A bill that would have banned municipalities from imposing high fees that might restrict non-residents from using public beaches — and from barring out-of-towners in order to prevent the spread of COVID — will not come up for a vote in the state legislature.
Politicians are spending their time on 2 other controversial measures — zoning reform and affordable housing — instead. The deadline for moving bills out of committee is April 5.
Speaking of our Parks & Recreation … they say:
“It has been nice to see so many people out using our facilities as the weather has improved, including some people using the Longshore golf course as an open space for walking. As of Monday (March 29), it will be open for play, and no longer available for those not actively playing golf.
“Please keep in mind, even using the roadways through Longshore can be dangerous as errant golf balls can cause serious injury or damage. For your safety, we urge you to use other locations for getting outside.”
Even with social distancing, Longshore golf course is off limits. (Photo/Mary Sikorski)
Westport Country Playhouse’s popular “Script in Hand” series returns next month, with a virtual play reading of “Rent Control.” The Off-Broadway hit comedy tells the true story of a struggling-to-survive New York actor who invents a moneymaking scheme that (of course) backfires.
After premiering April 26 (7 p.m.), “Rent Control” is available on demand from April 27 through May 2.
Virtual tickets are available online, at 203-227-4177, or by email: email@example.com.
As of 7 a.m., Eversource reported 6,258 Westport customers without power. That’s less than half the town — but by the slimmest of hairs. We’re down to 49.54% in the dark.
The utility “expects” to have 90% of all Eversource customers in service by tonight. That would mean 1,263 would still be waiting.
Of course, Isaias is not our only worry — or theirs. The utility notes, “In light of COVID-19, work practices and reporting procedures have been altered to protect our employees’ health, and those of our communities we serve. Pandemic guidelines have been reinforced across the system and they will be maintained while restoring service to all customers.”
PS: Saugatuck Avenue is closed from the train station parking lot to Duck Pond Road (the Norwalk line), through approximately 5 p.m. today.
PPS: Karen Solicito reports at 9:30 a.m. that the charging station at the Westport Weston Health District on Bayberry Lane is full. There’s a wait to use it. And though WiFi there works, it takes a few minutes for the phone to locate it. “Don’t fret if it doesn’t show up in the WiFi queue right away,” she says.
The cleanup continues. (Photo/C. Swan)
Rose Akin posted this yesterday, as a Comment on the Pic of the Day. But it deserves a much wider audience. So here it is:
“We moved to town recently. My husband and I and our 2 little ones picked up an amazing lunch from Rye Ridge Deli today. Finally made it to Compo Beach and realized we had way too much to carry with one trip from the car to the beach.
“My husband dropped off a few bags, and ran back to the car to grab more, and me and the boys. All of this happened within 60 seconds — and Compo seagulls! ☺️
“Rookie move on our part. They feasted on all of our lunch.
“My husband went back to Rye Ridge to get us lunch again, as the kids were starving. Guess what? Rye Ridge comped him the whole lunch. I mean … what a gesture!
“We were so beyond touched. I texted my friend Lisa Newman, telling her what a great choice we made moving here. She said, ‘you have to email Dan!'”
Thanks, Rose. And welcome to Westport. Once COVID and Isaias are gone, you’ll really love this place!
This was already a disastrous year for restaurants, markets, retail shops, fitness centers — just about any small business you can think of.
Just when they had mastered curbside and online sales, and then adjusted to the new rules and regulations regarding opening — they got whacked by Isaias.
We’re all in this together. We’re all restocking our refrigerators, paying extra for tree removal and new outdoor furniture, and on and on.
But still: Let’s figure out ways to help Westport’s own. Let’s redouble our efforts to shop local. Let’s go out for more restaurant meals than normal (eat-in or takeout) — and leave a large tip too.
If you’ve got an idea for helping the mom and pops who have sustained us for so long — and struggled so mightily — click “Comments” below.
Gold’s reopened a couple of days after Isaias struck. The popular deli had no power — but they improvised, sidewalk sales-style. Customers loved owner Jim and Nancy Eckl’s resourcefulness.
Speaking of small businesses, Savannah Bee’s store manager — the wonderful Julie Cook — writes:
“Nothing keeps us down on Church Lane. I was decorating my windows for National Honey Bee Day next Saturday (in the dark, sweltering heat), and miraculously the lights came on midday yesterday.
“What a bonus! We thought we’d be out until Tuesday night. As a thank-you (to all those tireless electrical crews from South Carolina — and the universe), please let folks know we’re open for business, we have cold spring water, delicious honey roasted coffee, lovely artisanal teas, all-natural Italian energy drinks called BEEBAD, all-natural plant-based antibacterial soaps with a huge sink to check them out, a large restroom, and the best part: People can charge their phones!
“We’d love to share our Southern hospitality today and next Saturday for our 3rd annual National Honey Bee Celebration. From 1 to 4 p.m., people can meet local beekeepers. We also have a live hive demonstration (safely encased in glass). And we’re making honey sips and sweets, plus beautiful flower crowns for all the queen bees in town.
It’s free and open to all! We’re happy to share the bee love, and our good fortune. It’s the simple things that make us smile these days❤️👍🏻🐝
How tough are things for businesses? Born of Earth spa is leaving its space near Whole Foods.
David Gerard — who has owned Born of Earth for 27 years — cited increasing rent, overhead and COVID-19 as reasons for the decision.
Fortunately, they’re not closing entirely. They’re merging with Artistex Salon & Spa, less than 2 miles away at 260 Post Road East. The entire Born of Earth team will continue at the new location.
Sandy Rothenberg asks: “How are we supposed to contact emergency services with no phone or WiFi at home? Especially in Weston as I’ve heard Westport has set up remote towers.”
Anyone know? Click “Comments” below.
And finally … if you’re waiting for a utility crew from South Carolina, Missouri, Canada or wherever:
Eversource has deployed its “Make Safe” crew as of 6 this morning, so progress is expected on blocked roadways. The town Department of Public Works has initiated the cleanup of trees and debris, and many previously impassable roads are now clear. Emergency access is prioritized.
Here’s what some of Westport still looks like, 72 hours after Isaias struck. This is on Charcoal Hill Road. (Photo/Pat Blaufuss)
Police are aware of the signal light outages at high traffic intersections and are making efforts to monitor them as power continues to be restored. Temporary signage and other warning devices have been deployed as equipment inventory allows in the areas determined to be of greatest need. However, please understand that the Police Department cannot safely or effectively provide personnel to manually direct traffic at all of the main intersections. Attempting to do so only creates more traffic back up and further disruption. Motorists should continue to proceed through intersections with caution and obey temporary signage where posted. Please allow extra time to reach your intended destination to account for increased traffic on our roadways.
AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless teams have been working around the clock to restore cellular service in Westport. Last night, Verizon successfully deployed a spot cell at the Compo beach area. AT&T has deployed a mobile cell tower at the Police Station. Many of the surrounding cell sites are back on line.
· The charging station is currently down at the Senior Center. Charging stations and WiFi can be accessed at the rear of Town Hall (110 Myrtle Avenue via access through St. John’s Place) and the Westport Weston Health District (180 Bayberry Lane) in addition to WiFi access at the Library (20 Jesup Road).
· Non-potable water filling stations are available at all fire houses.
The Verizon mobile hot spot, near the Compo Beach skate park. (Photo/Matt Murray)
Rizzuto’s has rented a 175kw generator. They and the Lobster Shack are open from 4 to 9:30 p.m. today for takeout and dine-in. Their phones and internet are out, so you can’t order ahead. No problem — both restaurants are well worth the trip!
Also open with a generator: Gold’s. They’re there until 4 p.m. today (or until they run) — same thing tomorrow. Certain items only, of course. They too have no phone, no internet and no power. Old school!
Gold’s is pure gold!
Looking for fresh food — and want to buy local?
Check out Belta Farms, on Bayberry Lane!
This crew arrived from Nova Scotia. They spent a few hours in the Unitarian Church parking lot, and have now started working. Thanks, Canada — good thing the border was opened for them!
Among the many features of the transformed Westport Library, there was this: continuing exhibitions of local artists, in the Sheffer Gallery and other prominent spots.
The library is closed. But thanks to exhibits director Carole Erger-Fass, artist/ designer/jack-of-all-trades Miggs Burroughs, and modern technology, they’re getting even more exposure now than they would have had hanging on the walls.
“Artists in Residences” is the library’s cleverly named, wonderfully executed project. Miggs and Carole conducted 30-minute Zoom visits with Artists Collective of Westport members.
Part interview, part studio tour and part demonstrations of their techniques, each episode is as different as the artists themselves.
So far, 6 of these rare, intimate looks at artists in their “native habitats” have been completed. They feature Nina Bentley, Susan Fehlinger, Emily Laux, Joan Miller, Nancy Moore and MaryEllen Hendricks.
Click below for Nina’s; click here for all, via the YouTube channel.
Staples High School’s Class of 2020 will make history in at least 2 ways.
They’re the first to have senior year disrupted by a coronavirus pandemic. And they’re the first to have free lawn signs distributed to every graduate.
Signs are being picked up this week by all 437 seniors. You may already have seen some around town.
Plans are underway for many more activities for this year’s hard-luck, but resilient and wonderful, class. Hindsight is always “20/20” — but with a bit of foresight, this year’s Class of graduation will be both memorable and great.
Speaking of Staples: The “Seussical” show did not go on this spring. But another great one is on tap — er, on radio — this Thursday.
At 6 p.m. (May 14), Players director David Roth’s Theatre 3 class will broadcast their annual radio play. It’s “Alice in Wonderland.” And if it’s anything like past productions, it will earn a first-place national Drury High School Radio Award. (Staples has won every year since their inception in 2011.)
Entire families will enjoy this production. It uses the same 1952 script that was broadcast nationally, coinciding with Walt Disney’s release of his animated feature. And it features several stars from last fall’s “Mamma Mia!” mainstage.
The class has rehearsed 3 times a week since the school shut down. On Thursday you can hear them live: 90.3 FM, or streamed here.
Speaking of education: Westport Continuing Education has launched Online Learning classes and workshops for adults, teens and kids. Virtual “after school” programs include sports, babysitting, arts, film, horticulture, theater and more. Those for adults include business, cooking, gardening and personal finance. Click here for details.
They were all there at last night’s “Rise Up New York!” telethon: Tina Fey. Andrew Cuomo. Barbara Streisand. Ben Platt. Bette Midler. Jennifer Lopez. Bill de Blasio. Chris Rock. Danny Meyer. Eli Manning. Idina Menzel. Jake
Gyllenhaal. Jimmy Fallon. Lin-Manuel Miranda. Robert De Niro. Salt-N-Pepa. Spike Lee. Julianne Moore. Trevor Noah. Bon Jovi. Billy Joel. Mariah Carey. Sting.
Momofuku’s David Chang said, “It’s impossible to overstate the importance of New York’s restaurant industry. It’s also impossible to overstate the crisis it’s currently facing.”
And then — first, among a number of dining spots — Westport’s popular deli appeared on screens, all around the nation. Chip Stephens captured the moment on camera:
Last month, it was “the party.” This week, the short-lived “pandemic drone.”
After 2 turns in the national media glare, the 3rd time’s the charm.
Today, Vanity Fair turns its spotlight on the men and women who keep Westport going in a pandemic..
Stephen Wilkes is a photographer and National Geographic Explorer. He’s documented endangered species and habitats, rising seas, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Ellis Island in decay and more.
He’s also a Westporter.
After hearing about a young Maryland woman infected by COVID-19 who was so devoted to working at a store that it killed her, he set out to photograph essential workers here.
He said “so many great, small mom-and-pop shops are making sure that everybody is okay right now. Without them, I don’t know what we’d do.”
Wilkes’ story includes photos of Gold’s Delicatessen, Carvel and Fleishers Craft Butchery, as well as EMS headquarters and a Metro-North train.
His photos — like the one below, of the Gold’s owners and staff, masked yet still offering curbside pickup behind yellow caution tape (the caption notes that owners Jim and Nancy Eckl celebrated their 37th anniversary “serving their devoted customers”) — are powerful.
And — after all the chatter about a party and a drone — the perfect way to start the weekend.
(Photo/Stephen Wilkes for Vanity Fair)
(For more photos, and the text, click here. Hat tip: Kerry Long)
Every day seems to blend into every other. Today could be any day.
But it’s Wednesday! Which means it’s time for our community bell ring.
From 5 p.m. to 5:02, Westporters are encouraged o step outside — or open windows — and make noise.
Sound a bell. Play an instrument. Bang a pot. It doesn’t matter! Just ring out your gratitude to our medical personnel, essential workers, and anyone else who keeps our town safe.
They appreciate it. It’s a ton of fun. Everyone loves it.
Plus, what else have you got going at 5 p.m. today?
When it was announced just a week ago, the Westport Food Fund had an audacious goal: $50,000, to help ease food insecurity for the 4% of Westporters — 1,200 residents — who fear they’ll go hungry in the pandemic.
Within 12 hours, that lofty taragete was reached.
Yet folks kept giving. The campaign closes today. In just 1 week, we raised $110,000.
Organizers Dan Levinson, Elaine Daignault and Sue Pfister are overwhelmed with gratitude.
Of course, there is great need for the foreseeable future. Daignault — the town’s director of human services — says her department will continue to accept donations through the We Care Westport portal. Additional funds will be directed to residents in need, for help in areas like rent and utility bills. To donate, click here.
Town officials have been working on a tax relief program. Yesterday, they recommended that the RTM approve a deferment program. It offers eligible taxpayers a 3-month grace period.
First Selectman Jim Marpe will explain the program at the RTM’s special meeting on April 22. He hopes they can vote on it at that meeting.
Earlier this month, the Board of Finance was scheduled to begin the approval process for a new concessionaire at Compo Beach and Longshore.
But the final lease language is not expected until today. That’s not enough time for the board to review.
Once that’s done, chair Brian Stern may schedule a special meeting. He does not want to jeopardize burgers and fries for the summer.
Then again, COVID-19 may do just that.
(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Seth Schachter alerts readers to a desperate need for laptops and desktops in Bridgeport. Without them, students can’t log on to online classes.
The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport hasorganized a collection. To donate a computer, email CassShaw@ccgb.org.
Staples High School Class of 1999 graduate Sarah Buck owns Pies ‘n’ Thighs, a very popular fried chicken-plus restaurant in Brooklyn. She’s doing pick-up and delivery now — and supplying medical personnel at nearby Woodhull Hospital.
Meals are funded by donations. Woodhull also desperately needs N95 masks and other personal protective equipment. To support either or both efforts, email piesnthighs.com.
Sarah Buck (right), with Pies ‘n’ Thighs co-owner Caroline Bane.
These days, everyone exercises caution. Among the most careful: restaurant owners and staff. They prepare, cook and package meals carefully. They bring them curbside — or send them off for delivery — with care. They care about the safety of their customers. Here’s the Gold’s crew, being very cautious:
(Photo/Tom Roth)For a full list of local restaurants and markets open and eager to serve, click here; then scroll down.
We’ve heard of goats galloping through a town in Wales, and coyotes prowling the streets of San Francisco.
What about Westport? Yesterday, Matt Finkle spotted this beaver sunning itself on the shore of Ned Dimes Marina.
And finally, a bit of Andra Day. Not just any video, mind you — this is YouTube’s “Inspiration Version.” Rise Up, indeed!
These days, many Westport businesses need help navigating the current COVID crisis — and planning for whatever follows.
Now they’ve got it. Town officials have partnered with Westport-based non-profit Social Venture Partners for a free service.
SVP volunteers — talented, experienced businessmen and women — will be paired with local owners. SVP provides individual, confidential advice in areas like financial modeling; understanding COVID-related government programs and loan options; online business platforms, marketing and social media; and HR issues.
Second Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker oversees the program. Businesses can participate if they have a physical presence in Westport, an employee base, and have been established for at least one year.
Interested businesses should email LBAPinfo@westportct.gov. For more information on SVP, click here.
WestportMoms — the amazing Melissa Post and Megan Brownstein — have a great last-minute idea: a virtual Easter egg hunt. With, of course, a way to help our heroes.
It’s called “Bagels & Bleach” (because … read on). For every family that participates by hanging a decorated egg in their window between now and Sunday, New York’s Bantam Bagels (whose owners live here) will donate a box of bagels to the front lines at Norwalk Hospital.
But wait! There’s more! Winged Monkey will also donate bottles of bleach.
Just post your creation on Instagram. Be sure to tag #westportmomsegghunt for your box of bagels to count.
PS: WestportMoms will send a sampling (of egg photos, not bagels) to “06880.”
If you’re like me, you haven’t driven anywhere much in weeks. I now get 3 weeks to the gallon.
But if your car is looking grotty — perhaps from sitting underneath all that pollen — Scott Tiefenthaler has good news.
The owner of Westport Wash & Wax reopens tomorrow (Saturday, April 11). New hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Scott spoke with 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Police Chief Foti Koskinas. In accordance with state guidelines listing car washes as an essential service, he’ll offer exterior wash services and interior/exterior detailing, all on a virtually no-contact basis.
Westport Wash & Wax also provides express interior/exterior detail services (the customer waits), and complete interior/exterior detail services (cars are dropped off), which require no contact between customers and staff.
Fresh towels are used on each car. They’re cleaned and sanitized between each use.
For complete detailing, call 203-227-9274. For other services, stop by during business hours.
Jim and Nancy Eckl of Gold’s Delicatessen say that beginning Monday (April 13), they’ll be closed on Mondays. New hours (Tuesday through Sunday) are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“W e love our customers,” they say. “But we also love our employees! That’s why we are adjusting our hours: to give them some much needed time off to restore and recharge, so we can be here for you when you need us! Thanks for your support, and stay safe.”
Katie Augustyn is part of a group of holistic health practitioners. They provide a variety of healing services — shamanic, reiki, guided meditation and the like. But they’ve joined together under the umbrella “Healers for Humanity.”
Their rates are far below what they normally receive. All they ask is what you can afford to pay.
“We are living through incredibly challenging times,” Katie says. “If you are feeling anxiety or stress, you are not alone. We are here to help.”
Click here to find a practitioner who matches your needs, and schedule a session. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 203-820-3800.
As Westport’s COVID-19 lockdown began, Diane Dubovy Benke helped her disappointed kids put things in perspective by reminding them of what their grandfather went though as a Jewish child in Nazi Europe.
“In Czechoslovakia when the Nazis came, we were put under house arrest from 1940 to 1942,” she says. “It meant no school for me from December 1939 until the end of the war. I was 7 years old in 1940. We were allowed to go out for only two hours on Friday, from 3 to 5 pm. How did I cope under house arrest? I don’t remember, but somehow I survived without TV, no internet, only books and some toys.”
Diane’s father Carl Dubovy tells his incredible Holocaust survival story– coming within steps of the gas chambers at Auschwitz — in an interview with Persona’s Rob Simmelkjaer. Your kids can send him their own questions by downloading the Persona Interviews app, and sending Carl Dubovy a question.
Click below for the full, fascinating interview:
And finally, not a song — but a video definitely worth watching. Bellissimo!
Jack Washburn turns 90 years old today. Family had planned to come from around the country to celebrate.
Now of course, they can’t. That’s just one of countless small side effects of the coronavirus.
But Jack’s milestone will not go unnoticed. Just before noon, he and his wife got a joyful surprise.
His Arlen Road neighbors — adults and kids — gathered on the front lawn. Spaced appropriately apart, they sang “Happy Birthday.”
The provided lunch and cake (and wine).
Then they strung a line on the porch, where they hung birthday cards they’d all made. That way he could look at them, without touching.
Speaking of touching: This is Westport at its best!
Many Westporters have offered to donate items during the coronavirus crisis.
Town officials say, “The unique circumstances and complications due to potential virus transmission, including the time needed to quarantine donations and equipment, require detailed coordination. Items that do not assist with the response and recovery cannot be accepted.”
Westport is accepting the following response and recovery donations at your curb by appointment, between 9 a.m. and 12 noon only:
Plastic face shields and goggles
Packaged medical masks
Packaged N-95 masks
Packaged medical head coverings
Packaged medical gowns
Packaged Nitrile or nylon disposable gloves
Items that are not pre-packaged cannot be accepted.
Click here to fill out a brief form. You will be contacted to set up a time for curbside pickup.
And, officials emphasize: Do not drop off donations at town buildings!
Old Mill Beach has joined the list of parking lots closed to visitors. Compo Beach and Burying Hill had previously been closed.
Sherwood Island State Park remains open. So do the 44 trailed preserves operated by Aspetuck Land Trust.
Distance learning has begun. Students are adapting well. Parents — well…
Successful Study Skills for Students — a local organization — is offering a 30-minute interactive seminar: “8 Ways to Keep Your Student Focused, On Track and On Task in the New E-learning Environment.”
Delivered via Zoom, it helps parents learn how to establish and maintain accountability, and help minimize distractions and reduce stress.
Sessions are Tuesday, March 31 and Thursday, April 2 (7 p.m.) and Wednesday, April 1 (10 a.m.).
It’s free, but registration is required. Each seminar is limited to 25 people. Click here to enroll. For more information, call 203-307-5455 or email info@S4StudySkills.com.
Inspired by Wednesday’s “06880 Pic of the Day” showing a heart in a mailbox with the message “Smile!”, the Theisinger family decided to do something similar for the people who help them.
Youngsters Grant and Blair put on gloves, and packed up treat bags. They printed out messages of thanks, and left them for their mail carrier, UPS deliverer and refuse collector.
“Just a small token to show our gratitude!” says their mom, Kristy. “We 💜 Westport!”
When Governor Lamont ordered many businesses shut, driving schools were among those hit.
Now, however, the Department of Motor Vehicles has allowed them to offer something previously prohibited: online classes. (Schools must meet certain guidelines for testing and attendance tracking.)
Westport’s Fresh Green Light begins soon. The schedule will closely mirror the existing one of after-school hours and weekends.
Classes are open to all current students, and new enrollments (16 and older). Click here for details.
So how did Jim and Nancy Eckl celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary?
They donned masks and gloves, and served their loyal, beloved customers at Gold’s.
Finally, today’s Song of the Day comes via the great Suzanne Sherman Propp, and her Sing Daily! project that brightens hundreds of Westporters’ days:
When the going gets tough, Westporters offer help.
Three Westport teenagers — Ty Chung, Jonathan Lorenz and Luke Lorenz — are happy to run errands for senior citizens, and anyone else having difficulty getting out because of self-quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just email GuysHelping@gmail.com. Include your name, address, and errand.
The helping guys are happy to do what they can. But they will not enter homes, and they’ll avoid personal interactions.
If your request involves purchasing items, they’ll reply with instructions for payment. (That’s for the items only, of course. This is a good-deed venture, from 3 really good guys.)
(From left): Ty Chung, Jonathan Lorenz, Luke Lorenz.
Westporter Paul Einarsen spent 5 years at Apple, as a genius (their word) and creative trainer. He’s spent many years working from a home office, collaborating with remote clients and vendors.
He knows the challenges. And he wants to help anyone who has suddenly been thrust into the remote-working world (and who uses Apple or cloud-based apps).
“At Apple, I quickly discovered how much people rely on their desktop and mobile devices to stay connected to their world,” he says. “It is a challenge for many people in the best of times. With the added obstacle of social distancing I want to help where I can.” (He is not, unfortunately, a Windows guy.)
Paul set up a public Facebook group to coordinate and share information (click here). Through it — or if needed, video conferencing — he is happy to help in any way he can.
Other Westporters find other ways to help.
This morning, a family called Gold’s to order their usual Sunday meal. When they asked about delivery via Uber Eats or Grub Hub, owner Nancy Eckl immediately offered it direct from the deli.
She said that a kind customer had offered to deliver to people who were homebound.
The family was amazed. They were even more surprised when — almost before they knew it — the doorbell rang. An “incredibly nice gentleman” had their order.
“We are so blessed to be here among caring, loving and helpful neighbors,” they say. “Thank you to this selfless volunteer, and to Gold’s Deli.”
Like many Westporters, a Westport couple took a walk today. Along the way, they figured they’d do some good, by picking up trash.
A mile round trip yielded a wheelbarrow of assorted garbage, all within 10 feet of the road. It was mostly beer cans and bottles, a lot of other beverage containers, a few plastic bags and other assorted plastic, some broken pottery and pieces of metal, and a protein bar wrapper.
“Every day we take a walk — and it will be often these days — we will take another route and help keep Westport clean,” they say.
Trashing the coronavirus — with gloves, of course.
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