FosterFest in downtown Dothan
|Nickname(s): The Peanut Capital of the World or The Circle City or The Hub of the Wiregrass|
Location in Houston County and the state of Alabama
|Counties||Houston, Dale, Henry|
|• City||86.8 sq mi (224.8 km2)|
|• Land||86.6 sq mi (224.3 km2)|
|• Water||0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)|
|Elevation||322 ft (98 m)|
|• City||68,001 (US: 502th)|
|• Density||665.2/sq mi (284.93/km2)|
|• Metro||147,691 (US: 278th)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||0117397|
Dothan // is a city located in the southeastern corner of the State of Alabama, situated approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of the Georgia state line and 18 miles (29 km) north of Florida. It is the seat of Houston County, with portions extending into nearby Dale County and Henry County. Its name derives from Genesis 37:17: "let us go to Dothan." According to the 2010 census the city's population was 65,496, making it the largest town in this part of the state.
Dothan is the principal city of the Dothan Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties; the small portion that lies in Dale County is part of the Ozark Micropolitan Statistical Area. The combined population for the entire Dothan metropolitan area in 2010 was 145,639. The city serves as the main transportation and commercial hub for a significant part of southeastern Alabama, southwest Georgia, and nearby portions of the Florida Panhandle. Since approximately one-fourth of the U.S. peanut crop is produced nearby, with much of it being processed in the city, Dothan is called "The Peanut Capital of the World."
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Government
- 5 Education
- 6 Infrastructure
- 7 Religion
- 8 Media
- 9 Sports
- 10 Economy
- 11 Crime
- 12 Culture
- 13 Area attractions
- 14 Notable natives and residents
- 15 Sister cities
- 16 References
- 17 External links
The area that is now Dothan was inhabited for thousands of years by successive cultures of indigenous peoples. In historic times it was occupied by the Alabama and Creek Native American tribes. They had developed complex cultures, and were hunters and gatherers in the vast forests of pine that covered this region. They had developed paths throughout the area that linked their communities.
They often used to meet and camp for trading near a large spring at the crossroads of two trails. European-American settlers moving through the area during the late 18th and early 19th centuries named the spring "Poplar Head." Most felt that the sandy soil common to this region would be unsuitable for farming, so they moved on. A rude stockade was constructed on the Barber Plantation, where settlers could take refuge whenever they felt threatened. This fort disappeared by the 1840s, after the end of the Indian Wars in Alabama and the removal of most members of the Five Civilized Tribes to Indian Territory, west of the Mississippi River. Some stayed in the region, becoming state and US citizens by giving up tribal membership.
The first permanent white (European-American) settlers consisted of nine families who moved into the area during the early 1830s to harvest the abundant timber. Their settlement, named "Poplar Head" after the spring, failed to thrive. It was all but abandoned by the time of the Civil War.
After the war, a local Pony Express route was founded; together with other developments during the Reconstruction era, the town began to grow. On November 11, 1885, the locals voted to incorporate, naming their new city "Dothan" after discovering that "Poplar Head" was already registered with the U.S. post office for a town in northern Alabama.
On October 12, 1889, Dothan was the scene of a deadly altercation resulting from a dispute over a tax levied on all wagons operating within city limits. Local farmers opposed this levy and united in a body called the "Farmers Alliance." The arrest of some of the alliance's men led to a riot, and although the violence lasted only a few minutes, it left two men dead and others seriously wounded. Chief of police Tobe Domingus was found guilty of murder, and sentenced to ten years in prison. Appeals to the Alabama Supreme Court resulted in a new trial, and Domingus was acquitted.
Expansion and growth
In 1893, Dothan secured a stop on the first railroad to be built in this region. This development brought new prosperity and growth, as local farmers had a means to market and transport their produce. The pine forests were harvested for turpentine and wood, which was transformed into ship masts, lumber and other wood products.
As the pines were cut and land subsequently cleared, cotton was cultivated as a staple of the local economy. The crops were devastated by the boll weevil in the early 1900s. Farmers turned to peanut production, which was successful and brought financial gain to the city. It became a hub for the production and transport of peanuts and peanut-related products.
Today, one-quarter of the U.S. peanut crop is harvested within 75 miles (121 km) of Dothan. The town identifies as "the Peanut Capital of the World." A two-week fall festival known as the National Peanut Festival celebrates this heritage.
The city also sought out industry, with textile and agricultural concerns being joined by manufacturing plants for the Sony, Michelin, and General Electric corporations in the 20th century. In 1939, Dothan had an exhibit at the New York World's Fair.
Originally part of Henry County, Dothan became the county seat of the newly formed Houston County on May 9, 1903. The city continued to flourish and grow throughout the twentieth century, with an airport being constructed in 1965 and the Wallace Community College in 1969. Troy University in Dothan was established in 1961 and occupies a campus northwest of the city.
The Southern Company constructed the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Generating Station near the city between 1970–81; this 1,776-megawatt facility currently generates approximately 13,000 GW-h per year. In the late 1970s, factories were constructed in the city by Sony and Michelin corporations. In 2010 Sony announced its closure of its Dothan plant. Pemco Aviation declared bankruptcy in March 2012 and in May that year, announced the closing of its Dothan facility.
The city has developed a local arts and music scene. An art museum, several theaters, symphony orchestra, dance troupe and other cultural amenities have been established.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 86.8 square miles (225 km2), of which 86.6 square miles (224 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (0.23%) is water.
In addition to styling itself "The Peanut Capital of the World", Dothan is also the self-proclaimed "Hub of the Wiregrass". It is also commonly referred to as "The Circle City", due to being encircled by Alabama State Route 210, a four-lane highway also known as the Ross Clark Circle. In recent decades, the city has expanded in several directions beyond the confines of this highway.
Dothan has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa). This produces hot, humid summers and generally mild winters, with average high temperatures ranging from 92 °F (33 °C) in the summer to 59 °F (15 °C) high during winter. Snowfall is an extremely rare event – a two-inch snowfall occurs about once every ten years, which results in a yearly average of 0.2 inches (5.1 mm). Tornadoes are a frequent risk during the spring, summer and fall; the city's tornado activity is slightly below the Alabama state average, but 79% above the U.S. average.
|Climate data for Dothan, Alabama (Dothan Regional Airport), 1981–2010 normals|
|Record high °F (°C)||84
|Average high °F (°C)||59
|Average low °F (°C)||38
|Record low °F (°C)||0
|Precipitation inches (mm)||5.23
|Source: City-data.com, The Weather Channel (records and averages)|
According to the 2000 census, there were 57,737 people, 23,685 households and 17,108 families residing in the city. The population density was 667.7 per square mile (257.4/km2). There were 27,908 housing units at an average density of 299.3 per square mile (115.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 67.33% white, 30.11% black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.85% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander American, 0.46% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. 1.32% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 27,908 households, of which 31.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.3% were non-families. 28.4% of all households are made up of individuals, and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39, and the average family size was 2.94. 70% of women with school-age children work.
Age distribution was 25.4% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who are 65 or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females, there are 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males. 22% of adults have never married. 55% are currently married. 3% are separated. 12% are divorced. 9% are widowed.
The median household income was $35,000, and the median family income was $45,025. Males had a median income of $34,475 versus $22,572 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,539. About 12.7% of families and 15.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.2% of those under age 18 and 15.0% of those age 65 or over.
Approximately 79% of residents completed high school, while 23% have college degrees. 8% of the population has a graduate or professional degree; 6% are unemployed. Average commute-to-work time is 18 minutes.
The state-recognized Cher-O-Creek Intra Tribal Indians are located in Dothan. They are descended from members of the Cherokee and Creek peoples who occupied this area and resisted removal to Indian Territory in the 1830s.
Dothan is governed by a mayor and city council (called the "Board of Commissioners"), with a city manager employed to manage city affairs. The city is divided into six council districts, with one commissioner elected from each district to a four-year term. Members of the commission serve part-time, and are responsible for drafting all city ordinances and policies, and appropriation of city funds. Dothan's mayor is elected at-large for four years, and serves as a member of the Board of Commissioners. The city manager implements the board's policies and manage the city's day-to-day operations, including hiring, managing and firing the heads of city government departments. A total of 999 full-time and 215 part-time employees work for the various city agencies in Dothan, including police, fire, clerical, judicial, finance, public works and utilities.
As of 2010, the office of mayor was held by Mike Schmitz, while the city manager was Mike West. Larry H. Williams serves as city fire chief, while Greg Benton, a 21-year veteran with the police force, is police chief.
Dothan is located in Alabama's Second Congressional District; its current representative (as of 2011) is Martha Roby (R). The city is part of three different state senate districts (28, 29 and 31) and four state representative districts (85, 86, 87 and 93).
The majority of K-12 students in Dothan and Houston County attend Dothan City Schools, or Houston County Schools. Others attend local private schools such as Houston Academy, Providence Christian School, Northside Methodist Academy, Emmanuel Christian School, or Westgate Christian School. Institutes of higher education include Fortis College, Troy University Dothan Campus, Wallace Community College, Bethany Divinity College & Seminary, and the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dothan is home to the "Yes We Can! Dothan" education movement, which is a community based organization working to improve Dothan's public schools. Through community engagement, this movement has helped improve schools with a theme of "Better Schools. Better Dothan", and has received state and national recognition. This movement began through the efforts of Dothan citizens Morris Slingluff, Judge Rose Gordon, Thomas Harrison, Lucky Martin, Tom Ziegenfelder, Matt Parker, Twyla Williams, Libby Krietemeyer, Cheryl Gibson and Lavonda Gosselin. http://www.dothaneducationfoundation.org/yes-we-can-dothan/
Dothan's airport, the Dothan Regional Airport, is currently (2009) served by Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a subsidiary of SkyWest, Inc. operating flights for Delta Air Lines, with 3–5 daily flights to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. This airport was established at the former Army airbase at Napier Field in 1965, after a push to move the airport was started in the early 1950s by then-Mayor Richmond C. McClintock. Jet services began in 1968 with Southern Airways' acquisition of DC-9 aircraft, and continue today using the CRJ-200 regional passenger jet.
Unlike many municipal airports in the U.S., the Dothan airport is entirely self-supporting, operating without any tax-generated funding. All airport revenue is generated through rental and other user fees charged to patrons and tenants of the facility.
Presently, Dothan is served by three U.S. highways (all four-laned within the city limits, and for some distance beyond): U.S. 84 (east-west), U.S. 231 (north-south) and U.S. 431 (north-south; southern terminus in Dothan).
The city of Dothan has hosted a number of railroads throughout its existence, beginning with the Alabama Midland Railroad in 1893. The Chattahoochee & Gulf (later the Central of Georgia) would reach Dothan as part of a continuous route from Columbia, Alabama, to Lockhart, Florida. Additionally, the Bay Line Railroad would construct a line connecting Dothan to Panama City, Florida, in 1908. There were also a number of logging railroads and other shortlines that existed near Dothan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Bay Line and Central of Georgia railroads jointly operated passenger service from Atlanta to Panama City via Dothan until 1957. Dothan was also a stop for two Seaboard Coast Line local passenger trains from Waycross, Georgia, to Montgomery, Alabama, until 1971. And finally, Dothan was a stop for the South Wind – later Amtrak's Floridian – passenger trains, with service ending in 1979. The Floridian was the last passenger train to operate through Dothan.
A number of changes came to Dothan area railroads over the last 50 years. The Central of Georgia would spin off a portion of their line from Hartford to Dothan to the Hartford & Slocomb railroad in 1953, which was later abandoned from Hartford to Taylors in 1992. In 2003, Central of Georgia successor Norfolk Southern sold their route from Dothan to Hilton, Georgia, to the Chattahoochee & Gulf shortline, leaving CSXT as the last Class I operating in Dothan. The most recent changes to Dothan's railroads came with the Genesee & Wyoming Inc. purchase of the Bay Line, H&S, and Chattahoochee and Gulf railroads.
Although passenger trains no longer operate through Dothan, Greyhound Bus Lines maintains a station in town. While Dothan does not have regularly scheduled public transportation, it offers dial-a-ride service through its non-profit Wiregrass Transit Authority.
Dothan is the home of two hospitals: Southeast Alabama Medical Center is the city's only public hospital, and is located on the city's southeastern side. Flowers Hospital is a private hospital situated on Dothan's western side. On May 18, 2010, Southeast Alabama Medical Center announced it would construct Alabama's first college of osteopathic medicine, to help fill the state’s shortage of an estimated 400 primary care physicians. Construction began in early 2012, and is slated for completion in mid-2013 at an overall cost of $40 million, with the first class scheduled to enroll at the college in the fall of that year. The 110,000 sq ft facility is expected to create an economic impact of more than $100 million by 2027.
The largest Christian denomination in Dothan is the Southern Baptist church. There are also Churches of Christ, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, AME, Freewill Baptist, Episcopal, United Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, Seventh-day Adventist and various other Evangelical churches serving Dothan's Protestant community. St. Columba Catholic Church caters to Dothan's Roman Catholics. Dothan hosts a Reform Jewish synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, which became nationally famous when they offered Jewish families as much as $50,000 to relocate to Dothan in 2008. The city is also home to two mosques, an LDS church, a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, and an Antiochian Eastern Orthodox church.
Dothan is served by one daily newspaper, the Dothan Eagle, and one weekly newspaper, the Dothan Progress. and a news website Rickey Stokes News. It is host to four television stations, WRGX-LD (NBC network), WDFX 34 (FOX network), WDHN 18 (ABC network) and the oldest television station in southeastern Alabama, WTVY 4 (CBS network). WOW!, Comcast and Time Warner Cable provide cable television service. DirecTV and Dish Network provide direct broadcast satellite television including both local and national channels to area residents.The city is also served by several radio stations; formats include classical, Christian, rock, country, rap, urban contemporary, talk radio and sports. Dothan Magazine offers a bi-monthly, people-focused viewpoint of the Dothan area while also keeping readers up to date on the latest community events, trends and issues. Archived issues of Dothan Magazine are available online at DothanMagazine.com.
Dothan hosted Minor league baseball teams from 1915 to 1917 (Al-FL-GA League and Dixie League) and again from 1936 through 1962 (AL-FL League, GA-FL League and AL State League). Teams were known at varying times as the Boll Weevils, Browns, Rebels, Cardinals and Phillies. Major League affiliations were maintained in later years with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies organizations. All teams played at the "D" league level, a defunct minor-league classification that represented the entry or "rookie" level in the minors. Ballparks included Baker Field, City Park, Stadium Park and the Wiregrass Memorial Stadium.
Dothan has a diverse economy. Agriculture is the largest industry, though retail sales and restaurants have experienced a rapid growth in recent years. Although peanut production remains a mainstay of the agricultural sector, cotton is gaining in importance. Tomato production is locally significant as well, especially in the nearby town of Slocomb, which styles itself "the Tomato Capital of the World".
The people of Dothan enjoy one of the lowest costs of living in the country, mostly due to the large dependence on city revenue from the sales tax. Since Dothan is the only significant municipality in an 80-mile area, it receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year from the northern U.S. who pass through the city on their way to visit the Florida beaches. This resulted in a retail and restaurant boom starting in 2005, which has countered the massive number of manufacturing jobs lost over the past two years.
According to the City's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||Southeast Alabama Medical Center||2,500|
|2||Dothan City & Houston County Schools||1,973|
|4||City of Dothan||927|
|5||Southern Nuclear (Farley)||860|
|Crime rates (2012)|
|Total Violent crime:||319|
|Motor vehicle theft:||130|
|Total Property crime:||2,934|
* Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.
2012 population: 66,275
|Source: 2012 FBI UCR Data|
According to 2012 statistics released by the F.B.I., Dothan has a violent crime rate far below the national average, with only four homicides reported in the city that year. Property crime rates were slightly above the national average. 319 violent offenses (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) were reported in 2012, compared with 2,934 property crimes.
- The Downtown Christmas Festival occurs annually on the first Saturday in December. Some of the most popular activities and attractions include the Snow Zone, sledding, cookie decorations, marshmallow roasting, local artisans, a pet parade, various food vendors and of course, Santa! The festival takes place downtown on Foster and Troy Street.
- The National Peanut Festival occurs annually in November. The festival hosts competitions in different areas for all ages. A large midway, entertainment by nationally known recording artists, and the largest parade in the area are featured attractions. You can find many rides such as Speed, Starship 3000, Wild Mouse, etc. Many booths are set there to help advertise for their business. Right after the peanut festival is over, there is a peanut festival parade. This include bands from high schools around Dothan, pageant winners,etc. Many people line the downtown streets of Dothan to celebrate the parade.
- Dothan is also home to two professional barbecue competitions. The Tri-State BBQ Festival is held the 2nd weekend in April, and is sanctioned by the Florida Bar-B-Que Association. It was begun in 2006 and is currently put on at the Houston County Farm Center. PorktoberQue, an Oktoberfest and Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) sanctioned event is held the last weekend of September in Dothan. It, too, is held at the Farm Center.
- Toadlick Music Festival was once held in late March and once in April, but its dates change.
Museums and monuments
- The US Army Aviation Museum, located on nearby Fort Rucker, houses one of the largest helicopter collections in the world. The museum focuses on the role of fixed and rotary-wing flight in the U.S. Army. The exhibits depict over 50 years of Army Aviation, and include a number of life size dioramas, films, and interpretive material. Several period aircraft are available for viewing.
- George Washington Carver Monument, located at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds, pays tribute to one of the nation's greatest educators and agricultural researchers, whose work resulted in the creation of 325 products from peanuts, more than 100 products from sweet potatoes and hundreds more from a dozen other plants native to the South. These products contributed to rural economic improvement, by offering alternative crops to cotton that were beneficial for the farmers and for the land.
- The Wiregrass Museum of Art, located in the city's original power and water plant (1913), features ongoing exhibitions of visual and decorative art. The museum's permanent collection includes works by Contemporary Southeastern artists such as Dale Kennington, Frank Flemming, Dale Lewis and Cal Breed, as well as material by nationally recognized artists including Frank Stella and Jim Dine. The museum was organized in 1989 by private citizens and the City of Dothan; it is operated by the Wiregrass Museum of Art, Inc., a 501(c)3.
- The George Washington Carver Museum relates the story of the African-American genius who invented over 500 different products from peanuts and other plants native to the South. Besides offering exhibits about Carver himself, this museum also offers information on African cultures and their influences on the world, prominent African-American scientists, explorers and inventors, and the positive contributions made by African-Americans in military affairs and the area of social development.
- Peanut Monument at the Visitor Information Center proclaims Dothan as the "Peanut Capital of the World".
Art and theatre scene
- Featured Players Theatre: Originally located at 158 S. Foster St. in downtown Dothan, Featured Players moved in 2009 to 137 N. Saint Andrews Street. This company offers live plays for adults five times a year; its Children's Theatre produces plays four times a year. At other times, Featured Players offers a "coffee-house" set-up with "open mic" nights and acoustic folk rock artists. Open Friday and Saturday nights.
- Southeast Alabama Community Theater offers live entertainment and theatrical productions for the Dothan community.
- The Dothan Wiregrass Art League is an organization of local artists who have banded together to promote art in the community. DWAL sponsors art shows, exhibits and workshops. Many of the artists teach weekly art classes to the community.
Notable public art
- Joseph statue at Millennium Park is a ten-foot, cast bronze sculpture, located in the historic downtown area. It represents the Bible verse, "For I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan" (Genesis 37:17), on which the town based its name.
- Peanuts Around Town is a public art project organized by The Downtown Group, consisting of 5-foot-tall (1.5 m) peanut sculptures decorated in various fashions and displayed around Dothan.
- "Wiregrass Festival of Murals" is an ongoing project offering historic murals painted by nationally and internationally acclaimed muralists on walls of buildings in the downtown historic district. Guided tours are available upon request.
- The Dothan Opera House, built in 1915, features theatre performances, concerts, symphonies, ballet performances, and other cultural events. Tours are available upon request.
- Music South, formerly the Southern Alabama Symphony Association, offers a wide variety of musical performances, from classical symphony performances to jazz, African and other musical styles. "Music by Moonlight" offers four free concerts per year at Dothan's Landmark Park, featuring classical, jazz, Celtic and Bluegrass musicians, among others.
- Patti Rutland Jazz is a professional contemporary jazz and hip-hop dance company located in Dothan. This company produces two full-length jazz and hip-hop theatrical dance productions yearly (one in late February and one in early June) at their home in the Cultural Arts Center, as well as at Dothan's historical landmark Opera House. Patti Rutland Jazz operates as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose core mission is to offer its dancers to the Wiregrass Region to assist under-served youths with free dance classes. This mutually beneficial program hopes to make Dothan a destination for, and a source of, future professional dance talent in the United States.
- The Dothan Area Botanical Gardens includes 50 acres of cultivated gardens and undeveloped, wooded landscapes.
- Highland Oaks Golf Course is part of Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
- Wiregrass Commons Mall
Notable natives and residents
- Bill Baxley, former Alabama Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor, was born and raised in Dothan.
- Brad Baxter, former NFL running back.
- "The Wrestling Pro" Leon Baxter, a professional wrestler, is a longtime Dothan resident. He wrestled all over the South as "Tarzan Baxter."
- Tony Bowick, former NFL and Arena Football League player
- Larry Brackins, an American football wide receiver and member of the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, was born and raised in Dothan and graduated from Dothan High School.
- Johnny Mack Brown (September 1, 1904 – November 14, 1974), born and raised in Dothan, was an All-American college football player at the University of Alabama and Hollywood film actor.
- Matt Cain, a starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, was born in Dothan.
- W. M. Cooper, a Dothan resident, published a revision of B. F. White's popular song book The Sacred Harp in 1902, which is a collection of shape note hymns, important to religious revivals in the South.
- Donna D'Errico was born in Dothan.
- Gardner Dickinson, a 7-time PGA Tour champion golfer, was born in Dothan.
- William Gray Espy, actor (the original Snapper Foster of The Young and the Restless), was born in Dothan.
- Richmond Flowers, Sr., former Attorney General of Alabama and opponent of segregation, was born and raised in Dothan.
- Artis Gilmore, Jacksonville University center and later Most Valuable Player of the American Basketball Association, attended middle and high school in Dothan.
- Bobby Goldsboro, singer noted for his 1968 Top 40 No. 1 hit "Honey", grew up in Dothan and graduated from Dothan High School.
- Gabe Gross, a former QB and baseball All-American, has lived in Dothan.
- Kevin Jackson, former professional football safety
- Robert Reynolds "Bob" Jones, Sr., evangelist and founder of Bob Jones University, was reared in the Brannon Stand community west of Dothan, 1884–1899.
- Dale Kennington, a contemporary artist working in the style of New American Realism, lives in Dothan.
- Robert Edwin Russ, the founder of Ruston, Louisiana, lived near Dothan in his early years.
- Steadman S. Shealy, former American football player and attorney
- Jamie Thomas, creator of two skateboard companies and a shoe company, grew up in Dothan.
- Heather Whitestone, former Miss America, was born and raised in Dothan.
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