Clay County Alabama

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Job Opportunity: Parent Facilitator, Clay County Department of Human Resources

Posted March 06, 2014

Job Opportunity: Parent Facilitator, Clay County Department of Human Resources

Taking applications until March 12, 2014.

Provides home visitation services aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect for an “at risk” population of parents who are residents of Clay County.

Download the full job description, duties, and responsibilities. 2014-DHR-Parent Facilitator

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Economic development forum in Oxford focuses on regional cooperation

by Eddie Burkhalter Anniston Star Jan 23, 2014

OXFORD — Seated at tables inside the Oxford Civic Center Thursday with local officials and business owners were executives from several of the largest companies in Alabama.

The purpose of the gathering, a forum organized by Alabama Power with help from Calhoun County’s Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce, was to discuss economic development and job creation through regional collaboration.

More than half of the 120 or so who attended came from outside Calhoun County, which spoke to the name of the forum: Connecting our Communities.

“When we work together, collaboration efforts pay off,” said Larry Deason, the Economic Development Council’s chairman and president of Farmers and Merchants Bank.

Deason pointed to the opening of the Honda plant in Lincoln, Oxford’s Kronospan plant and, more recently, the regional partnership to develop McClellan as examples of collaborative efforts that can create jobs.

Projects like those took regional cooperation and can have regional effects, said Greg Barker, senior vice president of marketing and economic development at Alabama Power.

“And don’t just think about mega-projects,” Barker said. “Every project is important, especially in today’s time, regardless of the amount of jobs or capital investment. This is still a risky economic environment that we’re facing.”

Charlie Waldrep, an attorney at Waldrep, Stewart and Kendrick, was involved with the deal that brought Mercedes-Benz to Alabama, and spoke to attendees Thursday about some little-known details of the project.

Waldrep said Alabama had submitted no proposal to the German auto manufacturer when the company sent out letters in 1993 to each of the 48 contiguous states. A letter from Mercedes-Benz asking about the possibility of opening a plant in Alabama sat unopened in a state office, he said, until the then newly-appointed head of the Alabama Development Office, Billy Joe Camp, opened it and began working to recruit the company.

“We knew it was a Hail Mary to get back into the game,” Waldrep said.

Ultimately Alabama did get the auto plant, but it came only after a combined effort of several municipalities, business leaders and elected officials working together, Waldrep said. Today, Mercedes-Benz pumps $1.5 billion into the state’s economy each year, he said.

But it didn’t come free of cost, Waldrep explained, with the state offering to train workers at no cost to the company, and a deal that took 5 percent of the workers’ pay and gave it to the company. The workers received a state tax credit to make up the difference in their pay, he said.

Mike Oatridge, vice president of manufacturing for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, spoke about the importance of having the support of local communities.

As the Honda plant in Lincoln grew production, the need for more resources grew as well, Oatridge explained, and Anniston stepped up in 2011 to sell much-needed water to be used in the manufacturing process. Alabama Power supplied additional electricity as well, Oatridge said, and the outcome is that Honda vehicles made there are now shipped worldwide.

“We’ve always been able to rely on local and state communities … and as we expand further into the world we have that assurance that everyone here will always support Honda,” Oatridge said.

William Fielding, dean of Jacksonville State University’s College of Commerce and Business Administration, said during a break at the forum that north Alabama has all the ingredients needed to attract industry.

Speaking of the forum, Ken Grissom, government procurement specialist at the Small Business Development Center at JSU, said it was an opportunity to better understand the importance of regional participation in economic growth.

Grissom also pointed to the partnership of local municipalities and organizations working to develop McClellan as a good example of how working together can have good outcomes.

“It’s an asset,” Grissom said, adding he believes every community in the area ultimately will benefit from the effort.

The theme of regional collaboration continued during the chamber’s luncheon, also held at the Civic Center.

Serving as keynote speaker was Jo Bonner, former U.S. representative for a south Alabama district and vice chancellor for government relations and economic development for the University of Alabama.

Bonner reminded the chamber members that though Alabama is now known as a destination for auto manufacturers, that was not the case decades ago, when state officials worked to attract a Saturn plant to a site near Vance.

Despite that setback, he said, Alabama is now in a better place because leaders back then “made the unpopular decision of working together.”

After Bonner’s speech, Julia Segars, the outgoing chairwoman of the chamber, gave a review of all that the organization accomplished in 2013. She said that at the beginning of the year, area leaders had the idea of combining the efforts of chambers of commerce in the eight counties of northeastern Alabama. She said that the new collaboration has focused on workforce development as well as shop-local events and marketing and tourism campaigns.

Segars said Calhoun County’s chamber has grown to more than 1,000 members, a 30 percent increase in the last three years.

“Success through collaboration is a brilliant idea,” she said.

During Thursday’s lunch, Segars handed over her gavel to Jason Alderman, BB&T Bank market president for east central Alabama, based in Anniston.

“It has absolutely been my joy and privilege to have this job, and I’m leaving it in great hands,” she said.

Alderman said chamber members and local leaders worked hard in 2013 and this year the chamber will focus on making the most efficient use of that hard work.

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Junior Ambassador Program Fosters Creativity

From the Central High School Website at

Friday, January 17, 2014

Making Treasure From Trash

This year CJHS has benefited from a new program called the Junior Ambassadors.  The students selected to participate in this program meet on a regular basis to participate in high level thinking and problem solving projects.  The program is conducted by the Clay County Chamber of Commerce and the Alabama Cooperative Extension.  We greatly appreciated the time and efforts of Mrs. Lisa Runyan, Mrs. Mary Patchunka-Smith, and Ms. Tonya Tomlin.  A special thanks to our three judges, Mr. Stan Gaither, Ms. Kelly Whiteside, and Mr. Larry Lee.

This month the students were put into a small group and asked to make a product from a pile of “trash”.  Each team had to develop a product, write a short business plan, develop a marketing strategy and present their business before a panel of three judges.  Think of it as “Shark Tank” for Junior High.  The students came up with a variety of ideas, including a “redneck security system”, a bird feeder that doubled as a batting tool, a portable mega sports bottle, and a “varmint” trap.  The students showed a lot of creativity and ingenuity. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this time to “think outside the box” and engage their “right brain”, as Mrs. Runyan directed them.

First Place honors went to the RoboButler 3000 created by AJQ Electronics.

Second Place went to J. Cot Industries for their survival sailboat.

Modern Designs won third place with “The Anything and Everything” organizer.

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Chamber and Economic Development Council Building New Office

Article from Clay Times Journal

By Ray Stansell

People passing through Lineville have noticed the Clay County Chamber of Commerce Office on Highway 9 North is now vacant, and there is a “for rent” sign in the window. People have been asking what has happened, and Chamber President Stan Gaither provided answers in a telephone interview on Friday, January 17. He said the Clay County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council (formerly Clay County Industrial Board) is preparing to have a building erected on their property along Highway 9 across from Airport Road. That structure will house both the Chamber‘s and Economic Council’s offices. “The Chamber has partnered with the Economic Development Council because we are both after the same thing, to bring more money into Clay County,” Gaither said. “People want to think of new industry, but that’s not always the case. We may not have everything an industry wants, but the new school is a big plus. Many times, you bring growth through new businesses and playing to other strengths such as tourism. We have Cheaha, Lake Wedowee and beautiful towns and countryside and many local venues that are attractive to outsiders. Council Chairman Terry Meek said the budget for the new building is set at $120,000. Both men said they had hoped the building would be under construction before the end of the year, but the work was delayed by the wet weather. Gaither explained the office in Lineville had been planned as a temporary location in the beginning. Meek said, “The Chamber has been moving around for several years, and the Council really has not had a permanent office, so we are both looking forward to a permanent location so that the public can know where we are.

The Chamber is still in operation, despite the lack of office space. Director Mary Patchunka-Smith is doing the work from her home. The Chamber number, 256-396-2828, rolls to her cell phone, so it is still a viable contact. The Chamber has a new email address:

Gaither explained they expect to have broadband internet in the new office, and this email will continue to be good when they move in there. He added, “We are both here to help economic development on both sides of the county. We are not trying to raise money for the Chamber or the Economic Development Council beyond the cost of operations. If we didn’t feel we were creating more value than overhead, we will vote to close down our organizations.” Gaither continued, saying, “We have reviewed the sales tax receipts records for Clay County for the past five years, and these have increased every year. We feel the work of the Chamber has helped bring this about through promoting our cities and county throughout the southeast.”

“We will keep the public informed on the progress of our new building and our activities, including a groundbreaking, as soon as we have a date,” he said in closing.

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The Historic Ashland Theatre 2014 Season of Events

The Historic Ashland Theatre 2014 Season of Events

January 14th 5-7 pm
AUDITIONS: Romeo and Juliet Choose your Own Ending (Grades 7-12)
Adaptation of the Shakespeare Classic. Great fun with improv as the story changes every night all according to the audience! No experience needed!

January 26th
Student Film Festival
Registration and Workshop
2-4pm FREE workshop for Elementary, High School, and College Students who are registering to participate in our Film Festival. $20 registration fee for each team to enter the competition. Discount of $5 for each team that attends the workshop. Students will have until April to write, film, and edit a 5 minute short film.
A Film Festival to showcase their finished films will be April 19th

February 8th Special Effects Makeup Workshop
10 am-12 pm $30
Fee includes a Ben Nye Student Makeup Kit for each participant.
All ages Welcome! Great hands on learning experience!

February 22nd 5:00 pm GOLDIE Awards
FREE Annual Theatre Awards Night. All participants from the last year are welcome!
The Goldie Award will be presented for the first time! Join us to find out to WHO!?

February 28th, March 1st, and March 2nd
Romeo and Juliet Choose your Own Ending
Become a part of the show! Each night not even the CAST knows the ending.
Its up to YOU the audience! 6pm Shows Saturday and Sunday and 2pm on Sunday
Tickets: $8 for adults $5 for Students/Senior Citizens

March 15th Student Talent Show Registration
10:00am-12:00pm FREE registration for all participants. Elementary and High School Students Welcome. Win Cash and Scholarships to STAR Camp. Be prepared to show your act to us the day of registration!

March 29th Student Talent Show
6:oo pm $5 Admission

April 19th Student Film Festival
4:00pm-until $5 Admission
All competition films must be registered by the Feb. 1st deadline and films must be submitted by April 1st to be eligible.
Student films will be showcased and awards will be given. All ages welcome.

April 26th AUDITIONS Little Mermaid Jr.
10:00am-1:00pm Ages 3 to 18 Welcome! There will be non speaking roles that require very little rehearsal for our little bitties. Singers, Dancers, and Musicians Needed! Have a song prepared to sing at audition. Come ready to dance and read scenes from the script. NO experience required!

June 2-6 STAR CAMP
8am-12:30 pm JR. STAR Camp (Grades 2-6)
12:30pm-5:00pm TEEN STAR Camp (Grades 7-12)
Camp Fee $80 includes t-shirt, headshot photograph, & camp folder. No experience necessary! Audition Skills, puppetry, stage makeup, acting, movement, improv, and more!

July 25th, 26th, and 27th Little Mermaid Jr.
Disney Musical that is great for all ages! Come see all your favorite friends Under the Sea!
Friday and Saturday 6:00pm and Sunday 2:00pm
Tickets $10 Adults and $5 Students/Senior Citizens

September 26th, 27th, and 28th The Diary of Adam and Eve
The Mark Twain Classic brought to life on stage! Comedy, great for all ages!
Friday and Saturday Shows at 6:00pm and Sunday 2:00pm
Tickets $8 Adults and $5 Students/Senior Citizens

October 11th Murder Mystery Wedding
Theatre Fundraiser 6:00 PM $10 Donation Suggested per person.
Come figure out “Who Did It” as our Wedding Party Actors perform an interactive evening right alongside you and your friends. Dress as Hippies to be on the Brides Side or Classy and Formal to sit on the Grooms Side! Or Dress as yourself and choose your OWN adventure!

November 1st
AUDITIONS: Its a Wonderful Life Radio Play
10:00am-12:00pm. All ages welcome to audition! Be prepared to do a reading from the script! Minimal Rehearsals for this show required since it will be performed like a live stage version of a Radio Show. Also looking for people to do Sound Effects Live on Stage.

December 5th, 6th, and 7th Back by Popular Demand!
It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Play
Friday and Saturday Performances at 6:00pm and Sunday Performance at 2:00pm
Tickets $8 Adults and $5 Senior Citizens
Come see behind the scenes of a 1940’s Radio Program taking place LIVE on the stage. Complete with Sound Effects Artists! A beloved Christmas Classic in a new light.

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Roughing It…With A Pumpkin Spice Latte


Remember the episode of Duck Dynasty where the guys are out camping in the woods and Willie shows up in an RV? And when Jase chastises him for not “Roughing it” enough, Willie quips back with, “Jase, I AM roughing it! I got no cell phone service…(looks at his phone)…well I got one bar…I could call but it wouldn’t be as clear.”

There is a name for the Willie Robertson approach to the wilderness and it is GLAMPING: Glamour + Camping = Glamping. And guess what? He’s not alone. The fact is, there are a growing number of us campers-in-waiting that are in essence, chill-seekers rather than thrill-seekers. While the “Jases” of the world can only enjoy nature after hashing out a camp site and staking up a tent, there are those of us content to simply gaze upon the sights over a stout plate of hash while tending to our steak. Personally, I love going into the woods to see the sights, hear the sounds, and smell the scents; but after three or four hours of it…I’m ready for a shower. And a latte. Preferably Pumpkin Spice if it’s in season.

To be clear, authentic glamping involves a “pre-glammed” bedroom (usually called a Yurt) decked out in a clearing amid the woods like an island in the sea, with an air-conditioned canopy, 500-count Egyptian-cotton sheets, and ice bucket refreshes around the clock.

Sounds perfect! Except that since there are not yet oodles of these ivory towers available, there is often a line to metaphorically stand in until the stars of their schedule align with your own. And we couch potatoes aren’t big on standing in line (or for that matter…standing). Fortunately, the East Alabama style of glamping is done entirely from the comfort of your SUV; as in rolling down the windows on the side of the road, and soaking in the sights to the sound of your car stereo. GLAMPING LITE(…ER), you might say. It’s for those who don’t want to bother with the fuss of fitting into an itinerary, and are game for going when they are good & ready…wherever sounds appetizing. And with the bookoos of beauty of spots Alabama has to offer, it’s an easy, low-budget outing that delivers the deskbound from their dilemma.

Babbling brook and creek bed on roadside

Off the beaten ‘bama path, you will find scenes along the back roads that clamor for your attention, most of which are not even marked, much less mentioned on a map. Babbling brooks and creek beds can suddenly pop up unannounced along these roadsides, like postcard panoramas straight from a fairytale. These hidden gems are ideal for the inert because they can literally be seen from your passenger seat, and admired over a blueberry scone as your zoom lens does the legwork.

A perfect attraction for the kinetically-phobic is the unsung treasure trove of Beaver Ponds. East Alabama has scads of these microcosms thanks to the falling price of beaver pelts in recent years.

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Beyond just the marvel of these mammals’ favorite pastime, the best beaver pond by-product is that they are a magnet for waterfowl like Egrets, Cranes, and Great Blue Herons. Great Blue Heron at roadside beaver pond

The heron pictured here was photographed literally from thirty feet away, via driver’s seat alongside a Clay County back road. And as it was happening, a hawk swooped down unexpectedly and scared a covey of mallards into the air. Really. If you tried to plan these scenes out in advance, something would go wrong; but left to serendipity, these backroad bonanzas create themselves, and leave you grateful you were just there to see it. And all without working up a sweat.

So why force yourself into the fury of a tent-raising or entangle yourself in a web of mosquito netting if that isn’t your idea of getting away from it all in the first place? Instead, I invite you to simply be yourself and idle along with your engine. Hit the open road with no more shock than what your suspension can suppress. (Somebody invented shock absorbers for a reason, right?) Take in the scenery while you take a selfie. Take a moment between beauty spots to check your fantasy football score. Take six seconds of your time among the trees and Vine it up to Twitter.







To sum it up: there is just no need to rehash what’s“roughing it” when you can share your tranquil treasures on a hashtag of #EasingIt . Those like you need your presence there. No matter what you do, just be you. Channel your inner Willie Robertson, inflate that lumbar cushion, and put it into park. When you get back home, you’ll be glad you did.

(Views expressed are those of the author Vaughn Samuels, and not of any employer.)

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Two Roads In A Yellow Wood

094  Enhanced Resized 20“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth.”

~ First stanza from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”

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Strolling through the fallen leaves of sweet gums and silver maples, it is easy to imagine the “yellow wood” that inspired Robert Frost to pen The Road Not Taken…or Henry David Thoreau’s retreat to Walden Pond…or Ralph Waldo Emerson’s appeal that, “If we reunite spirit with nature, we will see the miraculous in common things.” There is something innately reflective about the season of Fall that brings out the poet in all of us, and invitingly connects us to a heightened sense of self-awareness. A bittersweet air of change accompanies the cool of the morning, and the passing theme of time is captured in the slow descent of every tumbling, umber leaf. Be it poem, prose, or just simply being prescient, impeccable storytellers like Frost, Thoreau, and Emerson knew the crux of how to connect with it: they had to get lost within themselves. And the best place to do that was off the beaten path…alone…out in the woods…“To live deep, to suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life, and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.”

For these literary giants, forsaking the familiar in the pursuit of pentameter was a risk worth taking. In our world today, we would call it a “no brainer”. The value of what was to be gained outweighed whatever might be lost by remaining in the clutch of the ordinary. In Quiet (GoodRead’s best non-fiction book of 2012) Susan Cain describes the inner plight of the poet in us all, In A World That Can’t Stop Talking:Solitude matters, and for some people it’s the air they breathe….they love music, nature, art, and physical beauty.”

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Unfortunately, the modern world in which we trudge our everyday lives can tend to make these noble ventures oddly inaccessible. Of all literature, poetry, as with the arts in general, is often cast by the wayside of the beaten path, and quickly dismissed as “non-strategic” in the black-trodden budgets of powers that be. How ironic it becomes then, that executive retreats delve not into further excursion of the practical, the measurable, and the manageable, but are instead aimed at immersion into the artful, the beautiful, and the inspirational to regain perspective; in essence, recharging the human battery with the humanities we fail to foster. The elusive value of such endeavors may escape the prudence of the down-to-earth, but not the passion of their inner child: Travel Effect surveys reveal that of all childhood memories, the ones that resonate the furthest into adulthood are those of family vacations. After all, no one plans a vacation to visit their neighbors’ industrial parks; it is the family frolics to state and national parks that become stepping stones toward significance. If you are looking to vacation in a spot that highlights the foliage of the Fall while emoting the serenity of seclusion, there can be no place better than East Alabama’s Cheaha State Park.

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As Emerson was writing Nature in 1836, and Thoreau was embarking on a two-year Walden pause in 1845, the communities of rural Eastern Alabama were in their infancy, meandering from settlements into villages and towns. And through all of history, the mountains, lakes, and colors of the Fall that bemused our greatest poets were silent witnesses not only to them, but to those that were yet to be, in centuries yet to come. As the highest point in the state of Alabama, Mt. Cheaha is aptly the crown jewel of modern-day Cleburne County, and perhaps no single stone in that crown is so precious as the pathway walk to its pinnacle…Bald Rock. Within its perimeter of 500 yards, the November environment becomes an autumnal utopia where the treasures of the Fall are gathered to behold. Via elevated bridge or surefooted trail, the surreal world beneath the treetops takes on a serene animation of its own. Amid the shelter of the shade, age-old boulders breach the surface and punctuate the path, as a canopy of color guides the way forward. From fallen oaks to rocky perches, there are countless nooks and lures in this place that pine for your attention, as each turn of the head offers a new wonder beckoning to be explored. (You might even say, “that as way has a way of leading on to way, it is easy to lose your sense of place…or keep in step with drummers’ pace.”)  The eventual end of this enchanted forest culminates with a breathtaking view from the mountain’s edge, with towers of granite rising on its sides. Truly, a destination such as this is what one would hope to find at the end of Frost’s yellow wood.

Clay County Alabama full color road map

Click image to purchase map

Additionally, Cheaha State Park boasts several other attractions for would-be memory-makers, with its Indian Relic museum, Pinhoti Trail, Camping Grounds, and rock-clad swimming pool atop the mountain. Park accommodations are also plentiful with a full service hotel, restaurant, cabins, chalets, and lodge for conferences. Derived from the Creek Indian word for “High Place”, Cheaha encompasses more than just the park, and is frequently cited as the unifying theme of surrounding locales. With Cheaha being nestled within the Talladega National Forest, Talladega County itself boasts one of the state’s most scenic drives along Highway 21, between the cities of Talladega and Oxford.

Talladega National Forest


And in the spirit of “Life is a Journey”, Clay County has embraced its role as a popular route to Mt. Cheaha, having branded its official road map as “The Road Less Traveled”.

According to the park’s website, the Clay County route via Hwy 49 offers the most resistance to change in color fluctuation, while the Talladega route via Hwy 21 offers the most color canopy. Bear in mind that no matter which road you choose to travel, the Fall Colors will not last forever, so the time to immerse yourself within them is now:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

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Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

To hear an AUDIO CLIP of “The Road Not Taken” recited by Robert Frost, click:  Robert Frost reciting The Road Not Taken

(Views expressed are that of the author Vaughn Samuels, and not of any employer.)


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Scholarship Corner October 2013 Edition

Scholarship Cornerscholarship_corner_banner

October 2013 Edition

Let me introduce myself. My name is Lisa Runyan and I’m on the Board of Directors for the Clay County Chamber of Commerce as well as Director of the Clay County Children’s Policy Council and a lifelong children’s advocate. I am writing this column to help parents and teachers who want to invest in their children’s education.

So often, parents think about scholarships only for their children in High School. The truth is that it’s never too early to be looking for award and scholarship opportunities. Students who are awarded scholarships in middle school are more likely to be awarded scholarships in High School.

Lisa Runyan

October 2013 Edition

Welcome to the October installment of Scholarship Links and Resources. Thanks to all of you who attended the Countdown to College Seminar last week.

When we talk about Scholarships we have to remember there are basically two types.

  • Internal Renewable & Non-renewable
  • External Non-renewable

You may apply for internal awards/scholarships once you have applied to your school of choice. What can you do until then, to help fund your schooling? The answer is that you can apply for the types of Scholarships listed below. These are external, because they are usually not affiliated with a school and they are non-renewable, meaning you are awarded the money for that given year only.

Each month, I will post a new listing of available awards. These are not listed per grade or date deadline, so you will have to pay attention to the criteria and due dates. Remember to check the archives, as each month 10- 30 opportunities are listed.

This month we focus on some non-merit based awards. So where can you go if your GPA is not 4.0, or you don’t fit the mold of the most academic student? There are many scholarships that don’t focus on academic merit. This month we focus on non GPA based Scholarships that use different somewhat unusual criteria such as:

physical characteristics, creativity, last name, sports, field of study, the final frontier, animal appreciation, food-related, activity-related etc.

Click here to review the full October Issue of Scholarship Corner with direct links to more information on each.

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