2005: A year to remember
Editor's note: This concludes The Mirror's review of the top news stories of 2005. This installment, which covers July through December, was written by Lisa Scheller and Shawn Linenberger.
As 2005 reached mid-year, Tonganoxie residents learned that the city had grown 32 percent since 2000. The latest U.S. Census Bureau estimate placed the city's population at 3,597. In 2000, the census was 2,728.
Kaylee Shriner was lucky to be alive. The 7-year-old Tonganoxie girl was sleeping in her bed the morning of June 30 when lightning struck the roof of her house and set her mattress on fire.
Kaylee woke up her sister, Kristen, who was sleeping in her bed nearby and the two went downstairs to alert their parents. Her father, Trent Shriner, carried the burning mattress down the stairs and out the door. Fortunately, everyone in the house was safe and the damage to the home was relatively minor.
Hundreds of citizens turned out for a bingo party to help Tonganoxie police Sgt. John Putthoff with medical-related expenses. Putthoff, who had lived in Tonganoxie almost all of his 52 years, had recently undergone a liver transplant.
A unique summer camp, held at Tall Oaks near Linwood, included activities for children who have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.
Tonganoxie schools band director Charles VanMiddlesworth II led the community band in the city's fourth annual summer community band concert. The event was held at Tonganoxie's Veterans of Foreign Wars Park.
Dian Barfield, a resident of an apartment on Pleasant Street, cultivated her annual summer flower garden. Barfield's patio was blooming with brightly colored flowers.
Leavenworth County commissioners waited for a district court judge's decision to learn whether sexual predator Leroy Hendricks would be allowed to live in a group home in southern Leavenworth County. The commissioners earlier had received a temporary restraining order after alleging the group home violated zoning laws.
A Leavenworth man escaped serious injury when a dump truck he was driving struck a power line on Sandusky Road.
A Tonganoxie woman and her son were in London when terrorists detonated bombs in the city's underground transit system. Kellie Woolf and Stephen had planned to board an earlier ride, but decided on a later trip instead, which wound up keeping them out of harm's way. "I really think that God was watching out for us," Kellie Woolf said.
Tonganoxie's city budget for 2006 called for a mill levy of 33.513, compared to the 2005 mill levy of 33.576. A mill is equal to $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.
A second mediation session -- aimed at settling a federal lawsuit against the school district -- concluded with no settlement. In the lawsuit, a former Tonganoxie student alleged that other students had sexually harassed and bullied him to the point that he left school three months into his junior year.
Dozens of area residents attended a CD release party for Joey Glenn, a Tonganoxie High School student who recently recorded a CD with the Nashville recording company, Wild Oats Records.
Tonganoxie residents Bill and Jan Jones continue working at their 4-year-old monument business, Eagle Memorials.
After growing along Fourth Street for about five years, Tonganoxie's downtown trees were crowding the sidewalks. So, city council member and chairman of the city's tree board, Velda Roberts, saw to their trimming. Roberts supervised as two teenaged boys climbed on ladders and gave new shape to the trees.
Mike Oelschlaeger's quail-raising business was taking off. The Linwood man buys quail eggs, raises the birds and sells them. Most of the birds are bought by people who want to field train hunting dogs.
Leavenworth County District Court Judge David King ruled that a notorious sexual predator, Leroy Hendricks, cannot legally live in a group home recently established in the southern part of the county.
A prime piece of Tonganoxie real estate, the former Ford garage on U.S. Highway 24-40, had sold at a county foreclosure auction. The buyer, Sand Trap Properties, paid $579,444, along with $49,000 in back taxes. A banker involved in the purchase said the building and 7.5 acres might be listed for its $745,000 appraised value.
A local couple, Walter Lee and Nila Denholm, were honored as recipients of the Leavenworth County Farm Bureau's "Century Farm" award. Land on which the Denholms live had belonged to members of Walter Lee Denholm's family since 1868.
Travis Plake and his long-time buddy, Tyler Robinson, both of whom are in the U.S. Marines, were home on leave at the same time.
Every chance she gets, Tracie McGraw rides on her favorite horse, Yeller. At 22, the palomino is barely older than his 20-year-old rider. At weekend rodeos, McGraw said, fans go wild over her horse, and she often hears them yelling, "Go Yeller."
Tonganoxie teachers and school board members were attempting to iron out an agreement regarding what teacher salaries, and benefits, would be for the 2005-2006 school year.
Rural Tonganoxie resident Sharon Hughes was a lucky woman. When she was weeding her flowers, a copperhead snake bit her on her hand. Fortunately, Hughes' husband was nearby and he immediately rushed her to a hospital for treatment. Less than a week later, Hughes was able to return home from the hospital.
Volunteers were tidying up the lawn of the Tonganoxie Friends Meeting building. In recent years, church members had been meeting in one another's homes and the church building had not been used. Plans were in the works for Yearly Meeting, which owned the building, to reopen the church.
A McLouth couple, John and Zelma Sanders were honored as Jefferson County's Farm Bureau Century Farmers. The land on which the Sanders lived had been in their family since 1881.
A Tonganoxie couple, J.R. and Debbie Lingenfelser, were building their dream home -- a painted lady Victorian on Sixth Street.
The firm, Hodgdon Powder Company, abandoned plans to construct a distribution center on 144 acres east of Tonganoxie. Instead, company officials announced plans to build the distribution center in Herington, where it has had a manufacturing plant since 1978.
Vinnie Angell, a 12-year-old Tonganoxie bait shop owner, was making a good profit off his sales at Angell's Convenience Store, on Kansas Highway 16.
A jury trial began in federal court over a lawsuit filed against the Tonganoxie school district. In the lawsuit, which was filed in May 2004, former Tonganoxie student Dylan Theno alleged he was subjected to years of sexual discrimination in the form of bullying and therefore, denied access to an education.
Eudora resident Pat Black invited friends to see the rare bloom of her night-blooming cereus plant.
Shellie Hardisty, Shawnee, quit her job, sold almost everything she owned, bought a camper trailer and started out on a year-long road trip. She was touring the country, accompanied by her dogs, Dottie and Cocoa.
The U.S. Postal Service decided that Tonganoxie's new post office should be built near the county annex, at Laming Road and Woodfield Drive.
Paul and Elizabeth McKie, owners of the 2,000-acre Tailgate Ranch south of Tonganoxie, told the Tonganoxie administrator that, if County Road 1 is selected as an access road for a possible turnpike interchange, they would be willing to have their property voluntarily annexed into the city of Tonganoxie.
The Tonganoxie city council approved a resolution in support of using County Road 1 as a turnpike access road. However, Leavenworth County commissioners continued to look at another option for an access road. The other proposal would connect with 24-40 highway north of Reno and take a cross-country route before intersecting with the turnpike.
Retired Tonganoxie cowboy John Smith talked about his 80-years experience in cowboying and ranching.
A federal jury awarded $250,000 to Dylan Theno, a former Tonganoxie student who said other students sexually harassed him for years, thereby denying him access to an education.
A 52-year-old woman, Rita Dally, was killed in a three-car collision Aug. 16 on U.S. Highway 24-40, just south of Tonganoxie.
Occurring during a rainy spell, the Leavenworth County Fair continued as planned. However, the soggy conditions led to a smaller attendance, which cut down on revenues for the many businesses associated with the fair.
After children started back to school, it was evident Tonganoxie Elementary School would have another crowded year. After the first few days of school, it appeared the grade school would have an enrollment of about 879 students, up 25 to 30 students from the previous year.
Several Tonganoxie residents spoke at a city council meeting, expressing their disapproval about the location of the new post office.
Tonganoxie High School's ACT scores dipped slightly from the previous year. In 2005, the THS composite score averaged 21.2, compared to last year's score of 21.4. While slightly above the 2005 national average of 20.9, the THS score fell below the state average of 21.7.
The Tonganoxie school district filed a motion asking a federal judge to reject a jury's verdict that awarded $250,000 to a former student. The former student, Dylan Theno, had filed a lawsuit claiming he was harassed for years and therefore, denied access to an education.
Tonganoxie businessman Todd Lux launched a mobile tire repair business. Lux drives a truck that is equipped with a tire repair shop.
Moose, a dachshund owned by Aubrey Mikijanis, won the 12th annual Wiener-dog national Championship race, winning in 13.14 seconds at the Woodlands dog track in Kansas City, Kan. For his heroic run, Moose received a cape, ribbon and trophy. It seemed Moose liked all the attention he received. "You put his winning cape on and he starts wagging his tail," Mikijanis said.
Two Tonganoxie firefighters head to the Gulf Coast, to volunteer in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Marilyn Thompson started a fund drive to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. The 70-year-old Tonganoxie woman placed contribution cans in area businesses.
Consumers said they were feeling the pinch of $3-a-gallon gasoline. In particular, directors of the Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Bank, said they had received many more requests for financial assistance than usual.
Jarbalo resident Peachez Joles signed up to spend three weeks volunteering at Red Cross shelters where victims of Hurricane Katrina were housed.
The U.S. Postal Service announced that plans for a new Tonganoxie post office had been put on hold.
A local group was formed to explore Tonganoxie's future role in the growing bioscience industry.
Tonganoxie High School senior Micah Titterington was named a National Merit semifinalist. Titterington was one of 16,000 semifinalists named in the 51st annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Grandparents swamped Tonganoxie Elementary School for the school's annual Grandparents' Day festivities.
Ted and Kris Grinter's sunflower field near Reno was in full bloom, and as usual drew plenty of visitors, most of whom brought their cameras.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius unveiled the new Kansas quarter during a ceremony at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. The quarter design includes a buffalo and three sunflowers. Between 550 million and 650 million of the quarters will be minted.
Leavenworth County commissioners voted against renewing the contract of EMS director Irene Maley. Maley had worked at the department since 1977. Commissioners appointed deputy director Jamie Miller to serve as interim director.
Because of drenching rains during the Leavenworth County Fair, profits were much less than usual. Fair board president David Todd said the fair board made about $30,000 less than usual this year. The funds are generally used to maintain and improve the fairgrounds and buildings.
When the official enrollment count was taken, Tonganoxie Elementary School had 58 more students than it did a year ago. The Sept. 20 count was 877, compared to last year's official count of 819, said TES principal Jerry Daskoski.
School, city and construction officials gathered at the site of Tonganoxie's future middle school for a groundbreaking ceremony. Madison Hunter, a Tonganoxie seventh-grader, read a poem commemorating the start of construction of the new school.
A Tonganoxie family served as ambassadors at the Bikers for Babies March of Dimes fund-raiser at Kansas Speedway. Jenny and Jason Sparks and their daughters, Allyson and Caidance, made their official appearance at the event.
Leavenworth County sheriff's deputy Robert Peterman returned to work in September after he was found innocent of a vehicular homicide charge. The charge stemmed from a December 2004 fatality accident in which Peterman's patrol cruiser collided with a civilian vehicle driven by Jared Moore, a 19-year-old Fairmount Township volunteer firefighter. The two were traveling to the scene of an injury accident when their vehicles collided.
Kansas City, Kan., officials announced that a new waterpark, Schlitterbahn Vacation Village, would be constructed near Kansas Speedway. The $300 million family waterpark has a tentative opening date of 2008.
The Tonganoxie City Library has wireless, high-speed Internet access. Residents can use their wireless-capable laptops at the library and surf the Internet. The service was provided to the library by Sunflower Broadband. The library's only cost for the hot spot was for router configuration, which cost $187.
Linwood residents celebrated the opening of the new Linwood Cafe, owned by Lianne Abare. The new cafe along Kansas Highway 32 replaces the older and smaller cafe, which was in downtown Linwood.
Red Cross volunteer Robert Bartels returned home after helping hurricane victims along the Gulf Coast.
Tonganoxie High School seniors Zack Pistora and Amber De Graeve were named Homecoming king and queen Sept. 30 before the THS-Santa Fe Trail game. The Chieftains defeated the Chargers, 32-7, for another homecoming win.
A 22-year-old McLouth woman testified in Leavenworth County District Court and described in graphic detail an alleged rape she said occurred at her estranged husband's home in Tonganoxie.
Leavenworth and Jefferson counties endured a 100-year flood during the first weekend in October. Emergency workers evacuated 44 residents from a nursing home in Easton where a storm dumped 8.75 inches of rain. The heavy rainfall led to flooding in northern Leavenworth County. In Oskaloosa, in Jefferson County, 9.8 inches of rain fell.
A 67-year-old Tonganoxie man was killed Oct. 11 in an apparent accidental fire in his home shop. Police were unsure how Cecil Williams died in the accident, which might have involved a lawnmower.
"We don't know whether the lawnmower caught on fire and he tried to put it out. We don't know," said police Chief Kenny Carpenter.
Tonganoxie third-graders went on a walking field trip Oct. 6 and visited Tonganoxie businesses as part of a community-research scavenger hunt.
A new lumberyard is making headway. Construction started on the northwest corner of 174th and U.S. Highway 24-40 for Schmidt Lumber, which was expected to open in February or March of the new year.
Peachez Joles, a Tonganoxie-area Red Cross volunteer returned home after helping Hurricane Katrina victims for three weeks in Mississippi and Florida.
"You talk about Southern hospitality -- it was right here in Tupelo," Joles said about the Mississippi city. "Everything was 'honey' and 'sweetheart' and 'darling.' They couldn't do enough for you. I thought it was wonderful."
Devyn Roberts and Jason McGhee were voted homecoming queen and king at a McLouth High School football game. McLouth won its homecoming game, 26-6, against Troy at the Bulldog Sports Complex.
Nearly 150 Tonganoxie Elementary students participated in the annual youth cross country meet at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds. In the past, the meet has occurred on the school district's 80 acres near Pleasant and Washington streets, but the meet was moved because a new middle school is being constructed on that land.
About 80 citizens gathered Oct. 13 to discuss the possible turnpike interchange in southern Leavenworth County. The citizens voiced their disapproval for the interchange and connecting road from the turnpike to U.S. Highway 24-40.
Many people at the meeting -- citizens who live in rural areas likely affected by an interchange and connecting road -- said the county didn't need an interchange.
"There's no right way to do the wrong thing," said rural resident Debbie Skeet. "I don't think we need it. I don't think we can afford it."
After spending three years on U.S. Highway 24-40 across from Tonganoxie Junior High, the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission moved back to the downtown area. The TRC announced plans to move to the retail center west of Tonganoxie Police Department at 525 E. Fourth. TRC moved back downtown in November in office space Purcel Construction previously occupied. Before moving to the highway, the rec commission was at 635 E. Fourth, where Wirenuts now operates.
Tonganoxie High School graduate Shane Howard, now a sophomore at Kansas State University, is an anchor for Purple Power Hour. The television show is a student-run sports program that highlights K-State athletics. The show can be seen in Riley, Geary and Pottawatomie counties.
Three Tonganoxie senior football players are coping with injury. Brandon Willis played in the fall after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason. Derek Parrett injured his collarbone the second week of the season, but was back in Week 6. And Ryan Bennett broke his foot in Week 3, but was sidelined until the Chieftains' first playoff game, when Bennett played one down in the closing minutes against Bishop Ward.
The Tonganoxie boys and girls cross country teams both finished second at the Kaw Valley League Meet on Oct. 13 at the Wyandotte County Park.
Nearly 500 people attended the funeral of Army Cpl. Lucas Allen Frantz on Oct. 27 at Veterans of Foreign Wars Park in Tonganoxie. Frantz was killed Oct. 18 -- his 22nd birthday -- while serving the U.S. Army in Mosul, Iraq. Frantz was an Army specialist who posthumously was promoted to corporal. During the memorial service, the Rev. Ben Saathoff of Tonganoxie Christian Church spoke to family and friends gathered around a large rock in the park, where Lucas Frantz and his wife, Kelly, had planned to renew their wedding vows after he returned from the service. On Oct. 21, Frantz's football number and jersey were retired before the Tonganoxie-De Soto football game. Both ceremonies were met with protests, however. The Rev. Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church, who is known for protesting gays and now soldiers, had church members in Tonganoxie who protested before the football game and at the funeral. Phelps was not present with other members of his church, which is in Topeka.
A Basehor police officer passed over for a promotion in 2004 filed a federal age-discrimination lawsuit against the city of Basehor. Sgt. Martin Cigich, a 19-year police department veteran and a former interim police chief, filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.
Dr. Bill Weatherford and medical assistant Ben Legler of Family Medicine of Tonganoxie traveled to New Orleans to help with Hurricane Katrina victims.
The McLouth High School football team defeated Pleasant Ridge, 18-10, on Oct. 21 near Easton and claimed its first Delaware Valley League crown since 1994.
The Tonganoxie High School volleyball team placed second in the Class 4A substate tournament after losing to Eudora in two games. It marked the fifth consecutive season the Chieftains finished as runners-up at substate.
The Tonganoxie football team spoiled Perry-Lecompton's quest for a perfect regular season with a 24-21 overtime win Oct. 27 in Perry. Tonganoxie won the district title and shared the Kaw Valley League title
with Perry and Lansing after the victory. McLouth capped its first undefeated regular season in football since 1953 with a 54-0 victory Oct. 27 against Maur Hill.
Christy Weller finished 36th in the girls race and Matt Brock finished 43rd in the boys race for Tonganoxie in the Class 4A state cross country meet in Wamego. The meet marked the first time since 1991 that both THS boys and girls qualified full teams for the state meet in the same season.
Tonganoxie teachers and school board members reached an agreement on teacher salaries. The plan called for salary increases of $333,980 during the current school year. Last year, the district spent $4.14 million on teacher salaries.
Rural McLouth resident Skeeter Kingsolver rode bulls in the youth invitational rodeo at the American Royal in Kansas City, Mo. In his bull-riding career, Kingsolver, a sophomore at McLouth High, has endured one broken collarbone and about eight concussions. After he graduates from high school, Kingsolver plans to become a professional bull rider.
Hayden defeated Tonganoxie, 41-0, on Nov. 9 in Tonganoxie in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs. THS finished its season at 9-2.
Playing on the road, McLouth fell to Silver Lake, 21-8, in the second round of the 3A state playoffs on Nov. 9. The loss was McLouth's first of the season. The Bulldogs finished its dream season at 10-1, just two years after MHS went 0-9. Silver Lake went on to finish second at state.
The Kansas Supreme Court will decide whether a notorious sexual predator will be allowed to live in a group home in southern Leavenworth County. The Supreme Court took the case from the Court of Appeals. In May, Rick and Linda Whitson, who live in Lawrence, purchased a home in southern Leavenworth County where they planned to house convicted sex offender LeRoy Hendricks. Leavenworth County commissioners were outraged that SRS had moved Hendricks into the county. According to the county, the Whitsons had violated several zoning ordinances.
Leavenworth County Attorney Frank Kohl started reviewing officers' reports from an August fatality to determine whether to file criminal charges. The accident claimed the life of Rita Dally, 52, who lived south of Tonganoxie on DeHoff Drive. That accident occurred about 7:30 a.m. Aug. 16 on U.S. Highway 24-40 as Dally was stopped to make a left turn onto Honey Creek Road. Her 1997 Dodge Caravan was struck from behind by a 1998 Ford Explorer driven by rural Tonganoxie resident Sara J. Schlicht, who was 16 at the time.
Basehor-Linwood voters rejected a $22.9 million bond issue by an 81-vote margin. Only 31 percent of district voters went to the polls for the election. In the last 15 years, Basehor-Linwood voters have rejected seven bond issues. The last time voters approved a bond issue was 1997.
A 44-year-old Tonganoxie woman was found dead in the Bonner Springs Dollar General store where she was manager. Robin Bell was found about 3 a.m. Nov. 12 in the Dollar General store at Kansas Highway 7 and Kansas Avenue. Bell was found dead with several head wounds. Investigators said the store doors were locked when they arrived that morning. An undisclosed amount of money was found missing as well. Investigators continue to work on the case.
Tonganoxie High girls met with THS boys soccer coach about starting a girls team at the high school. Tonganoxie currently has a boys soccer program, which includes a few girls competing with the team. That season is in the fall, while the high school girls season is in the spring. If the school would create a girls team, it wouldn't be eligible for competition until 2007.
Leavenworth County will switch to electronic voting in next August's primary election. The county is making the switch to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act, which was enacted in 2003. To help offset the costs of complying with the act, the county will receive a $289,000 federal grant. That will cover about 70 percent of roughly 120 voting machines priced at about $425,000.
The McLouth Church of the Nazarene plans to open Open Arms Christian Daycare and Preschool. The center is in downtown McLouth, in the 6,000-square-foot building formerly known as YES Learning Center.
"We don't have any idea what the need base is, but the church is committed to making it work, whether there's 30 children or there's 60," said the Rev. David Showalter.
A single-engine plane crashed Dec. 4 near Lansing after the pilot, 66-year-old Terry Cox of Lansing, apparently began having health problems while flying the four-passenger 1962 Cessna 182 Skylane. Cox and two passengers Dewayne Decker, 47, And Maria Decker, 44, both of Lansing, were taken to area hospitals.
McLouth football coach Harry Hester was named the Lawrence Journal-World's coach of the year. MHS senior running back Kevin Stewart was named the Journal-World's player of the year.
Kelly Frantz flipped the switch for the Mayor's Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony Dec. 1 at Veterans of Foreign Wars Park. Kelly's husband, Lucas Frantz, was killed in October in Iraq while serving in the U.S. Army.
"Like a million dollars," Danni Boatwright said when asked on CBS' "The Early Show" how it felt to be named Sole Survivor. Boatwright was awarded a check for $1 million on the CBS program on Dec. 12.
Boatwright, a Tonganoxie resident, was named the top player on "Survivor: Guatemala" on a live show Dec. 11 on CBS. Boatwright gained national attention after winning the money, which amounted to about $600,000 after taxes. Since being named the Sole Survivor, Boatwright has appeared on several shows and radio broadcasts, including "Live with Regis and Kelly" and "The Tony Danza Show." Boatwright beat out 17 other contestants competing in the Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Boatwright was no stranger to national television. She was a Miss Teen USA and Miss USA contestant in 1992 and 1996 respectively. She was first runner-up at Miss USA and second runner-up in Miss Teen USA.
A 113-year-old church in downtown Tonganoxie reopened Dec. 11. The Rev. Mike Waggoner led the service with about a dozen worshippers at the Tonganoxie Evangelical Friends Church. The church previously was known as the Friends Church.
Pauline Graeber is a big fan of the Peanuts comic strip.
"I've been a Peanuts fan forever, particularly Snoopy," said Pauline, husband of Leavenworth County Commissioner Clyde Graeber.
Pauline has a collection of Peanuts memorabilia that features features about 3,000 items, including about 555 music boxes.
Jamie Miller was appointed to lead the Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Service. The 29-year-old Miller, a Chicago native, replaced longtime director Irene Maley, whose appointment was not renewed in September. Miller had been assistant director since 2003 before accepting the new position, which pays $56,800, according to Diane Collins, the county's human resources director.
The Tonganoxie girls basketball team improved to 5-0 on the season after rallying to defeat Bonner Springs, 44-43, Dec. 16. The Chieftains ranked No. 3 in Class 4A heading into 2006.
Chances are, 2005 is a year that Wichita homicide detective Dana Gouge never will forget. It's the year in which Dennis Rader, Wichita's BTK serial killer, was caught. Gouge grew up in Tonganoxie.
A 19-month legal battle ended Dec. 22 when the Tonganoxie school district's insurance company agreed to pay a former student $440,000. In the settlement, attorneys for the school district and former student Dylan Theno agreed to end a federal lawsuit filed in May 2004. Theno, who said he was the target of sexual discrimination at the hands of other students, won a jury award in August totaling $250,000. And just a few days before the insurance company agreed to pay, the judge in the case ordered the district to pay nearly $270,00 in attorneys fees. The lawsuit centered on Theno's claim that he was bullied in junior high and high school, and that pervasive bullying forced him to leave school in November of his junior year. He later earned a General Education Development diploma. In May 2004, Theno sued the district in U.S. District Court, alleging other students spread sexual-based rumors about him and called him names such as "fag," "faggot," "queer," "flamer" and "masturbator" from his seventh-grade year until he quit school as a junior. Theno is not a homosexual. During testimony last summer, witnesses for Theno said school officials were aware of the harassment but did little to curtail it. The suit also said the harassment denied Theno access to an education -- a protection afforded under Title IX of the federal education act.
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