The voters have spoken: Police station bond rejected in North Smithfield

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – A question authorizing the town of North Smithfield to take out an $18 million bond for construction of a new police station was summarily rejected by town voters in a Special Election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, with 62.4 percent casting ballots against the plan.

The results, released by the Board of Elections after polls closed, did not yet include mail ballots, but the decisive majority left little doubt Tuesday night of the final outcome. Some 1,643 residents rejected the project, with 992 voting to approve the referendum.

The voter decision follows years of discussion and deliberation on how to address the outdated and structurally deficient former schoolhouse on Smithfield Road that currently serves as the North Smithfield Police Department headquarters.

It comes despite efforts over the past few weeks to build support for the project that included erection of lawn signs, advertising and reports of flyers placed in residents’ mailboxes.

Council President Kimberly Alves and Councilor Paulette Hamilton, meanwhile, made an attempt in September to remove the question from the ballot, citing concerns about unclear language and the potential for a low voter turnout at the special election. The board voted back in May to include language citing possible renovation of the facility, despite design plans focused fully on new construction, and testimony by some that the building could not be brought to modern standards.

The two councilors recently advocated for rejection of the referendum.

Council members have repeatedly stated that there is no backup plan for the station in place in the event the bond was rejected.

Update: With mail ballots tallied later Tuesday night, 61.6 percent of voters had rejected the question with a vote of 1,715 to 1,071.

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67 COMMENTS

  1. What a disgrace! Anyone who looks at NS Police station can see its time for a new Building. Very short sighted for not approving the bond.

    • The bond was written wrong Tom. The language was not clear. Most people should agree that the current condition of the police station is not acceptable. I support getting a new station, but not the way that it was worded. I’m thinking others felt the same as I did with their no votes.

  2. Well, it looks like Vadnais and is cohorts are now gone, thank-you all for your resignations. All because they didn’t get their way with the “taj Mahal” of police stations. Hopefully they will now all stay away from town politics. Maybe, just maybe, Zwolenski, Beauregard, and O’Hara will also resign, fingers crossed. It’s now up to Alves, Hamilton, and Ozier to take the lead and move us in a fiscally responsible direction. This is not the time to overspend and under deliver folks. It’s a much better day in North Smithfield!

      • Don’t hold your breath for the other members to bring us to a fiscally responsible response? That’s a little short sighted and rude. I find it odd that you’d talk about your fellow council members and council president like that. Although not that odd, you’ve said worse things about fellow residents. Oh well, just another tally mark for the bad side.

        • I had to go back to see how you could not understand I was actually responding to “Pat” hoping I would resign. Apparently you need to go back to the 4th grade and take a reading comprehension class. Best of luck to you.

          • So you don’t think the other councilors can bring the town to be fiscally responsible then… such a shame, sad even. And yet you continue to insult a veteran during the month of November. Such class.

            • Most veterans I know don’t run around or hide behind a keyboard saying “look at me, I’m a veteran, don’t be mean to me or pick on me “…..just saying.

              Oh, and if accomplishing absolutely nothing in office is your definition of fiscally responsible, god help this town. I challenge you to name three accomplishments that benefit the entire town that these three councilors mentioned above pushed forward.

              • I called them out in front of the council and the rest of the town for their actions in trying to have me fired and the hypocrisy they spewed. It left them speechless, and they couldn’t come up with a response for a few days, but their response was torn to shreds by fact checking, and yet offered no apology with it. I wouldn’t call that hiding behind a keyboard. They did publicly dox some of my info on here, potentially leading to harm against my family, my neighbors, and myself. So I now just keep the initials, plus it’s saved that way and auto fills to what it wants to be. The people on here know who I am, some I’ve met in person, others continue to attack me, some have even gone above and beyond to provide me info about certain town

                It’s not a don’t pick on me, it’s more of a “Hey look everyone, they’re insulting people of a protected class again. When will there be consequences for their actions?” I could include more to this, but it’s to the point.

                They also don’t know how to spell my name correctly, send emails for responses, apologize to the people that they and their self proclaimed pitbulls attack, denounce individuals/groupwho committed possibly upwards of 4500 instances of mail tampering/trespassing, but those are different issues.

                • Thank you for confirming that all you’re concerned with is portraying yourself as a victim. If one thing, you are consistent!

                  Also thanks for accepting the challenge and not being able to come up with not even 1, let alone 3, accomplishments of your ever so admired town councilors.

                  • It’s to raise awareness of how badly that person or persons have treated that group of protected individuals. They also tend to go after the elderly, another protected group. I’ve also heard them go after regular residents of the town, which is just beyond insane.

                    Sorry, didn’t know the challenge was to me as well. Here are 3 accomplishments I’ve had the privilege of experiencing of them. #1. The big 3 approached me after I stood up against bullying and expressed their sympathy to me, by asking if there was anything they could do. They also told me to reach out if I did in fact need anything if I couldn’t think of it right away. It shows great character in the big 3 elected leaders of how much they care for the citizens. #2. The first time that Beauregard threatened me by trying to intimidate me by saying he’d call my boss for using my first amendment rights (which would be a year to the date tomorrow the 16th), Hamilton reached out via a mutual friend to me saying she’d help curb his terrible behavior. Which for a good while, he remained offline and probably still should. #3 Alves for standing up to the face of being the scapegoat of terrible behavior due to a back room deal, which resulted in the administrator having a reduced discretionary spending amount. Alves for also standing up against the administrator during meetings and trying to curb his behavior while people are talking, allowing them to finish their point(s) uninterrupted. #4 Osier for trying to stop the outspoken councilors, on multiple thrown hissy fits, before the council gets sued for those people abusing their speech. The outspoken councilors speech was treading on hate speech if it continued. O’Hara during vape shop owner’s request wanting to open a shop in town, is just one example. #4 The big 3 have brought rhyme and reason, wanting to discuss things trying to see the bigger picture, in the town’s interest, requesting the town’s big financial picture for the long run to make qualified quality decisions, bringing the town in compliance with the charter as best they can so far, can’t do it when you have the other complainers railroading you every step of the way. It takes great courage standing up to bullies, it takes even greater courage if you’d consider them a friend and still had to stand up against them telling them they’re wrong.

                    • They’re not giving any credence to the Asset Management Committee. The town NEEDS the software to keep track of the assets and project 5, 10 year forecasts. You can’t ‘load’ everything into one budget item. That’s insane. I’ll have to work on that. People need to get on committees to help this town thrive. Stop saying this town sucks, etc. It’s a gorgeous town and it could be even better. There are many grant writers out there that would help out. The Water Supply Overlay received a $5000 grant from DOH to educate the citizens on testing their wells and the upcoming PFAS conundrum. Positive has to start somewhere. Gail Berlinghof

  3. Why not just come up with a list of current vacant buildings in town or other possible buildings that can be renovated to accommodate the town police needs? Then, go through them and find the best candidates and proceed to the next step of ensuring a possible suitable fit and proceed with estimates. I don’t see any problem with using what we already have that’s under-utilized and saving money to renovate it to meet towns needs. It will simply need to meet some basic criteria first to be exceptable but renovations can be substantial. I dont see why every is so quick to reject renovations. They can be faster and less expensive saving on building materials if properly deconstructed instead of just smash everything and throw it away. This is also a greener way to move forward and it could cost significantly less if the right building has enough current accommodations. Having experience in construction, building materials and design, I personally think we can do way better then $18m and have eco-friendly self sustainable technologies like solar and Geo-thermal and hydronic heating and cooling while also having high tech and smart design accommodating every sq. Ft. as smart and efficiently as possible while planning for the future and having multiuse maneuverable designs.

  4. We have no choice but to move on Gabby413. We have a former school building that in the words of Tecton Architects “no longer suits the needs of the department. The building suffers from several deficiencies with regard to programmatic separation, building and site security, building code and ADA accessibility, officer health and safety, interior environmental quality and prisoner health and safety.” Not to mention fire code compliance violations. So we need to fix it, at what will be significant cost to taxpayers. We cannot do nothing.

    I am asking the three people I believe most responsible for referendum failure – Kim Alves, Paulette Hamilton and Michael Clifford – to advise as to how NS taxpayers now fund required repairs, renovations, upgrades, technology, etc. Where exactly does the money come from? Our reserves, which are barely at the levels recommended by financial professionals? Supplemental tax bills? Higher than allowable taxes going forward?

    “We are advocating that this bond question be rejected and to allow the town council to review other options, including renovation, resubmit a more detailed question that is clear and concise, provide accurate fiscal impact, and place the question on the presidential ballot for November 2024, with a solid game plan that addresses needs and focuses on payment ability.“ That’s not a plan, but rather a recipe for disaster. Another year of inflation and cost escalations awaits. The prevailing wages required on any municipal project do not go down. Supply chain issues are still pervasive. And what if another referendum fails once again in 2024? What then? Unfortunately risk mitigation never entered the equation, but if a serious issue develops because of the shortcomings as Tecton describes, and especially if the Interlocal Trust is not satisfied with our remediation efforts, we’ll all be adding up the numbers real fast.

  5. With all due respect Gabby, you don’t know how I feel about the police station vote. I never said that it should have been passed or rejected. The issue I have is the fact that everybody is heralding Ms Alves and Ms Hamilton as heroes for derailing the vote. The facts remain that Alves voted for the language to go to the state house and she motioned and voted for the bond referendum to be put on this year’s special election. It’s no surprise that this organized base of people is following the current progressive playbook, ignore, distract, deny and shame anyone who questions anything but the narrative.

    It’s a shame that she used our brothers and sisters in blue to gain political standing.

    • HL, everyone has their own feelings about the situation. But calling names and fighting back and forth will do more harm than good. I don’t “herald” anyone on this. Can people change their stance on this subject? Absolutely. I changed my mind several times before I voted. I also don’t feel that their change of heart had anything to do with the voter’s decision. It was the MONEY. Many people I spoke with just lost the confidence in Mr Vadenais. He’s lost his ‘punch’ with the town. I believe we can give the men and women in blue their new police station. But not where they are located now.

    • HL, I couldn’t let that “Progressive playbook” remark slide by. The vote was a clear mandate from a coalition of frustrated taxpayers. Did you fail to notice the same group voted for Gerry Leonard?

    • HL I could not let that comment about the “progressive playbook” slide by. The vote was nothing less than a mandate by a coalition of frustrated taxpayers. Did you fail to notice the same group voted strongly in favor of Gerry Leonard? Are you really deluding yourself into thinking this was the work of progressives Regards Richard Grubb

  6. Ok guys, it’s time to write something that’s going to benefit this decision. Calling names and accusations doesn’t help. It was rejected. Move on. I know what it’s like to have something rejected and it takes the wind out of you. All that time you spent on this project and the voters STILL aren’t happy with $18 million. Go back to the drawing board and do some needed renovations on that plan. There’s no doubt the police need a safe and healthy environment. Move them. I think it would be cheaper in my opinion.

  7. Well his response was after mine, and since replies are not going to where they need to be (they’re just going to the top of the reply portion), and the blatant disrespect that he’s been shoving in peoples faces lately, hence the reply. Wouldn’t be the first time he’s attacked me for being logical, won’t be the last either.

  8. How is Mr. Guertin asking a question of Mr. Clifford, To which he did not get a response, hence the “you’ve got nothing” Gaslighting or at assassination of somebody’s character?

    Please enlighten me BM

  9. Well I believe our extra money, last I saw consists of about over 10m, so we could take some from there, not all but some. And if we did go below the 8.5m line, we’d just have to wait for it to replenish before requesting more work. There’s also the thought of bringing in or attracting offices and/or a business park to help offset the cost of items, as the financial burden of the town is 80% residential and we are still down a couple of businesses since 2018 levels. I know there’s some land available at dowling village that isn’t used, as well as a vacant building, could also look at expanding slatersville plaza, can’t forget behind the walk in clinic. Not sure how many of those places are I’m a protected water area, but hopefully the water committee could help them out. There’s also the thought of the town following policies and procedures, and not getting in trouble with the law resulting in payments which would hold our town back. The town could also find grants for construction items, while trying to follow the procedure of hiring someone/a firm. The town could also have a 5 year plan in place to see where money could come from, while supporting big initiatives, in fact when companies do this they can “trim the fat” so to speak, but do it smart, to help fund repairs around town during hopefully a surplus time. The elected people need to get creative, instead of just bond here bond there, that’s just lazy and not cost effective. It’s also tough when current and former elected members try to railroad the needs the town currently needs, for wants. I’m sure others might have better plans, but they need to start somewhere, as the previous years have not been so kind to the residents, that’s what I propose.

  10. That won’t happen here Tony. The self-anointed internet Town Administrator is also their chief of staff and handles all public correspondences.

  11. Seems like that’s working real for you with Osier!!!

    Why are you discriminating by age Pat? Or is that you think you can brainwash the youth.

  12. “ Kim Alves had said from day one she was concerned about the cost and did not want it on the ballot in a special election”. As quoted from above.

    Then how come her actions don’t match with her words when In fact she did vote (her vote on the TC) for the bond to go to the general assembly and then she did vote and MADE THE MOTION to have the language and referendum added to the “special election ballot” Please reconcile that for all of us, including your base of readers.

    Stay on topic. We don’t need a diatribe of nonsense about initials , detours, taking the wrong exit or whatever John did or didn’t do.

  13. It seems you’ve forgotten what I’ve told you just a few days ago:
    Tony, I’ll reply to your new false claims once we resolve your earlier claim and you obtain the sworn affidavit which was discussed.
    Just in case you’ve forgotten Tony Guertin, here’s your reminder. Tell you what Tony, why don’t you ask Mr.Ezovski and Zwolenski to sign sworn affidavits (witnessed by the town clerk) stating that they never asked any business owner or town board member to put up a sign or publicly endorse the project. Also include language that states they never berated or argued with anyone who won’t comply with their request. That shouldn’t take you too long and once you produce those affidavits I’ll reach out to those who I know were approached and ask them to attest to the truthfulness of the affidavit you produced by signing a sworn affidavit themselves. You can provide the “proof” this time Tony.

  14. As I have stated many times over the last few years, it’s time to clean house. The TA Zwolenzki, Mr. Beauregard, and Mrs. O’Hara need to go, period. The MBRTF as now assembled also needs to go. With those groups gone the background noise from the Tony Guertin’s and Paul Vadnais’ will dry up. We then need some young, forward thinking, and fiscally responsible people to apply proper planning and move this town forward. We are well overdue for this to happen!

  15. Again, Mr. Clifford, how exactly do you propose NS taxpayers will now pay for the needed/required repairs to Bushee School? Where are the funds going to come from? With no ability to go to bond (borrow) for likely at least another year, and inflation still at its highest point in almost three years, and while considering our insurer (the RI Interlocal Trust) may well require further and significant repairs to the structure nearing 100 years of age and in violation of multiple building and fire codes – how do we now fund the repairs that will have to be done in short order? Thinking a supplemental tax bill will not be well received.

  16. HL or whoever you really are, I didn’t ask you to confirm that you are a gutless coward; I asked if you are actually John Beauregard or Tony. What’s preventing you from doing that, and why can’t you identify yourself? Despite the fact that you haven’t done either, I’ll give you a simple answer. If someone is driving and takes the wrong exit should they turn around or continue on the wrong path? Mr. Beauregard did not support putting the question on the general election last year and stated he felt $18 million was a lot of money and said even his friends were telling him that. A year later he changed his mind and felt $18 million was affordable. There’s no shame in recognizing a mistake. Both women had been requesting for months to be provided with a 5 year forecast of the Town’s projected revenues and expenses in order to see the full impact on taxpayers (with annual increases factored in)and also ascertain if it would be necessary to exceed the 4% cap on the tax levy. At each meeting they were offered lame excuses such as, “it’s a work in progress and not yet complete”. Town Administrator Ezovski never interceded and pushed to ensure it was done. In addition, both supported a much clearer question be on the ballot but were unfortunately out voted. Kim Alves had said from day one she was concerned about the cost and did not want it on the ballot in a special election. Shame on those elected officials who continued to endorse this bond without all relevant information. I think the outcome of this election indicates that the vast majority of the townspeople shared the concerns of Kim and Paulette. I remind you that the only vote to date which has been approved by the voters was to renovate the current station.

  17. Ok Mr. Clifford, I am a gutless coward for using my initials.

    So now that I have confirmed your name calling by my admission, will you please address the issue of Ms. Alves voting for the bond language to go to the state house and voting for and motioning the language to be on the special election ballot?

    Notice I am sticking to the topic of the article and have not called any reader or commentor a name or insulted them per NRI now policy.

  18. Just telling the truth. It’s a bit unusual to be insulting veterans on the eve of veterans day and me reading this on veterans day. Just continue the self character assassinations, to show people who you are, while I continue to defend this town.

  19. John, thank you for suggesting I am a “genius” but I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be one. I am however fortunate to possess common sense and also capable of thinking logically. As you have often requested of others, I will answer your question so a fifth grader can understand my response. I did not ask you if you were HL or Kevin Mutto, I directed my question to them. I noted that both you and Tony have chastised people in the past, for what you described as “hiding behind a keyboard”. Are you now denying that you’ve called people out in the past who have used aliases? I think it best to wait and see if either HL or Kevin Mutto responds to my question and let them speak for themselves. I find it odd that you’ve referred to others who use aliases as cowards, but yet you are now jumping into a conversation in an attempt to exonerate two. Are you now saying you find no issue with hiding behind a keyboard? For someone who claims to be upfront and prides themselves for always commenting publicly rather than hiding your identity, or whispering derogatory comments in a dark room, I’m perplexed by your failure to address HL and Kerri Mutto and call them out as cowards. Do you think it’s acceptable because they’re speaking of Kim an Paulette and not you? If you don’t think it’s acceptable, will you a least acknowledge their actions are cowardly by calling them out now? Like they say, better late than never!

    • Boy John Beauregard, you really should call out HL for being a coward, I bet he’s convincing a lot of people he’s you because he’s using all your favorite phrases like “stay on topic” , “enlighten me”, “how is”, and “Notice how I am sticking to the topic” to name a few. You always call people who use aliases “cowards”, and now this guy is obviously trying to lead people to believe it’s you, and…”crickets”, as you like to say.

  20. Sorry Pat, that’s all he and his self appointed pit-bulls know what to do when he doesn’t get his way, as self evident during his hissy fit or self character assassination. Well that’s not all, he knows how to get my bosses phone number and instantly become a laughing stock at work, trying to intimidate them to fire me. During a may town council meeting, he can quoted as “You don’t deserve to be called names”, so that quote only applies to his friends. Just like how he and his friends insulted people on a now deleted Facebook group 10mins after election results were posted. He only infringes on people’s 1st amendment rights when they’re against him. Even when he insulted all currently serving service members and veterans, in the month of November even, saying they have low IQ. It’s a weird tactic he uses to gain support, but I let it play out because it only hurts him and his image.

  21. Interesting that you and Mr. Clifford resort to name calling and insults when facts are presented or questioned. Still no one has acknowledged the FACTS about Ms. Alves initially voting for the bond language to go to the state house and also for making the MOTION to have it on the special election ballot.

    Is that the new marching orders, ignore and it will go away ? Shame people with insults ? The voters will not forget how Ms. Alves used the police and their headquarters for political self gain.

  22. Michael Clifford’s arrogance never disappoints. He’s asked direct questions and irrelevant responses are the best he’s got/we get. He will not answer directly, because there is no acceptable answer that supports his narrative. That “gutless” insult he likes to employ is quite appropriate in his regard, as we can plainly see.

    Still waiting for that affidavit, Mr. Clifford?

    Something all NS taxpayers should consider: “The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recommends that local governments maintain reserves equal to two months of operating revenue or, put another way, equal to 16.7 percent of annual revenue.” NS has a $51.2M budget, meaning per a respected professional association of over 19,000 financial professionals, we should maintain an approx. $8.5M reserve.

    And here’s one more direct question, Mr. Clifford: Given your self-proclaimed financial acumen and education (“several advanced accounting courses” is how I believe you have framed your expertise), and in consideration of the municipal reserve recommendations as detailed (and I also believe NS’s reserves are very close to that $8.5M total), how exactly do you propose NS will now pay for needed repairs to Bushee School? Please be specific, as I’m sure the townsfolk are riveted to most anything you write and anxiously await your response. Please tell us where we go, how we get there, and how the GFOA is clearly wrong.

  23. Mr. Beauregard with all due respect, calling out one of your constituents with name calling and bullying is below your position.

  24. Hey genius, neither one of those people are me. I will caution you about making more of your false accusations. However I will say this…failed police station bond, $18 million. Proposed multi generational building at Halliwell, $14.7 million. Mike Clifford’s reaction when someone uses a fake name that is not a follower of his…priceless.

  25. HL, I’m not afraid of answering any questions, and you have (under a different name) shamed people for using aliases when they post. Tony Guertin and John Beauregard have accused others of hiding behind a keyboard or similar accusations. Are you either of those two individuals by any chance? Would you allow Sandy to release information about your IP and email address?

  26. I don’t see anyone accusing anyone of hiding behind a fake name on this discussion and article….

    Are you afraid to answer the question Mr. Clifford: did Ms. Alves, in fact, vote to send it to the state house and also was the one who made the motion on the council to get it on the ballot for this years “special election” ?

  27. Since you seem to have such a great recall and pulse on the workings of the town, how about answering Kevin’s question – did Alves in fact initially vote that way ??? Your saying that claim is “false, Kim Alves did not vote to send it to the state house and motion to get the bond on the ballot ?? That’s “false” Mr. Clifford ?

  28. So Mrs. Alves didn’t make the motion to send the bond language to the state house for approval? And she didn’t make the motion to get the bond question on the special congressional ballot? Which of my claims are false? Or are you saying she did do those things but then she flip flopped?

    Kevin Mutto

    • Actually, Mr Osier made the motion for the final wording of the referendum. Zoom video 5/23 meeting 2:15:28. JB seconded. Ms Hamilton voted no, but Ms Alves voted in favor. I don’t think any councilors realized at the time what a mess they made by changing a 3-choice referendum to a mixed-use referendum.

  29. You obviously aren’t the real Kevin Mutto since he is a staunch supporter of both women. How cowardly of you to comment as you did. It’s sad that you lack the courage to use your real name when you post your own false claims.

  30. Yes, they are now shoring up the front of the building that is collapsing. Hope they get a decent, healthy work environment soon.

  31. I’m genuinely hoping that the TC takes this vote as a wake up call to do better. It’s time to begin tracking issues brought before them and and report back to their constituency what is actively being worked meeting to meeting.

    We need technology and tools to be utilized. Watching the MBRTF argue with the current council about their last orders is simply an unacceptable level of chaos which is not needed. Why aren’t there documented mission statements beyond the original creation of the group?

    The town needs to invest in tools to make all this transparent (and easier to manage). A rudimentary SharePoint site would be cheap and easily managed. I’m aware public service is a unique challenge but we are overdue in running this town like a viable business. To date, it’s run more like like a Serfdom where residents are viewed as peasants in servitude.

    • Absolutely, and I also believe the current MBRTF really needs to be abandoned. Having Vadnais as a member and spokesperson is not helping it’s mission. Maybe a professional town manager is what we need.

  32. So if the people voted for renovations back in 2016 or so, and rejected a new building in this election…. does that mean the council and administrator will listen finally?

  33. The voters has spoken now let’s do what the taxpayers where willing to do all along. But I am sure a certain group is developing an alternative plan.

  34. Conservatives spend 30 years railing against government spending and taxes. The conservative town council members are then shocked when they can’t raise taxes to pay for a new government building.

    The left in this town doesn’t trust them and the right is doing what they’ve been trained to do.

  35. The TC needs to speak with 1 voice and the bond language must be clarified to state a new police station only. This was a needless example of distinction

    • What’s the point of electing five if they speak as one voice? Minority opinions ensure that both the pros and cons are heard. In this case the minority expressed their opinion and voters demonstrated support for their opinion. If the council had listened to them when they spoke in favor of giving voters the choice of renovation or build new, they’d have a clear idea of what the community would support.

    • Yeah, sure… because the “language” was the real issue — not the ridiculous $18 million Taj Mahal price tag.

      Change the language all you want, but it’s going to keep getting rejected until the town council requests a vote on something with a much smaller budget. We all have to live within our means, and so does the TC and John Beauregard. Maybe we should start by asking Gloucester for a copy of their own sub-$10 million new police station plans.

  36. It’s a grass root vote that rejected the bond issue… I think the bond proposal has to be studied again, clarified, simplified. Tell us what you want, how the money will be spent and look at the bottom line. Don’t tell voters that taxes could go up hundreds of dollars (in addition to annual increases).

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