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Indiana Prep Football Tourney Getting Underway

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Cue the Friday Night Lights! The 2013 IHSAA Prep Football tournament begins this evening. The tournament begins with all of the state's 322 teams participating, but some sectionals feature teams waiting until next Friday to begin play. This includes Munster and Michigan City, who will wait until next Friday, while the rest of the Region's teams start tonight. Big match-ups this evening include Portage hosting Penn, Morton hosting East Chicago Central, Andrean hosting Knox, Wheeler hosting Boone Grove and Whiting hosting LaVille. For the first time there will be 6 state champions in Indiana, as the state now features 6 classes.
The opening round 4A high school football sectional game tonight [Oct 25] between Lowell and Gary West Side was recently moved from West Side to East Chicago Central High School, due to concerns over field conditions, including reportedly problems with some lights. A representative from the Indiana High School Athletic Association traveled up to Gary last week....

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Cedar Lake's 2nd Annual Trunk Or Treat Food Drive

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The Clerk/Treasurer's Office in Cedar Lake is holding their second annual Trunk Or Treat Food Drive this Saturday! Be sure to bring you ghosts and goblins to the Government Complex for some Trunk or Treating fun. They only ask you bring a non-perishable food item to donate to those in need to participate. For more on the event, check out Annie Fox's interview with Cedar Lake Clerk/Treasurer Amy Gross at News Audio On Demand here on our website....

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Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday

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Region residents can dispose of expired or unwanted medications Saturday during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. There are more than eighty collection sites across the state, and several drop off sites listed around northwest Indiana, including the Porter County Sheriffs Department, Lake County Sheriffs Department, Indiana State Police Lowell Post, and police departments in Lowell, Hebron, Porter, Portage, Highland, Munster, Cedar Lake, Dyer, Griffith, Michigan City, St. John and Valparaiso.
For a list of sites visit www.dea.gov .
“State and local efforts alone won’t be enough to end Indiana’s prescription drug abuse epidemic,” Zoeller said. "That’s why we are calling on Hoosiers to do their part and safely dispose of their unwanted medications. This can help keep pills off of the streets and out of the wrong hands.”
“During the past take-back initiative, Indiana residents turned in 11.5 tons of medication at 83 locations and we hope to surpass that number this time,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dennis Wichern, who oversees DEA operations in Indiana. “We are urging residents to clear out expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs in the home so that they will be properly disposed of and not be potentially diverted to illicit use and abuse.”
Zoeller provided four tips for Hoosiers when storing or disposing of unwanted medications:
  • Do not keep medications past their expiration date or intended period of use. Young children or pets might ingest medication if they find it which can lead to accidental poisoning. Avoid an accident by keeping unused medications out of your house;
     
  • Avoid throwing medications away in the trash. As the epidemic of prescription drug abuse grows, theft becomes more common. This includes identity theft from the personal information on prescription bottles. Dealers and addicts will even go through your trash;
     
  • Do not flush medications or pour them down the sink. Flushing your unused medication or pouring it down the drain contaminates Indiana’s waterways. This can have devastating results on the fish and aquatic wildlife of these ecosystems; and
     
  • Never give or sell your prescribed medication to others as it is not only misuse, it is illegal. Legally prescribed medication is not permitted to be shared or transferred to others, because many of these drugs have harmful side effects and their use can lead to addiction. Misuse and abuse come with significant risks — including death.
The Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force is focused on ending the prescription drug abuse epidemic including finding ways to increase availability of disposal sites for unused controlled substances. Duwve, who co-chairs the task force with Zoeller, said members are currently working towards a pilot pharmacy-based take back program.
This year, Zoeller and the task force launched a new website, www.BitterPill.IN.gov , and a statewide public awareness campaign which includes radio and TV commercials about prescription drug abuse. The website is described as a one-stop-shop for consumers to find information about the epidemic and how to get help....

Read more: Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday

 

Region Invited To Coast To Coast Bully Walk

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Putbulls once know as the nanny breed for their loyalty and family friendly demeanor have now been miscatigorized as bullies. Now "Bully" is not just a term used to describe human behavior, but to mislabel dogs. Breeds like Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and especially Pitbulls are often stigmatized as dangerous or agressive and put in the "Bully" category. The Annual Coast to Coast Bully Walk is an all-breed national walk held to fight for the rights of families and their dogs who are sterotyped as bullies. 

Listen to Audio On Demand here on our website for information on The Porter County Animal Shelter's local Bully Walk.  You can take part this weekend and help end the negative sterotypes associated with these loveable pets....

Read more: Region Invited To Coast To Coast Bully Walk

 

Indiana Toll Road Project at Lake Station to Begin

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Lake Station Interchange map
Look for extended restrictions at the Lake Station Indiana Toll Road exit beginning this Monday [Oct 28 2013] at Milepost 21 as ramp bridges will be replaced where the Indiana Toll Road, Borman Expressway and State Road 51 converge. The project begins with the closure of the westbound exit ramp to Interstate 94, marking the start of ITR Concession Company’s extensive reconstruction of the Lake Station ramp structures. The closure of the Lake Station westbound exit ramp will last about a year-and-a-half. The entire existing bridge deck and superstructure, along with the concrete pier caps, will be removed. Traffic seeking to exit at Milepost 21 will be diverted to Exit 17, Gary East to take I-65 south and reconnect with I-94. Exits 17 and Exit 21 on the toll road are both free exits. The entire project is expected to be completed in April 2015. [Image/ITC Concession Co.]
News Release:
LAKE STATION, Ind. – Beginning Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, extended restrictions will be in place at the Lake Station Exit (Milepost 21) on the Indiana Toll Road.
The project begins with the closure of the westbound exit ramp (from ITR to I-94), and marks the beginning of ITR Concession Co.’s extensive reconstruction of the Lake Station ramp structures. It will include repairing or replacing various elements of three structures within the exit: BHX-A, BHX-B and Structure 5262 (see attached map for clarification). Each will be removed and rebuilt with the same configurations and footprints of the existing structures. Upon completion, the interchange will function as it did prior to the project. No permanent removal of any structure is planned.
The closure of the MP 21 westbound exit ramp (BHX-B) will begin on Monday, Oct. 28, and will last approximately 1.5 years. The entire existing bridge deck and superstructure, along with the concrete pier caps, will be removed. After BHX-B is removed, BHX-A (located beneath BHX-B) will be removed and rebuilt. Concurrently, Str. 5262 will be rebuilt (it is anticipated that one lane will remain open on Str. 5262 during construction). After BHX-A is removed and rebuilt, BHX-B will then be rebuilt.  
Beginning Oct. 28, westbound traffic seeking to exit at MP 21 will be diverted to Exit 17, Gary East. At Gary East, patrons are to take I-65 south and re-connect with I-94. Exit 17 remains a free exit, just as Exit 21.
“ITRCC is pleased to announce the necessary improvements being made to the Lake Station Exit,” said Fernando Redondo, ITRCC CEO. “The rebuilding of these structures will undoubtedly make for smoother travel for patrons.
“We ask that drivers please be patient during this closure, as we believe the end product will be well worth the wait,” he said.
Construction on BHX-A and Str. 5262 are tentatively scheduled to begin in February 2014; notices will be sent at that time. The entire process is expected to be completed in April 2015....

Read more: Indiana Toll Road Project at Lake Station to Begin

 

Sentencing Delayed for Former Councilwoman

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In Hammond Federal Court, a judge has agreed to delay this month's sentencing date for former longtime Gary Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas. Krusas pleaded guilty earlier this year to tax evasion, after being accused of failing to file tax returns since 1991 and failing to pay taxes on a 232-thousand dollar inheritance. Krusas resigned in April from the Gary City Council, where she had served since 2000. Court documents show her sentencing date has been moved from October 29 to December 12. ...

Read more: Sentencing Delayed for Former Councilwoman

 

No Serious Injuries in Semi Roll-Over on Ramp to I-80/94

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An East Chicago woman escaped serious injury when a semi looses its load of lumber on top of her car while traveling northbound on interstate 65 Thursday afternoon.
The Indiana State Police say a preliminary investigation shows that around 3p.m. a semi pulling a flat bed loaded with lumber, driven by a Salem, Indiana man took the ramp curve from northbound I-65 onto westbound 80/94 too fast causing his load of lumber to shift and his semi-flat bed start to roll-over.

Reports say a Nissan driven by the 31 year-old East Chicago woman, was in the right lane next to the semi when she realized the truck was starting to loose its load and beginning to roll-over.  Troopers say she was able to lie across her car's console toward the passenger side when part of the load of lumber landed on the driver's side top crushing it.
The woman was taken to a Hobart hospital with non-life threatening injuries. She was wearing a seat belt. The truck driver, who was also wearing a seat belt, was treated and released at the scene. He was cited for Speed Too Fast to Avoid a Collision and an Unsecured Load.
The semi is owned by Stonebelt Freight Lines out of Bloomington, Indiana.

The accident created a massive backup on all northbound lanes of I-65 with the ramp closed for nearly six hours. The delay mainly caused by the off-loading and re-loading of the lumber.
(photo/ provided by ISP)...

Read more: No Serious Injuries in Semi Roll-Over on Ramp to I-80/94

 

Valpo Police Chief Announces Candidacy for Sheriff

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Before an enthusiastic crowd of friends, family and supporters--including Mayor Jon Costas--Valparaiso Police Chief, Republican Mike Brickner made it official Thursday, he is running for Porter County Sheriff next year.
Chief Brickner announced his candidacy in a chilly, 40 degree afternoon at Central Park, although warm beverages and snacks were offered.  The police chief addressed the audience saying "Ten years ago when I took over as Chief of Police the office of Chief was held by the same administration for 20 years."  Brickner said "at that time I stated, it is time for change, time for a new direction."  He added, "In regard to Porter County Sheriff, it is time for change and definitely time for a new direction and that direction is forward."
You can hear Chief Brickner's entire address by clicking on the News Audio On Demand link at: https://www.regionnewsteam.com...

Read more: Valpo Police Chief Announces Candidacy for Sheriff

 

Lincolnway will be Restricted During Fall Harvest Festival

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Fall Festival Valpo
While Valparaiso's city wide trick-or-treat is set for Thursday, October 31st from 5:30pm to 7:30p.m., the city's Downtown Fall Harvest festival trick-or-treat is scheduled for Friday, October 25th from 4pm to 6pm. Valparaiso Police remind drivers and visitors to downtown that Lincolnway will be closed from Michigan Avenue to Lafayette Avenue from 4p.m. to 6p.m. for the festival.
For more information about the fall festival visit:  www.valporaisoevents.com
Sgt. Michael Grennes of the Valparaiso Police Department offers the following safety tips to help make your Halloween holiday safe and fun for everyone:

1. Walk don't run from house to house
2. Stay on sidewalks
3. Stop and look both ways before crossing the street
4. Cross the street at intersections, not between parked cars
5. Stay in familiar neighborhoods
6. Carry a flashlight and wear bright clothing
7. Make sure costumes do not drag on the ground
8. Avoid wearing masks while walking from house to house
9. Safer to be in groups when walking from house to house
10. Approach only houses that have lights on
11. Wear clothing with reflective markings or tape
12. Wear costumes that don't restrict your sight
13. Wait to eat candy after you get home
14. Parents, inspect all candy after returning home. Any candy opened should not be eaten
15. Carry a cellular phone and immediately report any suspicious activity to police

All motorists should slow down and use extra caution during trick-or-treat hours
https://www.valapraisopolice.org ...

Read more: Lincolnway will be Restricted During Fall Harvest Festival

 

Improving Community Air Quality with Tree Planting

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There are other ways to improve air quality in the community other than reducing automotive emissions. The Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission will demonstrate such a way Friday morning at Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Valparaiso. NIRPC along with Partners for Clean Air, the parks department and local residents will be planting trees.
Kathy Luther. Director of NIRPC's Environmental Services says "Tree planting projects are one way we can all work together to improve air quality in our communities." Luther says that the presence of trees reduces air pollution and helps people cope better with asthma and other respiratory problems. She says trees also can lead "up to a 60-percent reduction in street level particulates" and can shave $250 a year from your energy bill.
The fall tree planting event is open to the public and takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30a.m. Friday, October 25, 2013 at Sunset Hill Farm County park in Valparaiso.
Northwest Indiana Clean Air is a partnership between the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and the people and businesses of Northwest Indiana to help all residents Think Green & Breathe Easy--understanding and inspiring action to continue improving the air quality of our unique region.
To learn more, visit: https://www.nwicleanair.com...

Read more: Improving Community Air Quality with Tree Planting

 

Indiana Atty General Seeks Dismissal of Ritz Lawsuit

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed a motion in Marion County to dismiss a lawsuit filed by State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz, contending essentially that only his office can file lawsuits on behalf of state officials or the state. Ritz is suing all ten members of the State Board of Education, alleging they held an illegal meeting by drafting and sending a letter circulated by email requesting a legislative agency calculate school grades instead of her department, claiming that violated the state's Open Door Law. Documents filed today by Zoeller seeking to have the case thrown out say he did not consent to Ritz's lawsuit. ...

Read more: Indiana Atty General Seeks Dismissal of Ritz Lawsuit

   

Longtime Political Reporter Hugh Hill, 1924-2013

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Funeral services were held in Naperville, Illinois, Wednesday for longtime television political reporter Hugh Hill. Radio One Communications founder Leonard 'Uncle Len' Ellis recalls working with Hill, and the late ABC-TV news anchor Frank Reynolds, in Hammond, Indiana, here in the Region before Hill would later become political editor at ABC's Channel 7 in Chicago, where Hill worked for more than thirty years. Hill, a native of downstate Gillespie, Illinois, retired in 1996. Hill passed away last Friday at the age of 89....

Read more: Longtime Political Reporter Hugh Hill, 1924-2013

   

Man Cited After Entering Borman Work Zone

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In Hammond early this morning a Indiana State Police at Lowell say a 23-year-old Beecher, Illinois man who told troopers he was out celebrating the evening before was arrested in the overnight work zone on the east bound Borman Expressway east of Calumet Avenue. Shortly before 3:30 am, officials say a state police sergeant working traffic security for the overnight work saw a Ford Explorer drive in between the construction barrels behind her and stop to talk to a construction worker in his vehicle. The exit lane, right and right middle lanes were closed in this area for the overnight construction leaving the left two lanes open for motoring traffic. Troopers say the area was well posted, with signage, barrels, traffic control devices, construction workers and vehicles. Police say the sergeant was sitting in the right middle lane in construction with all of her emergency lights activated less than ½ mile from the workers up ahead, and as she watched the Explorer come up behind her she thought he might have been a worker until she realized his vehicle didn’t have an amber light on it. The Explorer passed her police car, officials say, and was approaching a construction semi-tanker loaded with water sitting in right lane as she took off after it. The semi was blocking the Explorer when it attempted to move to the right middle lane to get around it, police say, and the semi was able to maneuver itself to block the Explorer as the sergeant approached to stop it; as there were workers out working in front of the semi.  Police say the driver of the Explorer was cited for Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device in a Work Zone and Operating While Intoxicated Refusal and was taken to the Lake County Jail....

Read more: Man Cited After Entering Borman Work Zone

   

Westville Man Seriously Injured in Crash

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Indiana State Police at the Lowell Post say an early morning pursuit ended with a motorcycle crash in La Porte County and the driver, a 39-year-old Westville man, receiving life threatening injuries. A preliminary investigation revealed shortly before 1:30 this morning, the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department got information about a motorcycle crash that may have occurred at U.S. 421 and 250 South in Westville. Officers were unable to locate the crash but shortly thereafter heard a motorcycle approaching allegedly at an excessive speed.  Police say driver would not pull over, and went into a neighborhood off East Jefferson Street in Westville, then north on US 421, approaching Valentine Court in Michigan City where he hit a curb, lost control, and was ejected.  Indiana State Police say William Knies who was not wearing a helmet was transported to Saint Anthony’s Hospital in Michigan City and later transported to South Bend Memorial Hospital with life threatening injuries. Indiana State Police say preliminary indications are Knies tested positive for alcohol (.28 B.A.C %) and also metabolic of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC). [Photo/Indiana State Police] ...

Read more: Westville Man Seriously Injured in Crash

   

Region Invited To Camp LRCA Harvest Festival

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The Lake Region Christian Assembly Camp is known for providing support and services to many in the Region. However, this weekend they are looking for the community's help in honoring a very special man Mike Mauger. To find out how you can help with the Harvest Festival Saturday, check out Annie Fox's interview with Camp General Manager Cherish Edwards at Audio On Demand here on our website....

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Gary Man Killed in Portage Crash

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In Portage, police say it's unknown what caused a crash that killed a 24-year-old Gary man. Officers responded to a single-vehicle crash on Route 12 at the US Steel bridge just after 7am Wednesday. Portage Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Keith Hughes says the passenger vehicle involved was traveling east on US 12 and crashed into the west side concrete wall that supports the bridge. Police say the vehicle was occupied by one man, whose identity has not been released. Police say he was airlifted to a Chicago-area hospital where he died. Icy roads made travel difficult around the Region Wednesday morning, but Portage Police say that did not appear to be a factor in this crash. ...

Read more: Gary Man Killed in Portage Crash

   

Gregg Not Running for Governor Again in 2016

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Democrat John Gregg has announced he will not make a second run for Indiana governor in 2016. Gregg, a former speaker of the Indiana House, was the democratic nominee for governor in last year's election. Gregg, who's been attending Democratic party events around Indiana this year, says he had planned on running for governor again in three years, but issued a statement this week saying he is no longer actively seeking the nomination....

Read more: Gregg Not Running for Governor Again in 2016

   

Plow Trucks Make Their First Appearance

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The Indiana Department of Transportation is reporting plow trucks out for the first time this season in the Michigan City-La Porte area, where snow has been falling this morning. The National Weather Service say slushy lake effect snow showers continue over La Porte County... and up to an inch of slushy wet accumulation is possible where these snow bands persist.   Forecasters say some major roads that will be impacted include the Indiana Toll Road, Interstate 94, and US Routes 12, 20 and 31....

Read more: Plow Trucks Make Their First Appearance

   

Franciscan Alliance Announces 275 Job Cuts

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Franciscan Alliance Wednesday announced it is cutting 275 jobs at its eleven Indiana hospitals and health care facilities. The Mishawaka-based company operates five hospitals in the Region -- Franciscan St. Margaret Health in Hammond and Dyer, Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Crown Point and Michigan City, and Franciscan Healthcare in Munster. The cuts made included administrative, management, supervisory, clinical and nonclinical. A Franciscan news release cited substantive changes in the field, including health care reform laws and shifts from inpatient to outpatient care. [Photo/Franciscan Alliance, Franciscan St. Margaret Health Dyer]
News Release:
MISHAWAKA, Ind. – Franciscan Alliance announced today that the health system is responding to the transformative shift in hospital economics with system-wide staff reductions.

The reductions will affect its 11 hospitals and health facilities in Indiana. 275 employees or 1.4% of the workforce will be laid off as a result of the reduction.  Franciscan Alliance has approximately 20,000 employees.
The healthcare industry is changing rapidly and economic pressures are forcing substantive changes in the field, including reduced reimbursements, new payer models, healthcare reform laws and shifts from inpatient to outpatient care. 
“Franciscan Alliance has not been immune to such pressures and has found it necessary to align staffing levels to reflect lower patient volumes and reduced industry wide reimbursements brought on by reforms associated with the Affordable Care Act,” said Kevin Leahy, Franciscan Alliance president and chief executive officer.
Like other health systems, Franciscan Alliance must cut its costs of care delivery over the next 3 years by 15-20% ($375,000,000-$500,000,000) to remain viable. Last month, our South Suburban Chicago Region eliminated 125 positions. Today, our other operating divisions will notify 275 co-workers that they will be laid-off from their positions. In addition, another 650 full-time equivalent positions will be eliminated by cutting back on assigned hours, closing open positions, retirements and through attrition. The remaining 19,000 employees will see cutbacks in benefits in 2014. These cutbacks include the elimination of the 1.5% employer match to the 403b retirement savings program, elimination of the PTO buy-back program, higher employee contributions for healthcare insurance, no salary increases for management, and a new defined benefit/defined contribution pension for all co-workers not vested by 1/1/2014 in the defined benefit pension plan. The cost savings from these, and other recent pay practice changes, will help preserve hundreds of other jobs which otherwise would have to be eliminated.
“Recent trends and the new law are challenging healthcare providers to manage the continuum of care for patients more efficiently and effectively to ensure the same quality outcomes at reduced reimbursement levels,” Leahy said.  “Our challenge is to staff our campuses in line with the reduced inpatient volumes that are a byproduct of recent healthcare trends and the new law,” he added.
The staff reductions are among several initiatives Franciscan Alliance has undertaken, such as streamlining patient flow processes and coordinating care across the system to deliver quality outcomes and improve patient satisfaction. Ongoing non-labor cost efficiencies continue to be researched, identified, implemented and monitored throughout the system as well.
Regarding the impact on employees affected by the reduction in workforce, Leahy emphasized, “We are profoundly aware of the impact our decisions have on the lives of our co-workers and their families. Consistent with our Franciscan Values, we will make every effort to support all Franciscan team members through these difficult changes. Those whose jobs will be affected by the workforce reduction will be provided with severance, extended health insurance where eligible, and outplacement assistance,” he said.
He added that for more than 138 years, the mission of Franciscan Alliance has remained steadfast and constant. “Whatever measures we take will not compromise our goal to provide patients the high-quality, compassionate care they expect and deserve.” ...

Read more: Franciscan Alliance Announces 275 Job Cuts

   

Court Upholds Former County Clerk Conviction

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The US Court of Appeals has upheld the public corruption conviction of former Lake County Clerk and former Lake County Coroner Thomas Philpot. The 56-year-old Philpot from Highland was found guilty of federal charges related to paying himself more than 24-thousand dollars in bonuses from federal child support incentive funds while he was county clerk. Philpot is serving an 18-month prison sentence in Michigan and is scheduled for release in July. ...

Read more: Court Upholds Former County Clerk Conviction

   

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