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Snow on the way

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Motorists should be alert for deteriorating weather conditions on Tuesday as the first winter storm of 2020 brings snow to the Shenandoah Valley and Alleghany Highlands. Snowfall is expected to begin overspreading the region during the morning commute and continue through much of the day.

The Virginia Department of Transportation pre-treated interstates and key primary routes on Monday in part of the 11-county Staunton District. VDOT crews throughout the district will plow and treat roadways as needed around the clock on alternating 12-hour shifts.

For winter weather road conditions go to www.511Virginia.org, look at the orange bar on the top of the page and click on “Text Views” and then click on “Road Condition Table”. Look at the pull down box that lists all jurisdictions. In this box individual counties can be chosen to view.

On the go? Then visit VDOT’s Free Virginia 511 Tools to get your 511 app for android or iOS. Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511.

The VDOT Customer Service Center can be accessed through its mobile friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are on site 24/7 every day of the year to assist the public. People can also call the VDOT Customer Service Center at 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623).

The Staunton District Snow Page is on the VDOT website under Travel Center Snow Emergency Pages. The Staunton District Twitter feed is at @VaDOTStaunton.

The Staunton District Twitter feed is at @VaDOTStaunton. VDOT can be followed on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube. RSS feeds are also available for statewide information. The VDOT Web page is located at www.VirginiaDOT.org.

The VDOT Staunton District serves Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany and Bath counties.

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Front Royal Unites seeks teamwork with Warren County School Board

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Two organizers of Front Royal Unites, a newly formed nonprofit working for the lawful and equal treatment of all races and ethnic groups, on Wednesday, requested that the Warren County School Board work with the organization to address any racial disparities in Warren County Public Schools (WCPS).

A few of the School Board members agreed that the group’s request was reasonable and warranted.

“The reason we have come to you today is that in the past… we’ve had some racial disparities that we’ve experienced within the school system,” said Stevi Hubbard of Front Royal Unites.
Hubbard reminded board members that she previously appeared before the School Board to raise related topics, and told them during their Wednesday, July 1 meeting that the board has not addressed those concerns “in any way shape or form, which is pretty upsetting.”

“The reason we have come to you today is that in the past… we’ve had some racial disparities that we’ve experienced within the school system,” said Stevi Hubbard of Front Royal Unites.

Since her earlier visits, Hubbard said data has been collected on how students feel like they are being disproportionately punished or not included in certain programming based on color. And she noted that racial slurs have been painted on school buildings.

“We hope we can work with you on these issues this year, and we would like to see those changes made this year,” said Hubbard, adding that she doesn’t want to have her child or other students and staff attending school and seeing racist comments or graffiti on school properties.

“It is our hope that you will take us seriously now,” said Hubbard, pointing out to the School Board that Front Royal Unites now has 2,500 members supporting the group.

Samuel Porter, the spokesman for Front Royal Unites and a 2011 graduate of Skyline High School, said he wanted to ensure that “we’re all very cognizant” about the racial comments that sometimes might be made at school or online.

“There are some bad people. We are just trying to make sure that our students are going to safe environments, and they don’t have to worry based on what they look like on the outside,” Porter told School Board members during the community participation segment of their regular meeting on Wednesday.

Warren County School Board member James Wells, who represents the Happy Creek District, told the Front Royal Unites representatives that he was on board with their request.

“Whatever you need,” Wells told them. “I’ll give you my phone number. I’ll give you my emails. I would be glad to meet with you at any time because your cause is just, and I’d be more than happy to work with you.”

School Board Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr., agreed. “As Mr. Wells said, we will work with you guys,” he told Porter and Hubbard.

Formed in May, Front Royal Unites in June quickly organized and held two local peaceful civil rights marches.

Porter and Hubbard also recently spoke during the June 22 Front Royal Town Council meeting, where they applauded Front Royal Police Chief Kahle Magalis and the department for proactively working with the group to support those marches.

“We come to the table very peacefully… to build bridges, not burn them,” Porter told the council members.

To hear the comments given by the Front Royal Unites organizers during the School Board meeting, watch the Royal Examiner video below.

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Warren County School Board OKs new transportation slot, Bradd scholarship

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The Warren County School Board on Wednesday unanimously approved both a new special transportation route assistant position and the forthcoming Dr. Tripp Bradd Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded to local high school students in honor of one of the area’s most well-known physicians.

WCPS Personnel Director George “Bucky” Smith asked board members to approve the new Special Transportation Route Assistant position for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) to meet the significantly increased demand for special transportation services in the school district.

Currently, transportation department staff must attend Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings for students with disabilities; coordinate special transportation routes that also include students experiencing homelessness; and accommodate additional daily changes as they arise, among other functions, Smith explained.

At the same time, transportation staff also has been and will be expected this school year to transport students during the COVID-19 pandemic, including by utilizing social distancing and re-organizing staff, placing even heavier workloads on them.

The new position will include fulfilling those duties, as well as creating transportation plans for students with special needs; building positive relationships with parents and students with special needs; analyzing special needs routes and schedules and making recommendations for changes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the special transportation program; assisting in the interviewing and hiring recommendations of special transportation drivers and aides; driving a school vehicle as needed, transporting students to and from school; observing safety precautions while loading and discharging students and while the bus is in motion; inspecting equipment and reporting defects to shop foreman or director; completing trip logs, reports, and timesheets; and complying with and supporting school and division regulations and policies, among other tasks, according to Smith.

“This position will greatly assist the department in covering their 11 to 12 hours of operation, which they are currently doing with a staff of three,” Smith told School Board members during their July 1 regular meeting.

Separate from general transportation routes, WCPS special transportation routes go in all different directions, Smith said. For instance, to Stanton, Va., West Virginia, and Manassas, Va., as WCPS works out routes with other school divisions, meeting them halfway to pick up or drop off students from both districts that may be attending the same school program or facility, for example. It’s a complicated system.

“We have had multiple situations over the last year or so where there have been a lot of communication issues between our division and a particular facility,” said Smith. “Just imagine that you have a child with special needs. If that child isn’t on time or doesn’t get home on time, it creates a lot of stress” for both the student, the family, and the district.

And while WCPS has tried during the last five years to get ahead of this situation, Smith said budget constraints have put the school district “two steps behind where we need to be.”

Now, however, the position is more urgently needed as the COVID-19 pandemic could mean that WCPS will be transporting even higher numbers of medically vulnerable and fragile students, he said.

The position also will ensure consistent services for students with special needs and does not create an additional cost as the funds for the position are included within the 2020-21 school year transportation budget, Smith said.

School Board members Arnold Williams, Jr., Catherine Bower, James Wells, Ralph Rinaldi, and Kristen Pence voted unanimously to approve the new position. Advertisements for the position will begin immediately so that the new hire may assist with the demands of the upcoming school year, said Smith.

In the other notable action agenda item, Mr. Smith presented the School Board members with a request from Jan Bradd, wife of local physician Dr. Floyd “Tripp” Bradd III, who died on May 3 following a long illness.

“My family and friends would like to honor a graduating senior student-athlete pursuing a career in the healthcare field,” said Jan Bradd. The Dr. Tripp Bradd Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to one male or female Warren County High School student, and one male or female Skyline High School student, according to Jan Bradd, who said the scholarships will be awarded beginning with the 2021 graduating class. 

On behalf of their family, Jan Bradd in a May 13 letter to the School Board requested that members approve the establishment of a memorial scholarship at both WCPS high schools in her husband’s name.

“My family and friends would like to honor a graduating senior student-athlete pursuing a career in the healthcare field,” wrote Jan Bradd, who lives in Lake Frederick, Va.

The Dr. Tripp Bradd Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to one male or female Warren County High School student, and one male or female Skyline High School student, according to Jan Bradd, who said the scholarships will be awarded beginning with the 2021 graduating class. The amount and the longevity of each scholarship will be determined, she said.

The criteria for winning a scholarship will be that a student must be accepted to a two-year or a four-year college; has plans to go into any healthcare profession, and is a WCPS student-athlete.

During the School Board meeting, Jan Bradd said she and her husband have always loved Warren County and were very involved with WCPS athletics and the school system, from which their four children graduated.

“I know this would make him very happy to honor our students here,” she said.

Dr. Bradd worked in emergency rooms throughout North Carolina before coming to Front Royal in 1984 and joining the Front Royal Family Practice, according to information provided by WCPS Director of Secondary Instruction Alan Fox.

Dr. Bradd then worked at Warren Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room for two years. Because the doctor missed family medicine, he then opened Skyline Family Practice in 1994.

Since 1986, Dr. Bradd was the team physician on the sidelines for the football teams at both Warren County High School and Skyline High School. He was the original coordinator of the county-wide athletic sports physicals.

In his personal life, Dr. Bradd was an athlete and swam the Chesapeake Bay Swim and the Potomac River Swims for many years and also competed in multiple triathlons.

The School Board voted unanimously to accept the scholarship.

“This dedication is phenomenal,” said School Board Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower. “We went to a lot of football games and always saw [Dr. Bradd] there.”

School Board member James Wells, a former colleague of Dr. Bradd at Warren Memorial, wrote a statement that he read to Jan Bradd expressing his admiration for her husband, whom Wells called “a man of integrity” who was especially supportive of WCPS.

Dr. Bradd was instrumental in assisting WCPS in addressing and creating concussion protocols and testing, Wells said, noting that the doctor’s volunteerism and support of WCPS also helped earn him induction into the Warren County High School Hall of Fame.

Donations to the scholarship fund may be sent to Mrs. Tripp Bradd, 127 Cabbage White Dr., Lake Frederick, VA, 22630.

Wells motioned to accept the scholarship request, which was seconded by Bower and then unanimously approved by the board.

In other action on Wednesday night, School Board members also unanimously approved the $45,348 purchase by WCPS of 60 Dell personal computers for staff and student use.

“These computers were bid through a state contract,” WCPS Technology Director Timothy Grant said. “The funding for these computers will come out of the WCPS technology budget,” which includes funds from a state technology grant.

The Warren County School Board also unanimously voted to approve participation by Ressie Jeffries Elementary School in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas. CEP participation means all students who attend Ressie Jeffries Elementary School are eligible to receive breakfast and lunch at no charge.

The Virginia Department of Education first identified Ressie Jeffries Elementary School as CEP eligible and approved Ressie Jeffries to receive the federal funds to cover the program for a four-year cycle, according to WCPS Assistant Superintendent Melody Sheppard.

Additionally, School Board members unanimously approved another contract for the A.S. Rhodes Elementary School renovation project, this one totaling $310,100 and awarded to Lantz Construction of Winchester Inc., which will provide and install windows, marker boards, tack boards, and roller shades at the school.

During his first report to the School Board, WCPS Superintendent Chris Ballenger — who started his first day on the job yesterday — said that virtual summer school begins on Monday, July 6 for elementary and middle school students. He noted that high school summer school already is underway.

Kindergarten in-person registration also starts on July 6 at the elementary schools and “will capture a lot of those parents who may have been a little reluctant to utilize the [new] online format” or who prefer face-to-face interaction, Ballenger said, adding that he’s going to take the opportunity to visit those schools to meet staff and parents next week.

Athletic conditioning for fall sports also will begin on July 6, he said.

“Moving forward,” said Ballenger, “there are some things in process” that WCPS central office staff will continue to work on, a likely reference to the forthcoming plan for holding school this fall during the pandemic.

To watch the entire Warren County School Board July 1 meeting, click on the Royal Examiner link below.

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Front Royal/Warren County public safety agencies urge compliance with fireworks laws and safe practices this 4th of July

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The Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office, Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Front Royal Police Department are urging all citizens to practice safety this 4th of July Holiday and utilize only lawful fireworks.

With the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in Virginia cancelling many of our traditional festivities, residents have taken a DIY (do it yourself) approach to some things we’re missing out on. This will likely be the case with the cancellation of many of our local fireworks events. As a result, it may be tempting to light your own pyrotechnic display.

According to Warren County Commonwealths Attorney’s Office, it is unlawful to possess, use, sell or store any firework that travels into the air or explodes. Any person in violation of this law by selling or using illegal fireworks may result in a criminal penalty of a class 1 misdemeanor; punishable with a fine up to $2,500 or up to one year in jail. Any fireworks discovered to be unlawful may also be seized and destroyed.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Town of Front Royal Police Department and the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office will be out patrolling our communities and ensuring the safety of our citizens this holiday weekend. Sheriff Butler, Chief Magalis, Fire Marshal Maiatico and Commonwealth Attorney Bell appreciate your assistance in ensuring the safety of our community.

Fireworks should be handled and used in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and all warning labels. “The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at a community event where professionals handle them,” says Fire Marshal Gerry R. Maiatico, “For those who use lawful fireworks in their backyards, never allow children of any age to use them without an adult present”.

Recently, a 57 year old linden man was airlifted to a local trauma center when an illegal firework discharged in a close proximity to his hand causing significant injuries. 91 illegal fireworks were confiscated as a result of the incident.

By following these Fireworks Safety Tips, you and your family can have a safe 4th of July Holiday:

  • Use only lawful fireworks that are permissible in Virginia. Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Remember, fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burns and injuries. You can help us prevent fireworks-related injuries and deaths. For more information on fireworks safety, visit www.warrencountyfire.com or call 540-636-3830.

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UPDATE: Reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 5th at the Warren County Government Center

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On July 5th at 2pm, Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution will read the Declaration of Independence at the Warren County Government Center. This event is open to the public.

Here is an overview of the Declaration of Independence taken from the National Park Service:

Looking back on the Declaration of Independence almost 50 years later, Thomas Jefferson explained that the document’s purpose was never meant to be thoroughly original; its purpose wasn’t to articulate anything that hadn’t been saying before but to make the case for the American colonies in plain terms and persuade the world to see common sense. “It was intended to be an expression of the American mind,” Jefferson explains. He goes on to claim that “[the Declaration’s] authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day.” (Jefferson to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825)

Jefferson finished his timeless defense of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in little more than two weeks, and like most writers, he was no stranger to the revision process. Between the Committee of Five and the Second Continental Congress, there were 86 edits to the document. The Second Continental Congress removed whole sections. Jefferson was most angered by the removal of one particular clause, a clause blaming the King for forcing the slave trade upon the American colonies.

The final draft of the Declaration of Independence contains a preamble, a list of grievances, a formal declaration of independence, and signatures.

Preamble
This first part of the Declaration contains an assertion of individual rights. Perhaps the most famous line states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” This part goes on to say that if the government tries to take these rights away, the people have the right to form a new government. Jefferson also addresses a counterclaim in this section, acknowledging that “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes…” He counters by reminding his audience of the “long train of abuses and usurpations” that makes it “…their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Grievances
The longest part of the Declaration begins with “He has refused his Assent to Laws” and goes on to list the unfair actions of the British king and Parliament. In their complaints, the colonists make it clear that they are angry with the British king and government for taking away their rights as English citizens. They point out that the king has ignored or changed their colonial governments, as well as their rights to a trial by jury. The colonists accuse the king of sending a hired army to force them to obey unjust laws. They say the king is “unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

Note: The norms and structure of argumentative writing in the 18th century were different from they are in the 21st century. The list of grievances that serves as the Declaration’s evidence seems largely anecdotal by today’s standards. However, the Declaration’s claim and underlying assumption (big idea) are especially applicable to the writing standards of 21st-century classrooms.

A formal declaration of independence
The final paragraph, beginning with “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America,” affirms that the 13 colonies are free and independent states. It breaks all ties with the British government and people. As independent states, they can make trade agreements and treaties, wage war, and do whatever is necessary to govern themselves. This formal declaration of independence ends with important words. The words tell us what the signers of the Declaration of Independence were willing to give up for freedom: “…we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Signatures
There are 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence. Fifty men from 13 states signed the document on August 2 in 1776. The other six signed over the course of the next year and a half. As the President of the Second Continental Congress, John Hancock signed first. He wrote his name very large. Some of the men abbreviated their first names, like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. All the signers risked their lives when they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Legacy of the argument
Contrary to popular belief, the words of the Declaration of Independence did not gain immediate prominence. In fact, they remained obscure for decades. And yet the spirit of the Declaration caused ripples almost immediately, most famously with the French Revolution in 1789. The Haitian Revolution followed soon after, and the subsequent decades would see many Latin American countries continuing the fight for independence from colonial powers. In 1945, Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh also invoked the document when declaring Vietnamese independence from the French colonial empire.

Within the U.S., the women’s suffrage movement adapted the Declaration of Independence for their cause, asserting in the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments that “all men and women are created equal.” Meanwhile, the country’s celebrations of independence haunted enslaved people and abolitionists like Frederick Douglass, whose 1852 speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” pondered the nation’s shortcoming despite its dedication to values like liberty. As Douglass said, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”

As World War I came to a close, leaders from Eastern Europe gathered inside Independence Hall on October 26, 1918, to sign the Declaration of Common Aims of the Independent Mid-European Nations. Those gathering in Independence Hall that day sought to bring autonomy to the nations of the former Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. The signers pledged their mutual support and their belief that “it is the inalienable right of every people to organize their own governments on such principles and in such forms as they believe will best promote their welfare, safety, and happiness.”

After the signing ceremony, Doctor Thomas Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, read the Declaration of Common Aims on Independence Square, just as John Nixon read the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776.

Read more from the National Archives here.

Background of the Sons of the American Revolution

Chartered in 2007, Colonel James Wood, II Chapter has grown into one of the best chapters in the state of Virginia, being named the best chapter 8 times in 13 years and receiving numerous awards. Based in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, the Chapter covers a five-county area of Frederick, Clarke, Page, Warren, and Shenandoah Counties plus the City of Winchester.

The chapter continually supports the purposes of the Sons of the American Revolution which are patriotic, historical, and educational. They strive to ensure that the patriots who gave us the United States of America are not forgotten; to promote patriotism in support of our country and its modern-day heroes and; to support teaching the history and values of the American Revolution and our constitutional freedoms.

The Objects of this Society are declared to be patriotic, historical, and educational; to unite and promote fellowship among the descendants of those who sacrificed to achieve the independence of the American people, to inspire them and the community-at-large with more profound reverence for the principles of the government founded by our forefathers; to foster true patriotism; to maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom.

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Can’t adopt a pet? Adopt a kennel at the SPCA

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Whether you wish to advertise your business, memorialize a loved one, honor a special furry friend, or you are just searching for a perfect gift for the “hard to buy” person, adopting a kennel is a great option! Show your love for animals and support the mission of the Winchester SPCA to enhance the human animal bond and safeguard animals in transition.

  • Cat Kennels: $200
  • Dog Kennels: $400

When you adopt a kennel you receive:

  • A kennel plaque displaying your name or business
  • A certificate of adoption for you to display or gift
  • Your name or business posted on our website and highlighted on social media
  • Your plaque will remain in place until the kennel is replaced

Kennel adoption forms are available at the SPCA adoption center (111 Featherbed Lane in Winchester) or on our website.

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Two days late! How July 4th became Independence Day

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Few people realize that the resolution for American Independence was actually approved on July 2, 1776. Here’s how it happened.

By June of that year, the colonies were seething with revolt. The English Parliament had forced them to endure “an absolute tyranny,” as Thomas Jefferson later wrote in the Declaration of Independence.

Grievances included: Taxation without representation; Parliament’s dissolving the Virginia House of Burgesses; a monopoly on exports and imports resulting in exorbitant prices; and British troops being quartered in the colonists’ homes.

As the Continental Congress debated in Philadelphia, there were still those who pushed for reconciliation with the powerful mother country.

On June 7, 1776, Henry Lee of the Virginia Assembly laid a resolution before the Continental Congress for the colonies to be free and independent states. After a ferocious debate, both sides decided that a declaration of independence should be drafted in case it would be needed.

Of the five men named to write it, the job fell to Thomas Jefferson. At age 33, he felt Ben Franklin should do it, but Franklin was ill. Or that John Adams should, but Adams won him over by saying gruffly, “You can write ten times better than I.”

On July 1, Congress met to reconsider Virginia’s resolution for independence. At first, a third of the colonies voted against it, and the resolution was tabled until the following day. There followed a frenzy of activity.

Sent for by messenger, Caesar Rodney of Delaware arrived after an 80-mile ride on horseback, pelted by rain all the way. He broke a tie, and Delaware voted for independence.

Patriots converged on delegates of the remaining demurring states and won them over. The vote for independence was carried on July 2.

On July 3, Jefferson’s declaration was read and passages felt to be overly inflammatory were removed.

On July 4, the declaration was finally signed and approved. BUT … independence was actually voted on July 2, 1776.

John Adams, who later served as President, said in a letter, “The second day of July 1776 … will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.” He was almost right.

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