East Cobb Church rezoning gets Planning Commission approval

East Cobb Church rezoning held
Proposed townhomes fronting Johnson Ferry Road would be bounded by a brick wall and a community walking trail.

The Cobb Planning Commission voted 4-1 Tuesday to recommend approval of a request to build a church and a high-density residential development at Johnson Ferry and Shallowford roads in East Cobb.

The vote came during the fourth presentation by North Point Ministries for its proposed mixed-use development on 33 acres, and after more than an hour of discussion Tuesday morning.

Despite concerted community opposition, based mostly on density and traffic issues, the advisory board signed off on the application, which will go before the Cobb Board of Commissioners for final action on Aug. 17.

North Point Ministries is planning a 130,000-square foot East Cobb Church, a smaller activities building and a parking lot along the Shallowford Road portion of the land, and will sell 22 acres at Johnson Ferry Road and Waterfront Circle to Ashwood Atlanta, a residential developer, for 71 townhomes and 59 single-family detached homes.

(For the proposal submitted by North Point Ministries, there’s a revised site plan that came in last Tuesday and a lengthy new stipulation letter last Wednesday.)

At the hearing Tuesday there were 58 people attending in favor of the request, and 29 opposed.

The residential portion of the project has raised the most concerns, and on Tuesday nearby residents and civic leaders repeated their objections.

They included numerous variances being requested for the homes, which North Point attorney Kevin Moore said were necessary after community pushback against what originally had been 125 townhomes.

East Cobb Church rezoning held
Jill Flamm of the East Cobb Civic Association called the proposed residential visuals “watercolor renderings.”

Those variances include setbacks, separation between single-family buildings, lot sizes and guest parking.

“There will still be some lot-size variances,” said Planning Commission member Tony Waybright, who represents District 2 in East Cobb where the development would take place. “We’ve got to give a little to get somewhere.”

He also noted that North Point donated right-of-way along Shallowford and Johnson Ferry for a multi-purpose trail that will be open to the community.

“That’s the benefit to the public in return for looking at the variances,” he said, noting that they were a better option than seeking other zoning categories.

Waybright had recommended a fee-simple townhome designation for the townhomes, but North Point kept its request at RA-6, with a proposed density of 5.8 units per acre.

Moore said that’s less than a townhome development behind the Kroger on the southeast corner of Johnson Ferry and Shallowford with six units an acre.

“This is not some isolated suburban neighborhood with single-family homes,” Moore said, saying that 75 percent of the assembled property in the rezoning is bordered by commercial property.

But Ruth Michels, who lives in the adjacent MarLanta subdvisision, countered that while she and her neighbors want the land to be redeveloped, “this is not the right development.”

She said she is concerned that the amount of developable land is unclear because a flood plain study has yet to be done. That process, which would provide an assessment of land in a drained lake, typically comes after a rezoning vote, in what’s called the site plan review stage.

Michels cited what she called a “lack of transparency” in submitting a stipulation letter late Monday.

“What is the real density?” she asked, adding that “it’s impossible to have an accurate picture of how this property is to be developed.”

A July 27 site plan shows the church at left, townhomes at the top and single-family homes on the bottom.

Jill Flamm of the East Cobb Civic Association also expressed opposition to the number of variances, a lack of lot-size specifics, no landscape plan, few details on a proposed community park and no sidewalks within the residential areas.

In his motion to recommend approval, Waybright incorporated some of those issues. His conditions would cap density at 129 units and 5.82 units per acre, conceding those figures could go down depending on the results of a flood plain study.

He also said the residential building heights should be no more than 35 feet and no more than two stories (some of the renderings include three stories).

Other stipulations include at least one pavilion and gazebo in the park, streetlights and benches along the multi-purpose trail, sidewalks on at least one side of all internal roads in the residential development and limitations on external lighting, including a ban on floodlights.

Another stipulation Waybright added was to prevent right-turn traffic coming out of the church on Sundays, to keep vehicles out of the nearby neighborhoods.

The only vote against was Planning Commission chairman Fred Beloin, who said while he “liked the look” of the townhomes, wanted to keep the density under 5 units an acre. His motion to cap that figure failed.

Another East Cobb case that was to have been heard Tuesday is being delayed again. The Cobb zoning staff has continued a request by Pulte Homes for a proposed 99-home single-family detached development on nearly 50 acres on Ebenezer Road, between Blackwell Road and Maybreeze Road.

Pulte Homes revised that site plan and submitted a new stipulation letter last week, after questions were raised about density of around 2 units an acre, small lot sizes and a lack of amenities.

That case has been put on the September zoning calendar.

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2021 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival includes in-theater screenings

2021 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival

Submitted information:

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) is excited to announce its return to the movie theater for the first time in 18 months with AJFF North, a mini-festival on Aug. 28-29, 2021, that will combine in-theater and virtual screenings. Made possible by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta through its “Making Jewish Places” initiative, AJFF North brings the best in Jewish cinema directly to residents of Alpharetta, East Cobb, Johns Creek, Roswell and surrounding North Metro communities, though is open to all audiences.
Moviegoers can enjoy a diverse mix of dramas, documentary, family-friendly fare, a Hollywood classic comedy, and even short films in a series of screenings at the Aurora Cineplex in Roswell (5100 Commerce Pkwy, Roswell, GA 30076), as well as via streaming in the AJFF Virtual Cinema. Tickets are available for purchase on Aug. 4 and are $16/person for in-person screenings and $16/household for films presented in the Virtual Cinema.
In-person screenings at the Aurora Cineplex represent the festival’s first return to movie theaters since February 2020 and provides an opportunity for audiences to rediscover the joy of seeing films back on the big screen, as AJFF plans for a larger theatrical experience at next year’s 22nd edition of the annual festival in February 2022.
“We’re thrilled to be the official venue for AJFF North,” says Barbara Scoggins, operations manager of the Aurora Cineplex. “As the world starts going back to the movies, community events like this one provide us an opportunity to serve film lovers in the North Atlanta metro area and beyond.”
As AJFF continues to prioritize the safety of audiences and staff, organizers will follow COVID protocols in accordance with CDC and local guidelines, as well as theater partners. This will include measures to encourage all audiences to wear masks inside the theater venue, as well as social distancing during entry and exit from the theater.
“After nearly two years of planning with our partners at Jewish Federation and community volunteers, AJFF North is a milestone initiative that both welcomes audiences back to theaters while also serving fans in North Metro neighborhoods,” says AJFF Executive Director Kenny Blank. “AJFF has always taken care to listen to the needs of the community, and this mini-festival further provides an opportunity to understand how the moviegoing experience will evolve as we plan for next year’s annual festival and beyond.”

For more information on tickets, show times and feature films, visit the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival website.

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NW Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity to hold fundraising concert

Submitted information:NW Metro Atlanta Habitat Humanity fundraising concert

Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Metro Atlanta is pleased to announce its inaugural fundraising concert, Harmonies for Homes, to be held on the 18th green of Atlanta Country Club on Monday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m. The concert is produced by event production company, Moon Crush, and will feature music from artists Edwin McCainEmily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, and Clay Cook of Zac Brown Band, with accompaniment by Faye Petree on fiddle. The event is nearly sold out, with remaining tickets available at http://www.habitatnwma.org/concert.  

Funds raised by the event will benefit Habitat for Humanity Northwest Metro Atlanta, to build and repair homes for families in need in Cobb, Douglas, and Paulding counties. 

The concert is a part of the affiliate’s 35th anniversary celebration. The fundraiser’s Presenting Sponsor is local custom home builder, Bercher Homes. The Gieryn Family Foundation, Young Contracting Foundation and an anonymous sponsorare Habitat Hero Sponsors. Genuine Parts Company, S.A. White Oil Company, Inc., The Walker School, Keybank, London and Jerry Andes, and Alayne and George Sertl are Hope Giver Sponsors.  

Innovative Construction, Jan-Pro, Stadium Spot, LLC,George and Donna MacConnell, and Ann and Sheldon Taylor are Helping Hand Sponsors.  

Mauldin & Jenkins, Dr. Eric Brown, Sandy Cooper, Meredith and Ed Houseworth, the Leech family, Kelly and Sean Sullivan, and Jonathan Tibus are Heart-to-Heart sponsors. For more information, contact Christine Morris at [email protected]

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Cobb jail returns to ‘strict COVID-19 protocols’ after 51 new cases

Submitted information:Cobb sheriff

As cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant continue to rise, the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office has also seen an increase in positive cases among staff and detainees in the Adult Detention Center. 

After mass polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing on July 28th, 51 individuals tested positive for the novel coronavirus; however, the majority are not exhibiting symptoms.

To keep people safe and reduce the spread of the virus, Sheriff Owens has implemented the following measures: 

  • individuals receive a rapid test upon booking in the Adult Detention Center;

  • upon booking, detainees are placed in a separate pod for 14 days; 

  • detainees may request a COVID-19 test at any time;

  • any detainee exhibiting symptoms will receive a test and be placed in a separate pod; and

  • masks are now mandatory, regardless of vaccination status. 

“The data is clear; the Delta variant is especially dangerous for the unvaccinated,” said Sheriff Craig D. Owens, Sr. “I urge our employees and all detainees to take advantage of the free, safe COVID-19 vaccine for their safety and the safety of the general public.” 

The Sheriff’s Office has already vaccinated more than 475 detainees and continues to work with the county judges to vaccinate those with upcoming court trials.

“Unfortunately, misinformation has resulted in vaccine hesitancy within the Adult Detention Center,” the sheriff added. “We are organizing a vaccine education clinic with outside professionals to address detainees’ concerns and encourage full participation in our next vaccine clinic.” 

The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office remains committed to doing everything possible to keep detainees safe during this unprecedented time. 

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Cobb Chamber seeks businesses for Partners in Education program

Submitted information:Cobb Chamber of Commerce

As the school year begins in Cobb County, the Cobb Chamber’s Partners In Education program is looking for businesses to become partners and serve local schools.

The Partners in Education Program is a collective effort of the Cobb Chamber, the Cobb County Public School District and Marietta City Schools that matches businesses and organizations with schools to provide extra funding, unique services and volunteer support. The vision behind the Partners in Education program is to enrich the learning experience of Cobb’s children so that all develop a strong academic foundation, skills and core values that will benefit them in their community life and in a career.

“The Chamber’s Partners in Education program has a long history of connecting businesses with local schools, sourcing Cobb’s schools with much needed resources,” said Sharon Mason. “As partners, businesses can make a positive impact on students by donating supplies and other items and volunteering at the school. These partnerships help schools and students to flourish.”

Participation in the program provides opportunities for businesses to:

  • Heighten awareness of present and future job needs.
  • Understand the quality and needs of the public school systems, whose health is vital to the community’s economic well-being.
  • Be recognized as a community involved company, which adds to public relations efforts.
  • Improve the education of future employees and customers.

Any business in Cobb County and the surrounding area is eligible to participate as a Partner in Education. Businesses that are also members of the Cobb Chamber receive a special badge and category in the Chamber’s membership directory to help promote their business as a key contributor to the education community. 

For more information about Partners in Education, contact Twana Roots at [email protected] or Caroline Knowles at [email protected].

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New gruvnYOGA Soul Center to hold open house on Aug. 21

gruvnYOGA Soul Center open house

Submitted information:

gruvnYOGA Soul Center today announced an Open House celebration will be held on Saturday, August 21, 2021 9am – 2 p.m.  

gruvnYOGA Soul Center, a family-owned yoga studio, opened its doors at 3000 Johnson Ferry Road #101, offering a variety of yoga classes for all skill levels.

The Open House celebration will feature a series of free 30-minute yoga classes and free chair massages. The day will also be filled with give-aways, prizes, and discounts offered by gruvnYOGA and other local East Cobb businesses focused on health & wellness, including Clean Juice, Corrective Chiropractic, Icebox Cryotherapy, The Art of Health and Holland Botanicals.

The afternoon will feature a specialized class experience – guest Tommasina Marlow will lead a Universal Yoga practice at 2pm and the evening will be capped by a Healing Sound Journey provided by Michael Burke at 7pm, followed by a wine & cheese social.

Owner Heather Peace opened gruvnYOGA in February 2020 after leaving her corporate career.  “There was a deeper calling for me. I wanted to help people in my community find a judgment-free space where they could practice yoga and mindfulness,“ Peace said. “Come as you are. No judgment. No pretension. You are accepted and welcome here.”

gruvnYOGA managed to remain open throughout the pandemic, adding virtual streaming services that still draw students today from all over the U.S.

gruvynYOGA Soul Center offers over twenty classes of yoga classes each week, including:

  • Vinyasa: Flow-style classes where poses are linked together with breath in a sequence of movementPower: A more vigorous class, with a faster pace, and added poses and repetition of movements to add strength
  • Yin: A class with fewer poses, held for longer amounts of time, leveraging the use of supportive tools to deepen the stretch and release tension

“We’re your friendly neighborhood yoga studio – no mirrors, labels or gimmicks – simply YOGA, focused on mindfulness,  personal growth and feeling comfortable in your own skin,” Peace said.

Learn more at www.gruvnyoga.com

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Cobb public health director urges public masking, vaccines

Cobb public health director masks vaccines
Cobb COVID-19 cases by month, according to date of onset, per Georgia Department of Public Health.

As the rate of COVID-19 cases rises around the country, thanks largely to what’s being called the Delta variant, the director of Cobb and Douglas Public Health said this week that citizens should take precautions.

Those including wearing masks when going out in public, including schools, and getting vaccinated if they haven’t already done so.

After dropping to pre-pandemic levels in June, the case rates have climbed back into what’s called the “high community spread” range, or a 14-day average of more than 100 cases per 100,000 people.

As of Friday, Cobb’s combined PCR and Antigen testing results showed that average to be 267 cases per 100,000.

You can check the Georgia Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Daily Status Report for more details.

On Thursday, Dr. Janet Memark, director of Cobb and Douglas Public Health, sent out a message urging people in high transmission areas “to mask up while going out in public spaces.”

Those areas include Cobb and Douglas counties. At one point earlier this summer, Cobb’s test positivity rate was under two percent, with five percent being a threshold for concern. Now that figure is 8.4 percent.

She estimates that 80 percent of the virus that’s spreading around now is the Delta variant, which transmits at a faster rate than the main COVID-19 and is considered more contagious.

“It’s more deadly for people who are unvaccinated,” Memark said. “If you keep letting the virus circulate, to reproduce, it is going to find a way to beat us.”

She said Delta has made “some progress” against the vaccine, meaning that some fully vaccinated people can still get a positive test and have mild symptoms.

“But your chances of dying or being hospitalized are extremely rare, if you are vaccinated,” Memark said in a video produced by Cobb County government (you can watch it all below).

Of those “breakthrough” cases, Memark said it’s not true that the vaccines don’t work. Instead, they are reducing severe illness and symptoms.

Memark also said that COVID-19 hospitalizations in Cobb are up 300 percent from a few weeks ago, and many of them are younger patients, in their 30s-50s, who are not vaccinated.

Memark’s message comes as the Cobb County School District begins a new academic year on Monday. Earlier this week, the district reiterated it would follow a masks-optional policy for students, teachers and staff.

The district had a mask mandate for the 2020-21 school year but announced plans in May to drop that requirement. Cobb schools were sued by parents for the mandate, and that legal action was later dropped.

Gwinnett schools switched to a mask mandate this week following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control recommending mask-wearing at schools. In her messages this week, Memark urged parents to follow the new recommendations, which she admitted have been confusing.

“These recommendations were meant to try to keep as many children in school as possible to allow them to keep learning,” said Memark in a CDPH newsletter this week. “Because so many children have not or cannot get vaccinated, masking is one of the only prevention tools we have to decrease spread.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said last week he would not order new restrictions, including a mask mandate, something he has been unwilling to do during the pandemic.

Some cities in Georgia have reimposed previous mask mandates, including the city of Atlanta. Cobb County has never done that, except in government facilities, with former chairman Mike Boyce saying last July it would impose an unfair enforcement burden on public safety personnel.

When East Cobb News asked if Cobb Commission Chairwoman Lisa Cupid may be considering a mask mandate, county spokesman Ross Cavitt said Thursday “not at this time.”

Cobb and Douglas Public Health is offering free Pfizer vaccines to the public (ages 12 and older) at its various centers and at selected other pop-up locations, either by appointment or via walk-up. For more information, click here.

“Please safely enjoy the last weekend before school starts,” Memark said. “Remember that we are not done with this pandemic yet. It is not too late to get your vaccine.”

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Cobb Community Health Expo to be held at Switzer Library

 Submitted information:Cobb Community Health Expo

Cobb County Public Library is presenting the Community Health Expo at the Charles D. Switzer Library, 266 Roswell Street in downtown Marietta, on Saturday, August 7 from 11 am to 2 pm.

The Expo will feature physical and mental health resources offered in the Cobb community by organizations engaged in promoting improved quality of life, said Renate Elliott, supervisor of the library’s Accessibility Services Department. The drop-in program is free and open to the public; no registration is required.

Georgia Mobile Audiology, a program of the state Department of Education, will provide free hearing screenings for children during the event and share information with parents and providers on positive language and literacy outcomes for deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children.

“The Georgia Mobile Audiology team is on the road to address barriers of healthcare access of underserved deaf and hard of hearing children and provide critical support for families facing hearing loss challenges,” Elliott said. “We are very glad for this opportunity to elevate conversations and awareness of audiological services in our community.”

Participating organizations in the Expo also include Georgia Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Safe Kids Cobb County, NAMI Cobb, Cobb Community Services Board, and Cobb Senior Services.

The Expo is intentionally designed to introduce organizations providing a range of resources for health, including behavioral challenges and developmental disabilities, and will be empowering for Cobb adults and children seeking wellness and safety net services, library officials said.

For information on the Community Health Expo and resources of the Cobb County Public Library, visit www.cobbcounty.org/library or call 770-528-2320.


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East Cobb Rotary Club presents quarterly police officer’s award

East Cobb Rotary Police Officer Award

Submitted information and photo:

The East Cobb Rotary Club recently awarded its 2nd Quarter Police Officer’s Award from the County’s 2nd district to Officer Rene Maestre. Also looking on is his superior, Major Batterton, who recommended officer Maestre. 

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Rezoning redux: East Cobb Church, Ebenezer Road cases resume

East Cobb Church rezoning held
Single-family homes proposed off Waterfront Circle are what a nearby resident has described as “townhomes, just detached.”

Tuesday’s Cobb Planning Commission agenda includes a fourth hearing for the East Cobb Church mixed-use proposal on 33 acres Johnson Ferry Road and Shallowford Road and a second hearing for a new single-family development on Ebenezer Road.

Also delayed from recent months is a proposal for a senior subdivision on Sewell Mill Road at East Piedmont Road on land currently owned by the McCleskey Family-East Cobb YMCA.

The five-member planning board, which advises the Cobb Board of Commissioners, voted to hold the first two cases at its July hearing. The third case was delayed at the request of the applicant.

Here’s a summary of what’s on tap Tuesday, and the full 1,280-page agenda packet can be found here.

New filings were made in all three cases this week. For the East Cobb Church proposal submitted by North Point Ministries, there’s a revised site plan that came in on Tuesday and a lengthy new stipulation letter on Wednesday.

The changes are minor. The 130,000-square foot church and retail/office space have generated support, but opposition has generated around the 22 acres that would make up a 129-unit residential development with access off Johnson Ferry via Waterfront Circle.

Plans still call for 71 townhomes and 58 single-family detached homes on property requested for RA-6 zoning.

That request continues, although Planning Commissioner Tony Waybright suggested a fee-simple townhome designation at the July hearing, saying it would provide an ideal medium-density purpose in a community with lower-density residential.

The RA-6 category would allow just under 6 units an acre, density nearby residents and the East Cobb Civic Association said was too urban and incompatible with the area. 

Density issues were also raised in July for a proposed 99-home single-family detached development on nearly 50 acres on Ebenezer Road, between Blackwell Road and Maybreeze Road.

Pulte Homes revised that site plan and submitted a new stipulation letter this week, after questions were raised about density of around 2 units an acre, small lot sizes and a lack of amenities.

The Pulte proposal still calls for 99 homes, and the stipulation letter including enlarging some of the lots “to enhance the viewshed along Ebenezer Road” shifting some others and constructing sidewalks within the development. 

Under the proposed R-15 OSC zoning category, 17 acres would be held in an open space conservation status.

Orchards Development LLC requested a delay until August for its proposed 17-unit single-family detached senior residential development on 3.59 acres on Sewell Mill Road at East Piedmont Road.

The undeveloped lots, currently owned by the nearby YMCA, would go from low-density residential (R-20) to residential senior-living (RSL). The density would be 4.74 units per acre, similar to an adjacent RA-4 townhome development on Sewell Mill Road. 

The Planning Commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the second floor board room of the Cobb government building, 100 Cherokee St., downtown Marietta.They will be live-streamed on the county’s website, cable TV channel (Channel 24 on Comcast) and Youtube page. Visit cobbcounty.org/CobbTV for other streaming options.

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Cobb food scores: Mellow Mushroom; New China House; more

Mellow Mushroom, East Cobb food scores

The following Cobb food scores for the week of July 26 have been compiled by the Cobb & Douglas Department of Public Health. Click the link under each listing for inspection details:

575 Bistro
840 Ernest Barrett Parkway, Suite 466
July 27, 2021 Score: 86, Grade: B

Chuck E Cheese’s
824 Ernest Barrett Parkway
July 27, 2021 Score: 94, Grade: A

585 Ernest Barrett Parkway
July 29, 2021 Score: 89, Grade: B

3011 Johnson Ferry Road
July 29, 2021 Score: 99, Grade: A

Mellow Mushroom Pizza
2421 Shallowford Road
July 29, 2021 Score: 88, Grade: B

New China House
1050 E. Piedmont Road, Suite 142
July 29, 2021 Score: 99, Grade: A

Olive Garden
429 Ernest Barrett Parkwasy
July 28, 2021 Score: 100, Grade: A

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Rep. McBath announces ‘Summer in the Sixth’ photo contest

Chattahoochee River trails management plan
One of our favorite local photos: Sope Creek at the Paper Mill Road bridge.

Submitted information:

Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) is announcing the start of her “Summer in the Sixth” Photo Contest program today. From this Sunday, August 1st through Sunday, August 29th, McBath’s office is accepting submissions of images and scenery in the Sixth Congressional District.

“There’s nothing like summer in the Peach State,” said McBath. “Our photo contest is a wonderful opportunity to share the images collected over the course of the summer and highlight the beauty of our community and of our district. I am so excited to see the photos our neighbors submit as this summer comes to an end.”

Photos should be taken outdoors in the community and can be submitted through this form by Sunday, August 29th at 11:59 pm. Full contest guidelines can be found in the entry form. Nominees will be selected by local residents and winners will be selected by the Congresswoman. The week of August 30th, nominations will be posted on McBath’s Facebook page. Voting will conclude on Monday, September 6th at 11:59 PM. Winners will be determined based on the number of engagements on Facebook – including shares, likes, and comments.

The first place photograph will be featured as the cover photo on McBath’s official Facebook and Twitter pages, and photos in second and third place will be announced and posted on the official Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages. The top three photos will also be featured in the weekly newsletter.

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