News of Otsego County

The Freeman’s Journal

State Police on the lookout for impaired drivers

State Troopers on the lookout for impaired drivers

The New York State Police will increase patrols to crack down on drunk and drugged driving and other traffic infractions over the Fourth of July holiday. This special enforcement period will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 1, 2022, and run through 3 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.

During this enforcement period, drivers can expect to encounter sobriety checkpoints and DWI patrols. Troopers will also be looking for motorists who are using their phones and other electronic devices while behind the wheel. Drivers should also remember to “move over” for stopped emergency and hazard vehicles when they travel New York roadways.

Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles as part of the operation. The CITE vehicles allow Troopers to more easily identify motorists who are using handheld devices while driving. These vehicles blend in with everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.

During last year’s Fourth of July enforcement period, Troopers issued 10,238 total tickets, arrested 195 people for DWI and investigated 648 crashes, including two fatalities. 

The Fourth of July initiative is partially funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC). The GTSC and the New York State STOP-DWI Foundation remind motorists that their “Have a Plan” mobile app, is available for Apple, Droid and Windows smartphones. The app enables New Yorkers to locate and call a taxi or rideshare service and program a designated driver list. It also provides information on DWI laws and penalties, and provides a way to report a suspected impaired driver.

If you drive drunk or drugged, you not only put your life and the lives of others at risk, you could face arrest, jail time, and substantial fines and attorney fees. The average drinking and driving arrest costs up to $10,000.

Arrested drunk and drugged drivers face the loss of their driver’s license, higher insurance rates, and dozens of unanticipated expenses from attorney fees, fines and court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost time at work.

The New York State Police, and GTSC recommend these simple tips to prevent impaired driving:

  • Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
  • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
  • Use your community’s sober ride program;
  • If you suspect a driver is drunk or impaired on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement;
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
Letters to the Editor, June 30

Letters to the Editor, June 30 edition

On looking for God


What is in a name, a word?

What is the relationship between thought, word, and object?

What was a maple tree before it was called a maple tree, a cloud before it was called a cloud?

What would everything be if it did not have a name, would it be?

The world in front of our eyes is a neutral canvas, upon which we paint the reality of our own personal beliefs. Only we can see the picture painted by our own hand. It exists only with our permission.

If reality could be defined as thought supported by belief, then it would seem to follow that reality could be changed by changing or withdrawing belief.

Before we are Christians, Muslims and Jews, we are human beings, and before we are human beings we are, and we remain, life itself.

Editorial: Congratulations, grads

Editorial: Congratulations, graduates!

An editorial page shout-out this week to every high school senior across Otsego County earning his, her, or their diploma. We won’t try to trip over words echoing what you heard at your respective ceremonies except to congratulate you doubly for your endurance, perseverance, and durability.

High school is already the world’s longest automatic carwash – you’re pelted with punishing jetstreams of water, slapped around by those rotating sheets of chamois, doused in hot wax, rinsed off with more of those jetstreams, then forced through superheated drying lamps and discombobulating high-speed fans.  They’re all giant obstacles along the way blocking one’s would-be progress through life. But like your fellow alumni from the classes of 2020 and 2021 – and as your future fellow alum from graduating classes yet to come – you’ve had to face the one-two punch of all things COVID.

Addressing the school’s 143rd Commencement on Sunday, Cooperstown Central School District Superintendent Sarah Spross congratulated the students for withstanding two years of what she called “remote learning, then hybrid remote and in-person learning, masks on, masks off, masks back on, masks off but on voluntarily.” No one need be reminded of the see-sawing regulations, but her words were a fitting punctuation to her earlier praise for the class’s resiliency.

Students in their black gowns and mortarboards – some with honor cords and other earned adornments – lined up in the hot sun to receive their diplomas and be awarded some 60 different awards and scholarships. Friends and family applauded as their sons, daughters, and siblings entered the tent covering the ceremony on the back lawn of the Fenimore Art Museum; all stood and gave a rousing cheer for the faculty members joining the procession into the ceremony.

Every student and teacher there – just like every student and teacher lining up for the processions at every school district in our county – earned that applause and more. They plunged through a rigorous academic gauntlet while withstanding a social environment changed dramatically by a pandemic.

In spite of COVID (and we do mean in spite of), we think the challenge underpinning the Class of 2022’s academic and social achievements will lead to amazing achievements ahead. They’ve done the book-learning and passed all the academics, but that always-elusive real-world training that once awaited us only after we collected our high school diplomas became a huge part of earning a diploma over the past two years. Along with algebra, science, history, and grammar, they’ve had to learn new societal norms – some dictated not only by COVID, but by a general social upheaval affecting so many in our country and county. They’ve had to adjust and adapt in ways that haven’t always been a part of life inside high school walls. They’ve had to learn new technological skills. They’ve had to learn how to think fast and adapt not just because a textbook said so, but because life demanded they do so. They learned how to follow new rules by helping to create those new rules. These all are lessons that one does not get from a textbook, and all are attributes that will never fail them.

We hope every student is able to take a few moments to reflect on the accomplishment measured not by grade point average or plans for future study, but by how you stood up and won the challenge. Our heartiest congratulations to each and every one.

Cooperstown’s Smithy looks at 1937

Cooperstown gallery exhibit reveals Otsego County during the Great Depression

The third floor of The Smithy Gallery & Clay Studio doubles this summer as a time tunnel back to the era of the Great Depression with the magnificent exhibition American Ideals: Picturing Otsego County in 1937, on display through September 3 at 55 Pioneer Street in Cooperstown.

It’s a project that began in 2016 when Dr. Cynthia Falk and students from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, Lynds Jones, Kim McCleary, Kimberly Rose, and Alex Sniffen, researched pictures from September 1937, when the federal Farm Security Administration sent young photographer Arthur Rothstein to Otsego County to document the construction of a new lumber mill under construction in Phoenix Mills. Mr. Rothstein was at the beginning of a decades-long career as a photojournalist – one best remembered, perhaps, for his stirring images of the Dust Bowl – but it’s his work from a brief stay in Otsego County that make up the images now on display at The Smithy.

“This is 1937 Otsego County,” Dr. Falk said. “The Farm Security Administration sent Arthur Rothstein up here to document the Phoenix Mills project that many saw as the thing that would save farmers in Otsego County during the Great Depression. Hops were not doing so well and there were a lot of people in need.”

Greater Oneonta Historical Society

GOHS builds oral history of the city in ‘Remembering Oneonta’ exhibition

Dr. Marcela Micucci

Growing up in Cooperstown in the 1960s and 70s meant looking forward to a drive down to Oneonta, shopping at Bresee’s, Woolworth’s, Barker’s, Jamesway, and others – made special by the fact that Main Street stores stayed open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Surely it was the same for others in the era, be they Oneonta residents or visitors from nearby villages – and it’s an era coming back to life through a summer-long exhibit open to the public at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society’s 183 Main Street headquarters.

“History is all around us here,” said Dr. Marcela Micucci, the Oneonta native appointed to become GOHS’s new director in February 2021. She made the comment after we had chatted briefly about the Woolworth’s door handles still remaining on the long-gone discount store’s front doors a few steps away at 203 Main Street.

“I just saw noticed those again on one of our guided walking tours around Oneonta,” she said. “When I was growing up here I can’t tell you how many times I used to go into ‘Building 203’ and never really noticed that detail. It’s just another example of how we live in this amazing historical space.”

Our discussion of all things Oneonta stemmed from a look at the Society’s Remembering Oneonta in the 1960s exhibition – a photographic and burgeoning oral history of the city during a decade of growth and transition. A photo display sparks memories of front-window displays and Bresee’s, students moving books to the new library at SUCO, buildings long gone or transformed, a city in transition.

“When we were envisioning what the 1960s exhibit could be, we wanted to do something different,” Dr. Micucci said. “Instead of writing a script, we could make the crux of the exhibition these oral history interviews, and they would become the script. Then it became a lot like our walking tours – kind of a nostalgic walk through Oneonta in the 1960s.”

Fourth of July schedule

Parades, fireworks, museum specials on tap for holiday weekend

Spectators across Otsego County have plenty of opportunities to ooh and ahh this holiday weekend, as local fire departments, historical societies, museums, and other civic groups host parades, concerts, ceremonies, and, above all (literally!), fireworks displays to mark our nation’s Independence Day celebrations. Many of the events on tap are the first in-person festivities since 2019 – and here are the notices we’ve received at press time.

The Cooperstown Fire Department hosts its fireworks display on Friday, July 1, with a Cooperstown Community Band concert at Lake Front Park beginning at 8 p.m. and fireworks beginning at dusk. They’ll be shooting the noisy colors into the sky from Fairy Springs, so everyone at the park, the Otesaga, and along the shore will get a great show. Rain date: July 8.

The village of Laurens hosts its parade on Saturday, July 2, with a celebration to follow at Gilbert Lake State Park featuring a band concert, crafts, and an evening bonfire with s’mores.

Davenport Center hosts fireworks on Sunday, July 3 beginning at 8:45 p.m., and our readers in and around Richfield Springs can head to Canadarago Lake on July 3 for a picnic dinner and concert beginning at 6 p.m., with fireworks to follow at dusk.

Oneonta has a big day planned for Monday, July 4, featuring a parade down Main Street beginning at 1 p.m., entertainment, activities, and vendors in Neahwa Park from 2 p.m. until 11 p.m., fireworks at 9:30 p.m., and concert presentations from Hanzolo and Driftwood.

The Town of Springfield hosts its big parade on July 4, stepping off at 11 a.m., leading to a barbeque, quilt show, concert by the Cooperstown Community Band, and historical displays – including a new timeline created by the Springfield Historical Society tracing the history of the town, including displays in the museum covering the ‘Gilded Age’ of grand estates along the shores of Otsego Lake. The day concludes with a free concert at Glimmerglass State Park by The Council Rock Band beginning at 7:30 p.m. The evening closes with a fireworks display over the north end of Otsego Lake.

July 4 at The Farmers’ Museum brings a traditional 1840s celebration from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., featuring a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, barbecued food, and family fun activities. Starting at noon, watch as the Declaration of Independence is read aloud on the Bump Tavern Green. Take part in the 13 celebratory toasts as our Founding Fathers did with lemonade made from an 1840’s recipe. Sit for an old-fashioned tintype portrait (weather permitting, $30 per 4 x 5 tintype). 19th-century children’s games will be provided for family play on the Bump Tavern Green. During the event, museum artisans will demonstrate traditional blacksmithing, letterpress printing, and other trades throughout the day. At the print shop, you can pick up a copy of our 1840’s lemonade recipe, printed on the museum’s Liberty Job Press. Everyone can snack on cotton candy, ice cream, and slushies; events unless otherwise noted are free with paid museum admission.

July 4 celebrates America’s Pastime at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum commemorating not just the country’s 246th birthday, but also the 83rd anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s famous farewell speech. The museum offers the following events free with paid admission: a Plaques of the Gallery Tour begins at 10:30, educating visitors about the process by which each plaque is made; An artifact spotlight begins at 11:30 and will include discussion by Hall of Fame staff regarding unseen items from its collection of more than 40,000 artifacts not currently on display – highlighting Lou Gehrig items; and at 1:30, a guided tour of the Hall honoring the famous Lou Gehrig “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth” farewell speech.

In Oneonta, the Greater Oneonta Historical Society will give tours of the historic Red Caboose, on Francis Marx Drive in Neahwa Park, will be open to the public during the Hometown Fourth of July. Bob Brzozowski and Bhanu Gaur will tell visitors about the story of the Caboose and its importance in US labor and railroad history. This free event will take place from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. on July 4.

Event descriptions and times are accurate at the time of publication; please contact your localities for more information about these and other events that are not listed here.

Commentary: The long game

The importance of the long game

Commentary by Ted Potrikus

Here’s how I picture Mitch McConnell in his college days:

“Hey Mitch!” call his pals. “There’s a big protest march down in the quad. Posters, bullhorns, and everything! C’mon!”

“Nah,” says Mitch. “You guys go on ahead and have fun. I’m gonna stay in and study this book I found by a guy called Machiavelli.”

A few years later, there’s Mitch McConnell, local lawyer and burgeoning politician.

“Mitch,” says his local party boss. “Rally down at the town square. Press is gonna be there, I think it’ll be a good photo op for you. Hold up a sign and make people think you’re actually doing something about their problem.”

“No thanks,” Mitch says. “I’ve got this book about the rules of the United States Senate and I’m really into it. I’m staying in to read.”

Then, like water does, when he got elected to the Senate in 1984 he assumed the shape of his container and started to become the Senate. He played the long game masterfully. It’s the only way to take effective reins in a Congress where everyone wants to be in charge but few have the patience necessary to win the prize. You’re plotting every move five or more years in advance, nudging the dominoes to fall in the direction you need but always based on the rules. As with any long game, there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way, some of them soul-crushing. Sometimes you have to force a hand or two, but if you want to stick around, you can’t make yelling into a bullhorn, posting pithy Twitter tweets, or attending rally after rally to be your bread and butter. You have to put in the boring work that no one sees.

Hence the decisions handed down in the last week by the Supreme Court of the United States. Pure long-game strategy brought to stunning fruition thanks to any number of factors; a fragile domino chain whose building blocks historians may one day trace back to the Reagan administration when SCOTUS members started to age out or die. One at a time. On a schedule no one could predict, but everyone was watching – some more intently than others.

CCS graduation

CCS Class of ’22 celebrates with June 26 ceremony

They’re now part of the CCS Alumni Club: Class of ’22 graduates celebrate their achievement during the school’s commencement ceremony, held June 26 on the grounds of Fenimore Art Museum. From left, Madison Hayes, Ashlyn Wolfe, Henry LeCates, Quinn Lytel, Ireland Gable, and Gabrielle Woeppel. We’ve got more photos from the event in this week’s edition of The Freeman’s Journal!

Hochul, Delgado, Zeldin cruise to victories

Gov. Hochul, LG Delgado win Democratic contests, Rep. Zeldin is Republican nominee

Governor Kathy Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado each easily held off Democratic primary challengers and Rep. Lee Zeldin cruised to a Republican primary victory on June 28, setting up the ballot for November’s general election.

Gov. Hochul was declared the winner not long after polls closed at 9 p.m., easily outpacing challengers Jumaane Williams and Tom Suozzi; officials waited a little longer to declare Lieutenant Governor Delgado the winner in his separate race to keep the seat to which he was appointed in late Spring. Party insiders had expressed concern that challenger Ana Maria Arhcila, who had the backing of the Working Families Party and the endorsement of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, could surprise at Tuesday’s polls, but LG Delgado won easily.

Unlike primaries, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor share a ballot line in the general election; those same Democratic insiders are pleased that the June 28 results preserve the Hochul/Delgado partnership.

Rep. Zeldin also declared victory well before midnight, easily topping runners-up Andrew Giuliani, Rob Astorino, and Harry Wilson. He’ll join the November ballot with his running mate, former New York Police Department Deputy Inspector Alison Esposito.

The three victorious candidates gave impassioned speeches during the post-election rallies, setting a likely combative tone for the campaign to come.

Primaries also were held throughout New York for state Assembly seats; AOC-backed progressives hoping to take seats from incumbents were, for the most part, disappointed by losses; unofficial Board of Election tallies on Wednesday, June 29, show only one Assembly incumbent Democrat losing to his farther-left-leaning challenger.

Up next: August 23 primary elections for New York State Senate and the state’s U.S. House of Representative races.

Otsego County’s state Senator, Peter Oberacker, faces a primary challenge from fellow Republican Terry Bernardo – the former chairperson of the Ulster County Legislature.

New York’s state Senate and Congressional primary races shifted to late August after courts rejected election district lines.

‘Crafternoons’ at Hartwick

Hartwick College brings back popular ‘crafternoons’ summer fun

Hartwick College’s Yager Museum of Art & Culture brings back its popular series of Summer Crafternoons for children aged 5-12, starting July 6 from noon until 3 pm.

Summer Crafternoons are designed to allow children to explore their creativity in the setting of the Museum’s galleries. The Museum will set up craft tables filled with all the supplies needed for kids to make something brilliant and beautiful. Snacks will also be available in the Museum classroom to help power participants’ creativity. The programs are free to the public, no reservation is needed, and participants can drop in any time between 12 noon and 3 p.m. An adult will be required to stay with children during the programs.  In accordance with College policy, the Museum requires that all visitors to campus aged 12 years and over to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Each week will feature a new theme and the Museum will have provide supplies specific to each theme. Budding artists may make any kind of art they choose, however. The weekly themes are:

  • July 6 – Flags
  • July 13 – Artifacts
  • July 20 – Places
  • July 27 – Masks

During June and July, the Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Museum and offices will be closed on July 4 in observance of Independence Day.

Fenimore hosts Wyeth studies

Fenimore Art Museum ‘draws from life’ with Wyeth exhibition

Pioneer Park in Cooperstown hosts this mural from artist Josh Sarantitis inviting viewers to Fenimore Art Museum’s summer Wyeth exhibition.

There’s a striking mural on display in Cooperstown’s Pioneer Park at the intersection of Main and Pioneer streets – the triptych tips its hat to Fenimore Art Museum’s summer exhibition Drawn from Life: Three Generations of Wyeth Figure Studies. Muralist Josh Sarantitis turned to young local artists to help with the underpainting, a fitting nod to a stirring installation that, as Fenimore says, provides a snapshot of N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth “as young artists” mastering their figure studies.

“This exhibit is a window into the evolution of who these artists were as young men,” said curator Victoria Wyeth, granddaughter of Andrew Wyeth. “You can’t have ‘The Helga Pictures’ or ‘Treasure Island’ without these early sketches.”

The ‘Helga’ in question, of course, is the model for what is perhaps Andrew Wyeth’s best-known work – more than 240 paintings and drawings shown in the National Gallery of Art. ‘Treasure Island’ refers to the masterpiece N.C. Wyeth – Andrew’s father – created for the cover of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel. Jamie Wyeth – Andrew’s son – carried on the family’s fine art and figure study traditions.

“We have three generations of Wyeth figure studies on display at Fenimore this summer,” Ms. Wyeth said in a conversation with The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta. “It’s not your typical Andrew Wyeth exhibition, but these are the basic anatomical sketches and work-ups that led to the great work we all recognize.”

Otsego Lake boat parade

“Float your boat’ in July 3 parade

The view from shore for the 2021 parade (picture by Debra Creedon, from OLA website)

Plan to float your boat – rain or shine – in the Otsego Lake Association’s Annual “We Love Our Lake” Decorated Boat Parade to begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 3.

The parade will form off Three Mile Point, then proceed slowly along the westerly side of the lake, and end at Lakefront Park in Cooperstown.  The lead boat will be decorated and marked with OLA banners.

After a two-year pandemic pause, the Otsego Lake Association will again judge boats, award prizes, and have candy for participants. The parade welcomes boats large and small — including antique or classic, human-powered, wind-powered, electric, jet, outboard, or inboard/outboard powered. OLA encourages boaters to decorate using the theme “Our Lake is a Treasure,” but welcomes decorations of any sort – unusual, humorous, patriotic, party-themed, sports, military, or no decoration at all – it’s up to the boater.

Boaters may join the parade at any time or place along the route, especially for non-motorized boaters who might not want to travel the full route.

Supreme Court strikes down NY gun law

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down New York’s ‘concealed carry’ limitations

In a significant victory for guns-rights activists, the Supreme Court of the United States on Thursday (June 23) struck down a New York gun law requiring people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a license to carry one in public.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., et al. v. Bruen, Superintendent of New York State Police, et al., stating, “Apart from a few late-19th century outlier jurisdictions, American governments simply have not broadly prohibited the public carry of commonly used firearms for personal defense. Nor, subject to a few late-in-time outliers, have American governments required law-abiding, responsible citizens to “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community” in order to carry arms in public.”

“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need,” his opinion states. “New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.”

Nearby Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have laws on the books similar to New York’s; experts anticipate those and other laws will now be challenged.

Floral Hall: Letter to the Editor

Reader laments loss of Fair’s Floral Hall

To the Editor:

For 144 years Floral Hall has been the home of wonderful exhibits, countless memories, and community involvement at its best! It is the oldest building on the Otsego County Fairgrounds, and holds an honored spot in the National Register of Historic Places.

Having recently learned this building is slated for demolition next month, I felt it would be irresponsible of me to allow its demise without a fitting tribute. It is absolutely possible to preserve Floral Hall; unfortunately, this will not happen. I am so heartbroken over the loss of this treasure, I cannot bear to visit the grounds without it.

Floral Hall has always been a focal point of the Otsego County Fair for countless delighted fairgoers. With its 90′ by 90′ foot print, it encompasses no small portion of the fairgrounds.

Many generations have devoted their passion and talents in lively competition for the prize of “Best of the Best,” beautifully displayed in the very center of the building for all to see. It has served as the ideal meeting place for friends to begin a fun day at the fair. On the hottest of fair days, it was a peaceful, cool, “Haven of Rest” for weary fairgoers, and provided ample room for many to escape those pop-up downpours that so often occur during a fair week.

The loss of Floral Hall is more than simply the loss of a magnificent structure. It is the loss of a deep heritage and an old friend.

It will be desperately missed by those who were blessed to experience its contribution to so many lives for so many years.

Pat Patterson
Mt Vision, NY

Josh Rawitch — first year

Hall of Fame President, family ‘dove head-first’ into Village life

Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch (photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Take a look at National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum President Josh Rawitch’s Twitter account and you’ll meet a person not just embracing his profession, but also serving as a de facto ambassador for the Village of Cooperstown. He and his family – wife Erin and children Emily and Braden – relocated to the village nearly one year ago from the sprawling Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, Arizona, and they’ve welcomed their new lives in a much smaller town in the northeast.

“It’s been exactly what we thought it was going to be,” Mr. Rawitch said in a discussion with The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta marking one year since the Hall announced his appointment as its eighth president. “We dove head-first into life in Cooperstown, everything from our kids getting into school activities, my wife getting involved with non-profits, starting to make friends with people who live here. All of that is like we thought it would be.”

He shares with his on-line followers pictures of scenes like the small bridge arching over Willow Brook near Lake Street or a stop at the Cooperstown Diner on Main Street.

“I’m trying to give people a little slice of what life is like with my Twitter account,” he said. “Not everybody can come here, so I try to give them a little bit of the flavor.”

“You can’t really know until you live it what small-town life is going to be like,” Mr. Rawitch said. “There are so many unique things to this town that we love, from the mom-and-pop shops to the walkability of it all to the grade schools to life on the lake. It’s such a special place. On top of it all it happens to have this unbelievable baseball mecca in the middle of it. It’s just an awesome place.”

As he did one year ago upon his appointment, Mr. Rawitch spoke of his deep appreciation for his baseball career, which began at age 18 as an intern for the Los Angeles Dodgers – there for 15 years before a decade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Those jobs, he said, prepared him well for the leadership role at the Hall of Fame.

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