Selectboard Meeting Notes – Brattleboro Bike and Pedestrian Plan Adopted

The Brattleboro Selectboard approved bike and pedestrian plan that, when implemented, will create a network of sidewalks and bike lanes throughout the town.

The board debated possible changes to budget meeting times, considering a return to the days when budgets would be held on off-days at odd times rather than regular Tuesday evenings. They also approved a one year extension for Golden Cross ambulance service.

Comments | 10

  • Preliminaries

    Chair Ian Goodnow – just when I thought I’d get started right at 6:15…. [it is 6:18…]

    Russ – it is something upstairs….

    Ian – can we get started without the live stream.

    Russ – go ahead they’ll pick up as they go.

    Ian – do you know how much longer it will be? If it is just a couple of moments….

    Russ – you are live now.

    Ian – It is 6:19 and we are reconvening. Our live stream isn’t working at the moment but it should be going any moment now. Good luck to BCTV. I only have one remark this evening. It has come to my attention and the rest of the Brattleboro that there has been hate speech directed at town employees. That is unacceptable. They deserve respect. We ask the town to refrain from racism, bigotry and I’ll hold us all to that standard. Town staff deserve to be treated with dignity. We hope others join us.

    Town Manager John Potter – Staff met with GMP to debrief on storms this winter and some improvements being made to the grid. The sense from GMP is that the weather has changed and we can except more stops with heavy wet snow all year long. They will harden main lines and remote lines over the next ten years, based on reliability and where outages occur. Some of the more rural areas like Newfane will get the most immediate attention. Also, better communication during storms, and reminded us that people should have emergency plans in place before storms, so we’ll be doing that. Also, child care costs for RTM… we ended up spending just over $700. We’ll budget $1000…. and Sue…

    Sue Fillion – Brattleboro was awarded the Strongest Town on Friday from Strong Towns. They are an advocacy organization, about communities livable and a string planning nexus of housing and transportation, and financially. We worked on it as a team and the community and friends voted. We’ll get he award in May. Two of us will attend. Great testament to people of Brattleboro.

    Franz Reichsman – a reminder that at 4:30 at Wednesdays I’ll be at the Library and you are invited to come talk to me and each other and talk about the town and events. Wednesdays at the library.

    Ian – public participation…

    Dale Joy – something to say about a police officer that lied on a legal document. We had an argument about it. Nothing has been done and I’ve called everyone about it and even called John. He’s the only one who has talked to me. The police shouldn’t be hush hush if an officer is lying on a legal document.

    Dick Degray – A question – hen I look at the agenda and you have an executive session, you never list what it is for nor do you mention it when you come out, and I believe you have to do that. You said there was no action, but we don’t know why.

    Ian – thank you Dick. I will confirm with the town Attorney that we comply with the law. When we go into executive session we state why, and that happened today, during a public meeting. It just starts earlier. It was to discuss the EMS contract and collective bargaining. We make two motions – why we will talk about an issue, like contracts, then we open it for discussion, then we make a se and motion to go into executive session and we invite people. Today we invited the town manager and town attorney. Pretty sure we are complying.

    Bonnie – president at Mornisdie Commons – a 166 dwelling of condos on Riyal Rd, very much impacted by the soon to be closed 142. On both sides of Royal Road…w e have pools, tennis courts, children. Once Veron Rd is closed we will have through traffic. We’d like those gates to be accessible for emergency vehicles. No problem with fire trucks through those two gates – at Royal Rd and at the Cemetery … maybe they can address that question. I’d NOT like all kinds of traffic running through Royal Rd. WE already have problems with people selling drugs in the parking lot. Really important we feel safe.

    Ian – I want to keep the meeting moving along. Speak with Town Manager or Fire Dept to get answers to your questions before the meeting tomorrow.

    Steve S – Not a resident, but a taxpayer… I can speak?

    Ian – oh yeah..

    Steve –

    Ian – you have 3 minutes

    Steve S – The town manager and the new people on the board – some things to put out there… the terrible murder and shooting and lots of frustrating, to me and others. We have issues with shelters and we’ve had problems that haven’t changed in 50 years. We try to absorb people who need help – not sure it is best for the community as a whole. We can help people. Some is policy. Policy is an issue. A lot of problems , there seems to be acceptance and apathy, which issued under these conditions. Improvements can be made. If you have suggestions, give them to me.

    Rick Morton – I had an unsuccessful resolution – water there is human trafficking in our region. I doin’t advance it very well. I have additional information for each of you, t begin a discussion process about whet we could look at. One page is an idea of a larger document, to show the variety and creativity when people want to do something nefarious. Maybe it doesn’t impact our community, but some of it may.

    Franz – these are the types of things to come talk to me during office hours….come and talk to me…

  • Consent Agenda

    A. Vermont Agency of Transportation Matters

    (i) Approval of the Annual Financial Plan

    (ii) Certification of Compliance for Town Road and Bridge Standards

    B. Dump Truck – Approve Purchase


  • Parking Ordinance Change at Community Schoolhouse and Municipal Center- Second Reading and Possible Adoption

    Ian – I’ll invite Sue. Awe had a first reading at the last meeting and this is the second reading and presentation and possible adoption.

    Sue – nothing new to add. Two amendments going on… the first is to remove the parking meters from the municipal center parking lot (from the code; they’re already gone). The second is to change two parking spaces on Oak Street near High Street by the school to become a loading zone, for parents to load and unload students.

    Liz McCloughlin – I remain in support of both measures.


  • Selectboard Housekeeping Update (6:45 PM) (i) Selectboard Retreat Planning (ii) Selectboard Rules for Conduct

    John Potter -as we discussed staff are putting together plans for a selectboard retreat – Saturday June 3rd from 9 am to 2 pm. The venue will be off site and in Brattleboro. Agenda items to include – creating a shared vision, department heads providing goals for budgets, goals you may have for fy24/fy25. That’s the general agenda we were thinking. Also discussing sending a questionnaire prior to the selectboard. Give me feedback!

    Ian – we had a discussion about having a Retreat which is different than past years. John thinking it is a good idea, and we agreed. Anything to add?

    Liz – I remain supportive

    Daniel Quipp- questionnaire a good idea

    Franz – I support it.

    Yanna – I also hope you get good food for the event.

    Ian – my favorite comment of the night. Okay, we’ll move on to the Rules of Conduct. At last meeting we did a once through, with some request for modifications from the board. The changes are in the red-lined copy in the back up materials. Daniel asked for gendered terms to be removed. I requested the agenda item be better explained. Are there additional comments or additions?

    Daniel Quipp – on page 5, procedure for consideration of agenda items. I know why the change was made but it might be confusing. One way is to have a written request on the Monday prior to a meeting… but the agenda has already been published on the previous Friday.

    Ian – the intention is the Monday is the prior Monday… if we make changes not substantive, we can still adopt but if we… I leave that to town staff.

    Liz – you could say Monday the week prior.

    Peter Case – could you say 3 business days prior…

    Ian – it would be 9 days. Would that be easier?

    John – Liz’s solution seems good. One small change.

    Ian – I love taking about this stuff.

    Franz – if we adopt it… oh, never mind.

    Ian – this is an example of not getting used to the new system. No motion. I’ll take a motion.

    Liz – It is the Patriot’s Day – the 18th of April. Good day to adopt rules.


  • Bike Walk Action Plan – Endorse Plan

    Sue Fillion then others will join us on zoom. Holly Parker and Emily Foster.

    Holly – we have a presentation.. the Brattleboro Walk Bike Action Plan.

    Sue Fillion – I’ll introduce you. Holly is project manager from the consulting form, and Emily is a transportation engineer. We got a municipal planning grant and we got SLR to help us with this work This is the final action plan. We’ll do the timeline and vision, then more info. Brandy Sexton helped us, plus a steering committee that met 3 or 4 times to guide the work. Started in June with a kickoff meeting, an e-bike tour around town, created a story map to put concerns on a map, held a public meeting, prepared a plan, more public meetings, and here we are to get the selectboard’s approval. This is the first walk bike action plan in the community. We have sidewalk plans, we have some bike lanes. This was to create connectivity and really serve the neighborhoods. It touches on the bus service and destinations people might be heading to. Priority areas.

    Holly – The vision was to improve safe biking and walking infrastructure. We had our interactive mapping tool. People put point on to see areas to have improved, and comments could be supported or promoted. We mapped comments in a heat map and could hone in on areas for specific focus, then look at existing infrastructure. Comments from the town’s safety action form were also considered. Over 230 comments were received. Great feedback from the community. Good input to form the basis of our recommendations.

    Emily – We flipped it all around. North is to the right on your screen. The key to improving biking in Brattleboro is a town wide bike network. These are the existing bike facilities. Bike lanes are shown in green, and shared lanes are in blue, and multi use trails are in yellow. Nothing connect to one another. There is robust pedestrian network but some deficiencies. Cross walk enhancements, new sidewalk installments… there is a range of existing sidewalks. VTRans and the town have bike plans pending and we show the upcoming bike projects. RT 9 has new lanes. Allerton to Green are proposed, Putney Rd, etc. There are pending pedestrian projects of sidewalk improvements and new sidewalks. The envisioned short term newtork could be done with striping improvements. Creates a basic network throughout town connecting existing facilities. Western Ave restriping to go from West B to downtown. Install signage. Use the West River trail, etc. Also make Flat Street one way and re-stripe for bikes. One way could help with issues downtown, too. Create a connected network in the downtown area. Shared lane marking can help communicate that bikes will be using the street and they should adjust to share the road. We recommend shared lane markings on Main to help mark where bikes could be, and maybe bike boxes… a designated area at the front for bikes to get ahead of vehicles. Also recommend to turn some parking not two way parking lanes on south Main Street. The short term pedestrian network is mostly intersection improvements – traffic calming and changing behavior of pedestrians and motorists at crossings. These can also help bike riders. Install at unsignalled intersections to reduce confusion. Special markings, extensions, lighting, etc. The longer term bike network is layered on top… this will require more planning and design but it could connect downtown to Putney Rd, Bridge St, Fairground RD. Long term pedestrian facilities will also require more planning and funding but it could install intersection safety improvements on canal Street, maple and Fairview Streets, and Canal St, Putney Rd, Canal St, …. improvements. I talked about a lot of information. This will link everything together to create that web. Any questions?

    Ian – after the presentation…

    Holly – we have a list of all the projects we are discussing here. Some can be done as public works are repaving or repainting. Opportunities to get some projects done quickly and easily. We also show some projects already underway. Lists are broken into short term and long term recommendations. It’s all in the report and on the town of Brattleboro’s website. We looked at policies and programs to improve. Collaborating with public works and Vtrans, build a fund for matching grants, identify partners, use the e-bike lending library, create planned bike and walk routes, group bike and walking tours, and more. Smile signs and lines on a map can start building a bike culture. Take people on group rides to familiarize them. The final report shows accommodations for bikers and walkers. Lots of VT samples, to keep options open. VCAT said to establish a baseline to be able to measure progress, so we did that. How many feet of nbike lane, shared lanes, etc. All improvements have a cost. The budget wasn’t sufficient to report the 1/4 mile on Main Street. Funds in town town will cover less than a mile of bike lanes. There are sources of grant funding. (Shows a list of funds available). The Better Connections Grant you already won in February…

    Sue – it hasn’t come to the board yet but we go $90k or so… it has a stormwater component, and looking at Canal Street. It is a planning study, with conceptual designs.

    Holly – you could also get a bond. Next steps – progress is being made. If anyone wants to comment. Give Sue a round of applause. She took what we proposed and has been an amazing implementer of the vision. I give you a big hand. Questions?

    Ian – thanks so much. A motion to begin…

    Fish – to endorse the plan…

    Liz – thank you al for this excellent plan. Comprehensive and creative. A couple of things. We need to recognize the melrose bridge is key for safety and it is expensive. The equity lens of this report. Not just sustainable, but an equity basis. Many public comments were insightful and were listened to in the report. We should be using the good paint, to repaint less often. I applaud the planning and DPW collaboration, support grant matching and programs to change habits. I hope it can include busses. I have one issue – we need to carefully plan changes on Flat Street. It is very delicately used at this time and what the repercussions might be.

    Fish – I love the bike planes on Putney Rd. It’s noticeable when you use what little network we do have. It’s a great plan and look forward to rolling it out.

    Daniel – I gratefully receive this plan and hope we actually support this in our budget actions.

    Franz – one thing that strikes me is the community input. I couple that with that this is very long term planning and fundraising dependent. Are there organizations in the community with efforts looking forward to sustain the will of people like us making budget decisions. I can see it all looks great and feels great but need to be relitigated year after year in the budget. How much support from the community will there be?

    Sue – we have the Brattleboro Coalition – BCAT. They are passionate and have worked to increase line items, identified grant opportunities and run many programs. Probably our biggest partner right now.

    Franz – if you want to come to the library tomorrow.. thanlk.

    Ian – thanks for the presentation and the work putting it together. Very exciting and glad members of the public are her to participate. This is just a start. I have two points – I’d like to encourage that the town manager we look at this on our June 3rd meeting. So we can take real steps should we adopt it. The other point.. I participated in the outreach. I’m an avid runner and was so impressed with he quality of the setup for how I could interact with it. I encourage our staff to continue that work when doing community outreach.

    Sue – it was excellent. An online mapping tool wasn’t available to everyone. We had paper versions, too, but yes.

    Cynthia PH – I am a bike commuter and my belief is that this is an addictive things as it becomes more available.

    Arthur Davis – As someone who has replaced a car with a bike, I’d like to se more people do that and have fewer cars in town. This is a good way to start this process. Not favoring cars as a way to get around town.

    Joellen T – a long term citizen of VT and member of the Brattleboro community. Thanks to this who participated in this. Very participatory and using best practices. They have large potential return on public health and safety for people of all ages in the community. These things help make us a string and unique town. So many resources to leverage. Tanks to all, and to the board for being positive about the plan.

    Dave Cohen – I was in Portland ME and now I’m back. I’m with VCAT and do e-bike and cargo bike consulting. One thing the plan left out is people using larger cargo bikes and e-bikes. I helped start the lending library. Have to commit to the funding for this year run and year out.

    Rachel Zamore – I also returned. Delighted to be back and to hear this presentation. I was on the Planning Commission for a while and I commute on foot and bike… we moved here 15 years ago so we could walk and bike and that drew us to here. And an ancient bike plan. I really hope we put out money where our mouth is on this. Really important for environmental reasons, but also for attracting young people to the community. Bring us to the modern age. I’m excited by this. Hope we can see it through and make it happen.

    Norm S – been using bikes for 30 years in town. I’ve seen changes in Burlington and more people use bikes to get around due to those changes. One thing I get asked, it is on faith, but I love to bike. I’m getting at more people would bike if they felt safer about doing it. That’s the bottom line.

    Fish – it will make things safer. The number one thing I hear is people don’t feel safe and this brings safety to the table.


  • Financial Report

    Ian – our first Financial report as this board, so I’ll take a moment. This is something where the selctboad didn’t sue to look at this as an agenda item then two years ago we decided it should eb an agenda item…

    Daniel – it used to be part of the agenda…

    Ian – so we are back to what it used to be when it was an item we discuss. I’m happy to not have it as a consent agenda item.

    Liz – it is a good check in every month.

    Ian – Kim Frost is not here so it will be covered by John.

    John Potter – if you have questions, I can get back to you, but… (reads the memo). Pretty much on target.

    Ian – great – I’ll take a motion to get it started.

    to accept the report…

    no questions.

    Daniel – maybe this should have been on the consent agenda.

    Dick Degray – the comment about consent agenda…

    Ian – we’re talking about the financial report.

    Dick – this is about a comment you just made… the town had a shortfall years ago and the board did the monthly report to give the public confidence.

    Ian – thanks. I think that’s where we landed.


    Ian – we’ll take out break and start back up at 8 pm…

  • EMS Update

    Ian – I invite AC Kier and Chief Howard.

    Chief Howard – we just completed our 9th month with EMS and during march we did 346 calls for service. (reads report) We continue to adjust the information gathered. 28 min is avg time. There is a chart breaking down the type of calls. March has been our slowest month, but April could be our busiest months. Gold Cross gave us the payer mix and collection rate. We are doing everything we can to be transparent. gathering all this data. It confuses you and us. End goal is to be transparent, and will do that now until September to help you make the right decision. We are training every month and we’ll do airway training and have some pig tracheas to get hands on with an airway, so we are excited about that. Also getting course in pre-hospital treatment.

    Franz – move to approve the EMS report…

    Franz – questions: when are the training courses?

    Chief – next week. I can let you know. And the other is Aug 4.

    Franz – would be interested in dropping in. What percentage of the medical calls requiring the response require lights and sirens?

    Chief – we don’t have these numbers. I’ll get you an answer. About 50-50.

    Franz – that call is made by dispatch?

    Chief – by the crew responding.

    Franz – you have invoiced total and a collection rate, but they aren’t the same percentage.

    Girard – the collection percentage could be gross charges minus payments or as we do it…take charges minus contractural allowances, then divide by payments.

    Franz – that explains the difference in amounts –

    Girard – yes, the gross charges. everyone is billed the same, but you may pay less based on the insurance

    Franz – depends on your payer mix

    Fish – why is that.. everyone gets the same, but what you get paid is different.

    Liz – when my brother was a toddler he was choking on a marshmallow and the fire department came as he turned blue and grabbed the marshmallow, so training is very important.

    Daniel – what does Golden Cross charge?

    Girard – I don’t have that with me this evening. The total… I’d be happy to share that with you.. the total number of calls divided out the amount with mileage… about 60-40%, the Chief has the numbers, but I apologize.

    Ian – as we continue to improve this report, I’d like to confirm all the numbers after the bottom third are for the entire 9 months.

    Joh Potter – all the info will be part of the analysis we do this summer as we consider the models.

    Dick Degray – Daniel and Franz asked the questions I was going to ask, I have a concern about the delta – what was billed vs what is outstanding. You can have a collection rate of 77%. I did the percentage rate and came at 66%. I am concerned about the large number uncollected yet. Is there a concern there?

    Chief Howard – I hear Dick’s concern and collection rates is a tricky things. The AP Triton study said we should charge $1400 a call, but we’ll only get a certain percentage. They had us at a 38% collection rate. His is at 77% and he told me today after a year he sees it at 80-82% after a year. Springfield charges a different fee. Hartford changes a bit different. It all goes on what we charge. They were conservative.

    Potter – there is a lag in the credits. No billing done in 4th quarter of FY 22. Some will be credited over the next quarter so this will go up. The gap will be paid, some of it.

    Daniel – Disco’s question is reasonable… a concern about the money Golden Cross had received. I’d be concerned if the Town of Brattleboro had this, but we contract with Golden Cross. In the next several months there will be studies of EMS options at the staff level and in this space, where we will look at revenue predictions… but revenue received today… not too concerned about it.

    Mary D-B – I support the BFD and Golden Cross – we needed services and excellent care was given. Mom paid her bill. I feel very cared for and secure with what these guys are up to. I was a paramedic long ago and far away, so I know what it takes.

    Ian – keep it brief, Dick…

    Dick – this is a follow up – the percentage can be 80% it is about dollars coming in, and when you look at private insurance. 12% of the mix – it is about dollars coming in, and fixed rates by medicare and medicaid., so it doesn’t matter what you bill… they’ll only pay so much. Golden Cross doesn’t bill for the delta, and so that’s a concern that I have. I don’t think anyone has questioned the care by BFD or Golden Cross or Rescue. My concern is financial.

    Ian – anything else?

    report accepted

  • Golden Cross Contract – Approve Extension

    John Potter – in April of last year there was a contract and in June it was amended- a total annual cost of $125k. The partnership has been positive and the quality is also excellent, a nd Dale Girard has shared info and data with the town to understand models going forward. In March we were asked to pursue parallel tracks about three options and we are doing that and I hope to bring you a plan for how we are doing that. Doing that plan requires us to have some continued coverage so we ask you to extend the current contract to carry us through the contract and start the new model in FY25. What we have is a red line… so the contract that was included in the memo was the wrong draft in the packet so we have a red line against the current contract and a clean copy for each of you. It updates dates in the contract and prices from the addendum and also an addition of a standard notification. That’s it. Extend the contract to allow us to go through this period of discovery and analysis.

    a motion for the contract extension….

    Liz – I am supporting this motion – we can have ambulance service while we decide the solution.

    Franz – that’s what I think, too.

    Ian – grateful we have a partner with Golden Cross to extend a contract. Does the BFD support this?

    Chief – we do. It’s been a good working relationship.

    Dale Joy – this is like 40 years old to make Bratteboro independent within itself and I believe this is the best way to go about it, even if it takes 3-4 years. Let Brattleboro be independent.

    contract extended! 5-0

  • FY24 General Fund Budget After Action Review

    John Potter – a best practice is to look back and learn for the future. You spent a lot of time building budget. We met with staff to see how the process went and a description is in our packet. Several observations: we rely on spreadsheets and antiquated financial software to do the budgets . There are products that could help us put together a more robust budget and different scenarios. Second, we met quite a bit on the budget. It was a challenging schedule for all concerned. Could be improved and would like to hear your thoughts on that.

    Ian – no lion on this item, so any thoughts?

    Liz – we all like the idea of an offsite or maybe an Saturday morning budget session would speed things long.

    Franz – I like the long term financial plan as part of the budget process. The CRTP and the LTFP year after year, it became what I look forward to analyzing the budget for the long term.

    Daniel – the almost proposal of a lengthier saturday meeting to review the budget rather than every few weeks has some appeal. It makes it more likely to be accessible. There are downsides. We lose the opportunity to really dive in to the issues. It’ll be more of a high level summary. The process is a chance to dig in and ask questions and it is the way I’ve learned about the nuances of the town and the work that goes on. If we had a more overview process if we might get to a budget that people feel less informed about, and whether it will pass. It is crystal ball stuff. I support Franz about the long term financial process. last year was a blip last year.

    Liz – I envisions belt and suspenders… weekly meetings plus a day. Maybe we’ll have the sessions, but maybe one long day at the end in December so everyone can really understand it.

    Ian – the idea is that we’d not do weekly… I don’t think the board works efficiently working every single week. We start to burn out by January, and we need to make important decisions. Maybe try to alleviate some of that. There are downsides. Could we do some outreach on this proposal how RTM reps or members of the public feel about a discussion on a weekend.

    Potter – we could ask the finance committee.

    Ian – it speaks to transparency. I’m intrigued.

    Liz – it is our opportunity to speak to each department head.

    Ian – but we would, just all in one day.

    Daniel – it has been a goal of mine to increase accessibility around the budget and what it all means… visual aids, info graphics… we can do better. We did pie charts pre-pandemic. The communications coordinator could work on presenting budget material.

    Potter – the new financial software can help us with that… but duly noted.

    Franz – how will we decide what to do and when?

    Ian – it will come back in late summer or early fall with a process.

    Franz – how will we get to that?

    Potter – let me know after the meeting what you’d like.

    Franz – how much can board members discuss this amongst us?

    Ian – when the proposal comes to the board we can modify it and talk about it.

    Dale Joy – the money the state gave to Brattleboro, has that been allocated?

    Ian – that’s not on topic.

    Dale – the money for the fore department. I’ a fire and safety person. if there was money there, we could allocate it to the BFD to get their paramedics. is there any of that money back.

    Ian – not relevant, but will answer it… we have a set aside of $1.7 for pending EMS decisions because we could choose an option to utilize it. There is $900k…

    Dale – you can get more people trained before Franz takes the budget money….

    Ian – let’s end with… I appreciate and reflect on this. This is how we improve the processes.

  • Committee Appointments

    Ian – I propose we consider the non contested positions, not CPPCC. We want to schedule interviews with those 6 people. Tonight – arts, DRB, Senior Solutions…

    Liz – who is this Wessel guy?

    Fish – Franz has an open house meeting on Wednesday.

    Franz – I found one questionnaire didn’t give me a picture of why they wanted to be on the committee. helpful for me to know more than came across in the questionnaire. I had more sense of the other candidates and what they were up to, but John Loggia… I just don’t know anything about him and would like to hear more.

    John Loggia – Lissa – can I speak… I’m Lisa and the co-owner of 118. he was waiting on the call but hd to leave for a gig. It’s his vision that turned the space into a gallery. Involved int he arts his entire life and a musician his entire life. A film was reviewed in the NY Times and is part of the creative economy in the town. he has contributions to make and is ready to step up. We’ve lived here 16 years. I think you’d be lucky to have him.

    Franz – just what I wanted.

    Ian – thanks Lisa.

    Franz – is there some requirement for how long they live in town. Someone else only lived here 75 years…

    Daniel – Franz is joking and is using sarcasm. This is sincere stuff. People who are new here ahave a great deal to offer. It is the quality of the application, not length of time.

    Franz – He is right about me.

    Liz – these meetings are like a giant text message.

    Franz – and no emojis : )

    applicants approved!

    Ian – thanks for applying and contributing to town.

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