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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » The Cloud Over Winterfest

Left In Lowell

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February 4, 2012

The Cloud Over Winterfest

by at 10:02 pm.

Is it an epidemic, yet?


Photo by Kelly Fox.

LOWELL — Police are asking the public to help find those who assaulted two men on Middle Street downtown early Saturday morning, sending one of them to a Boston hospital with serious injuries.

About 2:14 a.m., officers patrolling downtown Lowell found two Westminster men assaulted in front of 172 Middle St., according to Lowell Police Superintendent Ken Lavallee. The victims, who are in their early 20s, had just left Village Smokehouse on Middle Street and were walking toward their car parked on the street when they became involved with an altercation with another man, Lavallee said.

One victim was injured so seriously that he was flown to Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston by medical helicopter. He remains in serious condition but is expected to survive, Lavallee said.

The other victim was transported to a local hospital. Lavallee did not know if he has been released from the hospital. Lavallee did not know the victim’s identities Saturday night.

Now, let’s talk about this guy:

Folks, if you don’t know, the gentleman in the picture is Walter Bayliss, Jr and he is a member of the License Commission.

License Commission

The License Commission adopts rules and regulations for licenses and license activity that address matters of local interst in compliance with the laws of the Commonwealth, and is the local authority for licenses effecting alcoholic beverages, public amusements, common victualler (food), second hand motor vehicles and entertainment. Three (3) members are appointed to a six (6) year term. Diverse political party representation is required. (MGL Ch. 4 s.12) Two (2) year prior residency also required. City Council Confirmation is required. Statute Reference: MGL C.428 Acts 1894; MGL C.138 s.10 .

Let me be clear, it is NOT the fault of Mr. Bayliss that things are getting out of hand, Downtown. However, if you opt to watch the 11 minute segment of the embedded video, below, I think you will begin to wonder aloud, if Mr. Bayliss and his two compatriots are trying hard to be part of the solution.

(1:23:50 - 1:34:40)

The squabble is over a push from the City Manager, or King Bernie to his close pals, to get the License Commission to meet in the evening. At this point, and if Mr. Bayliss has his way, the LC meets at 3 pm. Mr. Bayliss is convinced that he is being treated poorly by the CM and Mayor Murphy. Further, if concerned citizens really want to participate in civics, they will make it a priority. If they can find time to save a tree, they can find time to meet when Mr. Bayliss likes. Mr. Bayliss likes to meet when it is convenient for the bar owners. Which, apparently, is 3 pm.

Why is Mr. Bayliss so firm? From a previous diary:

Commission of Drama Queens, Maybe

“The last people government thinks about is the taxpayer,” Commission Chairman Walter Bayliss said, adding the business owners pay a higher tax rate and should be accommodated.

The commission voted to hold its next meeting Thursday, Jan. 12. Bayliss said if Lynch does not make the Council Chamber available to them, they will meet somewhere else.

“If it’s locked, it’s locked and we’ll hold it in the hallway,” he said. “If the manager wants to put us in the basement, God bless him, it’s his building, we can meet in the broom closet.”

Government sucks! So, intrusive and uncaring about the local businesses. They pay a higher tax rate, y’know! … Isn’t Bayliss part of “government?”?

To get more of a feel for what’s going on Downtown, read these:
What The Hell Is Going On Downtown??
Why the City - and License Commission - Need to Listen

A “Ghost Map” for downtown Lowell?
Video Surveillance for Downtown? (Follow the embedded links on Dick’s blog over to Kad Barma’s site. Kad has a bunch of coverage on what’s going on Downtown.)

It may all be a bit dizzying. So, I’ll attempt to condense it. Businesses that sell booze, make money by the drink. Thus, there is an incentive to overserve patrons. Free flowing liquor to immature patrons is the heart of the problem. Guess who has the juice to get the barkeeps to tighten up their serving discipline? Did you guess the License Commission? I knew you would.

Now, take some time to digest all of this. And, if you are feeling queasy by Friday, take comfort in knowing you can have a nice hot cocoa during the Winterfest. If you are still worried, just ask the polite folks in the big, cozy tent. Y’know what they’ll say?:

Everything is fine. Go shopping!

29 Responses to “The Cloud Over Winterfest”

  1. Robert Forrant Says:

    Houston, we have a problem. Had this stuff been happening in Lawrence the local powers here in Lowell would be tut, tutting and tisk, tisking - noses in the air spouting “well at least we’re not Lawrence.” And, the stories would’ve been on the front page of the Boston daily newspapers.Where’s the city’s vaunted can do partnerships to address the issue? The police are stretched far too thin late at night on weekends and things could well get worse when the weather starts to warm up and more folks are out and about late at night. Changing last call to get it in sync with surrounding communities will likely cut down traffic into the city at 12:45PM and may help a bit. Does anyone doubt that if this continues it will get harder and harder to fill the already available downtown condos, make it more difficult to pet new businesses into the growing number of empty stores downtown, and may also discourage interest among students thinking about attending UMass Lowell and living in the Inn and Conference Center? Chancellor, Manager, Lowell Plan and Mayor - - what say you organize a summit with the downtown neighborhood groups?

  2. George DeLuca Says:

    Great photo (aftermath of the assault at top) by Kelly Fox. I’d like to see another downtown group around good citizens like Kelly and Elaine Wood, who can document incidents like this and bring issues to the appropriate commissions, councilors, sub-committees, etc.

    In addition to the recommendations of Jack and Dr. Forrant, an emergency meeting for the Public Safety Subcommittee is in order. And the next meeting of the Economic Development Subcommittee should have this issue high on the agenda. So I’m hoping the City Council can add this issue to this Tues. agenda as an emergency item.

    Public safety is paramount.

  3. Lynne Says:

    Not only does the license commission have that jurisdiction, they are one of the FEW bodies who do. I learned that the “closing time” regulation which in Lowell is set to 2am is NOT under the auspices of the Council, but the License Commission!!

    A summit sounds long since past due…

  4. kmarcin Says:

    formost there is a victim involved here and we should all be mindful of the effect this has for him and his family.

    Jack, please don’t scare away the people; no one has to worry about attending Winterfest. We do however have to consider the over-all impression this gives of the city.

    Prof. makes good points as always. The CM does not need a meeting; Chief Lavallee already has our downtown stakeholders meeting scheduled for March 12 at 7PM, Mayor’s recption room if anyone is interested in attending.

    Addressing this situation is going to take more than just the License Commission but they do have the ultimate responsibilty when it comes to liquor licenses. Since the Village Smokehouse changed their business from restaraunt to nightclub the mayhem on Middle St. is worse at closing time. Interesting that the city granted the Smokehouse a lease to create an outdoor seating area by taking four parking spaces and extend the sidewalk for seating (C Mercier the only one who questioned the wisdom of this). The License Commission will hold a public hearing this month regarding expanding the Smokehouse license to the outdoor area. However I do NOT expect the License Commission to take this into consideration since they repeatedly have stated that license holders are not responsible for what happens outside their establishments.

    But there is Mass. General law Chapter 140 Section 183A:
    “…be conducted in a manner so as to: (a) protect employees, patrons, and members of the public inside or outside the premises from disruptive conduct, from criminal activity, or from health, safety or fire hazards; (b) prevent an unreasonable increase in the level of noise in the area caused by the licensed activity or caused by patrons entering or leaving the premises; or (c) prevent an unreasonable increase in the level of pedestrian or vehicular traffic in the area of the premises or an unreasonable increase in the number of vehicles to be parked in the area of the premises. In order to preserve and protect the public health, safety, and order as aforesaid, the licensing authorities may place conditions upon the license and promulgate rules and regulations for such licenses. The licensing authorities may modify, suspend or revoke a license pursuant to this section for any violation of their rules and regulations or for any violation of law and may petition the superior court department of the trial court to enjoin any violation of this section…”

    So it appears to me at least the the License Commission has not been enforcing the law.

    Last but not least I am really surprised that taxpayers have not been more vocal about the money being spent to babysit this situation (about $60,000 in 2011). That in itself should be reason to find a solution.

  5. Lynne Says:

    “Jack, please don’t scare away the people; no one has to worry about attending Winterfest.”

    That’s not the impression I get from the post. What he means by this post is to point out that Lowell’s Brahman (as he likes to put it) are spending way too much time whistling past the graveyard on this issue. Though given what I have learned about the Council’s lack of jurisdiction (as well as the CM’s lack of jurisdiction), not sure what can be done other than eventually ousting (aka not reappointing) the current Licence Commissioners.

    On the last point, kmarcin, I wonder where our “tax responsibility” guy Elliot is on that? Oh, right, nowhere to be found.

  6. Jack Says:

    To riff off of DeLuca, public safety is paramount.

    But, let’s not forget quality of life. Bayliss openly mocks downtown residents. He tells them move to Chelmsford or Tyngsboro, ect. Like they have no reasonable expectation to live in relative peace. That it is a bridge to far to expect their kids not to frolic through piss, puke and shattered glass.

    The worst thing about Bayliss, et al. is that this conversation is not being held on the merits. Bayliss had his ego bruised by the CM and the Mayor. So, Bayliss has opted to punish the residents by letting this matter fester.

    Classy. :v\

  7. Mimi Says:

    It now has been six months since Police Superintendent Ken Lavallee presented the City Council and the License Commission with his report and suggestion for “calming downtown disorder.”

    “…consider moving the closing time for bars from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m., or see if bar owners will voluntarily close their doors at 1 a.m., and allow only patrons already inside to drink until last call.” (R. Mills, Lowell Sun 9/9/2011).

    This seems like a reasonable proposal.

    How many Sub-Committees did the City Council have when Library staff felt “unsafe”? Compare that to how many Sub-Committee the City Council held to discuss the problems that occur in downtown Lowell when the bars close?

  8. CParry Says:

    I wonder if anybody has taken the time to check to see if a fire truck would be able to navigate Middle street onto Palmer if the “bump-out” is done for the Smokehouse? I would hope that the Smokehouse is forced to also go through the Fire Officials prior to being allowed to actually do this.

    In addition, I can’t imagine why the Commission would even entertain the thought of giving the Smokehouse additional privileges for outside when the VSH is continually on the radar for various infractions…this past weekend being a prime example?!

    I also find it very disturbing that nobody from the Commission NOR the City Manager’s office has had the common sense to book a meeting between the two and have a frank open disucssion about the time change AND the effect the new bars are having on the downtown area (NOT just the residents, business people are forced to clean throw up off of their doorways as well. I might also suggest going to the Emporium downtown on a Saturday after 2 or 3 in the afternoon to get a feel for what that particular business has to deal with on the busiest retail day of the week..the bar next door is playing their music so loud that shopping there is not in the least enjoyable and one can’t wait to get out of there).

    As it was stated earlier, this is about a few bruised egos making the downtown residents, patrons and even the businesses, other than bars, suffer because they won’t be pushed around by anybody!

  9. Magnolia Says:

    Problems downtown on weekend nights are not a new problem - but according to my scanner, they do seem to be increasing. If there is a summit planned between all interested parties, then that is a step in the right direction.
    The License Commision is caught between a rock and a hard place. They are alternately accused of being anti-business and then anti-residents. Mimi’s idea for a public safety -subcommittte on downtown issues isa great one - hopefully it will be implemented.

  10. Magnolia Says:

    Problems downtown on weekend nights are not a new problem - but according to my scanner, they do seem to be increasing. Changing the LC meeting times is not necessarily the solution. The business owners complain if they have to come at night, elderly say they are afraid to go out at night. Others complain if they have to get out of work in the daytime.
    The License Commission is caught between a rock and a hard place. They are alternately accused of being anti-business and then anti-residents. Mimi’s idea for a public safety -subcommittte on downtown issues is a great one - hopefully it will be implemented. Also the summit Levallee plans might help.
    Forcing an earlier closing time is a great solution. It should be noted that some of the bar owners would strongly protest that it would put them out of business. It is my observation that these are the same bar owners where most of the problems occur, though I have been told that Hookslide Kelly’s does close it’s door to newcomers at 12:45.
    The police dept is down about 30 officers which does not help. Some of the ideas I like are (1) denying or revoking sidewalk permits to problem businesses , (2) Lower level high resolution cameras in problem areas perhaps only operated after a certain hour until say 3 Am( love the idea of a public feed), surprise police checks and requiring all id’s be checked at the door with a high quality scanner.
    Someplace out there is a happy medium. I hope…..,


  11. kmarcin Says:

    I have to throw in at least one comment about the 20+ excellent bars and restaurants we have in our neighborhood that never have any problems. All the more reason not to let a few bad apples spoil the whole thing.

    Note: I second the motion! All in favor? - Jack

  12. jdayne Says:

    Lowell being a city in with, as smartly explained to me, there are no more than 3 degrees of separation between virtually anyone, it is time for the political class, the businesses elite, the academic achievers, loudest of the born-bred-dead Lowell crowd, the establishment paper of record and the philanthropic nobility to step up and address what Lowell is becoming. State Senator and Reps? Lowell Plan and Chamber? Chancellor Meehan? Voices on WCAP/local access TV? Lowell Sun? Parker Foundation folks?

    “Public safety” is the approved focus, but these events in downtown affect every resident of Lowell, even those safe in bed or well on the suburban edge. To repeat what I’ve said elsewhere and often on the issue of nightclubs, crime and economic death:

    How does UML recruit the best and brightest in MA and the USA and internationally when young Bob’s or Maya’s or Rajiv’s parents come to check out Lowell? One weekend staying at UML’s ICC and walking about downtown in the evening and good bye prospective student and, at least in Rajiv’s case, likely full-tuition prospect. Also, good bye for all of us to what a robust, well respected UML can and should bring to the City.

    Why would a business want to expand take on the Freudenberg Building in Lowell? Why would any taxpayer from outside of Lowell want to watch historic tax credits expended on a city which cannot attract better than exotic dancer bars to its downtown–whose building owners so profit from that other peoples’ money of tax credits.

    The recent retelling of the actions of Boston’s Mayor White to bring that city from depression to destination should be instructive to Lowell. White took on the entrenched interests, had a vision for Boston’s “mills” (the waterfront & the now Faneuil Hall Marketplace0)AND he slowly and inexorably pushed out The Combat Zone from downtown. Now Emerson College, condominiums, theatre and yes, bars and restaurants all live in relative harmony.

    Lowell has significant decisions to make about allowing or resisting the change that comes from endeavoring to reposition itself from a city dismissed as well past its prime, most known for an alcoholic poet, a fighter and a historical story of mills and mill girls/immigrants to a destination city that draws on the best of that past — arts, tenacity, innovation and flexible/newcomer population.

  13. Robert Forrant Says:

    Just a guess but calling some of the folks who need to work this issue the “loudest of the born-bred-dead Lowell crowd….” and “the philanthropic nobility” probably is not all that helpful. An living in Boston during Kevin White’s reign his administration was not all hearts and flowers as school bussing was not the city’s shining hour nor was a lot of the “urban renewal/gentrification” that drove working class folks from their neighborhoods. And, as someone who routinely entertains academics from all over the place, just two yesterday from Harvard U., Lowell is know as a place that is busy thinking about how to recast its lot with its rich cultural, historic, and immigrant past and future. This goes well beyond “an alcoholic poet, a fighter and a historical story of mills and mill girls/immigrants.” This too seems a backhander to me. Just sayin!

  14. jdayne Says:

    You make some excellent points, Bob. My frustration and thus intemperate, perhaps, language was fueled by the contrast between the intense discussion/scrutiny et al given to Living Waters’ move to St Annes (not my choice of location, FYI, but separation of church and state et al) by some of the folks I characterize. Great outrage, umbrage, news coverage, hand wringing and finger pointing. I believe that a downtown economy dependent on nightclubs, exotic dancers and late night drinking-to-excess warrants far more attention than was given to Living Waters and yet there has been relative public silence except on the public safety aspect. I believe that and more is a stake.

    The other troubling aspect for me in Lowell is the sense of underground connections–those 3 degrees in politics, commerce, community position–that seems to muzzle clarity, protect the tribe and promote a group think/group protection. The born-bred et al crowd is, perhaps, a more personal knick of mine in response to all the us/them, “what do you expect” downtown . . . language I read and, on occasion at the diner, hear. I’m more of the mind that, where ever your origin (mine, San Francisco), here we all are to sort it out to optimize all of our outcomes. But there is a vocal element in Lowell that rejects the “we” part, clearly dividing us/them even, I’d hazard, at the expense of their own better outcomes.

    I lived, except for graduate school, and much of that time worked, in the City of Boston from 1972 up to 5 years ago. Mayor White was, as I expect you know, was not responsible for the Boston public school system or the school committee (then independently elected) nor did he initiate or implement busing. Busing was a Federal action, overseen by a Wellesley-resident judge, who was entirely insensitive and ill informed about Boston. Taking the two poorest, least aligned groups in the Irish and the African Americans at that time, brought nothing but disaster to Boston and to its public schools. However, the school committee, dominated by folks like Louise Day Hicks, were not about to fairly fund or equip schools in Roxbury. Thus the Feds stepping in. I questioned busing then and despair of it now. (It did, as on offshoot, save the parochial school system giving some targets of busing comfort.) Today, not unlike Lowell, those with the means send their children to independent or religious schools, those with time and energy stay in the public school and devote their energies to manage the system to get results and many just soldier on with what is assigned and hope for the best.

    Good to know that those in the know appreciate the UML and Lowell story. Lowell needs a lot of individuals, couples and families less tuned in at the academic level, to consider Lowell as a destination, live/work/enjoy city. The Combat Zone did not attract to Boston the new residents that Mayor White needed to raise the tax base, lower the age and increase the college-education % of the Boston population to be able to offer to prospective employers able employees. White did many things and had many helpers (including Boston’s version of the Lowell Plan–the Vault!) to accomplish that demographic and employer/business change. He had many flaws, but he was rather amazing–just think of an Irish pol of that decade hiring Barney Frank out of Louisiana! and he had a vision, was impatient and, somehow, was able to knock heads and steamroll and get the impossible done. Maybe it was “a moment”–just as Lowell had a moment with individuals like Paul Tsongas–but it was a moment that turned into decades of Boston moving forward.

    I do find the “story” of Lowell heavily dependent on memes from the past. And, I admit, I don’t have the fondness for the poet or the fighter that many do. Of the mills story, I love the technology aspect. Amazing use of engineering and water power. I am very, very happy that UML is moving that history right through today and into the future. I hope that UML can and does realize its potential, and I believe the reputation and appeal of the City of Lowell will help or hinder that objective. We are all in it together, and we don’t need to allow behavior that is in no one’s interest except for a few who benefit from the dollars dancers and drinks bring.

  15. Robert Forrant Says:

    Well said. This blog is not the place to revisit bussing - Boston ad years to deal with the schools before the judge stepped in and it still ha snot figured out how to makes it schools work for everyone. I totally agree that should the downtown situation discussed here continue with the apparent lack of attention seen thus far, large questions of trolleys and moving the high school, and filling the JAM area with new investments will be nothing but hot air and wishful thinking. At the same time the university’s visions for the campus will be derailed too, as the news makes it harder to attract faculty and students going forward. Parochial responses won’t work here, nor will human sled dog races!

  16. evelyn Says:


    I keep reading your statements about exotic dancers/strippers in downtown but have not seen any places that advertise them. I thought the City Manager assured us (in the Sun story about amending adult entertainment) that there were no such places in Lowell and none planned.

    If the CM was truthful, then the constant referral to strippers/exotic dancers in downtown seems like propaganda and detracts from what is an otherwise honest discussion. If he lied, then let’s see the facts. I just don’t believe that irrational rants help to make the case to either to license board, city council or city manager and that these will throw everyone else into the category of liars and exaggerators and thus hurt the rest of us.


  17. jdayne Says:

    One can take a walk by the Savannah Palace, wall of building facing TD Bank drive through. Or do my eyes deceive? And, clearly, many have not received those tasty postcards I’ve seen advertising a Lowell nightclub. Not entirely sure I recall Sun article as you do, but this is a city wide, city leaders issue and, able as the City Manager is, he is, as stated, a manager. My profession leads me to “follow the money” to understand what it up, but what I truly hope for is that those who are within the 1-2 degrees use their stature, personal capital, access et al and help bring this to a full discussion and fully to light. Lowell truly trumps even my old-day Boston for inside/outside influence. I shall hope the insiders see taking this on as to their and the City’s advantage. I mention some big, big stakeholders, even if silent to my ears so far.

  18. evelyn Says:

    So am I to assume from the above posting that you are claiming that Savannah Palace has strippers?

    I just want to make sure, because this is a reason to have a liquor license revoked, but if we get into the habit of telling lies for their dramatic impact on a blog then the city manager, council and license board will get into the habit of knowing this blog for not being factually reliable and lumping the rest of the downtown residents (with Legitimate Complaints) into the same category of liars.

    Just so the record is clear:
    1) have you seen nude dancing at Savannah Palace and
    2) have you reported this to Mr. Lavallee?

    Because if the Superintendent knows about this and his police officers (who work there on paid details) are not doing anything to enforce the law, then there is a serious corruption issue. But if it is just rumor and innuendo with no truth behind it, then I doubt Mr. Lavallee will appreciate being slandered by implication.


  19. Jack Says:

    Um …. e-?

    …the city manager, council and license board will get into the habit of knowing this blog for not being factually reliable…

    What, you don’t like it here?

    You get heavy handed with your passive attacks: “I doubt Mr. Lavallee will appreciate being slandered by implication.

    Dude, you need to lay off. Plus, you don’t even like the cops.

  20. Magnolia Says:

    Hey Jack - If the City Manager , etc. had any brains, they WOULD be reading this blog. They might actually learn something.

  21. Bamberger Says:

    Not crazy about the title of this post. I would have gone another route rather than tie a big tourist event with crime issues in the city. People already have a negative image of Lowell without its own people discouraging tourism. In my case, I have never heard of this blog. I googled “winter fest” and found this post. Think about how that might look t an outsider. Nothing written here is about any cloud over winterfest. But there it is. Might as well have called it “don’t come here, you’ll get stabbed”.

  22. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Banberger, what exactly did you google? I googled…

    winter fest
    “winter fest”

    … and couldn’t find this page at all. Given my results I’m having trouble believing your google story.

  23. evelyn Says:


    Dude, I was raising the issue that jdayne keeps posting that there are strippers in downtown but the City Manager said that there are no adult entertainment venues. If s/he has information to the contrary then it should be reported, but to keep saying that it is going on at an establishment (now implied to be Savannah Palace - one of the clubs that always has police at the door on Market Street) implies that the police are sweeping it under the rug. Jdayne needs to know that s/he is hurting the rest of us when s/he either 1) makes these false statements or 2) hints at a police conspiracy to cover up illegal activity.

    It is bad enough that the blogging on this site has chased off at least one potential downtown buyer (Jane) and her husband. But if the site is condoning (even implicitly) false claims of either illegal activity or police ignoring illegal activity, then it is damaging to both property owners AND downtown residents who need a forum for honest communication and do not want their credibility diminished.


  24. Lola Says:

    Was the “rock through the window” of Babylon resolved? We were told that the identity was known, but I never read anything further.

  25. evelyn Says:


    I have not seen a name in the arrest reports in the Lowell Sun yet. I guess they only print the names of people who pee in public not people who vandalize restaurants and commit hate crimes.


  26. CParry Says:

    evelyn………..there is a reason they haven’t named the individual in the rock throwing case. Below is a excerpt from the paper.

    Lowell police said they identified the man who threw the stone, and that he confessed. He will be charged in Lowell District Court, though police say his motive was not hatred.

    “Unless this gentleman is lying to us — and I don’t believe that he is — he didn’t even know this restaurant was affiliated with people from Iraq,” said Lowell police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee.

    The suspect, a New Hampshire man who will not be identified until he is arraigned,

  27. joe from Lowell Says:

    Bayliss openly mocks downtown residents. He tells them move to Chelmsford or Tyngsboro, ect. Like they have no reasonable expectation to live in relative peace.

    There’s a tendency to talk about “downtown residents” and only think about the loft crowd - but what about the elderly residents of Market Mills, Father John’s, and the Sun Building? What about all of the families in Market Mills? There were enough kids in the neighborhood for the City to install that train-themed playground structure on Shattuck Street.

    On top of everything else, Bayliss’ argument is a gentrification argument: that downtown is “for” a young, upscale, hip crowd.

  28. Smooth Says:

    I have been in Savanna Place many times. Sadly, no strippers…

  29. Left of Lynne Says:

    Let the bars stay open all night. Then closing time not an issue. Thank you. Any other problems like this just remember less regulation not more.

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