Storm Clean Up is Beginning

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Red River Parish residents are cleaning up from the heavy thunderstorms that moved through northwest Louisiana Sunday night. In the storm’s wake there are numerous homes damaged, and many residents still without power.

Electric service was restored to the heart of Coushatta by mid morning Monday. Businesses in outlying areas were closed due to lack of power. Schools are also reported without power on Tuesday morning.

The Police Jury had crews out picking up and hauling away debris on Tuesday morning.

Neighbors pitched in to help neighbors clear downed trees from homes and yards. Many roads in the parish had trees down across them. Crews had cleared trees from major roadways by Monday however many residential areas still have trees partially blocking streets.

One fatality was reported and there were several people reported to have suffered minor injuries. See the Journal Special Update on Monday for additional details.

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Disaster Emergency Declared

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The Red River Parish Police Jury has made an emergency declaration following Sunday’s storm. Jury Manager Jessie Davis said, “We are compiling damage estimates to see if the area qualifies for state and federal assistance.”

Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Shane Hubbard said, “It was straight line winds estimated at 70 knots. Evidence points to wind, and I don’t believe there was a tornado.” Hubbard explained that straight-line winds tend to leave debris all falling in the same direction. (Note that 70 knots equals about 80.57 miles per hour.)

The Office of Emergency Preparedness is collecting data on storm damage costs. Hubbard explained that there are certain thresholds that have to be met for the parish to be eligible for FEMA or state disaster recovery funds. Hubbard said, “I don’t think the dollar amount of damage was that high.” He added that to this time only 5 houses have been reported to have sustained major damage.

Anderson’s Produce in Great Shape Following the Storm

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The Memorial Day weekend storm hasn’t slowed down Anderson’s Produce. Jason Anderson said, “We have plenty! Our stand on Highway 174 is open normal hours. And the produce is ripe and ready.”

Anderson said, “We have some limbs and other minor damage. But it has not interfered with the produce operations.” He said, “Sweet corn is here and the ears are well filled. You’ll want to get a bushel or more.” Anderson added, “Pinto beans are coming in. We have them ready for you today.”

Come to the farm for vine ripe tomatoes, squash, many varieties of sweet and hot peppers, squash, potatoes and so much more. And there is a great variety of beautiful flowers and ferns to beautify your home or garden.

Come to south Red River Parish for the freshest produce. For just picked freshness it’s Anderson’s Produce and Plant Farm on Highway 174. They are located half way between I-49 and LA 1.


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Storm Touched Most Red River Residents

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The storm this past Sunday night will be remembered and talked about for a long time. Many folks still are without electricity and it may be days until all power is restored.

Many of us have trees down and damage to be repaired. And it may not be a quick fix.

As the Journal traveled around the parish the last two days it was noted that people are busy cleaning up. And they are helping each other. A group of neighbors gather to cut up a tree that fell across a drive or their street. A man and his wife leaves several trees down on their house and drive around to check up on friends.

These are just a few examples. And here are a few pictures to put into your scrapbook of the Memorial Weekend Sunday Storm.

Dedication of New Sanctuary at Open Door Fellowship

Sunday was dedication Sunday at Open Door Fellowship. Interim Pastor J.P. Handy cited Second Chronicles chapter 7 as the basis of the dedication. This chapter details King Solomon’s dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Handy told the congregation “in Solomon’s time the people saw the glory of God fill the temple.” He added, “We’re dedicating more than a building today. We the people must first rededicate ourselves to the Lord.” And he said, “We can dedicate the building, but if we ourselves are not dedicated to the Lord, we just have a nice shiny building.”

At the beginning of the service, former Open Door pastor Tom Smith told those gathered, “this church is an answer to prayer.” Smith recalled the founding of Open Door back in 2006, that 102 charter members had met at the American Legion Hall in the beginning. He also told the history of the church’s prior location and the acquisition of the present land and old sanctuary building.

Smith challenged the church “None of this is by accident. Life is a relay race. We have to hand the baton to someone else.”

Open Door Fellowship has been holding services in the new facility for about a month. They are located on 40 acres on Esparanza Road.


First Baptist Church vacation bible school is next week. See flyer above.

First Methodist Church June 26-29. “Going to Rome” is the theme. It is a story of the underground church with Paul.

VBS at Hickory Grove Baptist Church
Monday, June 5 through Friday, June 9 will be VBS at 6:30 p.m. Commencement is on the last night of VBS.

Open Door Fellowship will hold VBS June 26th through June 30th. The program begins with registration each evening at 5:30. The program lasts until 8 pm each night.

If there are other churches in the parish that wish to tell everyone about their vacation bible school, please email details to

Storm Causes Damage to the Big Easy

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The Big Easy Emporium on Ringgold Avenue was damaged Sunday night during the storm.

Brenda Giddens posted on the Big Easy Facebook feed…

First, let me say God is bigger than any problem we will ever have… period. And our faith in Him is everything. Never think in the middle of your turmoil that He is not in there with you working it out. I wanted to say that first because that is what is in my heart.

I got a call this evening (Sunday) from the sheriff’s office asking me to come to the store. When I arrived, I found that my livelihood is on hold for a minute. I’m okay with that because here’s the thing… when I opened this store, I thought I was just opening a store. God showed me right quick it was His store, and He anointed it, and He would use me while I was there. If you have ever been shopping in Big Easy and witnessed His works, you know what I mean.

So I am asking you tonight to pray for Bridget Kellogg and John Henson who were involved in this wreck, and also those affected by the storms tonight. Some have lost property but others lost their lives. “God is bigger” and He always has a plan. We have to lean on that.

I need your prayers for Big Easy, too. It will be up and running again very soon because God provides… it’s just what He does.

And thank you to my sweet hubby, Joe, and my precious brother, John, for coming to my rescue! You guys are the best!

ETC…May 31st


The Coushatta water system is under a “Boil Advisory” until further notice. The notice was issued Tuesday morning. Some areas served by the town water system were without water for several hours following Sunday’s storm. The loss of water pressure was due to electrical problems. The boil advisory will be in effect until the state health department clears the system.

The start of summer school was delayed one day because the storm knocked out power to Red River Elementary School. The school board announced that summer school will begin today (May 31st). All classes are at the elementary school. The Journal checked with the school board office on Tuesday. They reported no damage to any buildings or facilities.

Social Springs Worshiped During the Worst of the Storm. Form Brother James Hester, “Tonight’s (Sunday night’s) service was awesome! Even while the wind was pulling the doors open on the sanctuary, Donna Weaver never missed a note. Service lasted until 9:20. Can’t think of a better way to ride out a storm than by praising God in the midst of it! Prayers for everyone affected…He is still in control!”

Hickory Grove Baptist Church – Coushatta, La has posted their June events calendar:
Sunday, June 4 – Bridal shower for Dustin Allen and Hannah Wiggins
VBS at Hickory Grove Baptist Church is Monday, June 5 through Friday, June 9. The event will start at 6:30 p.m. Commencement is on the last night of VBS.
Sunday, June 11 – Memorial Service for Ted Ottinger, who passed away in San Antonio a few weeks ago. There will be a potluck meal following Worship service. The memorial will begin at 2 p

Here are the names of those in the pictures that accompanied the Coushatta High School 50th reunion story from last week. Unfortunately the picture credits were omitted.

Identification on group picture by maiden names, not married names:

Front Row, sitting, kneeling, or short: Donnie Emerson, Ardis Almond, Roger Bierden, Ralph Webb, Charlie Williams, James Wilson, and Rene Gibson.
Second Row: Curtis Fields, David Gray, Pauline Barbo, Mary Dubois, Cathy Townsend, Kay Jackson, Pamela Wood, Ruby Browne, Ginger McCoy, and Richard (Barefoots) Dalme.
Third Row: Allen Posey, Laura L’Herisson, Dale Bierden, Rusty Bamburg, Gerald (Tucky) Jones, Milton McGee, Raymond Browne, Brant Bordelon, Carl Averitt, Henry Conly, Donna Ann Crawford, and Jimmy Marston.
Due to timing of picture, attending, but not shown: Judy Buswell, Goldena Cox, Randy Hester, and Harry Lane Lafield.

Storm takes one life in Red River Parish


Strong storms that blew across northwest Louisiana last evening took the life of an elderly Coushatta woman. A large tree fell across the house on the Esperanza Road trapping her on the couch in her living room.

The victim is identified by family members as Clara Suggs. She was asleep on the couch in the living room of her mobile home when a large tree fell across it. Suggs’ mother Ellen Wood was in a bedroom of the home. She is reported to have suffered only a few scratches, according to family members.  Suggs died at the scene. Her dog Pee Wee also perished in the house.

Sunrise found power out throughout Red River Parish. There is widespread damage including buildings blown over, signs down, many trees uprooted, and power lines down. Utilities have dispatched crews however damage is reported widespread throughout the northwest part of the state. Few businesses are open on generator power. Therefore gasoline is difficult to find. Stations in Coushatta and Armistead are closed.

The top picture is the tree across the Suggs home. Others depict trees blocking East Carroll Street at Red River High School, the building on US 84 at Armistead that was blown away, the roof peeled away from a building across the tracks on Front Street, and other photos of trees and electrical lines downed.



Read for Fun and Read for Prizes

The Red River Parish Library’s summer reading program begins in June for area youth. Registration is now going on for this summer.

Sessions will be held at 2 pm on Mondays and Thursdays in June and July. The program lasts a total of 7 weeks.

Kala Sims, the Children’s Librarian, said, “When youth sign up they get a reading log to keep up with the books they read this summer. We have a suggested list however a child may select books not on the list also.”

Participants will be eligible for drawings with prizes like t-shirts being offered. And all you have to do is read.

In addition to the summer reading program, the library will have entertainment for kids of all ages on Mondays this summer.

Parents may get additional information by calling the library at 932-5614.

Half-Price Hook-Up Comes to Coushatta

The Red River Parish Journal is joining the Half Price HookUp to save our readers 50% or more on meals at local restaurants. Who wouldn’t want to save half?

We began publicizing it on our Facebook this past week. The Journal offered a $50 gift card to Dairy Queen for those wishing to join the Half-Price HookUp. And the winner was Elizabeth Chellette!

If you would like to receive half price meal offers from area restaurants, send a text message “hphc” to 77948. Then you will get notifications of which restaurants are offering the Half Price HookUp.  Coming the Week of June 5th, 2017!

Check it out!  CLICK HERE

Freedom Worship Honors all Veterans

By Whitney Allison

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Here are the details for our Veterans Breakfast. All veterans are welcome.

Veterans breakfast is Saturday, May 27 at 8:00 am. It will be held at Freedom Worship Baptist Church next to the American bank.
Hot breakfast will be served for all military past or present. They are invited and encouraged to bring a guest.

Extra parking will be in lot by church and front and back of American Bank. Handicap spots at front of church.

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Looking Back Over 50 Years

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Recently the Coushatta High Class of ’67 held their 50th reunion. The story is from Ardis Almond.

The Coushatta High School Class of 1967 celebrated its 50th Reunion on April 28th and 29th, 2017 at the Grand Bayou Resort Event Center. Out of a graduating class of 57, 45 survive, and 31 attended the reunion. Two former teachers, Mrs. Joy Gaddis and Mr. Archie Worsham also attended. One mother, Mrs. Doris Driever blessed the group with her presence. Two former classmates, Tucky Jones and Allen Posey, that did not graduate with us, but were with us for a long time also attended.

The reunion was catered both nights by the York Chop with Shrimp and Fish on Friday and BBQ on Saturday. Entertainment included era music played in the background, a history room with old pictures of the town and parish, a memento table, classmate videos and stills running continuously, skits of past school events put on by classmates, and heartfelt talks about the “good old days” by attendees.

On Saturday morning, we had a special event that might have been the first of this size in Red River Parish,a history tour of the town. It was guided by local historian, Joe Taylor, and our classmate, Jimmy Marston. The first stop was the Springville Cemetery, where we saw graves of classmates, old families, and Union and Confederate veterans, including CSA General Gray (the only Confederate general buried in North Louisiana). We also learned about the village of Springville that predated Coushatta.

We then toured the old Coushatta High School (now Red River High). We were immersed in memories and some of our basketball stars could still “shoot the lights out” in the old gym.
For the next stop, we took the only elevator in Red River Parish to the top floor of the Courthouse. From there, we climbed up the winding stairs (that was a trick at our age), to the hanging tower. Some felt drawn to actually stick their neck in the noose. Yep, it is all still there!

Next was a “windshield” visit to the grade school and a stop at the new RRP Library. There we visited the History Room, exhibits, and old pictures of the parish. After this, we continued to Main Street and shared memories of our “Mayberry” days.

Lunch was provided by Bailey’s Burgers. It fit right in with our historical theme, since it existed before any of us. We ended up the trip in what is Old Town, by the river. Joe told us about the original settlement that mostly burned or fell in the caving river.Jimmy recounted his extensive knowledge of reconstruction and the birth of Red River Parish.

Thanks goes out to Joe Taylor for his guidance and knowledge, Superintendent Allison Hughes for arranging the visit to the high school, Jury member Tray Murray for access to the courthouse, and Mayor Cox for providing pictures from his office.

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Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy initiated a traffic stop in Coushatta


On May 14, 2017 a Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy initiated a traffic stop in Coushatta that subsequently resulted in the arrest of the driver on drug charges. A vehicle license checked revealed that the vehicle was being operated with a switched vehicle license plate. It was also confirmed that the driver, identified as Jacob Cheatwood, also had a suspended Louisiana driver’s license.

A search of Cheatwood’s person and vehicle yielded illegal narcotics and drug paraphernalia. Two smoking pipes consistent with those used to smoke marijuana, a plastic container containing suspected marijuana and a set of scales consistent with those used in the packaging and resale of illegal narcotics were seized.

An adult passenger traveling with Cheatwood was released following a check for active warrants. A second passenger, who was 3 years old, was released to the custody of a relative. The vehicle, which also displayed an altered motor vehicle inspection sticker, was impounded.Cheatwood was transported to the Red River Parish Jail for booking.

Jacob Cheatwood, W/M, age 21 of the 200 block of Sledge Road, Coushatta, LA was charged with the following: Switched License Plate, Switched/Altered Motor Vehicle Inspection Sticker, Driving Under Suspension, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Marijuana and Illegal Use of CDS in Presence of Persons under Seventeen Years of Age. On May 15, 2017 Cheatwood was booked on two outstanding bench warrants for Failure to Appear (traffic related).

His total bond was set at $2,450 while fines/costs for traffic violations totaled $1,457. He remains incarcerated.

Coach McConathy Talks About Struggles

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Northwestern State University Men’s Basketball Coach Mike McConathy spoke to the Red River Crusade Wednesday night. It was “Youth Night” and McConathy spoke to the young people about hope in the midst of difficult struggles.

McConathy reflected on over 38 years of playing and coaching basketball. And he told of his struggle when he was cut by the Chicago Bulls at about age 21. “It was gut wrenching to loose something that important to me,” said McConathy.

How did he cope? McConathy said “I had my faith. I was raised in a Christian home, yet the struggle I went through was very difficult.”

The coach told of some of the great players he has coached who suffered season-ending injuries. McConathy said “the struggles in life are so much better when we know God and put everything on Him. When non-believers struggle it is because they can’t identify with Christ dying for us.”

Speaking to the youth and others gathered for the Wednesday night Red River Crusade session, Coach McConathy said “Look at yourself each day, confess your sins, and give thanks for the opportunity offered for salvation.” He advised to never take lightly the gift Christ has given and said “there is no way to repay for that gift.”

The Red River Crusade continues through Saturday May 27th. Services are held at the parish fairgrounds. A meal will be served at 5:30 and the service begins at 6:30.

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4-H Seeking Local Support

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Terry L. Foster is the Red River parish 4-H Agent. She is contacting their supporters in the area asking for help sending students to their upcoming 4-H University to be held in Baton Rouge.

This is the 105th annual event and Foster says there will be new courses offered to participants. Some traditional events will be offered as well.
Her letter to supporters is shown below.

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ETC…May 26th


Sunday will be a great day at Open Door Fellowship. The church is holding the dedication service for tyheir new worship center beginning at 10:30 am. Warren Jackson will be the Worship Leader and J.P. Hardy will bring the message.

Ken Adams is the Chairman of the church’s Building and Grounds Committee and he oversaw the construction project. Adams says, “The sancturary is designed for approximately 300 people. There are 200 seats at present and we will be bringing in more for the large crowd expected Sunday.”

It’s Vacation Bible School time. The Journal has been informed by a couple of area churches of their schedule this summer. We will publish the schedules we have next week, so let us know what your church is planning. Send details, flyers, pictures, and anything else about your church VBS to

Graduation 2017

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This past week commencement exercises were held by both Red River High School and Riverdale Academy. On Tuesday 67 students graduated from Red River. Riverdale awarded diplomas to 13 students on Thursday.

Red River’s Valedictorian was Ziaya Drakes, the student with the highest grade point average. Salutatorian was Jon Russell. Seventeen graduates were awarded TOPS scholarships.

Numerous other scholarships were presented including fourteen grads that were given Black History Scholarships of $500 each. Nine grads received Cox Development Foundation scholarships of $300 each.

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Peace Officer Training Academy Graduate

Sheriff Glen Edwards is pleased to announce that Therman (Trey) Sewell III has successfully completed the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office Basic Correctional Peace Officer Training Academy. The Louisiana Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) council requires that each Level 2 Officer complete a training course with a minimum of 249 hours. The course consists of core curriculum, firearms certification and a sufficient number of elective hours.

Deputy Sewell joined the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office on July 14, 2015 as a corrections officer. He completed the required “Jailer” POST training on October 2, 2017. This Level 3 POST certification consisted of 92 hours of training designed for employees whose duties are limited to the care, custody and control of inmates.

On May 12, 2017 Deputy Sewell was awarded a POST Basic Correctional Peace Officer certificate from the State of Louisiana. Specific certifications received included Firearms, Anti-Crash Course, Taser Conducted Electrical Weapon and Police Unarmed Tactics. As with Level 1 Peace Officers, 20 hours of annual in-service training is mandated each calendar year for Level 2 Officers to remain in good standing with POST.

With the exception of arrest powers, Level 2 Officers are trained and certified to carry out many duties often performed by a POST certified patrol deputy (Level 1 Officer). In addition to responsibilities within the walls of the jail, Deputy Sewell will also be qualified to supervise the inmate road crew as well as transport inmates.

Congratulations Deputy Sewell on this accomplishment and a job well done!

Brown-Freeman tragedy of 1899

By Joe Taylor

RRPJ-History-17May24AThis account comes from a letter written to Gordon Nelson, Editor of the Coushatta Citizen, in 1966 by Charles Patterson. “I lived in Coushatta for three years. My father was the Methodist minister and I was familiar with all of the principals. Especially Shelby Wooten who worked for Mr. Freeman. ”

The affair started this way: Talley Brown and his brother Bob, who lived about two miles from the Lake End store of Freeman, came to the store one Saturday morning and accused Freeman of harboring one of their workers. (Which doesn’t sound like much in 2017. But in those days it was serious. For just a few years earlier it was against the law to hide a runaway slave and the unwritten law in the sharecropper days were the same. You did not hide the farm workers. They had an important job back at the farm.)

The Brown brothers threatened Freeman that they knew he was hiding their hand and he had two hours to show up at their farm or they would return and there would be hell to pay. A heated argument then ensued and a shot was fired at the unharmed Freeman. (Freeman was in fact hiding the man because he had been brutally beaten.)

About two hours later the brothers returned and with them this time was their brother in law Dr. Glover, who lived with them, all were armed.

According to testimony from 18 years old store clerk Shelby Wooten. Freeman told him that this was not his fight and to hide under the store counter. This he did but did observe Dr. Glover coming in the front door carrying a shotgun and Bob Brown walking around toward the rear of the store. Shortly guns began popping all over the place and he burrowed as deep as he could under the counter. He did not come out until he was called by a Dr. Chapman. (The doctor had his office in a room at the rear of the store and boarded with the Freeman’s).

Neighbors gather shortly after the gunfire and found: Glover dead from buckshot lying in the doorway. Freeman dead from a pistol shot to the heart in the doorway to the rear room. Bob Brown dead face down on the ground at the rear of the store. A pistol slug in the base of his skull. And Talley Brown face down in the road at the front of the store. Shot in the front with buckshot and with two knife wounds in his back. All of this had taken place in 30 seconds and no witnesses.

A trial was held where Dr. Chapman was charged with a manslaughter charge, but without witnesses they could not prove he had killed anyone.

This was a well-known tale on the West Bank and today natives still know about the tragedy. Not so much in the rest of the parish. Think about it. Before there was adequate roads and a bridge to cross the river. The East and West Bank of the river were very isolated from one another.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit a small family cemetery. It’s located about a half mile north of Hanna adjacent to a cornfield. Now overgrown and forgotten. In it
lies the two graves of the Brown brothers.

Give Credit to the Weather?

The tomato crop is abundant this spring at Anderson’s Produce and Plant Farm on Highway 174. Farmer Jason Anderson says this years weather had a lot to do with it.

Anderson said, “Tomato varieties have changed so much in recent years. Your conventional older varieties seem to hold a better taste and have GREAT acid flavor. Newer varieties are bred to hold longer, better shelf life but don’t taste as well. So we stick with what’s older and tasty, and that keeps customers coming back.”

Tomatoes aren’t the only thing the weather had an effect on. Anderson said, “It has been odd, least to say, no cold, therefore no peach crop.” He added, “Trees require a certain amount of cold hours below a certain temperature. They did not receive it, therefore they didn’t know to “wake up” and produce.”

For every negative there is a positive. Anderson said, “On the other hand, the warm spring allowed our other vegetable crops to produce more and earlier.” Yes, it is the weather that has produced a great crop this year of most vegetables.

Come see for yourself. Anderson’s Produce and Plant Farm is now open. They are located on Highway 174 halfway between I-49 and LA 1.

Highest ACT Score Earns a Full Scholarship

RRPJ-Dowden Scholarship-17May24AThe highest ACT score in Red River Parish this school year was a 32. Victoria Dowden scored higher than any other student in the parish.

That score earned her the highest scholarship offered at the University of Louisiana Monroe, The President’s Distinguished Award. Dowden is shown above with her award. The award includes $12,000.00 each semester plus a new iPad.

The Journal adds our congratulations to Victoria Dowden for her academic achievement.

The Bennie Logan Football Camp at Red River High School

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Coushatta native Bennie Logan of the Kansas City Chiefs held his annual football camp for boys in the area this past Saturday. The camp was held at the Red River High School Stadium.

Logan is a Defensive Lineman for the Chiefs. He played and graduated from Red River High School and LSU. Logan was assisted at the camp by Cedrick Thornton, a Defensive Lineman for the Dallas Cowboys. Thornton played his college ball at Southern Arkansas.

About 100 local kids enjoyed the morning at Red River High School with two NFL players and local coaches helping out.

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