Sunday, 21 April 2024

News

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An adult American barn swallow. Courtesy photo.


 

 


“When our clime the sunbeams gild,

Here your airy nest you build;

And, when bright days cease to smile,

Fly to Memphis or the Nile”


Jacob Henry Studer, 1840-1904, “Birds of North America” (1903)


Once caught by the thousands to be used in women’s hats, eating insects literally on the fly, and returning year after year to the same nesting sites, the American barn swallow is one of the harbingers of summer. A beautiful low-flying bird, I always look forward to the spring nesting ritual and the summer babies emerging from the nest.


The barn swallow is also the species the slaughter of which aroused in the mind of George Bird Grinnell such indignation that he wrote a vigorous article in 1886 on the incredible waste of bird life for millinery. That of course soon led to the founding of the first Audubon Society.


On the farm the comings and goings of the barn swallow is as familiar as the clucking of the hen or the challenge of the rooster, albeit a bit more melodious though no less beneficial.


Reportedly this species eats 70 percent of its diet in large flies, and having them around a farm or any other area that is prone to large populations of unwanted flying insects is immensely useful.


When they forage they fly low to the ground with their mouth wide open “catching” flies, mosquitoes, moths and other insects. Not one to allow an opportunity to go by they often will get an easy feed by following the tractor out in the field to “catch” the insects the tractor dusts up.


The barn swallow is a very cosmopolitan bird, having the widest distribution of all the swallows, with different subspecies nesting in North America, Europe and Asia.


Being a long distance migrant, they adjust to the seasons so that they can follow the warmth. In western North America they summer from the southern parts of Alaska to the central parts of Mexico, and they winter from south Mexico to the lowland portions of South America.


Their Latin name (Hirundo rustica) literally means “swallow of the country” so of course they are usually found in open habitats such as marshes, lakeshores, fields and farms. Their nests are typically a cup or funnel made of mud, clay, grass and plant stems.


In today’s world they tend to attach the nest to the side of a wall or on top of a ledge, and they prefer old comfortable barns with open rafters that make it easy for them to get in and out of while providing needed shelter. Before barns they would have resorted to nesting in the caves and crags found in the natural world but they have adapted well to human structures.


Female barn swallows lay between three to seven eggs, which are of a creamy white color marked with dark brown.


Watch out if you are around a barn swallow nest, for they will defend it by swooping down and around any creature great or small that comes near the nest.


Both parents assist in the incubation, which lasts about two weeks, and once the eggs have hatched both parents take care of the young. After about three weeks the young will leave the nest.


A monogamous yet social bird species, barn wwallows tend to occur in small flocks and are often seen perching in a row atop a power line or fence.


The song of the barn swallow is a cheerful warble, but I can always tell when the barn cat is around for their call sharpens and quickens.


The barn swallow is a common bird, found abundantly across the state. They are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, but as the plight of the passenger pigeon reminds us, just because a bird is abundant doesn’t mean it is safe.


Climate change may affect them in a variety of ways. Any drought can cause weight loss and slow feather regrowth, and hot dry summers will reduce the availability of insect food for chicks.


Many aspects of their ecology may also be affected by climate change, such as earlier springs that may cause some birds to migrate earlier due to the warmer temperatures.


As the saying goes, “One swallow doesn’t make a summer.” I do hope our beautiful guests of the summer will remain abundant for many generations to come.


Debra Chase is the executive director of Tuleyome, a local nonprofit working to protect both our wild heritage and our agricultural heritage for future generations. She resides on a small family farm in Colusa County. Visit the group online at www.tuleyome.org .

 

 

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Juvenile barn swallows cluster together in a nest. Courtesy photo.
 

LAKE COUNTY – Firefighters quickly contained two small fires near Lower Lake and Kelseyville that broke out Friday afternoon.


The first fire, in grass along Highway 53 near Anderson Marsh State Historic Park, was reported about 3:30 p.m. Friday, according to the California Highway Patrol.


That fire was small and quickly contained; Cal Fire didn't have information on its size.


Later, another fire was reported north of Lakeport at Bridge Arbor Drive.


That fire, contained just after 6 p.m., burned about three acres, according to Cal Fire.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

THE GEYSERS – A 3.0-magnitude earthquake that occurred early Wednesday left at least one home in Anderson Springs with property damage.


The US Geological Survey reported that the earthquake occurred at 5:42 a.m. at a depth of 2.4 miles.


The quake's epicenter was located one mile northeast of The Geysers, four miles west southwest of Cobb and six miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, the US Geological Survey reported.


Shake reports were made to the US Geological Survey from as close as Middletown and Calistoga and as far away as Pleasanton.


The quake's ground motion places it at level IV on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, which means it was felt by many and caused damage.


“I do have some damage,” said longtime Anderson Springs resident Meriel Medrano. “I have a huge crack in my living room.”


Medrano said she also had a new crack in her bathroom.


The quake was the second in two days measuring 3.0 or above in magnitude. A Tuesday morning earthquake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale and V on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.


Medrano said she thinks her damage could have resulted from the effects of both quakes.


The Wednesday quake was “a pretty good doozy,” said Medrano, noting that it woke her up.


Medrano and other Anderson Springs and Cobb residents are concerned that AltaRock Energy's new geothermal drilling project – located up the mountain from her home – will increase seismicity in the already earthquake-prone area, as Lake County News reported earlier this week.


The company already has started drilling and is expected to start fracturing deep bedrock in August.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

LOWER LAKE – Two visitors to Lake County found themselves diverted to the jail early Friday morning after their vehicle was stopped and law enforcement allegedly discovered their car to be filled with drugs and illegal fireworks.

Bob Anthony Marino, 47, of Campbell and Rochelle Monique Eblen, 32, of San Jose were arrested by California Officer Steve Curtis on Friday morning, according to CHP Officer Steve Tanguay.

Tanguay said Curtis stopped Marino and Eblen for speeding shortly before 8 a.m. at Highway 29 and B Street south of Lower Lake.

When Curtis approached the vehicle he smelled marijuana, said Tanguay.

That led to a vehicle search, Tanguay said. When Curtis looked through the vehicle, he allegedly found not just marijuana but methamphetamine and 200 to 300 fireworks.

The fireworks Curtis found weren't just little bottle rockets and sparklers but mortars and other major explosives, said Kelseyville Fire Battalion Chief Joe Huggins.

Huggins estimated the cache of fireworks found was between 75 and 85 pounds. “These are flat out high explosive – the bad stuff,” he said.

CHP called Kelseyville Fire and said they had seized the fireworks, Huggins explained.

Kelseyville Fire then took the fireworks, photographed them and wrote a report, and contacted the state fire marshal, Huggins explained.

The amount of fireworks is so large that Huggins said the state fire marshal's office will send an investigator to collect the fireworks and take them back to the state offices in Sacramento.

Huggins said they had never seen such a large fireworks seizure. Tanguay added that since he came in Lake County in 2001, this was by far the biggest batch of seized fireworks he had seen.

Eblen was booked on felony charges of possession of a controlled substance and impersonating another individual, plus a misdemeanor bench warrant, possession of controlled substance paraphernalia and giving false identification to a peace officer. Her bail was set at $25,000.

Officials booked Marino on felony charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale, transporting a controlled substance and illegal possession of an explosive, and misdemeanor charges of selling or using unclassed fireworks and possession fireworks without a permit. His bail was set at $15,000.

Both Eblen and Marino posted bail later in the day to gain their release from jail.

Officials weren't sure if Eblen and Marino were visiting the county or simply passing through.

With local officials concerned about dry conditions and the July 4 weekend, Huggins said, “This kind of stuff's not going to be tolerated any more.”

Eblen and Marino are scheduled to be in court next month.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

LAKEPORT – A fire that destroyed a farm outbuilding on Tuesday is believed to have been caused by an electrical issue within the building itself, according to investigators.


The metal building burned late Tuesday afternoon at the Scotts Valley Road property of Doug Patten, as Lake County News has reported.


“The preliminary report is that it's going to be electrical,” said Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells.


Wells said the building itself is “the only ignition source in that area.”


Wells and his department were on scene Tuesday along with personnel from Cal Fire, the US Department of Forestry and Kelseyville Fire, as Lake County News has reported.


Patten had done a controlled burn on his property that afternoon, but that fire had been out before Patten left his property to attend a funeral, according to reports from the initial scene.


“It was just a fluke that earlier on that day he was doing an economic variance burn,” said Wells.


Although a general burn ban is on, Doug Gearhart, pollution control officer with the Lake County Air Quality Management District, said Patten had a valid economic exemption permit that allowed him to legally burn as part of his agricultural operation.


He said the burn site for the economic exemption had been inspected by Lakeport Fire for fire safety prior to the burn.


All economic exemption burn sites have to be inspected and declared fire safe by the appropriate fire agency before the air district will process a request for an economic exemption, said Gearhart.


He added that the economic exemption burn at this site was approved for the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at which time the fire was required to be dead out.


The burn, Wells explained, was conducted so Patten could remove a pile of of debris from his pasture. But he had flooded it with water to make sure it was out.


Wells had no estimate for the total cost of damages, which included a vintage Jeep parked in the building, as well as tools.


Patten did have defensible space – which is 100 feet of clearance from brush and weeds – around his buildings, which Wells emphasized is crucial at this time of year.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

YOLO COUNTY – After three days of firefighting officials reported a wildland fire along Highway 16 was 100-percent contained on Wednesday.


Cal Fire said the Rumsey Fire, located on Highway 16 north of Guinda, reached 716 acres.


The fire, sparked by a vehicle, began on Monday, as Lake County News has reported.


At one point it had as many as 350 firefighters on scene working to contain the fire, which was moving through rugged terrain dotted by oak and pine trees.


The fire destroyed two outbuildings and a residence, and at least one firefighter suffered a heat injury.


Cal Fire had no further details on the fire suppression efforts, including cost, as of Tuesday evening.

BLUE LAKES – A crash on Highway 20 near Blue Lakes resulted in major injuries and blocked traffic on Friday night.


The crash occurred at about 8 p.m. Friday near the Le Trianon Resort, according to the California Highway Patrol.


CHP, the Lake County Sheriff's Office and Northshore Fire were among the responders to the crash, which reports from the scene said involved more than one vehicle, one of which was overturned.


The blocked roadway didn't open up again until nearly 9 p.m.


In the mean time, a REACH helicopter transported one of the subjects to an area hospital, while two others went to Sutter Lakeside, the CHP reported.


Major injuries were reported, but the identify of the injured and specifics about their conditions were not available late Friday.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

LAKE COUNTY – The weekend weather for Lake County includes hot, sunny days with clear skies – perfect for all of your outdoor activities – and warm, clear evenings for enjoying sparkling fireworks throughout the county tonight and on Saturday.


Friday's high temperatures should be in the low- to mid- 90s, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Sacramento, with slight southerly breezes. Overnight temperatures are expected to reach the upper 50s.


On Saturday, Independence Day, NWS forecasts that the highs should top out around 94, with calm winds early that become breezier with westerly winds in the afternoon and early evening. Lows are predicted to reach the mid-50s.


Temperatures on Sunday will usher in a short cooling trend, with highs in the mid- to upper-80s and overnight lows in the mid-50s.


Monday through Wednesday, the NWS is forecasting daytimes highs to be in the low 80s to mid-70s, however The Weather Channel (TWC) predicts temperatures to remain closer to normal, in the mid- to upper 80s. Both agree that lows will remain in the mid-50s Monday through Wednesday.


Whatever the temperature, remember to have a safe July 4th weekend and enjoy the legal fireworks surrounding Clear Lake this weekend.


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

LAKE COUNTY – Every summer, boaters from across Northern California and beyond enjoy fishing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and swimming at Lake County’s prized lakes and stay in rustic cabins, comfortable beds and breakfasts, full-service lakefront resorts, or at lakeside campsites.


This year, drought conditions have contributed to significantly lower water levels at many reservoirs throughout California, but the water levels at Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the state, Blue Lakes, and Lake Pillsbury, are only slightly below average.


The upcoming Independence Day weekend offers boaters an opportunity to enjoy fireworks over the lake. Some displays will be held on Friday, some will be held on Saturday. A complete list of fireworks displays is available on the events calendar at www.lakecounty.com .


Boaters visiting Lake County should be aware that boat inspection stickers are required prior to launching any vessel on any Lake County water body.


The Lake County Sheriff’s Office and its Marine Patrol unit will be strictly enforcing the ordinance. Violators will be cited for an infraction or misdemeanor, which could result in fines from $100 to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.


Boaters are encouraged to plan ahead to get their stickers. For convenience, boaters arriving for the Independence Day weekend can choose from many inspection locations around the lake. Locations and hours of operation over the holiday weekend are listed below.


PROGRAM DETAILS, COSTS


The Lake County Invasive Species Inspection Program, established by ordinance in March 2008, requires boat screenings and inspections as a means to protect Lake County’s water bodies from the threat of infestation by quagga and zebra mussels.


As part of this inspection process, an inspection application form and affidavit must be completed, signed, and submitted, along with payment for initial screening fee. Application forms with instructions may be downloaded in advance from the Lake County Mussel Web Site at www.co.lake.ca.us/mussels .


The fee for initial screening performed by the County is $10. If a water vessel passes initial screening, an inspection sticker will be issued; if a water vessel does not pass initial screening, further inspection by a certified inspector will be required.


Clean, drained, and dry boats are ideal; wet boats are at risk of not passing inspection.


Since the program’s inception last year, only a minimal number of boats have required any inspection beyond the initial screening.


For those vessels that do require further inspection, the fee for a certified inspection by county personnel is based on the vessel length and type. For vessels up to 12 feet in length, the fee is $15. For vessels from 12 to 18 feet, the fee is $25. For vessels 18 feet and longer, the fee is $40. Any vessel with ballast tanks and/or bladders will be charged an additional $20 per inspection.


If a vessel passes certified inspection, an inspection sticker will be issued; if it does not pass certified inspection, the vessel may a) require decontamination and re-inspection, or b) require quarantine and will not be allowed to launch.


For non-local water vessels, the stickers will be valid through the end of the calendar year in which they are issued. For local water vessels, stickers are not subject to an expiration date. Local vessels include any vessel registered in Lake County and any non-registered vessel owned by a resident of Lake County (proof must be provided: a valid driver’s license with Lake County address; vessel registration certificate with a Lake County address; utility bill showing a Lake County residence; and/or a boat-slip lease agreement with a local marina).


In addition to establishing the inspection program, the ordinance also bans the disposal of live bait and any liquid that contains or has contained live bait into Lake County water bodies.


For information about this program or to locate the most convenient inspection location, go online to the Lake County Mussel Web Site at www.co.lake.ca.us/mussels , or call the Lake County Mussel Hotline at 707-263-2556.


INSPECTION LOCATIONS OVER HOLIDAY WEEKEND


Clearlake


Clearlake Bait and Tackle, 14699 Lakeshore Dr., 707-994-4399

Friday, July 3: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Sunday, July 5, 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.


Lakeshore Bait and Tackle, 14913 D Lakeshore Dr., 707-994-3474

Friday, July 3: 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, July 5: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Clearlake Oaks


Limit Out, 12607 East Highway 20, 707-998-1006

Friday, July 3: 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Saturday, July 4: morning only; Sunday, July 5: 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.


Kelseyville


Braito’s Marina, 1555 East Lake Dr., 707-279-4868

Friday, July 3: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Sunday, July 5: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Clearlake State Park, 5300 Soda Bay Road, 707-279-4293

Friday, July 3: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Sunday, July 5: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Edgewater Resort, 6420 Soda Bay Road, 707-279-0208

Friday, July 3: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Sunday, July 5: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Ferndale Resort & Marina, 6190 Soda Bay Road, 707-279-4866

Friday, July 3: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 5: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, 8727 Soda Bay Road, 707-279-6628

Friday, July 3: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 5: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Lake Pillsbury


Soda Creek Store, 26873 Elk Mountain Road, 707-743-2148

Friday, July 3: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, July 5: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Lakeport


Clearlake Outdoors, 96 Soda Bay Road, 707-262-5852

Friday, July 3: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Hillside Honda, 460 S Main St., 707-263-9000

Friday, July 3: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Konocti Vista Casino, 2755 Mission Rancheria Road, 707-262-1900 x7001

Guests Only


Lake Vacation Rentals, 601 N Main St., 707-263-7188

Friday, July 3: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Tackle It, 1050 N Main St., 707-262-1233

Friday, July 3: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Lakeport Regional Chamber, 875 Lakeport Blvd., 707-263-5092

Friday, July 3: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Lucerne


Lake County Visitor Center, 6110 East Hwy 20, 707-274-5652

Friday, July 3: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, July 4: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, July 5: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

CHINO – A woman convicted of the 1987 murder of a local woman was denied parole for the sixth time.


The Board of Prison Terms denied parole to Jane “Daisy” Benson, 61, on June 24.


Bensen currently is serving a 17-years-to-life sentence at the California Institute for Women in Chino, according to a Friday statement from the Lake County District Attorney's Office.


On April 1, 1988, Benson was convicted of the second-degree murder of Elaine Wright and of using a firearm to commit the crime, and sentenced to 17 years to life by Judge Robert L. Crone Jr. Stephen O. Hedstrom, who is currently a Superior Court Judge for Lake County, prosecuted Benson.


The murder occurred on June 16, 1987.


Benson went to Wright's residence on Manchester Street in Clearlake to confront her and her boyfriend, because the boyfriend had stolen some property from Benson, according to the case background.


Benson entered the victim’s bedroom with a handgun, where the victim and her boyfriend were lying in bed, and fired two shots into the floor. Both the boyfriend and Benson exited the bedroom briefly, then Benson re-entered the bedroom to again confront the victim.


Witnesses inside the residence heard another shot, and found the victim in bed shot once in the heart.


Benson claimed that she accidentally shot the victim when she was bumped from behind by someone causing the gun to discharge. However, all witnesses at the scene stated that at the time the victim was shot, the only two people in the room were Benson and the victim.


Deputy District Attorney Edward M. Borg participated in the parole hearing from Lake County by video-conferencing to argue against Benson’s release. The video conferencing was arranged by the District Attorney’s Office to avoid having to send a representative to the prison facility. This saved the county and taxpayers funds that would have had to be spent for motel, air flight, car rental and meals for a deputy district attorney to make an in-person appearance at the hearing in Chino.


During the video conference hearing, Borg argued that the time Benson had spent in custody was not sufficient punishment considering the callousness of the crime and Benson’s consistent unwillingness to accept full responsibility for the murder.


Borg further argued that, based upon prison psychiatric reports, Benson still presented an unreasonable risk of danger to others if released because of her lack of insight into her actions and her lack of strategies to avoid re-offending if she were released.


At the parole hearing, Benson continued to claim that the shooting was accidental.


The Board of Prison Terms ruled Benson was unsuitable for parole.


She first became eligible for parole in 1999. This was Benson’s sixth appearance before the Board of Prison Terms to request parole.


Her last parole hearing was on June 26, 2008. The Board of Prison Terms found Benson to be suitable for parole after that hearing; however, that decision was subsequently overturned by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

LAKE COUNTY – As motorists prepare to head out onto the highway for some summer fun this Independence Day, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is doing its part to help keep the fireworks where they belong … in the sky. And with some advance planning, the CHP hopes this can be a safe celebration for everyone.


“Plan ahead and allow extra time for travel on busy roads, buckle up before you head out and don’t speed,” reminded CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Speeding reduces a driver's ability to steer safely around curves or react to hazards in the roadway.”


Fourth of July weekend is a Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) for the CHP.


All available officers will patrol the roadways during the MEP, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday, July 3, and extends until midnight on Sunday, July 5.


Last year over the three-day, Fourth of July weekend, 41 people died on California’s roadways; nearly half of those killed in CHP jurisdiction were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, and one motorcyclist who died was without a helmet.


“Many of those deaths could have been easily avoided by taking a moment to buckle a seat belt,” stated Commissioner Farrow. “Proper safety equipment takes a moment to secure and can make all the difference between walking away from a crash, or being carried away on a stretcher.”


In addition to speeders and those who fail to buckle up, officers will be looking for drivers under the influence.


Last year, over the Fourth of July holiday, CHP officers statewide arrested 1,684 people for DUI.


“If you’re going to drink, do not drive,” urged Commissioner Farrow. “And equally important, don't get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking. Plan ahead and designate a non-drinking driver.”


The Independence Day MEP is also an Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort (CARE) holiday.


Operation CARE is a joint program of the nation’s highway patrols that places special safety emphasis on interstate highways during holiday periods.


CARE highways in California include Interstates 80, 40, 15 and 5.

LAKEPORT – A Lakeport man was injured early Tuesday morning when his pickup rolled over and ejected him.


Steven J. Kissick, 39, was injured in the single-vehicle crash, which occurred just after 7 a.m., according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.


Kissick was driving his 2003 Toyota Tacoma truck northbound on Hill Road south of Helbush Drive at an unknown speed when his pickup drifted off of the roadway to the right as he was traveling through a lefthand curve, Tanguay said.


Tanguay said Kissick turned the steering wheel back to the left and lost control of the truck, which then crossed the roadway to the left and began to roll over.


While the pickup truck was rolling over, Kissick was ejected from the truck, Tanguay said. The pickup came to rest on its wheels west of the roadway.


The Lakeport Fire Protection District responded and Kissick was flown by REACH helicopter to UC Davis for major injuries, said Tanguay.


Tanguay said alcohol and drugs are not suspected to be a factor in this collision.


CHP Officer Joseph Wind is investigating the crash, Tanguay said.




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