Friday, 19 July 2024


The Sixth Street home is a complete loss, according to fire officials. A car nearby also was damaged. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – Two people escaped a fire that completely destroyed their house Saturday morning.

Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells said the fire was reported at about 5:45 a.m. at a Sixth Street home.

Two people in the rented single-story home woke up to find it fully involved in fire, said Wells, and were able to escape.

Wells said 10 firefighters from Lakeport Fire, two from Kelseyville Fire Protection District and a total of three engines responded to the fire.

Firefighters were on scene until about 11:30 a.m., Wells said.

The cause of the fire, said Wells, is a cigarette. One of the home's residents had fallen asleep while smoking.

The home is a complete loss, Wells said.

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KELSEYVILLE – Caltrans reported Thursday that it has completed the signalization project at the intersection of Route 29/281 (Kit’s Corner).

The traffic signal will be activated on Thursday, Nov. 1, according to a report from Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie Jr.

Caltrans reminded motorists to always drive cautiously and courteously, especially while motorists become accustomed to the new signal.

The operational project will improve the movement of traffic through the intersection of Route 29, Route 281 (Soda Bay Road) and Red Hills Road, according to Caltrans.

In addition, officials expect a reduction in the number of collisions involving turning vehicles at the intersection.

The contractor, Steiny and Co. Inc. of Vallejo, began construction on Aug. 30, Frisbie reported.

The Nov. 1 completion date is about one month ahead of schedule, according to Caltrans.

Caltrans previously reported that the stoplight was installed at a cost of just under $500,000.


COBB – An early Saturday morning collision resulted in a man being seriously injured and later arrested for driving under the influence.

The collision, which Lake County News reported on Saturday, took place at 1:35 a.m. that same day, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Justin Rodella, 26, of Middletown was driving his 1997 Jeep Wrangler northbound on Highway 175 south of Wildcat Road when he struck a deer in the road and swerved to the right, according to Garcia.

Rodella's Jeep then went up an embankment, struck a tree and traveled left, going back into the roadway, Garcia said.

When the Jeep reentered the road Garcia said it was struck by a 1985 Dodge Ram SUV driven by Timothy Tillman, 30, of Cobb.

The collision caused the Jeep to roll over; Garcia said it came to rest on its right side in the southbound lane.

Garcia said Rodella sustained major non-life threatening injuries. He was flown by REACH helicopter to Sutter Lakeside Hospital, which later released him.

Rodella was subsequently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, said Garcia.

Garcia said Officer Steve Tanguay is investigating the collision.

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A Kelseyville firefighter works at the scene of Bob Roy's home, which burned Friday evening. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



KELSEYVILLE – An older model single-wide mobile home was gutted Friday night after a fire broke out in the living room area.

The fire broke out at about 8:10 p.m. in the trailer, situated in Space 50 at Live Oak Trailer Park at 5935 Live Oak Drive. The trailer was the home of Bob Roy, who neighbors at the park said is in his 80s.

A neighbor’s Ford Bronco, parked in Roy’s driveway as a courtesy to discourage strangers from parking there, suffered moderate damages in the blaze.

The neighbor and owner of the restored Bronco, Linda Cole, said she has known Roy since 1998, the year she first moved to the park.

Roy had not been able to afford regular propane deliveries and just recently purchased a second portable electric heater which he frequently moved about the home as needed, said Cole.

Kelseyville Fire Protection District Chief Howard Strickler would not speculate nor offer any theory as to the cause of the fire.

Strickler indicated that the fire crew would remain on scene for at least one hour after the blaze was extinguished.

There was no word on the condition of Roy, who was reportedly in the home when the fire started.

E-mail Harold LaBonte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The fire, which started just after 8 p.m., began in the trailer's living room. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



A friend's Bronco parked near the trailer also was damaged. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, the House of Representatives again passed a bipartisan bill to provide health coverage to more than 10 million children.

HR 3963, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (SCHIP) was introduced Oct. 24 following President Bush's veto earlier this month of a previous version of the bill, HR 976.

Last week Congress failed to override the president's veto.

The new bill passed in the House in a Thursday evening vote.

Congressman Mike Thompson, who has been a strong supporter of the SCHIP legislation, issued a statement Thursday afternoon in which he said the new bill strengthens language that the president claimed to be problematic in the previous version.


“The president alleged that the first bill covered illegal immigrants, which couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Thompson (D-St. Helena), who voted in favor of the bill. “However, the new bill clearly spells out the process by which states must verify citizenship before enrolling new beneficiaries, ensuring that the SCHIP program only serves U.S. citizens.”

President Bush also had opposed the previous version of the bill because he said it added as much as $50 million in additional spending and that it would cover children living in households with incomes as high as $83,000.

In response to the latter concern, Thompson said the new bill specifically prohibits the administration from issuing waivers that allow children in families with income over 300 percent of the poverty level to enroll in SCHIP.

The bill still continues coverage for the 6.6 million children currently enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), including more than 1,600 children in Lake County, according to Thompson's office. It also extends coverage to 4 million uninsured children who qualify for the program, but aren’t currently enrolled.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to get these 10 million kids covered,” said Thompson.

Thompson maintained that this version and its predecessor were both “born out of bipartisan compromise,” adding, “today’s bill is a further gesture that we are committed to working across the aisle to create strong, effective policy.”

“There is simply no room for playing politics when it comes to the health of our kids,” Thompson said. “This bill passed with an overwhelming bipartisan vote and is supported by 43 governors and the vast majority of Americans. We cannot and will not give up on the health and the future of our children.”

However, the bill is far from being out of the woods.

Republicans decried the vote's timing, with President Bush and some top Republican lawmakers coming to California to assess the wildfire damage.

Thirteen Southern California Republicans sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asking for the vote to be rescheduled until after they could return from offering assistance to their constituents.

Congressman Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), the House Republican Whip, issued a statement Thursday criticizing Pelosi's decision not to reschedule the vote while the Southern California House members were away.

That move, Blount said, disenfranchised “a large segment of the most populous state in the union” and throws the vote's integrity into doubt.

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This image of the area around Los Angeles captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite on October 22, shows smoke pouring from several large blazes northwest of Los Angeles. MODIS flies onboard NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites as part of the NASA-centered international Earth Observing System.

LAKE COUNTY – Firefighters from around Lake County left Monday to join the fight against wildland fires that are ravaging seven Southern California counties.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reported Monday evening that 14 large fires have burned nearly 270,000 acres across Southern California. In San Diego County alone more than 168,000 acres have burned.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office reported that 250,000 people have been evacuated from Southern California communities.

Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells said firefighters from four Lake County agencies and one department in Mendocino County left early Monday morning as part of a five-engine strike team.

They met at the intersection of Highway 53 and 20 to travel to Interstate 5 and down to Southern California, said Wells. He received a call from them at 10 a.m. while they stopped along the way.

Wells said Lake County resources heading south include four engines – one each from Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District and South County Fire Protection District – with each engine accompanied by three firefighters.

In addition, Lakeport Fire Protection District sent a strike team leader and an assistant strike team leader was supplied by Northshore Fire Protection District, said Wells.

The fifth engine with three more firefighters came from Anderson Valley, said Wells.

Wells said local firefighters were first alerted that they might be needed early Sunday afternoon by Mark Reina of Cal Fire, who is involved with coordinating firefighter response for the local Office of Emergency Services.

Local fire agencies have a mutual aid policy, said Wells, and earlier this summer responded to the Lick Fire in Morgan Hill.

On Sunday night, Reina let local agencies know that they would, indeed, be needed, Wells said.

“We don't really know the commitment time when they call us,” said Wells, adding that Lake County's firefighters will remain in Southern California “as long as they need us.”

He added that, with the fires burning now in Southern California, “it's probably going to be a longtime commitment.”

In addition to Lake County firefighters, Fire Captain Justin Benguerel of Cal Fire said Monday that firefighters from the agency's Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit were activated Sunday and began leaving that same afternoon.

The Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit sent 20 “overhead” positions – or personnel who help runs firefighting teams – Benguerel said.

In addition, Benguerel said the unit sent two engine strike teams totaling 10 engines, 30 firefighters and one leader; three crew strike teams totaling 54 people; and one bulldozer strike team, which included two bulldozers and five personnel.

Benguerel said the unit was putting together another engine strike team Monday morning.

Cal Fire's local unit often sends strike teams to fires around the state, said Benguerel. But the recent mobilization is significant, he said.

“We haven't seen this type of mobilization on this type of scale since 2003,” said Benguerel, when the unit sent aid to the 280,278-acre Cedar Fire in San Diego County.

State sends resources to assist

On Monday, Gov. Schwarzenegger directed the California National Guard to make 1,500 guardsmen – including 200 troops currently patrolling the California/Mexico border – available to support the firefighting efforts. Schwarzenegger also quested four National Guard helicopters through the Office of Emergency Services.

Also at Schwarzenegger's direction, by Monday more than 2,300 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmates and more than 170 custody staff had joined city and county fire departments and state agencies as part of a major coordinated effort to battle the widespread wildfires in Southern California. Additional crews are being mobilized.

In order to make more resources available for the firefighting effort, on Sunday night Schwarzenegger declared a State of Emergency in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

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LAKE COUNTY – The California Highway Patrol (CHP) hopes to scare motorists away from the idea of drunk driving this Halloween.

Last year, the weekend prior to Halloween, CHP officers arrested 1,258 people throughout the state for driving under the influence (DUI).

“If you’re caught driving under the influence, officers will be treating you to time in the local jail,” said CHP Lt. Dane Hayward of the Clear Lake Area office.

In addition to possible jail time, DUI violators face loss of their driver’s license, alcohol-treatment classes and other expenses that can exceed $10,000.

“One way to help keep your good time this Halloween from becoming a drunk driving nightmare is to designate a sober driver before the drinking begins,” said Hayward.

However, the problem of drunk driving is not just seasonal in California.

DUI is the leading cause of fatal traffic collisions in California. In 2006, 1,597 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes; they represent 38 percent of the overall total. Another sobering statistic, 14 percent of victims killed in alcohol-involved collisions were under age 21.

The CHP encourages motorists to call 9-1-1 to report suspected drunk drivers. Be ready to provide the vehicle’s license plate number, make and model, and location.

In addition to keeping an eye on the road, pedestrian safety is also of paramount concern for the CHP. Last Halloween there were 57 collisions in California involving pedestrians, two were fatal.

“Helping to ensure the safety of trick-or-treaters will take a combined effort from both motorists and parents,” said Hayward. “By taking a few extra precautions, everyone can have a safe and fun Halloween.”

Motorists should watch for children darting out from between parked cars and walking on roadways. Also, when driving, be sure to enter and exit driveways carefully. Parents make sure your child can be seen, especially when it gets dark. Remind the kids to look both ways before crossing the street and to use the crosswalks at intersections.


LAKE COUNTY – Local firefighters remain at work in Southern California as fires continue to wreak havoc in the region.

On Monday, four Lake County fire agencies – Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District and South County Fire Protection District – each sent an engine and a total of 14 firefighting personnel to Southern California, as Lake County News reported Tuesday.

An engine and three firefighters from Anderson Valley in Mendocino County accompanied the Lake County contingent, according to Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells.

On Wednesday Wells reported that the local firefighters are working shifts of 24 hours with 24 hours off. Wednesday was a day for them to rest, he said.

“They're all safe and sound,” Wells said. “They were involved with some structure protection last night.”

Wells said the Lake County firefighters are working with a division assigned to the Lake Arrowhead area. On Tuesday night the division had eight structure fires but managed to save 75 homes, he said.

So far, local agencies haven't had to send any more firefighters, said Wells.

Due to the extreme fire conditions in Southern California, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reopened Northern California's fire season, which was to have officially closed on Monday.

The change, Cal Fire officials reported, allowed Cal Fire to retain seasonal employees to help fight the Southern California fires while keeping Northern California stations adequately staffed.

Cal Fire Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit Battalion Chief Redhawk Palleson said the unit already had laid off about half of the seasonal personnel it employs, but kept the rest.

Information provided by Fire Prevention Specialist Suzie Blankenship shows that Cal Fire employs about 400 seasonal fire personnel.

Palleson said the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit has sent 150 personnel – including firefighters and command personnel – along with 15 engines and three bulldozers to Southern California. “We've sent just about as many people as we can right now.”

Monday was the big push to send firefighters, said Palleson, with requests for additional help slowing since then.

Wells said it's still not clear when Lake County's firefighters will come home.

Generally, when they begin releasing equipment on large fires, Wells said officials send those from farthest away home first, which in this case could include Lake County's contingent.

Earlier this summer Lake County firefighters were away for three days to help fight the Lick Fire near Morgan Hill, said Wells.

The longest out-of-county assignment they had previous to that was in 1993, when they spent eight days fighting a fire in Malibu.

Cal Fire's Wednesday evening report stated that 461,587 acres had burned across San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Santa Barbara, Riverside and Ventura counties.

The acreage burned in Southern California so far is nearly six times the size of the land scorched by the 1996 Forks Fire. That fire burned 83,000 acres in the Mendocino National Forest and on private property in parts of Lake County.

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HIGH VALLEY – Mechanical problems led to a single-vehicle accident Sunday evening that injured several people.

Officer Adam Garcia of the California Highway Patrol reported that the accident occurred at 6:40 p.m. on Sunday along High Valley Road, 1.4 miles past the end of the pavement in the area north of Clearlake Oaks.

Justin Watkins, 23, of Clearlake was at the wheel when he began having problems with his vehicle's transmission, Garcia reported.

The vehicle's engine was shut off as Watkins drove downhill, said Garcia. Watkins went around a corner too fast, and experienced trouble with the steering and breaks.

As a result the vehicle went off the road's south edge and rolled over a few times before coming to

rest about 130 feet down the hill, said Garcia.

Watkins was uninjured, said Garcia. However, one of Watkins' passengers, 30-year-old Anthony Thomas of Clearlake, was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital via REACH air ambulance with moderate to major injuries, according to Garcia.

The other passengers included 22-year-old Cheryl Harmen and 21-year-old Jessica Bal, both of Clearlake, who were both transported by Clearlake Oaks Fire Department ambulance to Redbud Community Hospital, each with minor to moderate injuries, Garcia reported.

Garcia said a third passenger, Keoni Barry, 30, of Clearlake sustained minor injuries but was not transported.

CHP Officer Mark Barnes is investigating the incident, Garcia said.

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UKIAH – Mendocino College’s Bond Implementation Planning Committee has issued its first “Measure W Bond Program Quarterly Status Report – October 2007,” detailing financial and other information regarding the College’s $67.5 million construction and renovation bond.

With the addition of state and other matching funds, the Measure W program has a total projected budget of $97.4 million.


A presentation of the report was given to the Measure W Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) on Tuesday, Oct. 9, and to the Mendocino-Lake Community College Board of Trustees on Wednesday, Oct. 10.


The report provides a summary of the 30 construction and renovation projects listed under the bond, and provides 16 separate summary sheets for projects in progress. As of August 2007, $1,165,746 has been expended and $677,053 has been encumbered.


“Since last November a great deal of work has gone into program planning, establishing numerous project committees and a Facilities Planning office, setting up financial reporting, and starting projects such as re-roofing, procurement of a new computer system and submitting the Final Plan Proposal for our new Library/Learning Resource Center,” said Superintendent/President Kathy Lehner. “We believe Measure W will open more doors, literally, for student success, and we are very excited about the numerous projects we have moving forward. We will continue to keep the public informed about our activities, through media, our website and the quarterly reports.”


A copy of the report, along with other bond information, is available online at or by contacting the Public Information Office at 468-3012.


Also posted at the same web address are the agendas and minutes for the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee’s quarterly meetings, which are open to the public.


Their next meeting will be held at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008, at the Mendocino College Willits Center, 11 Marin St.


The voters, authorizing $67.5 million of facilities bond funds, passed measure W on Nov. 7, 2006.


LAKE COUNTY – On Oct. 25, many restaurants in Lake County will help open the dialogue on how to end domestic violence in our communities by participating in the “Empty Place at the Table” project.

Participating restaurants will be displaying placemats designed by the Lake Family Resource Center Domestic Violence Assistance Program to raise awareness of the issues surrounding DV and ways individuals can help victims of this crime.

“An Empty Place” is a living memorial to women, children and men who have died as a result of domestic violence. The Women’s Resource Center in Scranton, Penn., a center for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse, began the project after a string of domestic violence related murders in 1993.

In Lake County there have been at least six domestic violence-related homicides within the last 24 months.

The idea behind the project is to illustrate the void in the lives of surviving families that domestic violence leaves behind an empty place at the table. A sister who won’t celebrate another birthday, a mother missing from the Thanksgiving dinner table, or a child who will never graduate from high school.

Because everyone gathers at a table sometime, the meaning transcends ethnicity, race, class and age. Through “An Empty Place,” each victim is recognized for their individuality, while at the same time allowing viewers to view the problem universally; because domestic violence is not limited to any one group.

To mark the day, Lake Family Resource Center and restaurants throughout Lake County are encouraging everyone to call their friends and families to meet for lunch and talk about domestic violence.

The restaurants will have the placemats on the table where you can get information regarding local services for victims and ideas on how you can support friends and living with violence.

Participating restaurants are:

  • Clearlake – Main Street Bar & Grill, Cactus Grill, and Kathie’s Inn;

  • Lakeport – Tacos El Rey, Mollie Brennan’s, Ku-Hú-Guí Café at Konocti Vista Casino, and Angelina’s Bakery;

  • Kelseyville – Classic Rock Café at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, Live Oak Grill, and Saw Shop Gallery Bistro;

  • Upper Lake – Judy’s Junction and Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe;

  • Cobb – Brick Oven Pizza and Rob Roy Creekside Restaurant;

  • Nice – Rancheria Grill at Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino;

  • Middletown – Brian’s Pizza.

In support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the placemats were used at October program meetings.

Working together, our communities can assure that on this day Lake County residents will be talking in classrooms, offices, homes, and coffeehouses, about the fact that nearly one in three women will be abused in her lifetime. We will tell our daughters that a boy should never hit them, or isolate them from others. We will open a new conversation with an acquaintance we suspect might be suffering in silence.

Law enforcement, women's shelters and government officials alone cannot prevent men from abusing the women they claim to love (or, in statistically fewer cases, women from abusing the men they claim to love). But everyone can take this initiative and make it their own - helping to reach the people whose lives you touch who are victims of family violence.

You can make a difference on Oct. 19. Talk to someone in your life about domestic violence. If you're not sure how to get the conversation started call Lake Family Resource Center to request resource materials – or to talk with a domestic violence family advocate.

Now imagine a day when we won't need to talk about domestic violence ever again.

Please join Lake Family Resource Center in making this dream a reality.

For information about the many family resources at Lake FRC, please call 707-262-1611 or 1-888-775-4336.


BUCKINGHAM – Initial tallies are showing another great year for the Lake County Wine Alliance's annual auction.

The event was held Saturday at Buckingham.

Auction chair Marie Beery noted that "it was a beautiful event ... taken to another level this year with the participation of Narsai David and (auctioneer) Archie McLaren."

Wine Alliance member Wilda Shock reported Monday that more than 400 people attended the auction.

She said Wine Alliance Treasurer Rob Roumiguiere reported that the live auction's 34 lots brought $71,300, with 84 silent auction lots bringing an additional $14,500.

The single item bringing the highest bid in the live auction was Mike and Jan Thompson's "Pig Out at the Pump House" for $5,200, said Shock. A private tasting, tour and lunch at Ceago Vinegarden brought $3,600 and then was doubled for another group, netting $7,200.


The travel and wine packages in the live auction were geographically varied and included some special wine lots put together by master of ceremonies Narsai David which weren't included in the printed program, Shock added.

Event sponsors provided $65,500, said Shock, with ticket sales totaling more than $36,000.

Another large contribution, said Shock, came from the 21 wineries and 22 restaurants and food purveyors who donated all their goods and services. This year saw the largest number ever of winery and restaurants participants.

Seven Lake County wineries contributed to the Syrah Blend cuvee crafted by Jed Steele and Joy Merrilees at Steele Wines; five wineries donated to the Sauvignon Blanc cuvee, Shock said. These special blends were offered in one 9-liter bottle each in the live auction, and served at the tables of the major sponsors. A new feature this year was a bottle of donated Dusinberre champagne served to the tables of the high bidders for each live auction lot.

The event also included a special Congressional recognition of Gerald Ployez, who served as the Lake County Wine Alliance's first president when the nonprofit formed in 2000.


This year's Wine Auction beneficiaries include Sponsoring Survivorship, the Adult Day Care/Respite Day Care Centers, Habitat for Humanity of Lake County, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lake County, Lake County Community Radio/KPFZ, the fine arts programs at the five Lake County high schools, and the Meals on Wheels on programs at five senior centers.

Organizers report that more than $530,000 has been contributed to community groups in Lake County from the proceeds of the first six auctions. The auction chair is Marie Beery, assisted by Linda Byrd, co-chair, both of Kelseyville.


Estimated proceeds that will be donated to the selected beneficiaries will be between $85,000 and $90,000, Shock said, roughly equivalent to the funds raised in the two auctions. She said auction bidders are directly benefiting the organizations with their purchases, as sponsors and ticket sales primarily cover expenses of producing this major event, and those costs have increased every year.


Plans for next year's event are about to begin. The Wine Auction committee is meeting next week to start the review process and planning for the 2008 event, scheduled for Oct. 18.


Information about sponsorships and donations may be obtained from the Lake County Wine Alliance, P.O. Box 530, Kelseyville 95451; phone 866-279-WINE.


Upcoming Calendar

07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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