Family escapes fire with lives, little else

Family escapes fire with lives, little else

A fire Sunday night has left a Newark family with next to nothing.

Kim Ballard said she and her husband, Freddie, had put their grandkids to bed and were outside smoking a cigarette before going to bed themselves when they began hearing a popping sound just before 11.

They first thought someone was trying to break in to a house next door, but Kim quickly realized it was coming from their home at 536 Wise St.

“When I opened the door, it was just smoke,” Kim said. “I started screaming, ‘It’s a fire!’”

Picking Up the Pieces

PICKING UP THE PIECES – Kim Ballard looks at family photos pulled from her home following Sunday night’s fire. She lived in the home with her husband and two grandchildren. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

She and Freddie ran inside to get their 8-year-old grandson and 11-year-old granddaughter, who live with them. Kim threw a wet towel over their faces and hurried them out the front door and across the street.

Meanwhile, Freddie began attempting to put the flames out himself with a garden hose, but with the house already filled with smoke, he couldn’t stay inside more than 30 seconds at a time because he could not breathe.

“I told my husband, ‘We have got to stop. We’re going to kill ourselves,’” Kim said.

Four minutes after the fire was reported, the Newark Volunteer Fire Department arrived and reported seeing flames coming out of the roof and a bedroom window. Boyd, Rhome and Haslet fire departments also responded to provide mutual aid.

Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal J.C. Travis said firefighters initially had a difficult time accessing the fire because it had traveled into the attic space, allowing flames to spread from one end of the home to the other.

The fire also spread along a breezeway into a shed next to the home, damaging the shed and destroying a riding lawnmower. A vehicle parked next to the home was damaged by radiant heat.

Firefighters battled the blaze for an hour-and-a-half before bringing it under control. By then, the home and its contents had been destroyed.

Travis investigated the fire and determined it originated in a wall where an addition connected to the original structure. The original mobile home wiring was aluminum, and the added room used copper wiring. The two elements don’t mix, and he believes the fire had been “cooking” for a while before it was noticed.

On Monday morning, Kim flipped through a badly-burned photo album next to a small pile of charred items in the driveway of their home. Pictures of smiling family members were now rimmed in black.

Although the home had been insured previously, it was not covered at the time of the fire. Kim explained that flood damage in one of the rooms a few years back resulted in increased premiums the family could no longer afford.

A series of setbacks over the past several years had also made things tight around the household. Freddie had a heart attack, resulting in quadruple-bypass surgery and requiring an early retirement. Likewise, Kim had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, which also meant surgery and a retirement from teaching.

She was scheduled for another doctor’s visit Tuesday to set up a second brain surgery.

Their two grandkids, who attend Seven Hills Elementary, lost all their school supplies and new school clothes just a little more than 24 hours before the start of a new school year.

Red Cross came to the home early Monday morning and provided the family with a change of clothes, snacks and a voucher for a motel stay in order to meet their immediate needs. Help moving forward, however, was less certain.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go from here,” Kim said as she began to sob.

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Debra Rena Patterson

Debra Rena Patterson

Debra Rena Patterson, 55, a homemaker, died Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Newark.

Graveside service was Aug. 25 at Aurora Cemetery, and a celebration of Debra’s life was held that evening at Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd.

Debra was born Dec. 3, 1958, in Kilgore to Bob and Gwendola “Faye” (Meredith) Bullard. She married Gary Patterson June 25, 2000, in Barbados.

She was preceded in death by her parents.

She is survived by her husband, Gary Patterson of Manchester, N.J.; sister Pixie Leva Rippy of Newark; brother Derek Newman of Lebanon, Mo.; and other family members and friends.

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Philip Dean Knowles

Philip Dean Knowles

Philip Dean Knowles, 79, of Newark, died Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.

Memorial service is 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, at Peace Lutheran Church in Hurst.

Phil was born April 23, 1935, in Hudson, Mich., to Nathan and Gladys Ball Knowles. He grew up on a dairy farm and graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in agriculture education in June of 1957. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force through the ROTC program, through which he also earned his private pilot’s license.

Phil married Lu Anne Whitcher Aug. 25, 1956. He was called to active duty in March of 1958 and served in Cheyenne, Wyo., Fairbanks, Ala., Enid, Okla., Waco and San Antonio. While he was based in Waco, he attended graduate school at Baylor University.

He left the Air Force in 1970 and flew for Braniff, Piedmont and U.S. Airways. He retired from active and reserve Air Force after more than 28 years of military service and retired from U.S. Air at age 60 in 1995.

After re-arranging Lu Anne’s spices, he joined Garland Pipe Organ Co. and was part of the Garland crew that installed the Peace Lutheran pipe organ.

Phil was a faithful servant of God throughout his life, serving in various capacities in the churches of which he was a member. He joined Peace Lutheran Church in 1976 with Lu Anne. He loved to sing and was active in singing, handbell and chime choirs, also serving on various committees, including the building committee that was responsible for the building of the present sanctuary.

One of Phil’s joys was making his famous beer biscuits for Kaffee Haus.

He was preceded in death by his father and mother and brother Silas.

Survivors include his wife, Lu Anne; son Mark and wife, Susan; daughter Beth McKeithen and husband, Ramsay; son Bill Lowrey and wife, Katherine; grandchildren Nathan Craig, Thomas and Josiah Knowles, Jackson and Caroline McKeithen and Aaron Lowrey; sister Anita Schultz and her children, Bruce, Gary, Leta, Laura and Scott; and the children of Silas: Janice, Linda and David; and brother and sister-in-law Ed and Jann Day.

Memorials may be made to Victory In Christ Lutheran Church in Newark.

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Alilya Jade Stewart

Carmon Keathley and Dustin Stewart of Newark announce the birth of a daughter, Alilya Jade Stewart, on Aug. 13, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 10 pounds, 10 ounces and was 21 inches long.

She has one sister: Ava Kenzie Stewart.

Grandparents are Loree Keathley and Judie and Sidney Hines, all of Rhome.

Great-grandparent is Kay Spivey of Rhome.

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Burned again: Duo attempts to dismantle house, accidentally sets it on fire

An unoccupied mobile home caught fire in Newark Tuesday morning as two men were attempting to dismantle the structure.

Smoldering Heap

SMOLDERING HEAP – Firefighters check the rubble of a mobile home for hot spots Tuesday morning. Three fire departments were called to County Road 4845 to battle a blaze at the unoccupied trailer. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Newark, Rhome and Haslet fire departments were called to the 100 block of County Road 4845 to battle a blaze that was reported shortly after 7:30 a.m.

Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal J.C. Travis said Mickey Murphrey and his nephew, Brett Kennan, were attempting to tear apart the empty house, which was already extensively damaged from a previous fire. In a bizarre turn of events, the house caught fire again, this time burning to the ground.

Murphrey’s mother and Kennan’s grandmother, Bonnie Garrett, had lived in the trailer until June 21 when a kitchen fire severely damaged the structure.

Travis said that fire started when Garrett was attempting to boil eggs. She turned on the wrong burner, accidentally heating a pot holding leftover grease instead of the pan with water and eggs. She left the room after turning on the burner and became aware of the fire only when the smoke alarm went off.

She escaped uninjured, but the house was ruined with extensive smoke and water damage.

Travis said the insurance company paid a claim for the burned home.

Last weekend a new double-wide mobile home was moved to the property. The burned house was pulled to the front of the site, next to a third mobile home occupied by Brett Kennan and his father, Tommy Kennan Jr, who is also Garrett’s son.

Travis said the family planned to dismantle the burned home, salvage what they could and then dispose of what remained. Their plan of action included placing a burn barrel on either end of the home. They worked inside Monday, tearing things apart and throwing pieces from the house into the barrels.

They lit the contents of the barrels early Tuesday morning, continuing to work inside and throw debris into the flames.

At some point, Travis said they decided to just pull the house apart. They ran a cable through the house and attached it to a pickup truck.

“Somehow, when they were pulling on it with the truck, something caught fire,” Travis said. “There was no electricity to it, but as best I can tell, while they were playing with the cable, something in the burn barrel got the underside of the trailer to burn.

“As they were trying to pull it, they noticed smoke,” he said. “That’s when they panicked. They tried to fight it with a garden hose while the sister called 911.”

Lisa Bryson, sister to Murphrey and Kennan Jr., was visiting and helping their mother get moved into the double-wide.

The family could only watch as firefighters attempted to put the fire out and keep it from spreading to the other homes on the property.

The windows of the mobile home occupied by the Kennans broke due to radiant heat, and the underpinning on that home also melted. Travis said the electrical meter was damaged, as was the wire that runs from the house to the utility pole. Wise Electric Cooperative was called to the scene to repair those items.

Garrett’s house was not damaged and neither was an A-frame home also on the property. The A-frame is occupied by Tommy Kennan Sr., Garrett’s ex-husband and Tommy Jr.’s father.

Travis said no charges will be filed. The family will be responsible for removing the debris from the property.

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John L. Neely Jr.

John L. Neely Jr.

John L. Neely Jr., 88, of Newark, died Friday, July 25, 2014.

Funeral is 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 30, at Mount Olivet Chapel in Fort Worth with burial to follow at Springtown Cemetery.

John was born Oct. 13, 1925, in Colgate, Okla. He served in the U.S. Navy where he was in Standard Landing Craft Unit No. 32 in GroPac No. 10, serving in the Pacific during World War II.

He was loved by his family.

John was preceded in death by his first wife of 52 years, Vernell Neely, and second wife of 14 years, Sybil Neely; daughters Sheila Faith Neely and Dorothy Shouse; and son Roy Neely.

Survivors include daughter Katrina Jones; sons Lloyd Neely and wife, Tolea, Floyd Neely and wife, Katherine, and Perry Neely and wife, Kathy; sister Wanetta Vess; brother Jerry Neely and wife, Phyllis; seven grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

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Sharon Muck

Sharon Muck

Sharon Muck, 67, formerly of Newark, died Monday, July 21, 2014, in Broken Arrow, Okla.

Funeral is 10:30 a.m. Thursday, July 24, at Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd with the Rev. Gary Sessions officiating. Burial will follow at Aurora Cemetery. Visitation is 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

Sharon was born April 28, 1947, in Davenport, Iowa, to Dewayne and Dora (Cassman) Tucker. She married Billy Bryan Jr. March 13, 1992, in Fort Worth. She was a wiring harness assembler for General Dynamics.

Sharon was preceded in death by her parents and her brothers, Kenneth and Roger Tucker.

Survivors include her husband, Billy Bryan Jr. of Broken Arrow; son Bill Muck and wife, Shannan, of Fort Worth; grandson Carsen Muck; sisters Carol Steele of Indianola, Iowa, and Sharlene Squire and husband, Vernon, of State Center, Iowa; and many other relatives and friends.

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Dora May Cairns

Dora May Cairns

Dora May Cairns, 82, of Newark died Monday, June 16, 2014, in Newark.

Funeral was June 20 at Renewal Fellowship Church in Boyd with the Rev. Jerry Hood officiating. Burial followed at Aurora Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Richard Alarcon, Paul Bukak, Thomas Cairns, Ed Benoy, Lee Draper and Thomas Tidwell.

Dora was born June 11, 1932, in Sidon, Miss., to Wheeler and Ellie Mae (Pennington) Lindsey. She married Darin Thomas Cairns Sept. 27, 1961, in Yuba City, Calif., and she was a retired lab technician, having worked for StyroChem. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Darin; son Wayne Morris; and grandson Daniel.

She is survived by son Roger Cairns and wife, Shari, of Newark; grandchildren Cassy, Rachel, Thomas, Richard, Kaitlin, Jonathan, Michael and Christopher; great-grandchildren Jazmyne, Alex, Gabby, Noah, Gabriel, Gauge, Levi, Preston and Payton; brother Peck Lindsey; and numerous other relatives and friends.

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Missing elderly woman found dead

A missing person search turned into a grim discovery Monday afternoon when an elderly woman was found dead near her home in Newark.

Wise County Sheriff David Walker said there are no indications of foul play at this time, but the death will be listed as “questionable” until more information is gathered.

Sheriff’s officers, the Newark Fire Department and Wise County EMS began searching the area near the home of Dora Cairns, 82, in the 600 block of Rogers Road, at around 3:30 p.m. Monday after family members reported they had not seen Cairns since around 9 a.m. Email and text alerts with a description of Cairns were also sent by the Sheriff’s Office to residents in the area.

A Department of Public Safety helicopter was brought in to assist with the search from the air, and Cairns’ body was spotted in a grassy area about 500 to 600 yards south of her home around 5:45 p.m.

“It looks like she had gone on a walk south of her residence into a grassy, woody area, like she had apparently done many times before,” Walker said.

It was not immediately clear how she died. Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Mandy Hays was called to the scene to pronounce Cairns dead. She ordered her body be sent to the Dallas County Medical Examiners office for an autopsy.

Funeral for Cairns is pending at Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd.

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Freddie Jack Shannon

Freddie Jack Shannon

Freddie Jack Shannon, 81, of Newark, died Friday, June 6, 2014, in Decatur.

Memorial service is 4 p.m. Saturday, June 14, at Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd.

Freddie was born Feb. 25, 1933, in Cisco to Fred and Lucille (Kyle) Shannon. He was a proud veteran of the U.S. Air Force and retired after 20 years of dedicated service, which included the Vietnam War.

After his retirement, he received his pilot’s license and flew small engine aircraft. Freddie played the steel guitar in several bands, and although he could not read sheet music, he taught several people how to play music by using numbers. He made several steel and electric guitars and liked to work with leather.

Freddie was preceded in death by his parents; his son, Byron Keene Shannon; and two great-granddaughters.

He is survived by his sons, Ike Shannon and wife, Kim, of Lake Worth and Chad Shannon and wife, Wanda, of Newark; grandchildren William, Gary, Raychel and husband, Adam, Sunnie and husband, D.J., Kimberlee and husband, Andrew, and Anthony; seven great-grandchildren; brother Terry Brown and wife, Ann, of Florida; one niece; one nephew; and other family members and friends.

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More Clark speculation

I am amazed at the way you pick your news stories. I have been a resident of Wise County for many years, and I realize you have your favorites to write about – but how is it you just happen to write about the same person, with lots of pictures, covering most of two pages? Is it because he is running for office?

Or he is one of the local or not-so-local teachers?

Teachers resign every year, for one reason or another. I wonder if you are pushing this candidate over another. Most papers give equal time to candidates and keep track of time given to each so one won’t be in the limelight more than the other one.

Please explain if you are endorsing this candidate over another fine Wise County candidate. I would like to see you give time to the other candidate as well.

You have an advantage over us out here in your county, as you reach the voters. We all know pictures put in front of people are lasting.

Name recognition is very important in an election. Equal time for the other candidates please…

Donald Drain

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Lilly Marie Martinez

Eddie and Rachel Martinez of Newark announce the birth of a daughter, Lilly Marie, on May 17, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 6 pounds, 2 ounces and was 18 inches long.

She has one brother: John, 1.

Grandparents are David and Michelle Dahl of Newark and Ameila Martinez of Westminster, Colo.

Great-grandparent is Claudette Ferguson of Newark.

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Louie L. Draper

Louie L. Draper, 76, of Newark, died Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Fort Worth.

Funeral is 10 a.m. Monday, May 12, at Biggers Funeral Chapel in Lake Worth with burial to follow at Aurora Cemetery. Visitation is 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Biggers Funeral Home.

Louie was born Sept. 9, 1937, in Fort Worth to William and Mildred Draper. He had been a resident of Newark for more than 40 years and was a retired delivery driver for Coca Cola Bottling Co.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Martha I. Draper on Jan. 29, 2012.

Survivors include his children, Ricky Draper and wife, Tinna, Lee Draper and wife, Cinda Ann, Teresa Youngblood, Kelly Griffin and husband, David, and Kimberly Smith and husband, Richard; brothers Dale Draper and Billy Draper; 17 grandchildren; and 24 great-grandchildren.

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Billy H. Godbey

Billy H. “Frog” Godbey, 71, died Saturday, April 26, 2014, at his home in Newark.

Funeral was April 29 at Biggers Funeral Chapel in Lake Worth. Burial followed at Aurora Cemetery.

Billy was born Jan. 30, 1943, in Fort Worth to Glen and Thelma Godbey. He was raised in Haslet and attended Northwest High School. Before his retirement, he was a shop foreman for J&L Tanks for more than 20 years.

Survivors include his wife, Charlotte Chapman; daughters Cindy Pockrus, Kim Hulsey and husband, David, and Lisa Durham and husband, Tiger; mother of his children, Leona Crain; stepchildren Curtis Hooks, Chris Hooks and Daniel Chapman and wife, Mary; mother Thelma Godbey; brothers Woody Godbey and wife, Regina, and Gabe Godbey and wife, Sandra; sisters Glenna Waggoner and husband, Kenneth, and Pam Warren and husband, Gerald; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

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Hazel Augustine Sloas

Hazel Augustine Sloas

Hazel Augustine Sloas, 88, died Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

Graveside service is 3 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at Saginaw Cemetery with burial under the direction of Calvario Funeral Home (formerly Shannon North) in Fort Worth.

Hazel was born Jan. 15, 1926, in Winfield, Ala. to William and Mary Henderson.

She was preceded in death by her husband, T.H. Sloas, and two sons.

She is survived by a son, William “Bill” Sloas of Newark; daughters Deborah Morton and Renah Sloas, both of Newark; and numerous grandchildren.

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Gabriel Asher Miguel

Jesus and Jennifer Miguel of Newark announce the birth of a son, Gabriel Asher, on April 20, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was 19 inches long.

He has one brother: Benjamin, 20 months.

Grandparents are Aurelio and Maria Miguel and Elizabeth and Michael Crooks.

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Wesley Kelvin Wolfe

Wesley Kelvin Wolfe

Wesley Kelvin Wolfe, 59, a senior plumbing designer, died Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Newark.

Funeral is 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 5, at Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd with Mike Boaldin officiating. Burial will follow at 2 p.m. at the Harris Family Cemetery in Hamilton.

Pallbearers are Tony Wolfe, Troy Wolfe, Roger Wolfe, John Wolfe, Lonnie VanSchuyver, J.B. Nesbitt, Roddy Nesbitt and Damon Mason.

Wesley was born Nov. 28, 1954, in Fort Worth to James and Nina (Thackerson) Wolfe. He married Arlene Ashmore Sept. 20, 1975, in Newark.

Wesley was a loving father and loved his children and grandchildren. He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Newark.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Arlene Wolfe of Newark; son John Caleb Wolfe and wife, Laura Marie, of Dublin; daughter Debra Nicole Nesbitt and husband, Jacob Daniel, of Saginaw; grandchildren Alayna, Theron and Lucas; his parents, James and Nina Wolfe of Newark; brothers Tony Wolfe and wife, Carolyn, of Keller, Troy Wolfe and wife, Michelle, of Decatur and Roger Wolfe and wife, Donna, of Newark; and other family members and friends.

Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society, 1-800-227-2345; P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718 or online at

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Peytyn Chasity Bothwell

Tommy and Lauren Bothwell of Newark announce the birth of a daughter, Peytyn Chasity, on March 12, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces and was 19 inches long.

She has two brothers: Brennon and Landyn; and one sister: Hayden.

Grandparents are Kim and Freddie Ballard of Newark and Thomas and Robbie Bothwell of Fort Worth.

Great-grandparents are Connie and Bill McPherson of Runaway Bay.

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Ramona R. Jennings

Ramona Royal Jennings, 84, of Newark, died Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Saginaw.

Funeral is 9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 8, at Mount Olivet Chapel in Fort Worth. Burial will follow at Dido Cemetery.

Ramona was born May 30, 1929, in Ponder to Dillard and Delora Doughty Royal. She lived most of her life in Newark and was a member of the Newark Church of Christ.

She was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers; and two grandsons.

Survivors include her husband of 67 years, George Jennings Jr.; son Billy M. Jennings and wife, Martha, of Newark; daughter Debbie Ellis and husband, Max, of Arlington; four grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren and many other loving family members and friends.

Memorials may be made to Newark Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 478, Newark, TX 76071.

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Ezell Singleton Jr.

Ezell Singleton Jr.

Ezell Singleton Jr., 50, of Newark, died Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, in Decatur.

Funeral is 11 a.m. Saturday, March 1, at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur with Darren Embree officiating. Burial will follow at Oaklawn Cemetery.

Pallbearers are Joe Driver, Joe Driver Jr., Ray Russell II, Darryl Russell, Chris Greene and Dale Beaver. Honorary pallbearers are George Sutton, Ray Russell Sr. and Johnny Moore.

Ezell was born Sept. 12, 1963, in Decatur to Ezell Sr. and Rosa (Gil) Singleton in Decatur.

He is survived by his parents, Ezell and Rosa Singleton of Decatur; the mother of his children, Tammy Singleton; son Michael Singleton and fianc , Kirsten Holt, of Runaway Bay; daughters Kasi Singleton of Newark and Brynna Teague of Chico; grandchildren Vondrick, Donovan, Nathon, Blaze, Riggin and Aliyah; sisters Ester Rivera and husband, Alberto, of Bridgeport, Dolores Beaver and husband, Dale, of Alvord, Elaine Norris and husband, Ricky, of Fort Worth and Lisa Greene and husband, Chris, of Decatur; brother Carlos Singleton and wife, Brenda, of Fort Worth; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.

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