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EVERYTHING MORRO BAY
Morro Bay hires interim city manager
Inside ... Highway 41 Antique Emporium The Other Heron Pelican Portrait Tall Ships Business Service Directory
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By Luke Phillips Of Morro Bay Life
Morro Bay Town by the Rock Ruth Ann Angus Of Morro Bay Life
Famous as the town with the Rock, Morro Bay has much to offer and whether you spend a day or a week in this small town by the bay, there is something for everyone here. Morro Bay is really for the birds and when it comes to birdwatching there is little doubt that Morro Bay provides the best chance for seeing a great variety of species. While birds are present year-round, fall and winter months bring spectacular amounts of migrating species into the area. The National Audubon Society lists Morro Bay as a Globally Important Bird Area and it is also a part of the National Estuary Program. Shorebirds such as marbled godwits, willets, curlews with their long curved bill and tiny sandpipers find a bountiful feast in the mudflats of the bay. Black brant geese migrate from spots on the Alaskan shore to feed on the rich eelgrass beds of the estuary. Fluttering terns, brown pelicans, graceful egrets and herons are also part of the seasonal mix. One of the best ways to see the birds of Morro Bay is from the water. Outfitters located on the Embarcadero rent kayaks, canoes, electric boats and guided boat tours. For those who don’t want to take to the water, there are trails and viewing places surrounding the bay. An easy trail is located beginning at the rear of the Morro Bay State Park Marina parking
These 19 members of the MBPD were sworn in by Major Jamie Irons to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of Morro Bay. Photo by Allyson Oken/Morro Bay life
Morro Bay celebrates 50 years
MBPD show support with commemorative badge By Allyson Oken Of Morro Bay Life
MORRO BAY—The 50th anniversary of Morro Bay is being celebrated by the Morro Bay Police Department with the adoption of a special badge. All department staff will be wearing the badge throughout 2014 and were sworn in by Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons — just like they did 50 years ago. This ceremonial swearing in took place in front of the Morro Bay Police Department at 10 a.m. on Jan. 21. Officer Ian McKnight proposed this as the new badge about five or six years ago. McKnight was excited to have his design approved for the 50-year anniversary celebration. “It was actually a proposal that I put together about five or six years ago, when the department was going to get ready to change badges,” he esaid. “When the 50th anniversary came up, the people that I worked with to help design it, resubmitted it and it was accepted with the minor changes of making it look antique and labeling it with the 50 years across the top. I am really excited that it ended up here after all these years. It was really neat.” City of Morro Bay Police Commander Bryan Millard explained the badge and the symbolism behind the design — giving those in attendance an idea of the history that is being celebrating. “The badge itself is a celebration of our 50 year anniversary,” Millard said. “As you can see, it’s a shield, but contained with in it is a star and that star was the first law enforcement badge worn 50 years ago by constables. So we thought it was appropriate to show that within the shield as sort of a commemoration. It also shows 50 years above the banner and it shows our police building inside the star. The police building has been our home for the entirety of the 50 years. It has changed faces a few times,
but it is the very same place and these are the very same steps that we got our first swear in, in 1965. We like to celebrate our history. It shows pride in where we have come from and also communicates how much a part of the community we are and that we are hoping to be around for the next 50 to 100 years.” According to the Morro Bay Police Chief Amy Christey, all of the badges were paid for by the joint efforts of the Morro Bay Peace Officers’ Association and the Morro Bay Police Volunteers so that no public funds were spent in its creation. The MBPD was established in 1965 during the calendar year, though they do not share the exact same anniversary, the departments chose to participate with the city and celebrate this year. For more information about Morro Bay’s 50th anniversary and to learn of future events, visit www.morrobay.org.
This is the badge designed by oﬃcer Ian McKnight who could not be happier to have his design become the celebratory badge for the department.
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By Ruth Ann Angus For Morro Bay Life
You’re slipping silently through the waters of the back bay in your kayak. Suddenly the surface of the water breaks, a small rounded head appears. Two large dark eyes peer at you intently. Nostrils resting right at the water line flare open and shut and with a whoosh, the head disappears into the depths. You’ve had your first encounter with a harbor seal. Morro Bay is home to anywhere from 20 to 40 harbor seals. These marine mammals live in colonies that tend to stay in familiar locations and although some may stray afar for awhile, they usually return to their home territory. Spotted, mottled, dark and light, harbor seals come in a variety of decors. Some are light gray with black spots, some brown with gray spots, while others are all-over brownish-black or silver-gray. A harbor seal’s diet reflects whatever seasonal or regional prey is available.
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leaving the area exposed and life within it on hold until the sea returns. In a tidepool at Corallina Cove in Montana de Oro deep pockets in the rock layers hold pools of water filled with colorful life. Ochre Sea Stars, some orange and some purple, stand out against the deep green sea lettuce. Small black and brown turban snails pepper the pools. Some of these shells actually contain hermit crabs that scurry around hunting for food. Green anemones wave their tentacles trying to
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The rocky outcroppings of the Pacific Coast offer a glimpse into the marvelous wilderness of the underwater world. Exploring tidepools is fun and educational and is something easy to do for both young and old. It all starts with the rise and fall of the tides. Twice a day pounding surf surges in and beats against the rocky shoreline, whipping up an agitated froth. Six hours later, the waters retreat,
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Exploring Tidepools By Ruth Ann Angus
MORRO BAY — The city of Morro Bay has officially hired an interim city manager to fill the void left by the resignation of long-time city manager Andrea Lueker, who served the city for more than 27 years. The city announced Jan. 31 that former Beverly Hills City Manager Ed Kreins has been hired to fill the position while a permanent replacement is found. “I am pleased in the council’s confidence in appointing me interim city manager and am looking forward to working with the mayor, council members and city staff,” Kreins said in a city press release. Kreins will be taking over for Susan Slayton, who was appointed to fill in for Lueker after she was placed on administrative leave on Dec. 12. Lueker’s official last day as Morro Bay city manager was Jan. 3.
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The magical world of Highway 41 Antique EmporiumT By Paula McCambridge Of Morro Bay Life
MORRO BAY — The size of the imagination has now been measured — it’s 12,000-square feet and exists in Morro Bay as the Highway 41 Antique Emporium. There are collectibles and oddities, an outdoor garden and even a wine-tasting room. “We have clothes — we have everything from soup to nuts. If it’s not in here, it probably doesn’t exist anywhere,” said owner Francine Esposito. “We have everything from diamonds to fossils, that’s what I always say.” Esposito grew up in New York and worked there as a high school English teacher before finding her way to
California’s Central Coast by way of a stop in the Midwest. She arrived in Cayucos, running two businesses there before changing course and opening her emporium in Morro Bay in 2010. The United States economy was in bad shape, so Esposito waded through a sea of concerns from her friends who warned that it was a bad time to start a business. Four years later, her dream is thriving. “I have about 75 vendors who rent space from me,” Esposito said. “I’m the one who keeps the place up, talks to customers, makes it happen. I got a really nice wine-
tasting room and an outside garden where vendors can hold events.” The garden encompasses a third of an acre and is dotted with more treasures for sale — statues fountains, tables and chairs, on which customers are invited to relax during their stay and welcome to purchase when they’re ready to leave. Inside, there are clothes, fossils, crystals, beads — “We have a whole wall of strands of beads” — there are 1950s collectibles and even signed Salvador Dali prints. And when consumers’ throats become parched, there’s an answer for that too in the wines of Red Zeppelin Winery’s tasting room,
“If it’s not in here then it probably doesn’t exist anywhere.” Owner Francine Esposito
which held its grand opening Jan. 18. The emporium is ever-changing, so if you last visited a month ago, chances are you would no longer recognize the place. Merchandise moves that fast, Esposito said. “It’s always a ‘wow’ reaction I get from people when they walk through the door,” she said. “That’s what we get all the time. ‘I can’t believe this is here. There’s just everything in here.’” For more information on Red Zeppelin Winery, go to www.redzeppelinwinery. com. For more information on Highway 41 Antique Emporium, call 771-8000 or visit www.hwy41antiqueemporium.com. The emporium is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. and is located just of Highway 41, very near to Highway 101, next to Miner’s at 520 Atascadero Road.
Francine Esposito grew up in New York and worked there as a high school English teacher before finding her way to California’s Central Coast by way of a stop in the Midwest. She arrived in Cayucos, running two businesses there before changing course and opening her emporium in Morro Bay in 2010
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The emporium is ever-changing, so if you last visited a month ago, chances are you would no longer recognize the place. Merchandise moves that fast
Interim City Manager Kreins is expected to start work in early February and will be making an estimated $13,000 per month at an hourly rate. Slayton’s salary was raised from $140,042 to $150,430 while she was performing the duties of city manager, but will revert back to her old pay schedule when Kreins takes over. Kreins formerly served as the city manager of Bevery Hills for 11 years and
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has since spent his retirement serving as an interim city manager in Solvang, Livermore, Calabasas, Seaside and Pismo Beach, as well as serving as general manager of the Nipomo Community Services District. Lueker will receive a severance package of $116,469 in addition to $37,333 in vacation time, sick leave and holiday pay. “I am proud to have been a public servant
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for the city of Morro Bay and believe that public service is about putting others first and trying to make the world a better place, usually one person and one need at a time. I believe we have done just that in Morro Bay,” Lueker wrote in a statement upon her resignation. “In leaving, it is very important to acknowledge the city of Morro Bay likely has the best public workforce in the state. Despite tough times, our department heads and city employees continue to find innovative ways to improve the services we offer and provide to the community. During my time with the city, I have been blessed to be surrounded by high-caliber professionals, a similar group likely not found anywhere. I am also extremely humbled by the outpouring of support I have received during the past few months. I am sad to leave the city of Morro Bay, but excited about this new chapter in my life.” The city is also currently looking for an interim city attorney to fill the shoes of former city attorney Rob Schultz, who resigned along with Lueker after Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons called for them both to be fired.
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Town by the rock lot and winding out along the estuary. A boardwalk is now in place on one of the trails and this will give you a chance to view the birds without disturbing them. Another great viewing spot is at Morro Rock where peregrine falcons nest every year. Ospreys are often seen perching on top of boat masts in the harbor area. Be sure to visit the Natural History Museum located in Morro Bay State Park, where you can find out about the ecology of Morro Bay using the interactive exhibits. Docents also lead guided walks and give informative lectures. Head on down to the Embarcadero to walk from Tidelands Park in the south all the way out to Morro Rock. You can browse in the many gift shops and art galleries or dine on locally caught fish in your choice of restaurants. Do some wine tasting at Stax Wine Bar and Bistro at 1099 Embarcadero or Bella Vino’s on Market Street. Stax offers local vintages and wines from around the world while Bella Vino’s specializes in California wines and craft beers. Get out on the water with one of those boat tours and bring your camera to take photos of the sea lions that lounge on the floating docks in the harbor. To explore the underwater life of the bay, hop aboard the yellow submarine with Sub Sea Tours and watch the smelt over by Target Rock in a feeding frenzy as they toss food to them. From atop the boat, you can snap photos of sea otters wrapped up in kelp at this location. The waterfront is not the only interesting place in Morro Bay. Walk around Old Town starting at Morro Bay Boulevard and Main Street. The Morro Bay Art Association has a gallery at the Art Center, the big purple building on Main. Every month a new exhibit takes place and you can just browse or buy some wonderful original art and photography by local artists. Next
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Famous as the town with the Rock, Morro Bay has much to offer and whether you spend a day or a week in this small town by the bay, there is something for everyone here.
door is the eclectic Coalesce Bookstore, always a fun place to shop, not just for books, although there are many, but gift items and cards, and more. You might catch a musical concert there too as they hold them regularly in the Garden Chapel. Or you might want to get married — they can take care of that for you also. Two coffee shops are nearby to offer you
some of the best in brewed coffee. Top Dog is located next to Coalesce Bookstore and has a lovely outside seating area. Around the corner on Morro Bay Boulevard is the Rock Expresso Shop. Walk up Moro Bay Boulevard and stop in at Queen’s Closet for the latest fashions, Treasures Antique Mall for those old-fashioned interesting items, and Bead By The Bay for beads, beads,
beads and handmade jewelry. Farther up the boulevard at Shasta Street is the town’s newest and most eclectic gift shop, Ruby Dragon, a metaphysical rock, crystal and gift store. As you can see there is much to do and much to see and you can’t go wrong spending a day in Morro Bay.
The other heron By Ruth Ann Angus For Morro Bay Life
Of the large wading birds, great blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, and black crowned night herons are easily spotted in the waters of Morro Bay and in fields and ponds inland. But try and find a Least Bittern or a tricolored heron and you have taken on a difficult, if not, impossible task. There is another heron that lives here and should be able to be seen year-round. So why is it we don’t see more of the green heron? The green heron, sometimes referred to as the little green heron or the greenbacked heron is a solitary bird. It is the runt of the heron family at approximately 16 to 18 inches long and has the tendency to hunch up its neck making it appear even shorter. Adult birds have a glossy dark green crown, gray-green back, chestnut colored neck, white chin, and orangeyellow legs. Green herons are one of the few birds that use tools. It stands stock still over water and drops bait onto the surface. When fish rise to the bait, it strikes. The bird uses a variety of lures including insects, worms, twigs, and feathers. Herons in general are masters of
stoicism, standing motionless like statues, neck stretched out and bills pointed downward, waiting to strike their prey, which they do with lightning speed. When disturbed, the green heron will erect its short crest, lengthen its neck and flick its tail. People don’t notice them until they do these motions or they see the bird fly off unexpectedly. Often the only way these small herons are noticed at all is by the movement of their eyes as they search the waters. Green herons in particular can meld into their backgrounds and appear like logs thanks to their distinctive coloring. Green herons breed along creeks and streams, in marshy and swampy locations, and on the edges of lakes. The nest is placed somewhere above ground, often in a tree, and is a platform of sticks. The female lays three to six pale blue to greenish eggs that hatch in 21 to 25 days. Both parents incubate the eggs. Juvenile birds resemble bitterns with streaky brown colorations. When breeding season ends green herons like other herons wander far and wide seeking favorable foraging locations. You might spot green herons at Laguna Lake, Lopez Lake, Atascadero, Nacimiento and San Antonio lakes, and in the estuary area of Morro Bay. Keep an eye out for them. They are a treat to see and you can add
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Morro Bay is home to anywhere from 20 to 40 harbor seals. These marine mammals live in colonies that tend to stay in familiar locations and although some may stray afar for awhile, they usually return to their home territory.
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They like to dine on a variety of fishes, mollusks, crustaceans and cephalopods. Generally they feed close to shore and it is believed that they develop preferred feeding sites. These seals can stay submerged for up to 20 minutes. Pupping season ranges from late-March to mid-May from San Francisco down through the Central Coast. Mating takes place in the water, but births can occur either on land or in shallow water. Pups can swim almost immediately after birth. Newborns are generally seen in Morro
Bay, beginning in April. The pup (usually only one) is a bluishgray with white below and sticks close to its mother, nursing for about a month. When pups are a bit older they join together to play, frolic in the shallow water and slide down the mud banks of haul-out sites. These sites are important to the seals that use the areas as prime resting spots and to give birth and nurse their young. Haul-out sites are so important that they are generally chosen based on such things
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capture minute organisms to drag into the depths of their bodies. A pretty rose-colored scale called coralline algae covers most of the rocks under water and lends the cove its name. Harbor seals haul out and rest on the exposed rocky ledges. Closer to the breaking waves are sea urchins, and more crabs and sea stars. There are several tidal zones beginning with the Splash Zone, which receives the blast of the waves at high tide, and proceeding through the High Tide, Mid Tide, and Low Tide zones. Each of these sections has its own creatures and plant life that manage to exist in both the turbulent water and when high and dry. The High Tide Zone remains moister than the splash zone and here you will see barnacles, mussels, rock crabs, anemones and chitons. The Mid Tide Zone is uncovered at
normal low tide levels. Small fishes, shrimp, sea stars, hermit crabs and nudibranchs live in this environment. Of these the shellless snail, the nudibranch, is probably the most colorful, often having flowing plumes on their backs. They dine on sponges, hydroids, colonized plant-like organisms that cling to rocks, and bryozoans, mosslike creatures similar to coralline algae. Uncovered only at the lowest tides each month, the Low Tide Zone harbors anemones, sponges, sea urchins, tubeworms, sun stars, sea cucumbers and thick beds of seaweed. Gazing into these many small ponds at low tide you will be privileged to see a miniature realm in complete detail. If you go tidepooling, please leave the areas as you found them. Replace rocks and creatures exactly as they were and handle everything gently and remember that everything you see is protected by law.
as easy access to the water, low human disturbance and proximity to good feeding areas. Disturbance by human activity can lead to an abandonment of a site. In spite of their sensitivity to disturbance, the seals enjoy playing hide and seek with humans. You will find that as you are observing them, they will be watching you, too. While boating near harbor seals in the bay, it is possible to get to within 100 feet of the animals before they will dive under water.
Harbor seals are marine mammals and as such are fully protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Fines are stiff, so take heed. It is advisable that while kayaking or canoeing in the back bay you give a wide berth to harbor seals that may be hauled out on mudflats or the banks of the mouth of Chorro Creek. But donâ€™t be surprised if one or two of them suddenly pop up from the depths right next to your boat.
Pelican portrait By Ruth Ann Angus For Morro Bay Life
If pelicans could talk, they would tell us they have been around for a long time. They even look a little prehistoric with their short squatty legs, wide wing span, bulky bodies and long bills and pouches. Pelicans are among the largest living water birds and are related to tropicbirds, cormorants, gannets, anhingas, frigatebirds and boobies. They have a wingspread of 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 feet and are found on the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. The birds migrate up and down the Pacific Coast and large colonies nest on West Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands in Channel Islands National Park and on islands off the coast of Baja, Calif. They begin breeding at approximately three years of age, building nest sites either on the ground or the cliffs of the islands. On the East Coast, especially in Florida, nesting takes place in mangrove trees. Females are in charge of nest building, using materials gathered by males. They lay from two to four eggs, white in color, which become nest-stained rapidly. Incubation takes 28 to 30 days. Brown pelicans use their highly vascularized feet to incubate the eggs by standing on them. This is why they met with disaster when their eggshells became unnaturally thin due to the effects of DDT/DDE. As the parent birds stood on the weak eggs, they would crush them killing the fetus inside. Since the ban of these chemicals, the birds have made a remarkable comeback. Some of the most fun is watching groups of pelicans gliding along in single file barely inches above the waves. Their feeding method is also a treat to see. After circling about 60 feet above the water, they suddenly plunge straight down headfirst, dive under the surface and reappear with a fish in their pouch. Then the bird tilts its bill down to drain the water from the pouch and tosses its
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head back to swallow. A pelicanâ€™s diet is made up almost entirely of fish and favorite kinds are menhaden, anchovies and smelt. The latter two are sometimes abundant in Morro Bay. Another favorite fishing technique is begging. As the commercial and sport fishing boats return to harbor, pelicans and gulls follow along behind hoping for a handout. And they usually get one, when dock and crew mates clean the catch and toss the scraps overboard. Some birds go to great lengths to secure a scrap of a meal by becoming dumpster divers at the fish cleaning station near the boat launch ramp in Morro Bay. Pelicans are one of the favorite birds of people visiting the coast and should remain as a great natural attraction for many years as long as people are careful about keeping the environment clean and pure.
Pelicans are among the largest living water birds and are related to tropicbirds, cormorants, gannets, anhingas, frigatebirds and boobies
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Lady Washington and Topsail Ketch take Morro Bay back to 18th Century By Allyson Oken
Of the Morro Bay Life
MORRO BAY — Tall ships — the Lady Washington and the Topsail Ketch Hawaiian Chieftain — are cruising there way to Morro Bay for a weekend of boating. The ships owned, maintained and operated by Grays Harbor Historical Sea Port Authority will land in Morro Harbor Feb. 7 and stay until Feb. 11. Joe Follansbee, the GHHSA Communications Director, explained that the group’s mission is to give people a chance to see history come to life. “Our mission is to provide hands-on living history education for all ages,” said Follansbee. “Our vessels are the only ships of their type on the West Coast that offer regular sailing excursions. Our trips are geared toward guests with any kind of experience on the water — beginner to experienced. We offer opportunities for guests to help raise a sail, learn a sea shanty, or take the helm of our ships, conditions permitting.” According to Follansbee, the ships have been coming to Morro Bay for more than 10 years. Drawing several hundred people to the boats during their visits. It is recommend that people make early reservations for ticketed sailings and that no reservations are needed to go on a walk-on tour. The Crew will be decked out in 18th century costumes to welcome visitor’s dockside. They will host activities like ship handling demonstrations, sea shanty singing and story telling. Over the weekend, for those that choose to purchase tickets in advance, the crew will welcome patrons aboard for battles and an adventure cruise. The Lady Washington is a replica that was build by the GHHSA and first launched in 1989 as part of Washington
The Lady Washington anchored off of Morro Bay Harbor with the Rock in the background shows off the sheer enormity of these Tall Ships. Photo: Contributed
States Centennial celebration. Historically, the original Lady Washington was one of the ships that made trading voyages around the Cape Horn in 1787 and in 1788
became the first vessel to make a landfall on the West Coast of North America. The Hawaiian Chieftain was build and originally designed for cargo trade among the Hawaiian Islands in 1988. GHHSA purchased the vessel in 2005 and now joins the Lady Washington in educational cruses and ambassadorial visits along the West Coast. The Lady Washington can take a maximum number of 45 people on a sailing excursion. Hawaiian Chieftain’s maximum capacity is 39. So if anyone wants to join in the fun, they should plan to buy tickets early to reserve a seat. Follansbee expressed that the event would not be nearly as successful without the efforts of their partners and the
Morro Bay community. “We’d like to thank Sub Sea Tours for hosting our vessels, the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce for helping us get the word out about our visit, and our many friends and supporters in the Morro Bay area,” said Follansbee. This is a great chance for those that enjoy sailing or history to come out and see two amazing ships. Anyone can watch from the dock and hear the cannon’s boom, see close quarters maneuvers and get a chance to experience maritime living aboard GHHSA Tall Ships. To purchase tickets in advance call 1(800) 200-5239 or visit GHHSA’s website at www.historicalseaport.org.
Feb. 7: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., walk-on tours, $3 donation per person requested. Feb. 8-9: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., walk-on tours, $3 donation per person requested. Feb. 8-9: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Battle Sail, $43-$63. Feb. 9: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Adventure Sail, $43 all ages. Feb. 11: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., walk-on tours, $3 donation per person requested
The Hawaiian Chieftain under sail at sea is a majestic sight to see. Photo courtesy of Bob Harbinson
White belly gleaming in the sun, the Lady Washington’s sails are stiff in the wind at sea. Photo courtesy of Thomas Hyde.
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