kids on May 5th, then plan on coming back down over the course of the summer for more great events!! For the full schedule of events, click on the First Fridays.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

One Day With God in Muskegon - A Chance For Prisoners and Their Kids to Connect

People make mistakes.  We have a system of justice that hopefully gives those who have made some really big mistakes a chance to reform themselves.  Some say it works, others disagree.  Not really the point of the story for our purposes today.  What I'd like you to think about is those around the offender, and how their lives can be drastically interrupted with the absence of the person who found themselves in jail or prison.

I first found out about One Day With God when we happened to stumble upon it one night on TV.  It was a very well done story, and as we were pausing to see if we wanted to keep watching, it came up that the particular event they were covering just happened to be in Muskegon.  We stayed and watched the story.  It opened my eyes to the other side of the coin when it comes to punishment and the ripple effects.

People who make mistakes....they are human.  Yes, there should be punishment involved, and when the sentence is given, it can create a huge hole in the lives of the people around the offender.  Parents have a missing person..a spouse can quickly find themselves a single parent...and kids....kids who think their parents are perfect, only to find out that they are not...and then..they are gone.  It's an awful lot for a young and developing mind to try and comprehend.  That's where One Day With God comes in.

It's a comprehensive program.  There is a mentor that works in advance with the kids to help prepare them and work with them to encourage the parents on.  I can only imagine how hard it must be for a parent to face a child and admit, they did wrong.  On the other side of the coin...the children are visiting a jail.  Ever been to one?  Not much in the comfort department.  They get a day to do as much as they can that would be considered "normal".  Meals, time to talk, games, inspiration and actual physical contact.  All so very important to kids.

In Muskegon, Mike Van Kempen of the Fellowship Church on Apple Ave sponsors this program and they extend this ministry to those incarcerated and their families... take a listen to our talk below.

Crime deserves consequences.  I do believe that, but the TV show opened my mind up to the other side of the story, and hopefully yours a little.  No one is asking for much more than the willingness to find forgiveness in your heart and realize there are those who are caught in the middle of all of it and even with some imperfections, some of those caught still need the love of a parent and more over...those who are doing their time...they need to know that their life is so much more than a bad decision.  If you'd like to know more about this, you can click on the logo below to visit the Fellowship Church of  Muskegon events page.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bring Unused or Outdated Prescriptions For Safe Disposal April 29th

You know, I was sitting here trying to think of a way to slide in to this article.  So, I thought that I would start by saying that the first part of this here, it's opinion.  We'll get to the meat and potatoes momentarily.  If you'd care to just skip to the end...you may.  :)

I am more and more finding myself looking at our society and the drugs in it.  I have to take a few, and I have nothing against prescribed medications.

That being said...I have a bum left foot and they tried me on one of the meds that they advertise on TV a lot.  I am not going to get into the name of it, because ya know...for someone else, it might work just fine.  But for me...it was a nightmare.  You know how in commercial for pills, they have the "disclaimer" part where they tell you all the possible side effects of this drug, or that drug?  I got them. I thought that I was going to die from the physical side effects....unable to breathe...muscle pain...agitated....and if that's not bad enough for ya....my mental well being was terrible.  Can you imagine it's somehow OK to market a pill that has the "possible side effect of suicidal thoughts or actions". We sell that stuff, and all those warnings on TV are because they know that they can happen.  They are even selling a script now for people who are constipated due to opiates.  "You can't poop because you take too much Vicodin?  Here, here's another pill."  What in the actual hell is that all about?

So, back the story.  Have you been given a script you couldn't take?  Maybe it's sitting there in the kitchen cupboard.  You know, the skinny one.  Maybe it's time to do some Spring cleaning and you find a bottle or two of outdated aspirin.  Some cough syrup left over from the crud this past winter?  Don't know what to do with it?  Don't flush it...don't pour it down the drain...don't give it to your brother in law.....don't leave it sitting there.  You can dispose of it properly at the Norton Shores Fire Department on Pontaluna April 29th from 9a-1p.

No questions asked, no coast and no harm done to our environment.  You don't even have to get out of your car, you can drive right thru and drop it off and your done.  You'll be surprised as to just how much of this stuff is sitting around.  I had a chance to talk with Chief Jon Gale and Brian Harris of the Norton Shores PD and Rachel McCoy from the Health Project about the event. Take a listen to our chat below.

It's an easy way to rid yourself of some risk.  Don't let that kind of stuff sit around.  Take a look around the house, bag it up and bring it down. Hey, you at very least get to see some cool fire trucks, and some of the friendly Norton Shores boys in blue.  While you're there, take a moment to thank them for looking out for all of us in an ever increasingly crazy world.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Girls on The Run Lunafest - A Film Festival at the Beardsley Theater April 26th in Muskegon

It was about a year ago...I was asked to emcee an event at Heritage Landing called Girls on the Run.  Never heard of it...didn't know much more than I would get some notes...make a few comments, maybe draw a prize winner or two...ok, I can do that.  Been at it a while so a few words is a piece of cake.

After saying yes, I found out more..it's the way it usually goes....and I was just hooked by the reason for Girls On The Run.

GOTR Kent and Muskegon Counties

Girls On The Run isn't really about running, it's just folded in.  GOTR is about building girls up to become strong women.  Strong women...I know a thing or two about.  My mom....let's suffice it to say that nothing or no one was going to stand in the way of her kids turning out to be "productive members of society" and nothing or no one includes me and my sister.  Yes, there were a few years of doubt when it came to me...but in the end....the strong mom won.  Now, the Mrs.  Never have I met a woman who's sole purpose in life is to give people wings...and then make them fly. I never imagined just how powerful it is to hear from your spouse that "You can do anything...and you do it better than anyone else."  She never so much as blinks when I tell her what I'd like to do...like say start a blog....or an online "tv station."  She's never questioned a goal...never questioned what I needed to get the job done and never questioned my approach to doing things.  I have been surrounded by strong women for a very long time.  Now I have daughters and grand daughters...I want the same for them.

The challenges faced by young women, well...they are a lot.  I was shocked doing this interview that a girls self esteem peaks at 9. NINE and they are going to feel the best about themselves they ever will?  Totally unacceptable.  Everyone has moments of doubt, but today's girls are tomorrows women.  They will be the head of the family in some cases, they will be the heads of a company in others...either way....they need to see the strength and value they possess early, and it needs to be nurtured along the way.  That's where GOTR comes in.

To quote their website - "We inspire girls to be joyful healthy and confident using a fun experience based curriculum which creatively integrates running.  We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams"  Powerful huh?

GOTR is hosting an event at the Beardsley Theater called the Lunafest.  A series of short films by, for and about women!  It's a fundraiser to help make sure their program can continue.  They even have an emcee for the event who just happened to stumble upon their organization a year or so ago... Susan Gifford and Lori Burgess  joined me on the stage at the Beardsley for the story.  Take a listen!!

I can't tell you how much I swelled with pride knowing that I had a small role in my first event with GOTR, once I knew the size and scope of what their work does.  I work to try and build up everyone around me...it's part of my nature.  I know too, that the thought of a girl feeling like she's somehow "in the shadows" is unacceptable.  These girls...they are at bare minimum 50% of our future.  We owe it to the next generations coming to make sure they are all empowered and important!  If you'd like to be part of the Lunafest....click on the picture below!

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Kids Belong of Muskegon Helping Foster and Adoptive Kids and Families - Learn More May 6th at Norton Pines

One of the things we've always worked toward on the blog is the well being of kids in our community.  We've all heard the line that "Children are the future", and we all know it's true...but sometimes kids are born into a situation that's not going to provide the simplest of needs.  It's not for me to decide what's right and wrong...but there are those who intervene and help assure that kids are safe and cared for.  The kids need a place to go however.

Kids Belong on Facebook

Kids Belong is a ministry set up in Muskegon and Northern Ottawa county for a couple different purposes.  One, it's a hub for anyone involved.  If families are fostering, or adopting a child..or children..Kids Belong is there to help with support.  The operate some different clothing closets for families who take the kids in.  The are also a very big support center for those who choose to foster or adopt.  I am a firm believer in support groups, in a situation like this...there have got to be a million different questions about the entire process.  Who better to learn from than those who have been down that road more than once.  Founded by Jeff Steele who is a pastor at Watermark church in Grand Haven Kids Belong has found it's roots and continues to grow...and with growth comes need for more.

Have you ever considered fostering?  Adopting?  It's a big commitment and one not be taken lightly.  However, the rewards are limitless.  Imagine the ability to help shape a young life by simply having them in your home.  Imagine the impact you can have for the long term of a life and a community.  If it's something you think you'd like to know a little more about, and what resources there are for you to help out..there is going to be a meeting May 6th at the Norton Pines Athletic Club.  There will be a nice dinner, some time for the kids to play on the equipment while parents get to hear exactly what being a foster is and how great the need is here in Muskegon.  I'll tell you this...you are going to be surprised to hear just how many kids need a hand.

Jeff Steel and I caught up at the Lake Harbor United Methodist Church on Henry Street to talk about this event coming up and how parents can get involved.  Take a listen to our chat below!

I can think of no greater gift you can give.  It's a big endeavor...but the rewards....priceless.  If you think you've got a little more room in your heart and your home, I am simply asking you to go out and hear what Kids Belong has to say.  I have said it myself...and I try to apply it.  Be the change you wish to see.  If you'd like to know more about Kids Belong, click on the picture below!

Kids Belong Online

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Muskegon Area Students to Visit Ghana in Africa With 1037 The Beat and M106

Imagine the opportunity to take a trip like you've never imagined possible.  For some, travel is a daily part of life.  It can even get to be bothersome for those who do it all the time.  Once a year is plenty for me...it's usually to a get away with me and the Mrs, and we're not often off on trips that have much more to do than get away.  Some local students are taking a little bigger trip however...and while they are there, they are going to get some learning done.

A view of Volta Lake in Ghana
The trip for these students is being organized and sponsored by Paul Billings who operates a couple of great local radio stations in Muskegon Heights.  103.7 The Beat is a community station that focuses on some pretty cool urban and hip hop music, and M106 is a Motown leaning station which shifts gears and plays some Electronic Dance Music on evenings and weekends.  Both very unique, and very local radio stations.  I have been a regular guest on both and I always feel great knowing I am going to the Mayes Wright Media Center on Peck Street.

I had seen a thing or two floating around social media about the upcoming trip.  The immense endeavor to get ready to go is enough to scare most off.  Vaccinations, passports, visa's, rooms, transportation...it's tough enough for just 2 people to travel internationally, imagine an entire crew.  All the work will pay off though.  At the heart of the matter, Paul is hoping to share an experience with these kids that will last them a life time.  A chance to visit where their origins began.  A chance to see a side of the world that not tainted by news channels, special interest organizations, charity's etc.  They are going to get a good look at what life in Africa is really like, and yes...it's much more than we get to see day in and day out.  How does their culture operate in an urban environment compared to the outskirts?  What's pop culture like in Africa?  How about the schools?  How about a perspective only attained by a visit to a magnificent land and the ability to return to see home in a different light?  Paul is making it all happen for the lucky kids who get to go.

Sat down with Paul for a few minutes to talk about this great undertaking.. take a listen to our chat below!

Remarkable!  As we talked in the video..it's amazing to know a little more about your heritage.  I think that's true for just about anyone.  I have yet to take an adventure like this, but I can't say that Ireland isn't calling as loud as it possibly can,  Who knows, maybe someday.  The time for these kids is now though, and to stop and think that all of this is costing them nothing.  All they need to bring is an open mind, sense of adventure and the ability to come back and share their experience with others...it makes Muskegon a better place.  If you'd like to contribute to the costs that are being entailed, please...follow the link below to help.  It's a PayPal link so you're not surprised.  You are contributing to a non profit.  Hats off to Paul for such a massive undertaking and his continued stewardship to his community and his listeners!

Click if You'd Like to Help Fund the Ghana Trip

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Darling Cetaceans Presents the 6th Earth Fair Expo at Montague High School April 22nd

Let me preface this article a moment.  When I first heard that there were some people trying to establish and ocean center...in the middle of all the Great Lakes....I may have been a little quick to think "These folks are nuts."  There are some too who might think I am nuts doing what I am doing...so there's that.  I am also one to readily admit that if I failed to see the vision of Darling Cetaceans and now....I am on board to help spread the word!

Earth Fair Expo on Facebook
Darling Cetaceans is run by husband and wife Joel and Jennifer Darling.  Basically, they have been working in the field for the last few years.  The offer talks and seminars for schools, church groups, and they have been known to be a part of other expo's to help spread the word about their mission...and it's simply to protect the Earth and our water on it.  As Jennifer explains in the video...it's all connected anyway...rivers, lakes, oceans and the planet.  Of those connections...I don't know of anything that swims, runs or fly's that's not totally dependent on all of it.  We have one planet...we have to protect it.

Not being a stranger to the expo business, Darling Cetaceans has held their own expo for a few years now.  In fact, their 6th Earth Fair Expo is coming up April 22nd at Montague High School and you're invited to check out this great FREE event on Earth Day itself!  Who doesn't love that idea?  Bring the kids, bring some friends bring an open mind and your ability to learn something new.  Darling Cetaceans is a very hands on group and they want people of all ages to interact, learn and grow some awareness for the delicacies we have to balance to maintain our home planet.  You'll find plenty of vendors at the event, you'll fins come giveaways including swag bags for the first 100 people who attend.

I was able to sit down with Jennifer Darling for a few minutes today to take a look at their brand new center on Mirriam Street in Muskegon Heights.  Beautiful office, amazing library and an amazing testament to sticking to what you believe in and making it happen.  Click on the video below to learn a little more from Jennifer.

Back to the beginning....honestly, I love it when people prove me wrong.  I love the fact that what people see as important isn't always on the top of my mind...doesn't have to be.  But...they have dug in...continue to share their message and they have established a much needed reminder in Muskegon as to how much we are all responsible for Earth and all of it's creatures!   Joel and Jennifer....my hat's off to ya.  Click on the Darling Cetaceans picture below for their complete website.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Muskegon Students Head to Grand Rapids For MiCareerQuest

It's been amazing to watch the educational system unfold over time.  When I was in school...it was a daily beating over the head of "go to college and get a degree".  Not that that is bad advise in any way shape or form....but you know...I wasn't much of a traditional student.  I was the dreamer....I was the distracted one....I was the one who was looking for the spotlight not the way to do long division.  Which, by the way....I have yet to use long division in daily life.

Learn More About MICareer Quest
Today, and maybe it's no fluke...society is faced with some pretty big holes that need to be filled.  Mike Rowe of "Dirty Work" fame has made a life out of the crusade for people to get involved with skilled trades.  The kind of jobs that don't necessarily come with all the glory, but they do come with steady pay checks...they offer a lifetime of work if people are willing to make it happen and the jobs they do, well....let's be honest about it...imagine life without properly working electricity....working plumbing...a roof over your head....see the big picture?  Skilled trades are essential.

1341 9th graders form Muskegon took the drive over to Grand Rapids April 13th to participate in the MiCareer Quest.  An event designed to expose young people to those skilled trade jobs and jobs that to require a degree.  The idea being to show young people just how many options are out there for them to consider as they work their way through high school and then on to college or the working world if they so choose.  I was invited by the Muskegon Career Tech Center to come and see the event first hands and talk to a couple students about their experience at the expo.  Take a listen to our chat from DeVos Place below!

9th graders still have some time to think about it.  When I was in the 9th grade....I was pretty sure I was going to be the next big thing in professional wrestling, that didn't really work out so good.  What I do love is the fact that kids get to see such a broad spectrum of opportunity for them.  It's high time we work toward aptitude compared to expectations.  Great jobs are out there and the future holds great rewards for those who are willing to do them!

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring Clean Up at the Muskegon State Park! Get a Free Night For a Little Help Cleaning Up the Place

It's getting to be that time.  Spring is Springing and Muskegon is getting ready for the deluge of tourists, bike riders, campers, adventurers, outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers!  People who like lakes...I think we have one or two of those don't we?  We're getting ready for the Summer and the Muskegon State Park can sure use a quick hand!

MI DNR on Facebook

Matt Schwemin is with the DNR of Michgan and he invited me out to talk a little about some of the same stuff we did last year.  Here's the thing.  You book a couple nights out at the Muskegon State Park.  You camp with your friends and family and make the best use out of it before the rest of the crowd gets here...and for a short amount of time during your stay, you pitch in and help the DNR get the campground cleaned up.  Maybe a little raking, picking up some rocks and sticks...easy stuff as a rule...and BOOM you'll get refunded for one of your nights!  Not only that, you'll get the personal satisfaction of knowing that your effort helped make Muskegon a more beautiful place for our visitors.

We didn't just leave it at that.  You may or may not have heard about the exciting happenings at the Winter Sports Complex.  Yes, the wheels are in motion to add in some pretty spectacular attractions that will make the Muskegon Luge park more than just a seasonal destination.  You'll soon see zip lines, rock climbing walls, some added areas that will serve dual purposes and a keen eye kept on making sure all of the new additions fit in the current footprint of the park and the natural beauty around it remains undisturbed.

Click on the video below to learn a little more.  We not only talk all things Muskegon State Park, you'll find some interesting info about just how much the State Park does for the Muskegon Area.

It's our home...but we're so lucky to be able to share it with those who come in to town to enjoy all that is Muskegon.  Like we talked in the video, it's here every day for all of us, and for those who seek out our greatest assets....we welcome them with open arms as well as making sure we all look the best we can.  If you'd like more information about the Michigan DNR click on the picture below.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

The Muskegon Chamber Choir - American Voices Concert April 29th

Are you like me?  You pretend to understand what a Chamber Choir is if someone mentions it, and then go on about your day.  Are you like me too when it comes to knowing that Muskegon has it's very own Chamber Choir and it's been going strong for 52 years....and you didn't even know they were there?  Well, we're both getting our learn on today and it will culminate with an invitation for you.  Here we go!

Muskegon Chamber Choir on Facebook

A Chamber Choir is made up of 8-40 members.  They sing classical or religious music in a concert setting.  It's really no more complicated than that.  In Muskegon, we've been very fortunate to have had our very own Chamber Choir for 52 years.  David Wikman founded the choir to perform at a festival in Northern Michigan.  Practice began and the festival fizzled.  Those who were brought together by Mr. Wikman did a little convincing that even though the festival didn't make it... the Muskegon Chamber Choir was born.  Their first performance was given in 1964.  Hmmm.....wasn't 1964 another pinnacle year for some other band too?

Today, the Muskegon Chamber choir is being co-led by Brad Taylor and Jim Hylen.  It's been a transition for the new guys in charge.  You get the immediate feeling that while capable..Brad and Jim have some pretty big shoes to fill from David Wikman.  They are rising to the challenge and planning this season and next.   Their Spring concert is coming up April 29th at the Central United Methodist Church and it's a focus on the American Voices.  It's an opportunity for you to bring the family out and experience the show for a donation.  Yes, they are not charging a ticket price, so please...be as generous as you can to help the group out.

Brad and Jim spent a few minutes today telling me a little about the history, current events and future coming up for the Muskegon Chamber Choir.  Take a listen to our chat below!

I'm going to re-emphasize one point.  The importance of The Arts.  This is a golden opportunity to get the kids away from the X-Box and let them see and hear real humans, with incredible talents combine their collective gifts to make something amazing.  So often today, young people are bombarded with run of the mill, cookie cutter "entertainment" and they lack true appreciation for fine arts and subsequently, as generations pass...that art stands the risk of being forgotten.  Take some time on the 29th of April for yourself and your kids and check out the Muskegon Chamber Choir.  You'll be glad you did!  When you get done at the show...tell some friends about the Muskegon Chamber Choir!  Click on the picture below for their website!

Muskegon Chamber Choir

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dynasty Painting - Offering a House Painting in Muskegon

Positively Muskegon!  We go out of our way to find great people doing great things in Muskegon and we shine a little light on them to help spread the word!  Spreading the word is one of our favorite things!  Spreading paint.....not so much!  That's beside the point.  There are those who LOVE to paint!  There are those that take that love of painting and make a living at it!  That's the story with Dynasty Painting and Power Washing!

Enrique Gutierrez
Enrique Gutierrez is the owner and operator of Dynasty Painting of Muskegon.  He reached out to me to tell me of a pretty spectacular offer he's making for someone who could use a hand in Muskegon getting the exterior of their house painted!  Enrique has Sherwin Williams Paint of Muskegon on board to help with the cost.  He's going to throw in the labor and someone will have a brand spankin' new looking exterior!  This is a pretty incredible promotion to say the very least.

Part of the fun will be his taping of the entire project fro start to finish to show what they have done for Muskegon.  A mini reality show maybe?  Hey, at very least your house will be a star!  Now, there are some stipulations....let's face it, there has to be a need here.  Dynasty Painting is looking for an individual or family that might not be able to swing a project of this size into their budget.  Maybe it's a physical limitation, financial stress....it's one of those need things, not a freebie form someone too lazy to do it themselves.  This is meant to be a gift to the community.

I met up with Enrique at Gracie's Bookstore in Lakeside in Muskegon to learn a little more about Enrique, his business and this idea to share some of his time, talent and treasure to help make Muskegon a better place aesthetically, and why he thinks it's important to give something back to the people who make our town so great!  Take a listen to our chat below!

Amazing people, doing amazing things.  You heard from Enrique, he'd like to know why you, or someone you know need this work done!  I can tell you this, he's going to have a hard decision to make...some of the stories that come in about things like this can break your heart...BUT....people who reach out to help others with an act of kindness...those are the kind of people who make Muskegon what it is.  If you'd like to submit your request for consideration, the link to the Dynasty Painting Facebook page is right below!  If nothing else, click on it and give him a like.  A little attention in return for a gift to someone else... the least you can do!

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