Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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SARATOGA SPRINGS – Minita Sanghvi has announced her candidacy for the 44th State Senate District in New York’s Capital Region.

Sanghvi, a Democrat, plans to challenge the seat currently held by Republican Jim Tedisco. The 44th Senate District includes Saratoga County, Niskayuna, and the city of Schenectady.  

“I’m running for State Senate because we deserve better,” Sanghvi said, officially announcing her candidacy Jan. 8. “We need a leader who will put people ahead of partisan politics in Albany. I’m not a politician. I’m a parent, business educator, and fiscally responsible public servant. And I’ve built a record of listening to people and working with others to deliver results.”

Born to a conservative family of entrepreneurs and innovators in India, Sanghvi earned a degree in accounting and an MBA, and immigrated to the United States in 2001. She has taught business at Skidmore College for nearly 10 years, and in 2021 was first elected to serve as the Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner.

Sanghvi was re-elected city Finance Commissioner last November and on Jan. 1 began her second two-year term in the position. With that term slated to last through 2025 and State Senate Elections taking place in November 2024, it is currently unclear how and when her seat at the City Council will be affected.    

There are approximately 226,000 active registered voters in the 44th State Senate District – about 176,000 in Saratoga County and 50,000 in Schenectady County, according to the state Board of Elections. Of those, just under 76,000 are registered Democrats and just over 71,000 registered Republicans, with the district-wide balance comprised of about 15,000 registered with other parties, and 64,000 “blanks” – those registered to vote but unaffiliated with any party.    

State Senators serve two-year terms. In November 2022, James Tedisco (R, C) defeated Michelle Ostrelich (D, WF).

Sanghvi listed securing infrastructure dollars for bridges and roads, getting more state aid to counties and cities, helping to revitalize downtowns, bringing green and high-tech jobs to communities, and establishing “an innovation corridor” that connects Schenectady and Saratoga among her priorities.  

If elected, Sanghvi will be the first openly gay and first woman of color to represent New York’s 44th State Senate District, and the first openly gay woman in the New York Senate.

“I believe in protecting rights and freedoms for all residents, no matter where they live or what political party they belong to,” Sanghvi said in a statement. “I’ll protect women’s access to health care, defend LGBTQ rights, and ensure everyone has an equal shot at the same American Dream this country has given to me.”

Thursday, 04 January 2024 14:41

New Year, New Council, New Rules

SARATOGA SPRINGS — John Safford shuffled among the three-dozen or so public spectators attending the night’s gathering inside the Saratoga Music Hall, exchanging pleasantries and engaging in conversation. 

Draped in a dark navy blazer and a white button-down shirt accented by a burgundy tie, Safford carried with him a bottle of Saratoga-label water and a rectangular leather organizer from which unfolded the night’s meeting agenda and a draft copy of new “Public Meeting Expectations and Rules” the council will, in some form, be looking to implement. 

“Can we be seated please?” said Safford, as the clock ticked closer to the 7 p.m. start of his first meeting as the city’s new mayor. “Let’s get this thing going.” 

Mayor Safford and Public Safety Commssioner Tim Coll represent the two new members of the five-person City Council. They are joined by council returnees Jason Golub (Commissioner of Public Works), Dillon Moran (Commissioner of Accounts) and Minita Sanghvi (Commissioner of Finance). The city’s long-standing Commission form of governing equally provides each of the five councilmembers one vote at the table. 

Two city Supervisors do not vote at the council table, but instead represent the city with voting power at the county level as members of the Board of Supervisors. They are: returning Supervisor Matt Veitch, and new Supervisor Michele Madigan – the latter of whom had for a decade served previously as city Finance Commissioner. 

The most immediate change of the first-and-third Tuesday of the month council meetings featured a return to a previous format; council meetings will now have a 7 p.m. start-time - one hour later than had been the case the past six months, and the relocation of the supervisors’ reports to the meeting’s end. 

The Public Comment period which had allowed each speaker up to four minutes to address the council has been trimmed to three minutes, and a 30-minute limit overall set to allow members of the public to address the City Council.    

“Public Comment has been a subject that was very much a part of this last election,” Mayor Safford said.  “The other thing we’re going to be very interested in doing is making sure there are no comments… or response that you might give from the audience to what’s being said. And this is true as well at the council table.” 

A clock will be displayed atop the council table indicating to speakers how much of their time remains, the mayor added. “We’re going to be quite strict about timing.” 

A two-page draft titled “Public Meeting Expectations and Rules” was made available at the meeting in the Music Hall Tuesday night. 

The draft calls for those wishing to speak during the Public Comment period to sign their name and address on a sheet prior to the start of the meeting - a process similar to the method used at county Board of Supervisors meetings. 

The proposed Rules of Decorum and Order prohibit behaviors disruptive to the conduct of the meeting.  Specifically, the draft reads: “disorderly, disruptive, disturbing, delaying, or boisterous conduct which may include, but is not limited to, handclapping, stomping of feet, whistling, making noise, use of profane language or obscene gestures, yelling or similar demonstrations.” Signs, placards, and the distribution of literature are also to be prohibited in the meeting room during a meeting. 

Should the rules be violated, Safford will first request the rule violator to cease their conduct, with a verbal warning to follow should the violation continue. 

“If the person does not cease the violation the presiding officer shall declare the person to be out of order at which time the Sergeant-at-Arms may take steps to remove the person(s) from the meeting room,” according to the draft copy of Public Meeting Expectations and Rules. “If applicable, such person may be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties that may apply to their conduct.” 

A lengthy council discussion was had regarding the restriction of “handclapping” and general displays of emotion and what may be allowed, as any expression - celebrating the recognition of an achievement award, a response to a statement albeit popular or unpopular - may temporarily cause interruption of the rhythm of any meeting. 

“There is a certain amount of flexibility that the chairman (the mayor) has as to what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable,” Safford said. Members of the council subsequently initiated discussion about how to best ensure that the rules for allowing any public expression are applied equally to all meeting attendees, whether they be popular or unpopular. There is more work to be done.      

Initial discussions regarding the proposal took place at the council’s hour-long pre-agenda meeting earlier that day. Safford stressed that the pre-agenda meetings are where he would like much of the council’s debate over agenda items to take place. The pre-agenda meetings –  typically held in the past on a Monday morning and lightly attended by the public, have preceded the much larger publicly attended Tuesday night regular meetings. 

“If we’re going to have any controversy over any of these, I’d like to air them out here, before we have a problem tonight,” he said at the morning pre-agenda meeting on Jan. 2, later adding “this is what we want to do at this meeting: get all this stuff aired out so we don’t have this kind of conversation tonight.”  Of the Tuesday night gatherings, Safford said, “this should be the most boring meeting of the month.” 

The mayor said he hopes to have the new Public Meeting Expectations and Rules document fully prepared and ready for vote at the council’s next meeting, on Jan. 16.

WILTON — Four years after hosting what was widely thought to be its final screening, Wilton Mall Cinemas is slated to re-open in February. 

The theater will be operated by Scene One Entertainment, the company announced Jan. 2. 

The Wilton Mall Cinemas will feature eight screens including one large-format auditorium. The large format auditorium has a 2,000 square foot screen and enhanced Dolby Digital surround sound. All auditoriums will feature luxury leather rocking chairs, wall-to-wall screens, and Dolby Digital surround sound, according to Scene One Entertainment. 

The Wilton Mall venue will mark the second theater operating for Scene One Entertainment in upstate New York, the other being Movieland in Schenectady.

“The theater is in fantastic shape and the mall has maintained it beautifully since its pandemic closure,” Joe Masher, owner and CEO at Scene One Entertainment (formerly Bow Tie Management) said in a statement. “The developments happening around the mall are encouraging. The theater will feature fresh hot popcorn with real butter, and other treats such as chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, hot pretzels, and more.” A private party room will also be made available for birthday parties and other events.

“Scene One Cinemas fulfills one of the most-requested uses from guests and brings the former theater space in the Food Court back to life. It’s just one more element in our ongoing, thoughtful redevelopment that makes Wilton Mall a great place for people to live, work and play,” said Wilton Mall General Manager Mike Shaffer.

The Wilton Mall has seen some large-scale changes in recent years, and more changes may soon be underway. In 2020, Saratoga Hospital set up its medical offices in a repurposed vacant space previously occupied by Sears, and a project currently under discussion seeks to develop nearly 400 apartments alongside the existing mall. 

The project, as proposed by the Macerich Corporation and Paramount Development, includes 382 new “luxury, market-rate rental residences,” including both apartments and townhomes, and will feature “premium resident amenities with a sophisticated design.” 

The plan for that potential development continues to move through the town’s approval process, and developers are hoping to next stage a public appearance before the Wilton Town Board on Feb. 1. 

The Wilton movie theater originally opened in October 2013 by Bow Tie Cinemas and closed during the early on-set of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bow Tie Cinemas also opened on Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs in 2013. In April 2022 AMC announced it had struck a deal with Bow Tie to take over operations of the Saratoga Springs theater.

Thursday, 21 December 2023 12:20

Downtown Tourism Parking Plan

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city is hoping to institute a “tourism parking program” this spring that it says will ease parking access for visitors, increase the availability of resident parking and generate about $2.5 million in gross revenue. 

The seasonal program would charge visitors $2 per hour for parking at the three city-owned parking garages and two surface lots from May 1 - to Sept. 30, DPW Business Manager Michael Veitch explained during a presentation to the City Council on Dec. 19. 

The three affected garages and lots are located on Putnam, Walton and Woodlawn – where visitors would use pay stations, or pay attendants.  Time-limited parking would be instituted on some downtown streets, although Broadway will pretty much remain as it currently is. 

On-street permits would provide free parking for residents and downtown business employees. How those permits would specifically be secured has yet to be decided. 

“What’s being proposed is paid tourist parking in the garages and surface lots and limiting the availability of free parking on city streets for visitors. This program prioritizes however, the continuance of free parking for residents and employees,” said DPW Commissioner Jason Golub.

The results of a study performed by DPW last summer estimates the tourism parking plan could generate $2.468 million via hourly sales in new revenue during the busy summer season. Costs for implementing the program and operating the plan would cost approximately $1 million, leaving an estimated net revenue of more than $1 million that could be used for other city costs or programs. 

 The departments of Public Works and Public Safety would both have responsibilities for administrating the program, and changes to the City Code to accommodate the plan, as well as initiating contracts with vendors for pay stations and permit plans would also need to be addressed before implementation. 

The city is hopeful the program can be installed by April 2024 with implementation on May 1. 

•In other city news, the Council temporarily tabled a proposed one-year contract through the 2024 calendar year with RISE Housing and Support Services that will pay up to $387,160 for the agency to provide homeless shelter services. The contract is expected to be approved during the council’s Dec. 28 meeting.

Earlier this year, the city approved an agreement with RISE to operate the first year-round low barrier facility in Saratoga Springs.  Located on Adelphi Street, just west of South Broadway, the 30-bed facility began operations on June 12.  Local developer Sonny Bonacio, who secured a five-year lease on the Adelphi Street property, renovated the building and is providing it rent free to RISE until 2025.

The city has aggressively pursued a search for a permanent location to site a homeless shelter and navigation center; the ad hoc Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness offered several option locations earlier this year. With the start of 2024, a new mayor will be seated at the center of the City Council table and members of the Task Force publicly expressed their interest in meeting with mayor-elect John Safford in February. 

•The Council also adopted a resolution opposing the construction and operation of Saratoga Biochar Inc.’s sewage sludge and wood chip burning plant in the Moreau Industrial Park. According to the resolution, the plant at full capacity is expected to burn up to 720 tons of sewage sludge per day, with the sewage sludge processed at the Moreau Industrial Park and shipped by large diesel trucks with a likelihood that large trucks filled with sewage sludge will travel through Saratoga Springs.

SARATOGA COUNTY — At its final scheduled meeting of the calendar year, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 19 approved an agreement with LeChase Construction Services, Inc. of Rochester, for the construction of the new fixed base operator terminal building at Saratoga County Airport at a cost of up to $28.51 million. Of those costs, $24.53 million is listed as increase revenue State Aid under the 2023 Capital Plan, and $3.78 million as transfer from the capital reserve fund.   

The 2024 Organizational Meeting of The Board of Supervisors will be held at 4 p.m. Jan. 3, at 40 McMaster St. in Ballston Spa. 

Also approved on Dec. 19: 

DMV to Stay at Wilton Mall: the Board approved a three-year lease extension with Wilton Mall, LLC for space in the Wilton Mall where the County Department of Motor Vehicles will continue to site a satellite office. 

The lease runs Jan. 1, 2024 through Dec. 31, 2026 and totals $3,356.25 per month, plus an annual $900 fixed cost for electricity and an annual fixed charge for water in the amount of $35 per month. Those costs are subject to annual increases of 2% - to fixed electricity charge, and 3% - to rental rate and fixed charge for water commencing on Jan. 1, 2025. 

Better Cell: The Board approved a Resolution supporting Empire State Development’s designation of a cellular-specific point person to lead the state’s efforts on enhancing cellular coverage, and further encouraging the state to implement a unified strategy to assure every major road corridor has reliable cell coverage. 

County officials reported that approximately 70 percent of 9-1-1 calls originate from cellular phones,  adding that 99 percent of respondents in a recent survey of almost 2,000 Adirondack Park residents reported owning a cellular phone, with 67 percent reporting they rely on a cellular phone exclusively. 

Copies of the resolution will be forwarded to Gov. Kathy Hochul, Sen. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Sen. Mark Walczyk, Sen  James Tedisco, Assemblymember John McDonald, Assemblywoman Carrie Werner, Assembly-member Matt Simpson and Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh. 

Spa Park Pump Station Upgrade Project: The Board approved executing a contract with Environmental Design and Research, Landscape Architecture Engineering and Environmental Services D.P.C. of Saratoga Springs, to provide engineering services for the Saratoga County Sewer District No.1’s Spa Park Pump Station upgrade project, at a cost of up to $184,525. 

The Saratoga County Sewer District Commission, the Executive Director, and the City of Saratoga Springs each agreed that extending the county-owned sewer infrastructure south on Route 9 could improve existing environmental conditions. 

SARATOGA SPRNGS — Local residents may remember Michael Grant from his time in the community as co-operator of Saratoga Coffee Traders, as a photographer, as the co-curator of the Empire Film Festival, or in any of the other innumerable things the “accidental serial entrepreneur” entertained in and around Saratoga Springs. 

Now, add NOVELIST to the list.

“Eve stormed across The Deerwood parking lot to fetch her paycheck, the magenta stripe in her dark hair twisting with the pounding fury of every step...”

So begins Grant’s 472-page debut novel “The Limited Edition Bicentennial Cadillac Convertible Joy Ride,” newly published by Wordbinders Publishing, an imprint of Journey Institute Press.

“It’s a strong story that’s getting high praise from early readers, and I’m hoping that Saratogians and beyond will discover it,” says Grant, who these days lives in Connecticut with his husband, artist Jon Galt.

“Our 20 years in Saratoga were indelible, of course,” says Grant, “and part of my new novel takes place there.”

The story takes place over the course of a week when a 16-year-old learns a dark family secret and then absconds with an elderly resident desperate to escape her managed care facility. The unlikely pair hit the road in search of the truth in a rare and pristine 1976 convertible Cadillac.

In a unique twist, the car itself serves as the omniscient narrator for the story. 

The car as narrator?

Early versions of the story were told in first-person using two narrators, Grant explains. “My husband asked if there was a way to simplify it with a singular narrator, and I jokingly said the only one who knows everything is the car. He said, ‘so what if it’s the car telling the story?’ 

“I immediately rejected the idea, fearing correlations to My Mother the Car and Herbie, but then I set my ego aside and considered it. It couldn’t be a talking, haunted or magical car,” Grant says.  “I’ve owned 19 cars in my short life, and every time I sold or traded one, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend who seemed to know me. I channeled that feeling, solidified the device, and then proceeded to completely rewrite the entire novel from this new perspective.”

The novel is available at a variety of bookstores, including via Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, and through the author’s website at: 

BALLSTON SPA — During a special board meeting held at the county complex on Dec. 13, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors adopted the 2024 county budget. 

The $410.1 million spending plan points to an increase of more than $32 million over this year’s adopted budget and marks the first county plan to top $400 million. By comparison, the annual approved plan was approximately $297 million in both, 2016 and 2017, before climbing to more than $319 million in 2018.       

During the meeting the Board also voted to approve the execution of multiple agreements with a variety of public benefit organizations in exchange for the services they provide. To that point, the 10 highest dollar amount appropriations are: 

$1.475 million - Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Saratoga County (for county Farm Guide update and Stormwater Management Services; 

$400,000 - Discover Saratoga (economic development);

$325,000 - Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (economic development); 

$300,000 - Campaign for Saratoga 250th, Inc. (economic development & heritage tourism); 

$142,000 – Saratoga County Soil & Water Conservation District (soil and water conservation);

$105,000 – Saratoga Performing Arts Center (pilot marketing campaign and economic development); 

$100,000 – Regional Food Bank of N.E. N.Y. (addressing food insecurities);

$90,000 – Saratoga Center for the Family (child abuse services);

$60,000 - Capital District Regional Planning Commission (regional studies); 

$60,000 – Capital Region Chamber of Commerce (tourism & economic development). 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, an ad hoc committee formed in February and charged with suggesting a potentially permanent site for a homeless shelter and navigation center, approved its final report to the city at its meeting Nov. 27 at City Hall. 

The 11-member Task Force was initiated In February 2023 by city Mayor Ron Kim, and saw its board appointed by most of the currently seated City Council members and Supervisors.   

The ad hoc group began by evaluating more than two dozen potential sites across the city, eventually whittling that number down to a handful of locations, with a 3.7-acre lot on Lake Avenue/ State Route 29 ultimately being selected as the primary suggested site for a permanent homeless shelter. The vacant lot is located between the Northway overpass and a Stewart’s Shop near Weibel Avenue, and had earlier this year been listed for sale at $800,000. 

Alternative sites highly ranked included a parcel at 153 South Broadway. That property stands in close proximity to two temporary shelters in the city, but the owner is reluctant to sell the property; 1.6 acres at 3290 Route 9 / Top Hill motel; a 1-acre property at North and East Ave., and 260 Maple Ave./ Gateway Motel, which extends to 1.5 acres.

Each of the potential venues suggested offer some set of challenges that includes everything from Land Use Board review to area variances required (although the latter would seem unnecessary were the city to outright purchase the property), proximity or lack thereof to venues currently providing social services, access to public transportation, and, given the track record of previous attempts made: opposition from some area residents when a site is ultimately selected.   

Finalizing a location and identifying funding sources - including what level of support may be provided by the county – are still matters to be discussed. Those discussions are anticipated to continue in the new year with the new city government. Two of the five members of the City Council, and one of two Supervisors representing the city at the county level, will be seated in those positions for the first time. 

“Our next step will be to reach out to the mayor-elect (John Safford) in end of January beginning of February – they meet the first and third Tuesdays, so hopefully in early February we can be in front of the new City Council,” said Committee co-chair Tom Roohan. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS —City police are asking for the public’s help regarding a suspected burglary they say occurred early Tuesday morning. 

At approximately 5 a.m. on Dec. 12, officers were dispatched to Lola Saratoga at 372 Broadway where they discovered a glass door broken and merchandise missing from the store that, according to the store’s website, is known for its luxury designer consignment handbags, accessories and shoes. 

“The Investigations Division was contacted and processed the scene and have conducted interviews of witnesses to the burglary,” police said in a statement released this afternoon. “Video of the incident show that the suspects entered and left the business in under two minutes.” 

Authorities are focusing for two male suspects who arrived and left in a dark colored sedan, leaving the scene driving north on Broadway towards the Route 50/ Route 9 arterial.

Anyone who may have information regarding the incident is asked to contact Investigator John Guzek at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Additionally, any video footage relevant to the case can be uploaded at:

SARATOGA SPRINGS —The Saratoga Springs Participatory Budgeting Committee will be holding online public voting for the second cycle of project proposals through Tuesday, Dec. 12. 

Saratoga Springs residents over the age of 18 are able to cast their ballot towards their favorite projects.

The Participatory Budgeting process encourages local community members to participate in the City’s budget process by voting on how to spend a portion of up to 0.25% of the City’s total budget - approximately $153,000, give or take. Final funding decisions will be made by the City Council in
late December.

The Committee received a total of 15 submissions for Cycle Two; with proposed projects ranging from smaller-scale recreation initiatives to larger community-wide accessible programming. 

There are 5 total projects on the ballot for potential funding: Bocce Ball Court, Saratoga Farmer’s Market, Opera Saratoga Family Programming, Solar Charging Bench for the Saratoga Springs Public Library, and Lake Avenue School Centennial Celebration. 

Bocce Ball: Construction of one (1) bocce ball court in Veteran’s Memorial Park. Project submitted by individual. Estimated Cost: $13,000. Location: Veteran’s Memorial Park, 10 Adams Road.

Opera Saratoga Family Programming: Produce five (5) outreach opera performances in Saratoga Springs and the State Park for children and family’s education and enjoyment. Project submitted by Opera Saratoga. Estimated Cost: $15,000. Location: Opera Saratoga, 19 Roosevelt Drive.

Lake Ave School Centennial Celebration: Celebrate Lake Ave Schools’ upcoming centennial by recording oral histories and memories, photograph mementos and produce an exhibition for display at the Saratoga Springs Public Library (location pending). Project submitted by Lake Avenue PTA. Estimated Cost: $10,000. Location: Lake Avenue School, 126 Lake Ave. 

Solar Charging Bench for Public Library: Provide a convenient and clean energy charging source for electronic devices to Saratoga Springs residents and visitors. Located outside of the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Project submitted by Saratoga Springs Public Library. Estimated Cost: $11,000. Location: Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St.

Saratoga Farmers’ Market Program Support: Purchasing tents, wagons and tables for the Saratoga Springs Farmer’s Market and aiding in marketing expenses. Project submitted by Saratoga Farmers’ Market Association (organization). Estimated Cost: $12,000. Location: Saratoga Springs Farmer’s Market, 112 High Rock Ave.

“This past year we’ve seen a lot of our PB projects from Cycle One come online – they’ve had a tremendously positive impact on our community - from providing free arts programming and recreational curling to beautifying our city streets,” Commissioner of Finance Minita Sanghvi said in a statement. “We were excited to see a whole new set of project ideas for Cycle Two and are continuing to look for community input as to which projects they want to see funded.” 

To vote, visit go to: 

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  • Saratoga County Court Matthew J. Gifford, 31, of Saratoga Springs, was sentenced to 5 days incarceration and 5 years probation, after pleading to felony DWI, charged February 2024 in Saratoga Springs.  Kevin P. Masterson, 52, of Mechanicville, was sentenced to 6-1/2 years incarceration / 5 years post-release supervision, after pleading to criminal possession of a weapon in the second-degree, charged May 2023.  Shawn Flores, 45, of Milton, pleaded to criminal contempt in the first-degree, charged February 2024. Sentencing July 30.  Nicholas F. Bonfante, 44, of Halfmoon, pleaded to criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second-degree, a felony, charged…

Property Transactions

  • BALLSTON  Eastline Holdings LLC sold property at 1 Aspen Drive to Sateeshnvss and Srividya Gudipaty for $549,980 Adesh Budhraj sold property at 1 Larkin Road to Katz Excavating and Construction LLC for $65,000 CORINTH William and Robert Morgan sold property at 677 County Route 25 to Christin Guilder for $285,000 GALWAY Rita Werner and Erin Forlenza sold property at 1064 West Galway Road to Karen Crandall for $145,000 GREENFIELD Desolation Ventures Inc. sold property at 498 Lake Desolation Road to MW Real Estate Enterprises, LLC for $680,000 Justin Kelsey sold property at 519 North Creek Road to Scott and David…
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