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October 2, 2014
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Knights of Columbus Tootsie Roll Drive for Valley Haven Saturday
Knights of Columbus Tootsie Roll Drive for Valley Haven Saturday

If the first Saturday in October is getting close, it means there's going to be a Tootsie Roll drive for Valley Haven School. All the planning for it is about done, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4, people from one end of the Valley to the other will be seeing volunteers in red and yellow aprons giving away Tootsie Rolls outside stores and accepting donations for Valley Haven. 2014 will mark the 37th consecutive year such a drive has taken place. Shown above, from left, are Lawrence Henry, Pete Davidson, Tony Edmondson, Richard Bolt, Jim Hatton, Bruce Schoonover. Kevin Shoemaker and Chris Copeland. (Photo by Wayne Clark)


VALLEY — This Saturday, Oct. 4, the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus will be sponsoring the 37th annual Tootsie Roll drive to benefit Valley Haven School.

Members of Holy Family Catholic Church, Lanett, will be joined by volunteers from Valley Haven, their families, staff and board members in giving away Tootsie Rolls and accepting donations for the school.

The drive will be taking place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT. Dressed in bright yellow and red aprons, the volunteers will be stationed outside all Circle K convenience stores in the local area plus Walmart in Valley, Kroger and Piggly Wiggly in Lanett, Frisky Whisky in West Point and the West Point Recreation Department ball fields.

The Knights of Col-umbus is a worldwide fraternal organization based on four principles: charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. Funds derived from the Tootsie Roll campaigns are always donated in the cause of helping individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Locally, funds from Tootsie Roll drives go to Valley Haven to help the school meet the local match needed to receive federal and state funds. The remaining funds are used for statewide projects.

Over the years, State Knights of Columbus Foundation grants have helped Valley Haven purchase buses, baby beds, therapy equipment, a computer, a copying machine, scales, exercise equipment, a green house and a digital kiln.

"Valley Haven thanks everyone who has supported these Tootsie Roll drives," said Tony Edmondson, executive director of Valley Haven School. "We also want to express our appreciation to all of the volunteers who have worked so hard to make these drives as successful as they have been. These drives require dedicated volunteers and lots of coordination."

The local Tootsie Roll drive is one of the oldest such drives in Alabama. The Knights' longtime commitment to help individuals with special needs has helped people with handicapping conditions not only in the local area but also throughout the nation.

"The local Knights council was one of the first to see the importance of having such a drive for both local fundraising and public awareness," Edmondson added.

Debbie Wood recalls her year as president of commissioners organization
Debbie Wood recalls her year as president of commissioners organization


VALLEY — At Wednesday's noon hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley, Chambers County Commissioner Debbie Wood talked about her just-completed year as the president of the Association of County Commissioners in Alabama (ACCA).

In August 2013, Wood became the second woman to serve a one-year term as president in the 86-year history of the ACCA. She said she had been very cautious of accepting gifts, especially shoes. The first female president of the organization, she explained, got in trouble with the law for accepting them.

Wood did receive some gifts at the end of her term — she cleared it with the State Ethics Commission before accepting them. In a long-standing tradition of serving as president of the ACCA, she got a new nickname and a gift to go with it.

Her nickname is "The Champ" and the gift is a shadowbox with some boxing gloves. Both are the result of the speech she gave before the Association last August to kick off her year as president. She could have read a speech that had been written for her but chose instead to talk extemporaneously about Chambers County and its best-known native son, the late Joe Louis Barrow.

"He's someone everyone knows about," she said. "Everyone knows about him being the world heavyweight boxing champion, but a lot of people don't know he had to overcome a speech impediment. I can identify with that because I had to overcome a speech problem when I was small."

"Now I talk a lot," she said to laughter. "Once I learned how to do it people couldn't get a word in edgewise."

Wood made the point that Joe Louis' greatest contribution to society wasn't just being a boxing champ but doing it with the kind of class, grace and sportsmanship that made him one of America's first widely accepted African-American heroes. All Americans, white and black, were in his corner the night he took on Max Schmeling, the hero of Nazi Germany, in a rematch fight in New York City in June 1938.

Before the fight, Louis met with President Franklin Roosevelt, who told him, "Joe, we need muscles like yours to beat Germany."

Most Americans were offended by statements made by Nazi propagandists that no American alive could beat a German champion and that Schmeling's prize money would be used to help build the tanks Germany would use to conquer the world.

"I knew I had to get Schmeling good," Louis later said. "I had my own personal reasons and the whole country was depending on me."

And get him good he did. In a fight that lasted only two minutes and four seconds Louis battered Schmeling with a series of swift attacks, knocking him to the canvas three times before the fight was stopped.

Wood said it was significant that Joe Louis helped integrate the game of golf. Following his boxing career, he broke the sport's color barrier in the U.S. by appearing under a sponsor's exemption in a PGA event in 1952.

Wood told ACCA members she was proud of the way Chambers County residents had come together several years ago to raise $60,000 to have a larger-than-life statue of Joe Louis erected on the grounds of the Chambers County Courthouse. The 12-foot-tall statue of "Big Joe" is now one of Chambers County's best-known landmarks. Many people have seen it while driving though LaFayette on heavily traveled U.S. 431. It's not unusual to see people stopping to have their picture taken beside the big statue.

Wood said she liked the quote that appears at the base of the statue: "Joe Louis was a credit to his race — the human race." One of the most widely quoted tributes to Louis, the statement is credited to New York Post sportswriter Jimmy Cannon, who first used it as a comeback to those who had used the "he's a credit to his race" statement in referring to him solely as an African American.

Wood said that her year as president of the ACCA had been the most incredible year of her life. She thanked her husband and family of being supportive of her while she served. "I had to travel a lot, sometimes without much notice," she said.

Alabama's 67 counties are divided into 12 ACCA districts. Chambers is grouped among a number of east-central Alabama counties. To become president, an Alabama elected official must first be chosen by their peers to represent the district. They can then be chosen as a board member and then be picked to be in line for the presidency. This is a three-year process that involves serving as second vice president, vice president and finally, president.

"I learned for several years what to do before I became president," Wood said. "That really helped."

The leadership of the ACCA keeps a close watch on the Alabama Legislature. If they are considering legislation that's burdensome to county governments, such as unfunded mandates and the like, they will let them know about it. "Our motto is '67 counties, one voice'," she said. "My role for one year was to be the face of the organization and to discuss the direction we wanted to take."

An initiative she had for the local district was "Coffee at the Courthouse." This involved having the local legislative delegation making a joint appearance at each courthouse in the district and to meet with constituents in a relaxed, informal setting to discuss the county's needs.

"If we needed some help on County Road 222, for example," said Wood, "we could take them there and show it to them. That's better than just talking to them about it. You want to make sure that the time they spend in your county is time well spent."

In January, Wood was able to travel to Washington, D.C., to take part in a national convention of presidents of county governing associations all over the U.S. In addition to a number of roundtable discussions, the event gave Wood the opportunity to meet with the legislative delegation in the nation's capital. "It was helpful to talk one-on-one with Congressman Mike Rogers about some of the issues we face."

At the end of each ACCA president's term, the person leaving office is given a plaque listing the legislation that was passed that year that helps counties. The number of laws listed have ranged from a low of two to a high of nine. Wood had seven new laws listed on her plaque.

"Two will be very important," she said. "One takes local government health insurance out of the state's health insurance plan and lets us manage it on our own. It's good not to have organizations fighting against each other."

"The other one is the state tax refund offset," she said. "You will be hearing a lot about this. If you haven't paid a ticket, and you get an income tax refund we can collect it from that."

This new law will be implemented in a pilot program next year that involves five counties. It will be going statewide after that.

"In Chambers County, we spend $187,000 a year to take care of the health care needs of inmates at the jail," Wood said. "If they have an income tax return while they are in jail we can get that and apply it to such expenses."

Wood said the ACCA is very supportive of the ATRIP road improvements program and made that known to Gov. Robert Bentley and the legislature. That program has been enacted into law and has made a difference in bringing much needed improvements to local communities.

We are seeing some gender progress in serving the ACCA. While Wood was only the second woman to serve as the organization's president, she will be followed by the third. Mercia Lovegood of Mobile County is succeeding her. Wood will be moving on to serve with the national affiliate of the ACCA board. She will become the first woman from Alabama to have served in that capacity.

"I had a great year," she said. "County government has been good to me."

Wood is unopposed in her bid for reelection to a seat on the county commission. While having no opposition, she's urging her supporters from her district to remember to vote for her in November. "If enough people cross out my name and write in Mickey Mouse he will win," she joked.

New class begins Leadership Troup program
New class begins Leadership Troup program


LaGRANGE — The 2014-15 class of Leadership Troup participants is off to a roaring start, exchanging ideas, learning from one another and gaining valuable insight into becoming community leaders.

The program, sponsored by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, provides educational experiences to existing and emerging community leaders from across Troup County.

Leadership Troup is a nine-month program designed to develop leadership skills and promote community involvement within existing and emerging community leaders from across Troup County. Participants take part in sessions focusing on specific aspects of community life and complete a project related to a specific community concern.

Individuals from business, social services, government and cultural and educational organizations comprise each class, and members must live and/or work in Troup County.

This year’s participants recently were announced during a chamber breakfast held inside Del’avant on Main Street in LaGrange. More than 425 participants have completed the Leadership Troup program since its inception in 1991.

“This year’s class is a great representation of Troup County,” Leadership Troup board Chair Phillip Alexander said. “Leadership Troup really gives the participants skills that they, in turn, apply toward helping our community. It’s a win-win all around, both for the participants and the community they live and work in.”

This year’s list of participants includes Katrina Self of CASA of Troup County, Blake Vaughn of Caterpillar Inc., Tammy Dozier of CharterBank, Ashley McWhorter of Commercial Bank and Trust, Edna Foster of Community Action for Improvement, Trae Long of Gay and Joseph, Bryan Campbell of Georgia Power Co., Tripp Skinner of Interface, Molly Camp of J.K. Boatwright and Co., Brandon Eley of Kelsey Advertising and Design, Stephanie Rabon of Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Holt Redding of LaGrange Banking Co., Willie Maddox of LaGrange College, Darla Rance of LaGrange Memorial Library, Lamar Hardwick of New Community Church, Charlotte Sloan of Procter and Gamble Duracell, Brian Riggs of Quality Muffler, Nichelle Wimbush of the Troup County Board of Education, Jon Whitney of the Troup County Board of Commissioners, Cliff Bain and CJ Mask of West Georgia Health, Karen Freeman of West Georgia Technical College and Nancy Sue Laminack of Curves of LaGrange.

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County football championship a big deal for Troup Tigers
County football championship a big deal for Troup Tigers

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

LaGRANGE — It’s been quite awhile since the Troup High Tigers have claimed a football region championship but they did earn a first in school history, gained a lot of respect in the process and sense of pride Friday following a big win over the Callaway Cavaliers.

Troup recorded a come-from-behind 37-27 win over the Callaway Cavaliers to earn the first title as the overall Troup Co. champions.

It didn’t come easy as both Callaway and LaGrange have fine football programs as well, but it’s been Troup which has proven to be the best team in the county this fall.

Without question, the Tigers earned the title of county champions.

The Tigers have used a standout ground attack and is averaging nearly 300 yards per game.

Through five games to date, Troup (3-2, 0-0) has rushed for approximately 1,500 yards and 18 rushing TDs.

In Friday’s win over Callaway, Troup erased a 27-14 Cavaliers lead after three periods by outplaying and outscoring Callaway 23-0 in the fourth quarter to post an emotional 37-27 win.

The Tigers rushed for 330 yards on 67 carries and had five rushing TDs. Troup ran for 135 yards alone and three TDs just in the fourth.

Troup’s split-back veer offense has benefited from a talented and senior-laden offensive line anchored by all-state tackle Mitch Mathes, Jason Hernandez and Tristan Thompson.

In 2013, Troup rushed for well over 3,000 yards and had a pair of 1,000-yard backs in then junior Dre Towns and senior Daryl Dunlap, now a running back for the San Diego State Aztecs.

Towns was lost for the season after a leg injury in the opener against LaGrange but two others in the backfield — Mess Bonner and Dexter Shealey —?have stepped up and met the challenge and then some. Add in the talents of Cameron Russell and Vanquez Bonner, and you’ve got four quality backs with power and speed.

In short, the split-back veer has been a nightmare for the opposition to stop.

If the block assignments and timing are executed properly, it’s an offense that’s awfully hard to stop.

Legendary Houston Cougars coach Bill Yoeman ran the veer and it was one of the most successful and most feared offenses in all of college football for many years.

When you are averaging 50 or more carries a game and gaining 300 or more yards, you’re going to win a lot of football games. Long, ball-control drives and points are always a successful formula in football, especially in the high school ranks.

The single-wing, wing-T and split-back veer may be considered ancient offensive formations but in high school, you can be successful. That’s exactly what Troup has done and kudos to them.

Give head coach Lynn Kendall and his staff a lot of credit.

They’ve kept true and faithful to what works for them and it’s a dominating rushing attack that has paved the way.

Troup hasn’t won a region championship since claiming back-to-back titles under Steve James in 1986-87.

The closure of West Point High in 1985 and the addition of All-American George Brewer, Dino Stafford, Patrick Parr, Mudcat Heard and others helped Troup claim the championships.

The Tigers have had a plethora of All-American players since the late 80s but none in 2014 and yet they’re still winning in the toughest 4A region in the state with four preseason Top-10 teams.

It’s 2014 but Troup is winning with an old-school but proven attack formula with the veer.

Don’t be surprised to see Troup made a serious run for a region title starting next week at No. 8 Woodward Academy.

Lanett, Valley face key region foes this week
Lanett, Valley face key region foes this week

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

We’re now in October and that means the high school football season will be in high gear with a number of important region games and rivalries on tap this week.

•This week’s games include Lanett hosting Randolph Co. for homecoming.

Coach Clifford Story’s Panthers regained confidence and a nice dosage of swagger in a 27-14 win over Handley last week.

Lanett is still under pressure to win out in 2A-Region 5 play to earn a postseason berth. The Panthers can start that process Friday for homecoming against Randolph Co.

The Lanett postseason math test is very simple: win all three region games left (Randolph Co., LaFayette and the regular season finale against Reeltown) and Lanett is in the playoffs. A record of 2-1 most likely will keep Lanett out of the playoffs.

Look for another great, all-around effort Friday from Lanett and a big win.

•The Valley Rams are in the same situation as Lanett as they need a key region win Friday on the road against Chilton Co. to help position themselves in 6A-Region 3 and a playoff berth.

The Rams will hang there hat with a stellar defensive effort but also need to crank up its run game and balance the offensive attack with solid play and leadership from quarterback T.J. Lowe as well as all-state multipurpose player Martravious “Tre Tre” Williams.

Williams will also see a lot of action in the direct snap Wildcat formation as well.

It’s a must win for the Rams and look for Valley to pull out a big road victory.

•The Springwood Wildcats are coming off a thrilling, last-minute 32-30 win over rival Chambers last week.

Springwood faces a tough task this week against long-time AISA 3A rival Lee-Scott on the road Friday.

The Warriors have had the upper hand the last few seasons but the Wildcats have won three straight and hope to make it four.

•The Beulah Bobcats also face a must-win scenario in 3A-Region 3 play at Midfield High Friday.

If coach Jarrod Wooten’s team is going to make the playoffs, they’ll have to beat Midfield.

•The Chambers Rebels are on the road this week at 3A Pike Liberals Arts and hope to rebound following a heartbreaking loss to rival Springwood.

•The LaFayette Bulldogs will host Woodland for homecoming Friday and hope to earn its first 2A-Region 5 win of the season.

•The Troup Tigers are open this before opening GHSA 4A-Region 5 play next week against No. 8-ranked Woodward Academy.

Troup is coming off a huge, come-from-behind 37-27 win over rival Callaway High to claim the first-ever, three-school Troup Co. championship. Troup rushed for 330 yards, including 135 alone in the fourth and outscored Callaway 23-0 in posting the big win.

•In other local football news, the Point Skyhawks will host Warner University at 12 noon ET Saturday at Rams Stadium.

Troup opens softball region tourney Wednesday
Troup opens softball region tourney Wednesday

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

LaGRANGE — After a solid season, the Troup High Lady Tigers softball team is busy preparing for the GHSA 4A-Region 5 tournament this week held at Whitewater High School.

Troup went 10-9 in regular season play and 5-5 in region action.

In addition, Troup defeated rival LaGrange for the first time in five seasons.

The region tourney will open Wednesday at Whitewater High and will be a best 2-of-3 games format.

Libby Wheeler, Taylor Mooseman, Abby Taylor and Kinley Stanford are all from West Point.

Wheeler is a two-sport student-athlete, playing golf and softball for the Lady Tigers. In addition, Taylor also plays on the golf team.

Troup is led by coach Blair Shimandle.

Assistant coaches include Devin Arnold, Eddie Hull and Mason Bracket.


Obituaries for Thursday, October 2, 2014
Obituaries for Thursday, October 2, 2014


TROY, Ala. — Ms. Amanda Cheryl Akins, 39, of Troy died Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, at Troy Regional Medical Center in Troy.

A memorial service is planned for Friday, Oct. 3 at 11 a.m. at Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley with the Rev. Rusty Tate and Mr. James O'Steen officiating.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley is handling arrangements.


ATLANTA — Mr. Majid Allah (Major Cofield), 62, of Atlanta, died Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, at his residence.

Funeral services are planned for Friday, Oct. 3 at 3 p.m. CDT at Canaan Baptist Church of Roanoke, in the Welch community, with the Revs. Mario McDaniel, pastor, and Joe C. Cofield, eulogist.

Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling arrangements.


LaFAYETTE — Mr. Isaac Leverette, 77, of LaFayette, died Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, at EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home in Valley.

Funeral services are planned for Friday, Oct. 3 at 11 a.m. CDT at White Hall Baptist Church in LaFayette with the Rev. Ed Vines, pastor, officiating. Burial will follow at Handy Cemetery in LaFayette.

Silmon Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling arrangements.


LANETT — Mr. Darrell Thomas "Tommy" Moore, 69, of Lanett died Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, at EAMC-Lanier Hospital in Valley.

Funeral services are planned for Friday, Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. at Lanier Baptist Church with the Rev. Mike Hawkins officiating. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley is handling arrangements.


LaFAYETTE — Mrs. Helene "Dena" Smith, 93, of LaFayette died Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, at LaFayette Nursing Home in LaFayette.

Funeral services will be held Friday, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m. at LaFayette Heights Baptist Church in LaFayette with the Rev. Paul Howard officiating. Burial will follow at LaFayette City Cemetery.

Jeff Jones Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling arrangements.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Mrs. Gena Bledsoe Taylor was welcomed home Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be considered for St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church building fund - P.O. Box 380396, Birmingham, AL 35238.

Obituaries for Wednesday, October 1 2014
Obituaries for Wednesday, October 1 2014


SEATTLE, Wash. — Mr. Todd Griffin, 43, died Sept. 12, 2014 in Seattle.

Family and friends will gather at Southern Harbor Marina Cabin #29 on Saturday, Oct. 4 from 2 to 5 p.m. with services at 3 p.m.

For more information call 706-302-6102.

Mr. Griffin is survived by his wife, Tina Griffin; daughter, Crystal Griffin; step-daughter, Shayla Nunn; mother, Belinda Griffin; sister, Brandy Griffin; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

He was born Aug. 9, 1971.

For more information call 706-302-6102.


WEST POINT — Mr. Willie F. “Sonny” Peters, 64, of West Point died Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 at his residence.

Memorial services are planned for Thursday, Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. at Keeney Memorial United Methodist Church in West Point with the Revs. Ralph Thompson, pastor, and Walter Darden officiating.

Mr. Peters is survived by three daughters, Andrea(Rory) Buckhanon, Nadia (Laron) Mathis and Theresa Davidson, all of West Point; one sister, Frances Bledsoe of Allentown, Pa.; two brothers, Charles Darden and Carter Lee, both of West Point; one sister-in-law, Mary Phine Peters Potts of West Point; two nieces, Alazater Peters of West Point and Sylvia Morton of Allentown; one nephew, George Daniels, of Birmingham, Ala.; four grandchildren; one great-grandchild; special friends, Sharon Davidson and Betty Reed, both of West Point, and Peggy Johnson of Allentown; and a host of other relatives and friends.

Born Nov. 14, 1949 in Troup County, Mr. Peters was the son of the late Willie Brown and Louise Peters. He was a product of the West Point Public School System and was a member of the 1967 class of Harrison High School. “Sonny,” as he was known to most, retired from Cherrydale Candy Factory in Allentown, with many years of service. He enjoyed playing bingo and dancing. His hobbies were reading and fishing. Mr. Peters was preceded in death by one sister, Elizabeth P. Daniels; one brother, Lee Grant Peters; and a nephew, Craig Peters.

Online condolences may be expressed at www.mwleemortuary.com.

M.W. Mortuary of West Point is handling arrangements.


VALLEY — Mrs. Patricia Ann Messer Wilson, 73, died Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 at her Valley home. She was surrounded by her family's love.

She was of the Baptist faith and attended Hephzibah Church.

She is survived by her children, Deborah (Dean Seely), Alan (Brenda Wilson) and Dennis (Debbie Wilson); eight grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 50 years, Eugene Talmadge Wilson, and her sister, Vivian Southern.

She was employed by Fairfax Mill in the spinning room for a number of years. She was one of the first employees at Ampex Corporation and enjoyed working for them for several years. She was greatly loved and will be sorely missed.

Visitation will be Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 5 to 7 p.m. Central time at the Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home in Valley. Funeral services will be held at the Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley at 1 p.m. Central time on Oct. 2, 2014 with Elder Joe Wilson officiating.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Obituaries for Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Obituaries for Tuesday, September 30, 2014


VALLEY — Mrs. Helen P. Aaron, 80, of Valley died Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.

Funeral services are planned for Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. at Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley with the Rev. Steve Langley officiating. Burial will follow at Resthaven Memorial Gardens.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley is handling arrangements.


ATLANTA — Funeral arrangements are pending for Mr. Majid Allah of Atlanta, who died Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, at his residence.

Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling arrangements.


WEST POINT — Funeral arrangements are pending for Mr. Willie "Sonny" Peters of West Point, who died Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, at his residence.

M.W. Lee Mortuary of West Point is handling arrangements.


LANETT — Mrs. Nancy Short Staples, 59, of Lanett died Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.

Funeral services are planned for Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. at Calvary Family Worship Center with Pastor Gary Cotney officiating. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett.

McCarthy Funeral Home of West Point is handling arrangements.


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