The War of the Roses began on May 22, 1455 at St. Albans, northwest of London.
In the opening battle of England’s War of the Roses, the Yorkists defeat King Henry VI’s Lancastrian forces at St. Albans, 20 miles northwest of London. Many Lancastrian nobles perished, including Edmund Beaufort, the duke of Somerset, and the king was forced to submit to the rule of his cousin, Richard of York. The dynastic struggle between the House of York, whose badge was a white rose, and the House of Lancaster, later associated with a red rose, would stretch on for 30 years.
First Lady Martha Dandridge Custis Washington died on May 22, 1802.
On May 22, 1819, the steamship Savannah left the port of Savannah for Liverpool, England. After 29 days, it became the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. On May 22, 1944, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the voyage of the Savannah.
On May 22, 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner with his cane. Brooks used the cane as the result of injury sustained in a previous duel, and found Sumner at his desk in the Senate Chamber. In the course of a two-day Senate speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would have nullified the Missouri Compromise on the expansion of slavery, Sumner had criticized three legislators, including a cousin of Rep. Brooks, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina.
On May 22, 1932, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the commencement address for Oglethorpe University at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Governor Brian Kemp met in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the AJC.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gov. Brian Kemp met for roughly an hour Sunday at the Israeli leader’s Jerusalem office to discuss U.S.-Israeli relations, the threat of a nuclear Iran and economic development opportunities in Georgia.
The meeting was one of several between Kemp and high-level Israeli leaders near the start of the governor’s weeklong mission to Israel, a relatively small trading partner that packs an outsized economic, cultural and religious punch. He also had private sitdowns with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.
[Netanyahu] also questioned Kemp on the status of a bill to combat antisemitism — a sign the stalled measure has attracted the attention of Israel’s senior leaders. Kemp hasn’t taken a public stance on the measure, which passed the Georgia House but didn’t reach a final vote in the Senate.
The lengthy visit with Netanyahu was seen by Georgia officials as a show of respect to Kemp, whose rising political stature after last year’s midterm has given him new clout headed into the 2024 race for president.
“We spent a lot of time on foreign policy, and it was interesting hearing his perspective,” Kemp said in an interview. “And I was pleased he knew as much about the state of Georgia as he did from an economic perspective.”
Others with Kemp in the private meetings were House Speaker Jon Burns, Senate GOP leader John Kennedy, Republican state Rep. Shaw Blackmon and Harold Reynolds, the chair of the state Board of Regents.
They are among a delegation of roughly two dozen that includes Gulfstream executive Jay Neely; real estate investor Manny Fialkow; Anat Sultan-Dadon, the Israeli Consul General to the Southeast; and Pat Wilson, the head of the state economic development department.
Governor Brian Kemp announced three appointments in the state’s justice system, according to a press release.
Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced his appointment of Jeffrey A. Watkins to the Georgia Court of Appeals, Gregory N. Sasser as Solicitor General of Bacon County, and Jared Roberts as Solicitor General of Coffee County.
Jeffrey A. Watkins currently serves as a Superior Court Judge of the Cherokee Judicial Circuit, a position Governor Kemp appointed him to in 2019. Previously, he was the founding shareholder of Jeffrey A. Watkins, P.C. in Cartersville, specializing in business law, civil and commercial litigation, real estate and probate law, and zoning and land use. He was also a founding member of White, Choate, Watkins & Mroczko, LLC, and a Senior Associate at Moore, Ingram, Johnson & Steele in Marietta. Watkins is actively involved in his community, having been a member of the Bartow Rotary Club, Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Georgia Highlands College Foundation. He earned a B.B.A. from the University of Georgia and a J.D. from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.
Gregory N. Sasser serves as Regional Alternate Defender for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, maintaining all initial conflict appointed cases throughout the entirety of the five counties within that district. Previously, he ran Sasser Law LLC P.A., served as an assistant district attorney for the Waycross Judicial Circuit, and worked as a staff attorney for the Superior Court of the Waycross Judicial Circuit. Sasser earned his bachelor’s in History from the University of Valdosta and a J.D. from Florida Coastal School of Law.
Jared Roberts is the owner and founder of Jared L. Roberts, Attorney at Law, LLC and also serves as a judge for the Broxton Municipal Court. Previously, he worked as an attorney for Durham, Lewis, and Roberts and as an assistant public defender for the Waycross Judicial Circuit Defender’s Office. Roberts also worked as an Adjunct Professor of Business Law at South Georgia State College for three years. He is active in his community as a member of Carver Baptist Church and is the head basketball coach for Citizens Christian Academy. He earned both a B.B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Georgia.
Governor Kemp also made the following appointments via Executive Order:
Phil D. Miller as Douglas County Commission Chair [E.O. #05.18.23.01], filling the vacancy created by the suspension of Commission Chair Dr. Romona Jackson Jones;
Clarence Ricky Dobbs, Jr. as Douglas County District 1 Commissioner [E.O. #05.18.23.02], filling the vacancy created by the suspension of Commissioner Henry Mitchell.
Douglas County has two new commissioners appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp in the wake of a bid-rigging scandal.
Kemp suspended the two commissioners last month after their indictment for allegedly fixing a county contract for a campaign supporter.
Their replacements will remain in office until the criminal cases are resolved, or a special election can be held should there be a conviction.
Governor Brian Kemp announced the award of $225 million in federal COVID relief funds to local governments, according to a press release.
Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced preliminary grant awards totaling more than $225 million for 142 qualified projects that improve neighborhood assets like parks, recreation facilities, sidewalks, and healthy food access in communities all across the state disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With our partners on both the local and state levels, we’ve prioritized helping Georgia’s communities further recover from the pandemic with a bottom-up approach,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Today, we’re investing these funds to see that those most heavily impacted have even more resources at their disposal, and I want to thank our partners for helping us make that possible.”
In accordance with grant requirements, awarded funds will go to eligible non-profits and local governments to utilize in improving or maintaining recreational facilities in Qualified Census Tracts or for repair or maintenance needs due to significantly greater use of public facilities during the pandemic. A full list of the awardees and amounts can be found below.
“I want to thank Governor Brian Kemp for his leadership during the pandemic and today when local communities and citizens are still being impacted,” said Lt. Governor Burt Jones. “Georgia’s economy recovered quickly because of his leadership and the Georgia General Assembly’s partnership. We are committed to ensuring all available relief funds are appropriated in a responsible manner and utilized by communities who need assistance the most.”
“I appreciate Governor Kemp’s careful stewardship in awarding this funding to worthwhile projects in communities across our state,” said Speaker Jon Burns. “Throughout the pandemic, the General Assembly worked shoulder to shoulder with Governor Kemp to protect our citizens and keep our economy moving. We remain committed to working together to see that our best days are still ahead.”
Those with questions regarding allotments and criteria for the awards should email email@example.com. To view active grant opportunities, visit this site.
Troup County and LaGrange will receive more than $4 million of that funding, according to WTVM.
The Troup County Board of Commissioners received the news on Thursday that two grants they submitted had been approved. Both of those grants totaling to $4.4 million dollars. Some of the money is going to District 5.
“To be able to take $2.2 million and bring it to our district, it’s just amazing, and to take those funds and do some of the things that the community has requested for a number of years the swimming pool has been out now for a couple of years and we have been struggling to find locations to swimming and so to be able to have these funds to address that critical issue and that critical need is just an awesome opportunity,” says Jimmy McCamey Jr.
Not only is the board of commissioners making sure kids can enjoy themselves during the summer, something for all ages coming to the LaGrange Active Life facility as well.
“Pickleball, that is, like I said, it’s almost a brand new project for us here in Troup County. Currently we only have about four pickleball courts in the county as part of our recreation, and so this will allow us to make a large expansion of that project,” says Patrick Crews.
The new pool should be open in May of 2024. And we’re told work may be finished on the Pickleball facility in Lagrange late next year.
Albany will receive $6.6 million in grant money, according to the Albany Herald.
Gov. Brian P. Kemp has made preliminary grant awards totaling more than $225 million for 142 qualified projects that improve neighborhood assets like parks, recreation facilities, sidewalks, and healthy food access in communities all across the state disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city of Albany and other surrounding communities will benefit from the grants that the governor said were awarded using a “bottoms-up approach.” The Albany Parks and Recreation Department will receive $2.2 million for construction of two covered, outdoor basketball courts on the Carver Gym site, $2.2 million for its Henderson Gym project and $2.2 million for the Kalmon Malone Park project.
“These grants are crucial for the enhancement of recreational facilities in rural, southwest Georgia,” Rep. Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, said. “They are an investment in children from across our communities, who will be able to benefit from these park improvements. I want to thank Gov. Kemp and all those involved in making these developments happen.”
Among the other regional entities that received grants were the city of Arlington, which received $2.2 million for improvements to the city’s Arlington Multipurpose Park, and the city of Damascus, which will receive $579,811.10 for improvements to its city park. The Camilla Housing Authority will receive $2.2 million for development of a new park, while the city of Bainbridge is slated to receive the same amount for construction of a multipurpose trail originating at River Chase Drive.
“I am so very proud to be a part of the ARPA grants coming to the 13th Senate District,” state Sen. Carden Summers, R-Cordele, said. “These much-needed grants are designed to improve the quality of life of all citizens in south Georgia. A special thank you to all the city and county people that worked behind the scenes to help make these funds available.”
“These grants for local improvements are an investment in the future of our communities,” state Rep. Leesa Hagan, R-Fitzgerald, said. “By providing funds for infrastructure and development projects, our lives are enhanced, and we are better able to attract economic growth. They will be a catalyst for positive change in our neighborhoods, creating a ripple effect that will benefit our residents for years to come.”
“I’m grateful to Gov. Kemp for awarding these funds to Ben Hill County to improve areas where we, especially our children, gather together as a community.”
WALB has more on local SWGA recipients of grant funding.
At Boykin Road Park, a $1.7 million grant will be used to revitalize it from an athletic park to a passive park. Features will include comfort stations, picnic shelters, a walking track, a sustainable playground with an interactive water feature, new lighting, and a community garden with outdoor fitness equipment for seniors.
At May Park, $2.2 million will be used to add parking, a picnic shelter, seating, and a walking track and replace the old comfort station, tennis and basketball courts, and the grills. There will also be improvements inside the community center, including renovations to the restrooms, locker rooms, and steam rooms.
“One of the things, in terms of hosting tournaments, has been the “Achilles heel” for the city of Augusta, is not having the venues. Not having up-to-date parks and amenities,” said Maurice McDowell, director of the Augusta Parks and Recreation Department.
Mayor Garnett Johnson said: “To help in some of the failing infrastructure, as it relates to some of our parks. And as you can see, this is targeted around our youth and recreation, and we’re excited to receive those dollars.”
In downtown Augusta, $1.8 million will be used for the Jones Street Alley project to create a direct connection between Jones Street and the Augusta Common. Added sidewalks and alley space will provide opportunities for more community events and improve foot traffic between the central business district, the convention center, and the Augusta Common.
The state is pulling funding for the grants, which range in value from $8,136.70 to $2.2 million, from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program. Recipients can use the grants for repair or maintenance due to the increased use of public facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Greene County Recreation Department received the smallest grant — an $8,136.70 allocation to replace a more than 20-year-old scoreboard on one of its fields. Organizers say the project, one of eight department projects to receive funding under the latest tranche of federal dollars, will reduce disputes and complaints from patrons playing and supporting sports programs.
Fifty projects — including those in Atlanta, Carrollton, Gainesville, Metter and Vidalia — received grants of $2.2 million. In Almo, the city plans to upgrade the facilities in a local park, while officials in Walker County plan to use their grant to transform an unused grassy area and a dilapidated parking lot into a community gathering space to promote physical activity.
“These investments will have a profound impact on creating opportunities for physical activity, economic growth and enhanced accessibility,” state Rep. Mike Cameron, R-Rossville, said in a statement about the more than $4.8 million headed to various jurisdictions in Walker County.
Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation is getting a $2.2 million grant from the state to pay for accessibility improvements, Gov. Brian Kemp announced this past week.
Gwinnett officials said in their grant application they plan to use the grant funding to improve accessibility to parks that are within walking distances and safe.
More specifically, it will pay for improvements such as a playground, open green space, an outdoor gathering space and natural areas improvements, along with a greenway and a transit stop. The information from the application that was released by the state does not specify which park this will be at.
There are also plans to include a community garden and edible landscape area along the greenway to ensure visitors have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
“I appreciate Governor Kemp’s careful stewardship in awarding this funding to worthwhile projects in communities across our state,” Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns said. “Throughout the pandemic, the General Assembly worked shoulder to shoulder with Governor Kemp to protect our citizens and keep our economy moving. We remain committed to working together to see that our best days are still ahead.”
Clarke County Chief Superior Court Judge Eric Norris found that the Western Circuit District Attorney’s Office violated the Georgia Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights, according to the Athens Banner Herald.
Chief Superior Court Judge Eric Norris presided over a hearing under the statute called Marsey’s Law, but he has not decided on the consequences of the violation. The DA’s Office did not contest the Marsey’s Law violation.
The violation of a victim’s rights occurred in the prosecution of a rape and child molestation case involving a girl who was 14 at the time. Those charges were dismissed by the DA’s office after a jury was seated for a trial in April.
In a forceful voice, Epps said that not only should District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez come into the courtroom for a public reprimand, but her whole office of employees should be required to face a judge’s admonition.
“I’ll take that under advisement,” Norris said.
The hearing for a Marsey’s Law violation was the first ever for the Western Circuit, and possibly the state. The law went into effect in January 2019 and Norris said he could find no case law for its use. The statute is “broad in scope” and “narrow in remedies,” according to Norris.
Accused killer Actor Alec Baldwin will soon begin filming in Columbus, Georgia, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
After news broke this week that Alec Baldwin will star in the movie “Kent State,” a key question for the Columbus film industry arose: Is the “Kent State” movie still scheduled to be filmed in Columbus?
The entertainment news website Deadline Hollywood reported in September that “Kent State” would be filmed here.
Columbus Film Commission and VisitColumbusGa president and CEO Peter Bowden confirmed the news to the Ledger-Enquirer then.
But the movie’s producer, Autumn Moon Productions CEO Kristen Moser, told the L-E in a text message Friday, “Yes, we are planning to film in Columbus, GA – Dates TBD.”
Georgia’s Secretary of State’s office announced a ballot security program, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.
In a call with county election officials from across the state, Blake Evans, director of the secretary of state’s Elections Division, said the state will be conducting “health checks” in all 159 Georgia counties. The health checks will examine election management systems, ballot marking devices, and scanners to verify that the software used in last year’s elections has not been changed.
The secretary of state’s office also will coordinate with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to conduct security assessments of the storage and warehousing of all election equipment in each county, Evans said.
A longer-term undertaking will involve pilot projects to examine the functionality in a real-world setting of new software that has yet to be deployed anywhere in the state. Because the process will require updating nearly 45,000 pieces of voting equipment, the statewide move to the new software isn’t scheduled to take place until after the 2024 elections.
Georgia State Rep. Brent Cox (R-Dawsonville) was appointed to Chair the House Technology and Infrastructure Innovation Subcommittee on Cyber Security, according to AccessWDUN.
Rep. Brent Cox was appointed by House Technology and Infrastructure Innovation Committee Chairman Todd Jones, who represents South Forsyth. As chairman, Cox will collaborate with other legislators from both sides of the aisle to enhance cyber security for state agencies and promote educational pathways for the career field.
“When I first decided to run that was a subject matter that was near and dear to my heart, and working with some colleagues within the state and also with some friends over in Israel,” Cox said. “It was something that I felt was needed within the state of Georgia, to ensure that our departments and agencies are protected. The private industry is protected with all of the cyber attacks and artificial intelligence that’s used on both sides with machine learning, this is something that we’ve really got to be ahead of.”
Cox plans to work with the Georgia Cyber Center, along with members of the Israeli Government, in order to use their expertise to bolster the current condition of the state’s cyber security.
“Locally, within Georgia and within the United States, we’ll be working with some companies as well, to see where our weak points are,” Cox said. “We want to make sure that we strengthen those or at least put guardrails or umbrellas over the data to make sure that we’re protecting said data within all the different industries and fields that we live around from healthcare to education to banking.”
Technology-based legislation can be difficult to pass, Cox said, due to the speed at which the field advances.
“Creating legislation that would be organic enough that will evolve as technologies evolve, because sometimes you can create a bill and pass it and by the time it’s created, it’s no longer existent,” Cox said. “So we want to make sure that we see what the weak points are.”
Cox emphasized how the subcommittee is a bipartisan effort, pulling in both Democrat and Republican members since cyber security has “an impact on everyone”. Other members included on the subcommittee are Debbie Buckner (D-Junction City), Stacey Evans (D-Atlanta), Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas), Don Parsons (R-Marietta), Brian Prince (D-Augusta), Long Tran (D-Dunwoody), Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville) and Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). Chairman Todd Jones and State Representative Brad Thomas (R-Holly Springs) will also serve as ex-officio members.
Floyd County Board of Education members will discuss property taxes, according to the Rome News Tribune.
The Floyd County Board of Education will discuss the recent property tax increases early Monday during a called meeting with Floyd County Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne and Chief Tax Appraiser Danny Womack.
“We asked for Kevin and Danny to brief the board,” Deputy Superintendent Jamey Alcorn said. “We just want everyone on the same page because the BOE has been working hard to reduce costs and keep the millage rates low.”
Womack has said the board of assessors is mandated by state law to assess a property’s value at, or as close as possible to, the actual market value.
In addition to listing the current property value, the assessment also includes an anticipated property tax. That, according to Womack, is what is causing the sticker shock.
Although the tax is based on the market value of the property, the May assessment and the tax bill that goes out in August are two separate things. The 2023 millage rates have not yet been set and are typically done in July.
Some Hall County property owners are also experiencing higher assessments, according to the Gainesville Times.
Since receiving assessment notices in the mail, many homeowners across Hall County are seeing sharp increases in the assessed value of their homes.
[Babette] Baker, who lives on a fixed income, saw the appraised value of her Flowery Branch home reach $385,000 just last year. Now that her property has been reassessed at $415,000, Baker is now faced with a $4,356 tax bill – a $1,200 increase since last year.
With inflation driving up costs across every sector of the U.S. economy, Baker fears that she can no longer afford to live there.
“The buyers and the sellers are the ones that are telling us what a property is worth by the sales activity that they produce,” Watson said. “It’s our job, based on the law, to reflect that in the appraisals. Property owners can expect our values to eventually emulate what the market is telling us that the properties are worth.”
According to Watson, low inventory has continued to drive up home prices across Hall County – which also has contributed to higher property values.
After receiving an assessment notice in the mail, homeowner Sandra Knapp said she’s never seen an increase this drastic since she’s lived in Hall County. Just this year, Knapp said her three bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom home in Newberry Point subdivision in Flowery Branch climbed in value from $299,700 to $399,500.
“That’s just crazy,” she said. “It went up just short of $100,000. “..and we don’t have a basement. If you had a basement and another bedroom and another bathroom in this place, maybe I would see that. But nothing like this.”
This year, according to Deputy Chief Appraiser John Smith, 89% of all residential properties in Hall County increased in value. That increase, on average, was just above 26% – though there is a “caveat” to this statistic, he said.
There is some relief for taxpayers who qualify: House Bill 18, signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in March, provides nearly $1 billion in property tax breaks to homeowners across Georgia.
Watson said that anyone who has received a homestead exemption before April 1 is by default eligible for a $18,000 reduction in the assessed value of their property.
One Valdosta-Lowndes will promote the development of Valdosta and Lowndes County, according to the Valdosta Daily Post.
The joint endeavor of strategic partners, One Valdosta-Lowndes representatives said the organization is prepared to “deliver on the promise of good things to come, as the initiative launch comes after years of work and a stated mission of commitment to the future success of all of Lowndes County.”
A partnership of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, the City of Valdosta, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority, the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce, Valdosta State University, South Georgia Medical Center and Georgia Power Company, One Valdosta-Lowndes is “positioned to bring a spirit of collaboration, vision and action towards achieving the shared goals of the community,” representative said in a prepared statement.
Housed operationally within the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce, One Valdosta-Lowndes is designed to serve as a catalyst for growth and change by bringing business and industry, the faith community and the nonprofit sector to the table with its public sector partners to facilitate positive development and economic opportunity in Lowndes County, representatives said.
Christie Moore, Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber president and chief executive officer, said, “The most successful communities in Georgia and across the United States have one major quality in common: collaboration.
“One Valdosta-Lowndes is committed to working collaboratively with partners across our community to ensure economic opportunities and an enjoyable quality of life for all. The chamber is honored to house One Valdosta-Lowndes and to provide the necessary staff and operational support to ensure the initiative is successful. We are thrilled to see OVL launched and excited to see what the future holds.”
Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter said, “This is a big moment for all of Lowndes County. The rollout of One Valdosta-Lowndes will be a community effort to bring forth ideas, implementation and completion of efforts to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Lowndes County. I ask that our community welcome Mary Beth Brownlee as the One Valdosta-Lowndes director. I have complete confidence in her helping us make Lowndes County as the best place to live, work and raise our families.”
Another early investor in OVL, Ronnie Dean, South Georgia Medical Center president and chief executive officer, expressed his excitement for the initiative and the commitment it will take, saying, “Everyone involved with the One Valdosta-Lowndes initiative has demonstrated the highest level of commitment to seeing our community grow and prosper. Without question, we are much stronger together as one.”
Joseph Marks announced he is running for Gwinnett County Sheriff as a Democrat, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Joseph Mark, an Army veteran who grew up in Gwinnett, kicked off his campaign for sheriff with a press conference Friday at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.
He told the Daily Post afterward that he plans to run against incumbent Sheriff Keybo Taylor in the Democratic Party primary next year, although he believes sheriffs should be elected in nonpartisan elections, the same way judges are elected.
“Gwinnett’s been my home my entire life (and) I’ve noticed there are problems that are facing our jails, right, and I’ve noticed an uptick in crime and I’m not happy with it,” Mark said.
Mark is among a growing number of people who have so far publicly announced plans to run in 2024 against Taylor, who is in his first term and is Gwinnett’s first Black sheriff. Retired Navy Capt. Baron Reinhold announced in March that he will run as a Republican for the seat.
The Georgia Campaign Finance Commission lists Curtis Clemons, who ran for sheriff in 2020, as having filed a declaration of intent to accept campaign contributions with the state in February for another run as a Democrat. Clemons, who has been working as an investigator in District Attorney Patsy Austin-Gatson’s office, has not yet made a formal public announcement, however.
There have been rumors that other candidates are looking at possibly jumping into the race as well.
Savannah Board of Aldermen District 4 member Nick Palumbo announced he will run for reelection, according to WTOC.
“We have a lot of challenges ahead of us and a lot of accomplishments behind us. We have been able to achieve the vision 0 pledge, 100% Savannah and so much more. We’re getting back to basics on infrastructure and public safety is serving better than ever before – we’ve seen a dramatic reduction just in this last year,” Palumbo said.
Savannah’s municipal Election Day is November 7.
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