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Posts Tagged ‘Kenmore’

How will we know it’s us without our past?

John Steinbeck

There is a Bothell I used to know. It is an increasingly distant memory, a mist flickering on the moors of my imagination. What remains of that Bothell amounts to the dying embers of a fire that is being stamped out by an oversized boot called Progress.

In the early 20th century, progress was a large house for the Ericksen family, Bothell pioneers. Gerhard Ericksen was a state legislator whose legacy lives on although most people don’t know his role in the building of Bothell. The Ericksen family only owned this house for a few years. Then it became home to a different family who stayed for quite a while.

The Bothell the Ericksens helped build was not a city that decimated its natural resources and constructed seas of soulless boxes priced beyond what many could bear. It was a Bothell that coexisted with much of its natural environment, that built individual homes with sufficient space between them.

This is summer 2019. Unable to bear the high property taxes any longer, and with property values going through the roof, the strained owners of our eclectic beloved shopping center sold out to developers. An out of state company headquartered in Atlanta stepped in.

Fences went up, buildings started coming down. I was told that the City of Bothell didn’t have the money to save any historic buildings at Country Village on the Bothell-Everett Highway south of Canyon Park. The developer did not respond to questions.

The free-roaming chickens were rounded up and rehomed. People started to take mementos from Country Village without permission. There were online auctions and some of us asked what protections the ducks would be given. We were assured that the duck pond would stay, but that did not mean a thing for the surrounding land that the ducks have nested and lived on for generations.

Have you ever watched Disneyland burn? That’s how losing Country Village feels. For decades we shopped there, ate there, fed ducks there until they banned it, saw Santa there, sang songs there, took photos of the reindeer there. Country Village is where people went for haircuts, Moso bags, toys, antiques, Pirate Day. You could stop by for no other reason than to sit on a bench near the pond and enjoy a bag of kettle corn.

There was a peace there. Malls don’t have this peace. Urban shopping centers don’t have this lifeforce. The feathered fowl, the willow tree, the aging arches and old wagon lent themselves to a calm in the frenzied Seattle metro bustle. No matter how busy it was, you could hear yourself breathe.

On this sweltering day I stepped inside the northern arch to photograph one of the buildings that, to my amazement, was left standing. A security guard approached and related how people were waltzing into the property despite signs indicating that we needed to go no further than where I was. A red dragonfly hovered above his car as we talked at length. Who were you really, dragonfly?

Above is one of the two buildings that I learned would be left standing until April 2020. If someone does not move the buildings by then, they too will be lost forever. So I put the word out– free houses! But there they stand, and now it’s October. They have less than six months to live unless we find a kindhearted soul to save them.

This is the front of that old building. I stood there and stared into the ragged trellis of 2 X 4s designed to protect its interior. But for how long?

How long have these houses stood here unmolested? And now they waste away in hopes of a savior, a moving truck, new land to live the rest of their lives. I remain perturbed that there has not been an organized effort to save them. There are so few like them left.

I still have books I bought in these buildings as a kid.

The Ericksen House served as Whitehouse Antiques in recent years. They had quite the collection of candy and chocolate in addition to metal signs and antiques. Visitors would wind their way through its midsection, then clomp downstairs to circle the basement where, inevitably, someone would always trip at an unexpected step down. Then you’d clomp upstairs past the records on the wall and visit the old bedrooms that were either too hot or too cold.

In an era of big box homes with tiny to no yards, it’s disturbing that a historic beauty like this could go the way of the dodo. Experts tell me that because of vandalism and remodels much of the interior isn’t original. But the bones are still there. And it’s still significant. And it’s still one of a kind.

Descendants of the Ericksens marched in the 2019 Bothell Fourth of July Parade.

This is now October 2019. The former Country Village site looks like someone scraped away all of its trees and creatures and structures with a merciless metal spatula. Someone meaning Progress. This is what’s happening throughout King County as forests are being razed for huge developments, like the travesty in Black Diamond where thousands of cookie cutter homes will transform that wild, tiny mining town into Anywhere, USA.

The land regulations that allow this alarming displacement of wildlife and construction of myriad buildings that are grossly unsuited to the surrounding habitat are supposedly environmentally sensitive. “People need somewhere to live” they tell me. Why do they have to wipe out the local biome and pack people in like sardines? “We need affordable housing,” they say. Then why can’t longtime locals like myself even afford half of one of these supposedly affordable units?

This is the land where we ban plastic straws but tear down acres of proud ancient trees without regard for the inhabitants who’ve been there for thousands of years. There is no empathy for the mountain beavers, coyotes, deer, possums, raccoons, bears, birds, fish. Many of the new inhabitants have no connection to the surrounding environment or local history.

What’s that in the distance? To the right?

What’s that to the left? Oh. The same generic buildings that will soon fill the entire site. That seem to be dominating the Seattle metro area. That are consuming the I5 corridor from Chehalis to Bellingham.

This is what’s left of the duck pond. The rest of their habitat has been destroyed. I don’t know how ducks will be able to roam a high density complex of concrete freely, but Progress knows.

Look north and there it is, its footings being sheared away by loud machines. The Ericksen House is still standing proudly in the face of impending destruction. It’s nightmarish seeing this, and only this corner, of the village left.

It seems illogical, implausible, impossible that in a community as collectively wealthy as Bothell that we cannot find enough of us to band together and save this.

This is not a sinkhole. Not literally. But these buildings will be sucked into the sinkhole of Progress next spring without intervention.

The arch that used to say “welcome” now serves as a billboard for the demolition company.

Near. Far. But near could soon be so much farther that we’ll never see it again.

Will the road signs have to be changed too? Or will they stay and remind us of what Progress has cost?

As if there weren’t enough of these on the former back lot already, here are over a hundred more… along with thousands up and down the Bothell-Everett Highway. As an out of town visitor said, this road seems to have turned into a nonstop block of high density from downtown Bothell to Everett. Where is the wildlife supposed to go? Where are the lower to middle class people supposed to go?

After taking that photo I looked south. This cloud looked like a hand, a tidal wave, an angry face, or perhaps, if you tilt your head to the left, a mighty angel sheltering something with its wings.

If buildings could talk, these two might be reciting lyrics from the ’80s, the decade Country Village was born.

My defenses are down
A kiss or a frown
I can’t survive on my own…

Send me an angel
Send me an angel
Right now…

Above is the Ericksen family plot in the Bothell Pioneer Cemetery near UW Bothell, established 1889. Like the house they built so long ago, their graves face east, hoping for new life.

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History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.

David McCullough

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Bothell’s Yakima Fruit Market is a family-owned business that has been around for 81 years. Sound Transit intends to put a bus lane right through it. Please stop by and grab a postcard to send to Sound Transit in the interest of saving this Bothell institution.

Right now it seems like Bothell is destroying all of its traditional community gathering places to be more urban, worldly, and generic. Country Village is gone. If the Ericksen House and Carriage House, the only two buildings left standing there after demolition, are not moved by April, they too will be gone forever. We should not lose the Yakima Fruit Market too. Let’s fight for our neighbors!

KING 5 wrote a story on this last month. Please take a moment to visit the market for pumpkins, Uncle Harry’s personal products, apple cider, an amazing array of produce, fall flowers, many local grocery items, nuts and snacks, and cool YFM t-shirts, buttons, and posters. The staff is friendly, the produce is always top notch, and the property is sprinkled with unique carvings and photo ops.

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Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Today on January 1st, 2018, we were blessed with one of the most beautiful full moons I’ve ever seen. I ran out onto the dock of Log Boom Park in Kenmore, Washington to try and capture the glory of the moonrise and light.

Looking down the dock to the south. This is at the northern end of Lake Washington, which divides Seattle and the Eastside.

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Phalacrocoracidae, commonly known as cormorants. There were also many ducks.

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The gargantuan full moon soars over the horizon.

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The color seemed unusual for this time of year, such a rich and buttery yellow-orange.

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And once again, the roosting birds, who seemed completely unfazed by the frigid temperature.

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And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been. -Rainer Maria Rilke

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©2018 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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St. Edward 1

Just across a shining sea from the Emerald City, up a meandering path through an enchanted forest, sits a castle.

Ages ago, an order of religious men built this castle to train their priests. It had a divine purpose. There they lived and worked.

Decades passed, and almost half a century later, its original purpose waning, a large governing council purchased the fortress and its surrounding land to give to the people for their enjoyment.

But as is the case with many kingdoms whose rulers write more checks than their subjects can cash, funds to maintain the grand old building were sparse.

The castle fell into disrepair. The people flocked to its large lawn and acres of woods and the local wild animals were grateful for the safe haven as much of the rest of their world was being torn apart by development. But inside the great walls, the elements were seeping in to slowly break the building down.

Rescue attempts were formulated and discussed. Councilors and merchants tried their hand at daring plans to salvage the most iconic piece of architecture in the area. But the people could not agree on whether their money should be spent trying to save this landmark or if they should allow the merchants into the enchanted forest to ply their trade.

Here we are. And there she stands, unsteady but proud, water damaged but determined to survive, waiting patiently for a savior.

Ten years ago, I finally gained access to the building during an emergency exercise. As a medical team leader in an earthquake drill similar to the one occurring right now, Cascadia Rising, I was triaging “patients” as all the faults of the building started jumping out me. “Get those people away from the window,” I remember saying, because in a strong earthquake the vintage glass would rain down on the victims.

But there was more. The obvious water issues. The bits and pieces coming loose. The suspicious old pipes beside and above. Strange spots on the ceiling. Peeling paint and creepy radiators. A general state of disrepair despite the resident park rangers doing everything they could with what they had. Most of the building was and still is off limits. They don’t give tours. They say it’s for safety reasons. I like to believe they have a dragon living in the basement.

The castle of which I speak is the St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, Washington. High on a hill above Lake Washington in the middle of a  300 plus-acre state park, it is one of the most historically significant buildings in the area. Kenmore doesn’t have a lot of notable historic buildings and in an era where quaint old homes with spacious yards are being razed to accommodate soulless oversized boxes, the park is a much-needed refuge.

Throughout the park are trails of varying degrees of difficulty. There are ball fields. There’s an amazing playground and a grotto where weddings are held. It has medieval-looking stone benches and a sort of combination pizza oven/sacred altar. When my cousin’s boyfriend proposed to her there, she started screaming in glee, and two men came running through the woods to rescue her.

Weddings are held there and in the seminary. The city holds summer concerts on the expansive lawn. Cultural and community groups gather for celebrations. Generations of families have played in the park. At night bats and birds, eagles and deer, raccoons and squirrels go to sleep amongst the trees after the humans have left.

Washington State Parks, the state agency the land and building belong to, has been up front that there are no public funds to save the seminary. In a series of public meetings, they’ve solicited community input as to whether private investors should be involved or the building mothballed or torn down. They’ve cited the millions of dollars it would take to restore and retrofit the building. A wall could be left up as a monument, they’ve said, but to remove this iconic piece of architecture would be to rip out the heart and soul of the park.

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Citizens have many passionate opinions on whether to save the St. Edward Seminary. A few show up at public meetings with their torches and pitchforks to disrupt, to criticize the government, to be heard, to pontificate. The ever-vigilant Kenmore police chief Cliff Sether has had to intervene at least once at community meetings. But most local residents respectfully voice their legitimate concerns about how a building of this size and age can be best handled in one of the last best wooded pieces of the sprawling Seattle suburbs.

It’s crystal clear that the building cannot be saved without private intervention. McMenamins tried. There was some sort of tech company that got involved. St. Edward’s next door neighbor Bastyr University had an interest for a time. Citizens have brainstormed ideas on how to raise enough money to save the building but keep it in the public’s hands. So far the only idea that sounds halfway logical belongs to Kevin Daniels.

Who’s Kevin Daniels? If you’ve heard of Starbucks Center, Merrill Place, Union Station, or the Frye Art Museum, you know Kevin Daniels. Kevin is a soft-spoken real estate guru who has a genuine passion for preserving historic buildings. A couple of his projects have been so ambitious that given the requirements and regulations involved you might look at him and say, “dude, you’re crazy.” But Daniels and his team have plans for St. Edward, and while it’s not the absolutely ideal use of the building, right now it’s the only practical way to save it.

Someone asked Daniels recently why he’d want to buy a shuttered Depression-era concrete building with quirks like internal gutters and he offered several solid answers. Most notably, he was married on the grounds. The seminary is exactly the kind of the project that he dives into and wrestles through until every detail is resolved to his (and the government’s) satisfaction. He has faced rampant rumors and open disrespect but remains willing to attend community meetings to address concerns from all sides.

Specifically, Daniels wants to turn the seminary building into a lodge-style hotel and restaurant. The restaurant would be accessible to the general public, and for us public utilities aficionados, yes, he plans to voluntarily install an appropriate grease interceptor to help protect the grounds. This would make the seminary the gathering place it was intended to be when Washington State Parks purchased it all in 1976. The hotel would have its own parking and there would be a cooperative effort to ensure that parks visitors stay in their allotted parking and vice versa.

Citizens have expressed concerns about the increase in visitors to the park and the possibility of drunk people stumbling around where their children play. There are traffic concerns. There will be environmental impacts. There are questions as to how many dump trucks full of debris will be headed down Juanita Drive through Kirkland since Kenmore’s bridges across the Sammamish Slough in the other direction need millions of dollars of help themselves. Kudos to Mayor Dave Baker for his work on the bridge upgrades, by the way. Trump can make a deal? Ha. Baker can.

Daniels assures people that all of this is being studied and they will have numbers to present to the public. The public has also been assured that events can still be held on the grand lawn, like concerts and the Skandia Midsommarfest. While it’s possible there could be a few drunk rowdy people, that’s what law enforcement is for, whether that winds up being the park rangers on the premises or the local police. Leasing out the seminary as a hotel is a leap of faith as far as a business venture, but it is going to allow the building to become a public gathering spot, and you bet park goers will stop for a drink or a bite. Daniels also plans to acquire the 10 acres at the northwest corner of the park that everyone trespasses on now. It will become park land, saving it from becoming more soulless boxes with no yards.

My family has Finn Hill roots– Finn Hill being the name of the 400-foot high half-Kirkland, half-Kenmore mini-mountain St. Edward sits on– and if someone randomly asked me what I thought about making the seminary building a hotel, I’d scoff. As a conservative highly protective of plants and animals, my knee jerk reaction might be, “that’s crazy.” Even after learning of Daniels’ plan, I had my reservations. A hotel in the middle of a state park? Would that just invite trash and bad behavior and elitist out of towners who freak out when they see the woodland creatures many of us are used to?

Then I learned Chris Moore approved of the Daniels Real Estate plan. He and his team have been handing out orange “Save Our Seminary” t-shirts, a great way to raise awareness. That was the tipping point for me. Moore, Executive Director of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, is the guy you must know if you care at all about historic buildings in our state.

Moore is the expert I email any time I hear of an issue with an old building because he inevitably is willing to talk to the owner or knows somebody who can facilitate a discussion about how to circle the wagons to save it. Somebody wants to tear down a theater in Everett? Somebody’s renovating the Kirkland Cannery? What’s going on with that historic house the developer might tear down? He has his finger on the pulse of the historic preservation in our region and really knows his business. So for him to have combed through the details of Daniels’ seminary plans and come out with a very public “yes” was exactly what I needed to know.

The government doesn’t have enough of our money to make this happen and has many other matters to attend to right now, namely making our crumbling public infrastructure a priority. My gut tells me the Daniels plan to turn Kenmore’s castle into a hotel and restaurant is its last chance. Is there any other money on the table? Is there another developer out there with this kind of vision? Is there someone else as tolerant and patient as Daniels willing to be put through the wringer for crimes he never committed?

A discussion of the seminary is not complete without addressing some of the feelings community members have about the Catholic church’s victimization of children. It has been discovered that a group of priests who came out of that seminary were responsible for child molestation. They were– and perhaps still are– shameless predators who need to be held fully accountable for the violation of innocents. A few people see the seminary as a monument to pedophilia and believe it should be torn down. Some believe a high degree of penance is in order.

But Washington State Parks is not responsible for that. The City of Kenmore is not responsible for that. Daniels Real Estate is not responsible for that. The St. Edward Seminary is being given a fresh start. It has an opportunity to be reborn. It is being reinvented and repurposed. This is a victory over whatever darkness came out of it before. This is also a prime opportunity for the Archdiocese of Seattle to specifically address what happened and detail what’s being done to bless the survivors. Windows long closed will open. Doors propped shut decades ago can be torn down. It’s time for walls, both literal and metaphorical, to be demolished so that the light can get back in.

Ultimately, this hasn’t been a seminary for a long time and any negative history should not stop revitalization attempts. It should instead encourage them. I understand why people feel so strongly about this, but if what was once used as a curse can be forged into a blessing, let’s seize that opportunity. With proper law enforcement and community cooperation, this building can become a happy place. Besides its recreational use, we never know, in an age of power grid hacking, possible EMPs, and lurking war, what purpose that building might serve in an emergency. I suspect it has a greater importance. In time we will know.

It’s taken 40 years for the right leadership and money to come along to morph this brick beauty into the people-friendly place State Parks intended it to be. While I don’t know if the local clergy would bless a place where alcohol is served, why not invite priests and pastors from local churches to bless the reborn building? This could be done during a grand opening celebration to which the whole community is invited. A grand opening celebration could also be an opportunity to raise funds for survivors or to collect goods or donations for local charities.

If this plan goes sideways, I would likely be among its first critics. I am fiercely protective of local wildlife and yes, staunch conservatives can also be tree huggers. As a coworker of mine pointed out, knowing how I feel about the local environment and how we’re driving the wild animals out, it says something that I can live with this plan. Increasingly locals are complaining about how many small furry mammals there are outside or how inconvenient trees are (they cause yard work). I wonder why they don’t go live in a flat lifeless desert if the Pacific Northwest’s natural environment causes them so much angst. The trees and animals were here first. Some of us Puget Sounders like it that way.

Again, I wish State Parks could make that building into an amazing conference center or something more public, but they can’t, so Daniels seems to have the next best solution. To save Kenmore’s castle, there has to be some give and take. No one’s going to get everything they want. Kevin Daniels has been very open and very fair, plus he’s already chalked up some major successes with similar projects. If you have questions, ask him. If you feel that city council members need to provide facts or figures, email them. If you know of a way to help, speak up. This process and all information must be transparent. With a project this controversial, there is no room for secrets. There can be no surprises.

Once upon a time, a derelict castle on a hill was given new life. The demons of the past were purged. The yellowed tapestries were replaced with new works of art. Its walls were braced, its roof reinforced, its deep places dried out. Leaders dreamed of tomorrow over their meals. Locals and guests strolled in and out, finding a new unity in a central gathering place. Conversations and ideas were born. Coalitions formed to ensure proper protection of the non-human residents on the grounds and that extended into cooperative efforts deeper in the community.

Can you see it?

With a little cooperation, diplomacy, and transparency, the castle can be given a new song.

The heart of the park can beat again.

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I call architecture frozen music. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Daniels Real Estate’s plans for the seminary can be found here.

Thank you to Daniels Real Estate, the Kenmore City Council, Washington State Parks, Friends of St. Edward’s, The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and various community groups for their work to find a mutually beneficial solution.

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Kenmore Mural 5-12-16 1

Today I chanced upon a mural going up on the west side of the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kenmore, Washington. According to the Arts of Kenmore site:

The Kenmore Mural Project at St. Vincent de Paul is a community collaboration involving artists A Gaul Culley, Staci Adman, the City of Kenmore, St. Vincent de Paul, The Kenmore Heritage Society, as well as many local community partners.

The St. Vincent de Paul wall is 188 feet long by 12 feet tall and located near the intersection of 73rd Ave NE and Bothell Way.  This heavily traveled arterial gives the mural clear visibility from both vehicles and pedestrians.

The City of Kenmore and St. Vincent de Paul launched this project idea in the spring of 2015 and began working with the artists in the summer of the same year.

The Kenmore Mural project at St. Vincent de Paul celebrates and tells the story of the cultural history of Kenmore.  Our hope is that the mural will deepen the community’s sense of place.  We also hope it will contribute to Kenmore’s 20-year vision of “a community that is inclusive and family friendly, with a small town feeling that fosters a sense of belonging and pride and supports local arts, culture and history.”

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For those who don’t know, Kenmore has a seaplane port, Kenmore Air, borders one of the coolest state parks ever, St. Edward, and a history tied to local hydroplane racing.

Hopefully this wall will somehow be graffiti-proofed. As a longtime public employee I can attest to how often various assets are vandalized. They can be expensive to clean. The funny part is, no one cares about a self-important tag; its meaning is lost on the general public.

But the meaning of this mural is not. It seems to be part of a larger movement to fully develop Kenmore’s identity. What a fantastic idea!

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Driving through Kenmore, Washington last Sunday– the day of the big Seahawks game versus the Panthers– I spotted these two feathered fans at a major intersection.

Kirkland has its cow and coyote statue that is duly decorated for such occasions, but I’d never seen these bike racks gussied up before. So I grabbed ye olde cell phone camera.

Herons are dear to Kenmore. There is a colony of Great Blue Herons at the Kenmore Park and Ride right on bustling Bothell Way. Who ever thought a park and ride would be a birding hot spot?

Seahawks Herons 1-17-16

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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