WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ WBRZ On Your Side On Your Side en-us Copyright 2018, WBRZ. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Thu, 19 Apr 2018 HH:04:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ 144 25 Missed debris collection blamed for woman's broken leg http://www.wbrz.com/news/missed-debris-collection-blamed-for-woman-s-broken-leg/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/missed-debris-collection-blamed-for-woman-s-broken-leg/ On Your Side Wed, 18 Apr 2018 5:26:25 PM Brittany Weiss Missed debris collection blamed for woman's broken leg

BATON ROUGE - Calls to 2 On Your Side report that spring debris collection in East Baton Rouge Parish is still a slow process in some areas. One woman tripped and fell on some debris that she says has been at the curb for about a month.

Shirley Strickland says she's made multiple phone calls to ask for help. She's called the City-Parish call center and Republic Services to service her street. Before the issue was addressed, Strickland fell and hurt herself. Now she's wondering why her calls went unanswered.

"I'm disappointed, I'm angry that I had to get a broken leg," said Strickland.

Monday morning, Strickland says she was walking her dog when she tripped over some debris that was laying on the sidewalk.

"I saw it so I was stepping over it and when I did, it wrapped my right leg and I fell," she said.

According to the City-Parish Open Data Website, Strickland's initial call about the missed debris collection was made April 11. She tripped over the debris April 16. Strickland says she pays for a service she isn't receiving.

"I had called five times," she said.

A representative at the Solid Waste Division says Republic Services has recently been behind.

The City-Parish says Republic fell behind prior to Easter due to the large influx of yard cleaning that happened following winter. The City-Parish says Republic is now all caught up and there is no longer any backlog. If a service is missed, citizens are encouraged to report it the 311 system and it will be picked up as soon as possible.

Strickland is wondering why she was passed up.

"They never returned my call," said Strickland. "No one ever came."

Following inquiries made by 2 On Your Side, Strickland said the debris at her neighbor's house was collected around 4:30 Wednesday afternoon. There's no indication as to why that collection was passed over.

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Scam calls threaten people during tax time http://www.wbrz.com/news/scam-calls-threaten-people-during-tax-time/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/scam-calls-threaten-people-during-tax-time/ On Your Side Tue, 17 Apr 2018 6:15:50 PM Brittany Weiss Scam calls threaten people during tax time

DARROW - It's tax day, and some people have been reporting scam calls. The callers claim to be from the IRS and often threaten the person on the other end of the line.

Jerry Summers says he was called by multiple numbers nine times in a row. One of those callers got Summers on the phone and stated he was being sued by the IRS.

"It's like a call center, you can hear lots of people in the background," said Summers.

The caller, who is speaking in broken English, asked Summers to verify his name and zip code. Summers stated to the caller that this information should already be known if he is indeed in that much trouble.

Summers, who has a background in fraud investigations says he picked up on what was happening immediately.

"They're almost like reading from a script or something," he said.

The caller, still vague continues to tell Summers that there are serious allegations against him in the lawsuit that's been filed by the IRS. Which is alarming to Summers who believes many people might be scared by a threat like this and reveal too much information.

"It's people who really don't know any better and are doing what they think they're supposed to do," he said.

As the call continues, Summers says he hears a person that appears to be speaking next to the caller. It's not long before Summers hears his first name spoken to him over the phone. The caller has his first name.

"I said, 'well, you should know my name,'" he said. "You called me."

Summers never verified his real name with the caller and the call ended soon after that. He filed a report with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office Tuesday morning.

The IRS says if you don't owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do, don't give out any information and hang up.

For more information about scam phone calls, visit the IRS website.

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Worried homeowner voices concerns about eroding drainage ditch http://www.wbrz.com/news/worried-homeowner-voices-concerns-about-eroding-drainage-ditch/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/worried-homeowner-voices-concerns-about-eroding-drainage-ditch/ On Your Side Sun, 15 Apr 2018 2:19:11 PM Brittany Weiss Worried homeowner voices concerns about eroding drainage ditch

BATON ROUGE - There's a drainage ditch on California Street that has one property owner worried. He says the ditch was dug by the City-Parish years ago and it never finished the job. Now, it's eroding. 

"Those barricades have been there now for about three weeks," Vernell Jones told 2 On Your Side.

A handful of barricades were placed around a deep hole near the front of Jones' property about three weeks ago. Jones is concerned those barricades will be there forever. 

"Y'all need to do something with the hole because we have kids in the neighborhood running around. They fall in there it's going to be a big problem," he said. 

A storm drain on California Street feeds water from the street into a ditch that's along Jones' property. A ditch, he learned had been dug years ago by the City-Parish. 

He was under the impression piping would be placed in the ditch and be buried underground. He's still waiting for that to happen. 

Jones says he inherited the drainage ditch about a year ago when he bought the lot. He's building a new house right next to the drainage ditch. He's concerned a solution to fix the issue might cost him a lot of money. 

"I have to pay for it," said Jones. "I would have to pay for the pipes." 

Jones says he was told the City-Parish would install the pipes but he'd have to put up the money. A few thousand dollars Jones doesn't have right now. 

He doesn't think that's right. The drainage is collecting debris, empty bottles, and trash. Even worse, the land is eroding, which could affect the foundation for the new house he's building. 

"It floods, water comes from all different ways in here," he said. 

Now Jones is wondering if the City-Parish was ever going to finish the job it started years ago. He's having a difficult time finding an answer. Bottom line, he says he can't afford the pipe and the hole in his front yard is only getting bigger. 

The City-Parish responded to a request from 2 On Your Side Friday. It says upgrades to California Street and drainage improvements date back to more than 10 years ago. It has no way of verifying if someone previously told the former homeowner about installing pipes, but that is not the plan moving forward. 

The City-Parish drainage department says there is no drainage servitude running along the side, rear, or adjacent properties. It's all natural drainage. The two storm drains in front of Jones' property are at the lowest point in the street and all of the streets slope in the direction towards the storm drains. The storm drains collect the water from the street and the water drains out of a 24” to 30” reinforced concrete pipe located on the backside of the drains. The water flows into the natural drainage ditch and flows from the storm drains on California Street to a catch basin located on Arizona Street. 

Regarding the eroding hole catching water, the City-Parish says a crew will visit the site next week and address both the hole and the barricades.

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Mental health non-profit abandons office, landlord http://www.wbrz.com/news/mental-health-non-profit-abandons-office-landlord/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/mental-health-non-profit-abandons-office-landlord/ On Your Side Thu, 12 Apr 2018 5:42:04 PM Brittany Weiss Mental health non-profit abandons office, landlord

BATON ROUGE - A landlord says their tenant abandoned all of their belongings. She called 2 On Your Side, concerned some of those belongings include medical documents for mental health patients.

Linda Grace says she suddenly has a lot of paperwork on her hands that she doesn't know what to do with.

"Nobody wants to take responsibility," said Grace.

That's a problem for this landlord, who says she first met her tenant in 2016 when she purchased the building and absorbed the lease agreement. At first, the tenant, Maria Bell-Servick paid the bills on time. Grace says she then paid them sporadically, every three months. In November 2017, the tenant stopped paying the bills altogether.

The tenant was operating a non-profit corporation called Louisiana Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, INC. The non-profit still has an active website.

Grace owns a building at Sherwood Commons and has four tenants. After she didn't hear from the tenant for weeks, Grace visited the location and found the power had been shut off. She says everything looked like it was an operating office suite, without the people.

"She just walked away. It's like they just locked the door and left," she said.

There are file cabinets full of paperwork, boxes upon boxes, computers, copy machines, and offices left untouched. The paperwork includes checks, payments made to various agencies, W-9 forms, employment information and copies of social security cards, handbooks and messages from callers.

Some of that paperwork included payment to the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. The Diocese confirms there was an event in June at the Tracy Center for Louisiana Public Health Institute. The total bill was for $20,032.95. The entire amount was paid for by La. Federation of Families. The Diocese says it was well-attended.

Grace says she did not find medical records of patients, but there is no telling what is on multiple computers left behind.

"Bank statements saying you owe us money, other people saying you owe us, you know. They're delinquent in all kinds of things, so I think they just walked away," she said. 

On top of that, Grace is owed about $10,000 in rent after her tenant abandoned the lease.

Thursday, 2 On Your Side was able to contact the tenant's husband who said he'd pass along the message that Grace was trying to get in touch with her. WBRZ was unable to contact Bell-Servick.

WBRZ was able to speak with Bell-Servick's accountant hired to audit LAFFCMH as of June 30, 2017. He says he last spoke with Bell-Servick a couple of weeks ago and while he knew she was moving, was unaware that he she had already moved.

Grace and her family is doing the best they can to clean up the documents and office equipment left behind so they can make room for new tenants.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Hospitals says Louisiana Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, INC. is a provider that has a contract with the Department of Health to provide services. The Department of Health says it's taking steps to legally terminate the contract with this provider. In addition, it's working with Grace and her attorney to obtain all client files to ensure patient privacy, should there be any.

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Facebook scam promises lottery winnings http://www.wbrz.com/news/facebook-scam-promises-lottery-winnings/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/facebook-scam-promises-lottery-winnings/ On Your Side Tue, 10 Apr 2018 6:43:01 PM Brittany Weiss Facebook scam promises lottery winnings

BAYOU SORREL - A woman is warning others about a Facebook scam that promises big money in exchange for a small fee.

Suzette Ganaway says a lot has happened in the last couple of days, and it all started with a Facebook message. As the next few hours unfolded, Ganaway quickly learned someone was out for her own pocketbook.

"I'm probably not the only one this is happening to," said Ganaway.

She's right. She's not the only one who's been offered large sums of money through Facebook. Thankfully, she didn't fall for the scam.

Monday, Ganaway says she opened her Facebook messenger and read a message from a woman named Linda Belven. The message said Ganaway had just won a Facebook lottery and was presented with an award certificate for $500,000. The messenger went on to tell Ganaway she was one of five lucky Facebook winners who win this contest every three years.

Ganaway says the person sending the Facebook messages had all of her contact information including her full name, email address, home address, and phone number. When Ganaway questioned the legitimacy of the award, the Facebook messenger said that because the FBI is involved, it was all legit.

"She verified everything," she said.

Next, Ganaway was told she would be hearing from someone with FedEx about her check delivery. She received a call soon after.

The man, identified as Williams E. Taylor is based in Memphis. He shared a photo of what appeared to be a FedEx identification badge and used a Google number to make phone calls and texts. He called Ganaway to schedule a delivery.

Ganaway says after this person congratulated her, he said she'd need to submit $350 in processing fees before he could deliver the check. She would have to pay first before she received her big pay-out. The FedEx person snapped a photo of the apparent $500,000 check and sent it to Ganaway.

"I'll never have a check that big with my name on it," she said.

Throughout this process, Ganaway says there were a number of easily identifiable red flags. She says a FedEx courier would never know what's in a package addressed to her. She also says it got weird when someone claiming to be Mark Zuckerberg sent a text message. Tuesday and Wednesday, Zuckerberg is testifying before Congress.

Text messages about whether or not Ganaway was going to send the $350 in processing fees by MoneyGram or Western Union continued throughout the day Tuesday.

"I'm here to know if you are ready to claim your winning check or not," one of the texts read.

While Ganaway was excited about the possibility of a big pay-out, she is urging others to recognize the signs of a scam and she's thankful she saw the red flags before it was too late.

Since these interactions started, Ganaway says the person who initially contacted her about the Facebook price deleted her Facebook account. FedEx says the photo ID sent to Ganaway is not an official FedEx employee badge.

For more tips on detecting online scams, visit the FedEx Customer Protection Center.

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Late fees concern tenants who say they don't owe http://www.wbrz.com/news/late-fees-concern-tenants-who-say-they-don-t-owe/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/late-fees-concern-tenants-who-say-they-don-t-owe/ On Your Side Mon, 9 Apr 2018 5:46:27 PM Brittany Weiss Late fees concern tenants who say they don't owe

BATON ROUGE - Some folks living at Magnolia Trace off N. Harrells Ferry Road came home to notices on their doors saying they owed a whole lot of rent money. Many people are confused about the notices since the complex is strict when it comes to paying late fees.

Teressa Short says she can't afford to pay her bill, but she also has no clue what it's for.

"We don't know what's happening, we don't understand," she said.

The notices were posted on apartment doors Friday. The notice says it's for non-payment of rent and includes Friday's date and the apartment number. The document says: "This is our written attempt to contact you regarding a balance due with the office. At this time, no payment has been made to our office in regards to this matter. As a courtesy, we give you until the 5th of the month to pay your rent."

It also says, "Evictions will be filed on (blank) by 9:00 AM, which will be an additional charge of $128." There is no eviction filing included. The document goes on to say questions should be addressed to the Magnolia Trace Apartments office and it's signed by the property manager.

Short's non-payment notice is for $1,448. She's lived at Magnolia Trace for eight years and has fulfilled 16, six-month leases. She says she pays her rent each month. Her rent is sometimes late, but she always has to pay the $50 late fee along with her rent. She called 2 On Your Side and says she has no idea why she still owes her apartment complex money.

Some notices are posted to doors of units where there are no tenants. One is for about $7,000 and another is for $3,324. A woman who moved into her apartment two weeks ago says she received a late notice for $1,113.

Monday morning, 2 On Your Side went looking for the property manager but was unable to find her. A woman at the front desk told WBRZ's Brittany Weiss that people should visit the office and call corporate management if they have questions. She could not provide contact information and didn't have any knowledge about the rent owed by each resident.

The property management company is Triumph Housing Management. The company's website lists a property address in Cumming, GA. It says it took over Magnolia Trace Apartments in the summer of 2017 and these are "standard late notices." A representative of the company tells 2 On your Side, if residents can't pay their fees they'll be issued an eviction notice on April 11 and go before a judge.

WBRZ learned from Triumph Housing Management that Short's fines are for non-payment of rent from March and April. She showed 2 On Your Side her receipts for money orders submitted.

"And I don't owe you," she said.

Triumph Housing Management says the notices will be sent to every tenant who is delinquent on the sixth of each month. If a tenant received this notice in error, they'll have to provide documentation to dispute the charges.

Short says she's ready to fight her late notice and she has all the necessary paperwork to back up her claim.

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Woman's shipping problem resolved after 2 On Your Side report http://www.wbrz.com/news/woman-s-shipping-problem-resolved-after-2-on-your-side-report/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/woman-s-shipping-problem-resolved-after-2-on-your-side-report/ On Your Side Fri, 6 Apr 2018 6:20:42 PM Brittany Weiss Woman's shipping problem resolved after 2 On Your Side report

UPDATE: The post master spoke with Kortering this week and says she's committed to getting the package sent off. 

All forms were filled out Monday and the package was shipped once again, free of charge.


GONZALES - A woman has been trying to mail a package to her daughter in Africa, for two months. Twice now, the same package has circled the country and come back to Gonzales.

Kathie Kortering called 2 On Your Side about her bizarre experience with the United States Postal Service. Inside the box, are toys like soccer balls, stuffed animals, stickers, and plastic cars. This isn't the first time she's mailed a package to her daughter overseas, but it is the first time she's had so much trouble doing so.

"This package has been around the country more times than some people have been," said Kortering.

Her daughter, Kyla, is a volunteer with the Peace Corps. She lives in a rural village in Rwanda and teaches English to about 500 students. Kortering wanted to send some toys, specifically soccer balls, once she found out the children were playing soccer with a ball they had made out of rolled up rags and Duct Tape.

Kortering's journey with the USPS began February 3, 2018, when she paid $77.75 to ship the package to her daughter. Tracking information shows it never left the country.

"It went from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, from New Orleans to Miami, Miami to Jamaica, New York," she said.

The box was returned to her home in Gonzales on February 20, 2018. The post office had circled a mistake she had made in blue ink. Kortering failed to sign the customs paperwork.

She tried to mail the package again, this time with a signature. At first, Kortering says the post office tried to make her pay for the postage again since the package had entered the mail system. Kortering persisted and was able to mail the same package again, with new customs paperwork at the same post office where she shipped it the first time. She mailed that package and another one to her daughter. One of them made it to Rwanda, the other was mailed back to Kortering in Gonzales. It's the same package with the toys, that was mailed back to her the first time.

"And this one was returned to me yesterday," she said.

Kortering isn't sure why the package has been mailed back to her twice and filed an inquiry with the post office.

"There's no explanation on the box as to why it was returned to me," she said.

In response to Kortering's inquiry, the USPS says the postal service of Rwanda had advised the USPS the package was returned. Kortering is confused by this because the package never made it out of the country.

Kortering has no idea where the package has been for the month of March, but she assumes it took a similar route as the last time. Tracking information was not available. She's frustrated that the toys in the box did not make it to the children in Rwanda, but it's obvious she won't be mailing the items in the same box. She'll have to find another way.

Now since her box never made it to Africa, she wants the money she spent on postage returned to her.

"I want the $77.75 back so I can take everything out of that box and put it in a new box and send her the soccer balls," she said.

Friday afternoon, 2 On Your Side witnessed Kortering open the returned package. Inside the box were three deflated soccer balls, stuffed animals, a toy pony, Matchbox cars, calendars, stickers, a box of cake mix, and an air pump for the soccer balls.

The USPS tells WBRZ Kortering's package was returned to her because the items mailed were considered "hazardous or restricted."

After USPS learned more about what was inside the package, it tells 2 On Your Side the local postal management will continue to research the matter and contact the customer directly to ensure every effort is being made to meet or exceed the customer's satisfaction.

The USPS is investigating further and will update WBRZ and Kortering next week.

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Residents furious about trucks disobeying rules of the road http://www.wbrz.com/news/residents-furious-about-trucks-disobeying-rules-of-the-road/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/residents-furious-about-trucks-disobeying-rules-of-the-road/ On Your Side Thu, 5 Apr 2018 5:59:20 PM Brittany Weiss Residents furious about trucks disobeying rules of the road

INDEPENDENCE - A couple of gravel pits in Tangipahoa Parish are causing concern for some of their rural neighbors.

Rick Ludwig says the trucks hauling off the gravel are damaging the roads and creating a safety problem.

"Something's going to happen and that's a big worry... Public safety," said Ludwig.

In Independence, Ludwig has a home and a business. He's lived in the same home with his wife since 1988 on West Black Cat Road. Ludwig says the area is a hot spot for speeders, which he recognizes is an issue everywhere. But he's concerned about the gravel trucks that sometimes, begin running at five in the morning.

The problem is with the drivers of the trucks that aren't supposed to be on the road," he said. "It really is a hazard and we're afraid someone is going to get hurt someday."

The trucks are going to and from the gravel pit west of Ludwig's home and I-55, about a mile and a half down the road. He says the heavy equipment rattles the house, sometimes causing photos to fall from the wall.

It's a problem that's not supposed to be a problem at all since West Black Cat Road is a no-truck route. Signs are posted throughout, up and down the road.

A manager on site at the gravel pit tells 2 On Your Side the trucks aren't owned by Industrial Mining, LLC. The trucks come to the site, take a load, and haul away the gravel. The manager said the truck drivers know they are supposed to head west out of the mining site, to make sure the drivers are not traveling along a no-truck route.

Ludwig says on a busy day, there are 20-25 trucks that travel back and forth on the no truck route. He's even more concerned, now that the same gravel pit company has purchased land a mile from the current site, inside of the no-truck zone.

As his concern grows, Ludwig has now involved his neighbors and submitted a petition to the Parish Council earlier this year. The 33 signatures on the petition represent residing property owners along West Black Cat Road. The petition objects to the proposed gravel pit and addresses concerns of increased, unauthorized truck traffic in and out of the site where it is already prohibited.

Councilman Carlo Bruno, who represents Ludwig's district, tells 2 On Your Side the parish will determine if the trucks are damaging the road and will go after them for liability. At this time, Bruno does not agree the roads are damaged.

Bruno says the gravel pit owner made an agreement with the parish to have the trucks avoid the no-truck route. He says the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office does monitor the area for offenders. Bruno is aware the same company purchased more land inside the no-truck zone but admits that at this time there is not a solution to Ludwig's concerns. There is no zoning in Tangipahoa Parish.

"The parish's hands are tied because we can't stop the commerce," said Bruno.

The councilman tells WBRZ the parish can't stop the trucks from hauling the material and it will have to determine as a council if the no-truck route will be lifted to allow opportunity at the new pit.

"The parish has no alternative but to let them come out and drive along West Black Cat Road," said Bruno.

Ludwig says he was here long before the gravel pit and he only wants the trucks to follow the rules.

"Just tell them, stay off the road," he said.

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Temporary pump station creating temporary sewage issues http://www.wbrz.com/news/temporary-pump-station-creating-temporary-sewage-issues/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/temporary-pump-station-creating-temporary-sewage-issues/ On Your Side Wed, 4 Apr 2018 5:11:03 PM Brittany Weiss Temporary pump station creating temporary sewage issues

CENTRAL - A temporary pumping station is creating some nasty results for a few homeowners in Central.

On multiple occasions, Robert Kusch says he's woken up to raw sewage spewing in the backyard. A pipe connected to a large portable pump appears to have come loose. He tells 2 On Your Side that he's called the City-Parish on each occasion to fix the problem, but he insists he shouldn't have to.

"It's been happening, it happens every week," said Kusch.

The smell is awful and Kusch doesn't want his family going anywhere near the pump.

"Our children are out here playing, we have dogs that run around, it's pretty nasty," he said. "The smell is terrible."

Kusch says this has gone on long enough and he's tired of picking up the phone for someone to come clean up the mess each time it happens.

"They come out and fix it, then something else happens and it happens again," he said.

The latest incident happened early Monday morning. On other occasions, he says the backyard is white - littered with soggy toilet paper.

The City-Parish tells 2 On Your Side the pump station was operating on bypass and at some point, the discharge hose disconnected from the pump. It learned of the disconnected hose this morning at approximately 7:00 a.m., immediately notified the pump station division, and dispatched a crew to fix the disconnect and begin the cleanup. The pump was turned off by 9:00 a.m. this morning.

The City-Parish says it's currently making repairs to the pump station, which will soon be decommissioned as part of the City-Parish SSO Program.

Feet from the old station, off Conwood Avenue, is a brand new pump station that's under construction. The City-Parish says work is expected to wrap up by the end of August 2018.

The Department of Environmental Quality was called to the location Monday. It confirms the sewer line disconnected and was releasing wastewater. The City-Parish disinfected the area and applied deodorizers.

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One man determined to settle claim from lost luggage http://www.wbrz.com/news/one-man-determined-to-settle-claim-from-lost-luggage/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/one-man-determined-to-settle-claim-from-lost-luggage/ On Your Side Tue, 3 Apr 2018 5:12:15 PM Brittany Weiss One man determined to settle claim from lost luggage

BATON ROUGE - Last June, a man boarded a Greyhound bus and says that's the last time he saw some of his most valuable possessions.

Jonathan Jacobs says the claims process has been long and drawn-out, which is why he called 2 On Your Side.

"I gave them plenty of time and right now I feel like a victim," said Jacobs.

For the past year, Jacobs has been holding onto hope that his missing luggage will turn up. He lost it somewhere between Baton Rouge and Sacramento, CA. He says he's made dozens of phone calls looking for his lost items, but keeps getting the "run around."

He'd like to have his luggage back, but the last he saw of his bags was when he put them in the undercarriage of a Greyhound bus at the station on Florida Boulevard in Baton Rouge. The bus made a couple of stops and Jacobs says he changed buses in Houston. His layover was about two hours, during which his bags were supposed to be transferred to a bus headed to his final destination.

It wasn't until he got to California did he find out his bags were never put on the bus. One of the bags turned up at the Sacramento station the following day. His other bag never turned up.

"I checked back in a few days and nothing," he said.

He's been searching for answers ever since. Jacobs values his lost items -- shoes, jewelry, and other belongings -- at $2,400. He maintains this isn't about the money since there were a few things in that bag he can't ever replace. Those items include homemade gifts and notes from his children.

"You know, little paintings and scribbles," he said. "Little mail, little letters and stuff when they were four and five."

The original artwork, photos, and handmade necklaces were packed away carefully in his luggage. Jacobs says his children are now grown.

He still has a copy of the claim form he filed last year with Greyhound. Jacobs says each time he calls to follow-up on his claim, he's told to call back in three to five days.

"I've been told that over 50 times," he said.

While Jacobs tells 2 On Your Side that Greyhound has been apologetic, his opinion might be forever changed.

"I haven't been on Greyhound since."

Last week, 2 On Your Side was able to contact someone at Greyhound to look into Jacobs' claim. It confirms it's investigating, but WBRZ is still waiting to learn of a resolution.

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Duplication of benefit term haunting flood survivors http://www.wbrz.com/news/duplication-of-benefit-term-haunting-flood-survivors/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/duplication-of-benefit-term-haunting-flood-survivors/ On Your Side Thu, 29 Mar 2018 5:42:06 PM Brittany Weiss Duplication of benefit term haunting flood survivors

CENTRAL - Sometimes it's hard to accept the reality that all of the recovery funds available may not bring someone back to the living standards they were accustomed to prior to the August 2016 flood.

It's a tough reality for Virginia Box.

It all boils down to a term many flood survivors are hearing these days, which is the "duplication of benefits". It's a hard example of the recovery process many are going through.

The past year and a half has been hard for Box.

"It's exhausted me," she said.

Box's home in the City of Central took in about five feet of water. That water sat in her home for a few days before receding. Most of her belongings were kicked to the curb and she was forced to start from scratch.

In the beginning, she was awarded FEMA grant money. She spent some of that money on necessities including rent, storage, and other items she lost in the flood.

"I had to have a bed made," she said. "I had lost all my clothing."

She put away some of those funds, but now she might be learning the hard way that she has a homeowner responsibility to fulfill.

Box does qualify for assistance from Restore Louisiana, but before she can move forward with Restore she must come up with the FEMA money she's already spent. Restore says the FEMA funds were given to her specifically for home repairs and the program is not allowed to waive or not factor those funds into the award calculation if they weren't used for that purpose. Otherwise, the funds would be considered a duplication of benefits.

Applicants eligible for federal disaster assistance receive a detailed letter explaining the type of assistance dispersed through the FEMA's Individuals and Households Program. Each individual letter is written based upon the type and amount of assistance that particular applicant has qualified for and guidelines are included in each letter advising that applicant what those funds may be used towards.

Examples are as follows.

FEMA’s Rental Assistance is provided to the survivor to temporarily rent housing for their entire household. The amount received is based on rental rates determined by FEMA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

FEMA’s Home Repair Assistance is provided to help with essential repairs to ensure the home is safe, sanitary and functional. The amount provided is based on the damage caused by the disaster and the estimated cost of repairs.

Personal Property Assistance is awarded to repair or replace items damaged by the disaster. The amount provided is based on the damage caused by the disaster and the estimated cost of repairs/ replacement. Awarded applicants will receive a summary of eligible repairs based on damages submitted for review.

Other Need Assistance Program provides funding for necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster. This includes medical, dental, child care, funeral, personal property, transportation, and moving and storage that are authorized by law.

Box argues, what she spent the FEMA funding on, qualifies under FEMA guidelines.

"They told me to spend it on what I needed," she said.

She's frustrated and devastated about this process, but knows she's not the only one in this boat.

"I've heard the same story," she said.

Thursday afternoon, Box was worried about the thought of having to sell her property. Now, she's hopeful she will receive assistance from a charitable organization. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge Executive Director David Aguillard confirms the organization is working with her.

"We are doing everything we can to get her every penny she is eligible for in close partnership with the state," said Aguillard.

Restore Louisiana says it understands the difficulties this homeowner is having and has been working with her to address them. Restore says it's also working with banks and other lending institutions to help homeowners who are having a difficult time overcoming the duplication of benefits issue.

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Entergy addresses woman's electricity bill woes after 2 On Your Side report http://www.wbrz.com/news/entergy-addresses-woman-s-electricity-bill-woes-after-2-on-your-side-report/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/entergy-addresses-woman-s-electricity-bill-woes-after-2-on-your-side-report/ On Your Side Fri, 23 Mar 2018 5:43:23 PM Brittany Weiss Entergy addresses woman's electricity bill woes after 2 On Your Side report

UPDATE: Entergy tells 2 On Your Side’s Brittany Weiss that there has been a resolution for Sybil Jordan. It thanks WBRZ for bringing her matter to Entergy’s attention.

Jordan tells 2 On Your Side’s Brittany Weiss that Entergy called to apologize and took off the $2,200 charge transferred to her bill. Jordan says Entergy told her it had made an error that dated back years. A representative had gone back into the phone conversation notes that showed Jordan had turned off the Automatic Turn On and those bills were not her responsibility.

“Thanks to you that they admitted that it was Entergy’s error,” said Jordan.


BATON ROUGE - It's an electric bill surprise that's giving someone a whole lot of distress. A woman who moved out of her Baton Rouge house a decade ago, is being told by Entergy she owes money from 2016, or her lights will be cut off.

Sybil Jordan doesn't think that's right and called 2 On Your Side. She says she shouldn't be responsible for someone else's mistake.

"That is not my bill," said Jordan.

She discovered the outrageous charge last week when she jumped online to pay her Entergy bill. Her bill had a transfer amount of $2,268.37. The transfer came from a property she once owned in Baton Rouge. Jordan says she washed her hands of that house a decade ago and moved into a house on the other side of the river in Port Allen.

"I don't have that money," she said."If I don't pay this $2,400 and something they're going to cut my lights off in Port Allen on the 26th."

Entergy tells 2 On Your Side the transferred bill is from November 2016 to May 2017, when the electricity was turned on at her old Baton Rouge property in Jordan's name.

When Jordan moved out of the Baton Rouge place, Entergy says an automatic turn on, or ATO was initiated in Jordan's name. An ATO is typically used by landlords and Entergy says it was never canceled. That means Entergy assumes tenants are moving in and house and Jordan absorbs that unpaid bill.

"I can't pay two bills," said Jordan. "I don't even own this house anymore."

She says there's been a big mistake and she remembers turning off the ATO years ago. She does not plan to pay a bill for electricity she did not use.

"It's like somebody got free lights," she said.

Friday, Entergy advised Jordan to file a fraud report. It also said it would not cut her lights off Monday, while it investigates. Later, 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss was able to track down the correct property owner, who says he's owned the house since 2014. Entergy has been informed and provided correct contact information for the current property owner. WBRZ is currently waiting to learn the results of that interaction.

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Deposit oversight left property owner facing huge debt with sheriff's office http://www.wbrz.com/news/deposit-oversight-left-property-owner-facing-huge-debt-with-sheriff-s-office/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/deposit-oversight-left-property-owner-facing-huge-debt-with-sheriff-s-office/ On Your Side Thu, 22 Mar 2018 6:00:36 PM Brittany Weiss Deposit oversight left property owner facing huge debt with sheriff's office

BATON ROUGE - Fines have been piling up fast for one woman who says a $12,000 bank mistake is responsible for her property tax problems.

Tired of fighting the issue, she called 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss to help her arrive at a conclusion. By the end of the day Thursday, her issue was resolved.

It all began in April 2017, when Paula Murray went to her bank to deposit a $12,000 check. Murray has been banking with Neighbors Federal Credit Union for about 25 years and has never had a problem. Until last year, when she wrote in April for $2,100 to pay her property taxes. Murray and her husband own 14 properties in East Baton Rouge Parish. Her check bounced, which would have been fine had Murray known, but she says she didn't.

"I was not made aware that the check didn't clear," she said.

Murray learned the bank had deposited her $12,000 check into the wrong bank account.

"I was trying to get some money but no money was in there," she said.

The bank corrected the mistake, but Murray says she forgot about the check she wrote to pay her property taxes. Her taxes went unpaid for months. She didn't find out until she signed for a certified letter from the Sheriff's Office in October 2017. All that time went by and Murray says she had no idea the taxes weren't paid. The late fees, interest, deed preparation, and redemption fees quickly added up to more than $11,000.

The taxes on one of Murray's properties started at $274 and increased to $1,310. It's a price tag she can't afford to pay.

Murray has been back and forth with the Sheriff's Office and Neighbors Federal Credit Union. Fed up, she called 2 On Your Side.

"I want the bank to stand up to the mistake that they made," she said.

WBRZ first started looking into Murray's dilemma on Wednesday. Thursday afternoon, Neighbors Federal Credit Union confirmed it had been investigating the matter and said it was able to work out the issues with the customer to her satisfaction.

Murray told 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss the sheriff's office reduced her fines by a couple thousand dollars and confirms Neighbors Federal Credit Union took care of her debt. It cut her a cashier's check Thursday to cover the cost of her fines.

She tells WBRZ she plans to visit the sheriff's office Friday morning to hand over the cashier's check and settle her bill with the parish.

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Business owner fed up with trash pile in local shopping center http://www.wbrz.com/news/business-owner-fed-up-with-trash-pile-in-local-shopping-center/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/business-owner-fed-up-with-trash-pile-in-local-shopping-center/ On Your Side Wed, 21 Mar 2018 5:40:48 PM Brittany Weiss Business owner fed up with trash pile in local shopping center

BATON ROUGE - A tenant at a Baton Rouge shopping center is tired of looking at a large pile of trash that's been growing next to his business for months.

There's so much trash, it doesn't all fit in the dumpster, picked up by Waste Management every Friday. It's encouraged some people to put their trash behind and beside the dumpster in hopes that the trash will still be collected. It's not.

"And I'm tired of it," said John Hilliard. "I don't know what else to do."

Two years and two months ago, Hilliard moved into a unit at Mid City Shopping Center along N. Foster Dr. He has a hair-cutting business called Miracle's and says since November, the trash pile across from his unit has continued to grow.

"They dump the cardboard boxes in, as you can see most of the time they don't break them down correctly like they're supposed to," said Hilliard.

Among the trash, large cardboard boxes, plastic bags, and wooden pallets. Items from the Family Dollar next door.

"An assortment of Easter, Christmas, Halloween items just accumulated in the trash," he said.

With a good breeze, the trash blows in front of Hilliard's storefront and into the parking lot. He says it's not a great representation of his business.

"I definitely didn't put it here," he said.

While the dumpster might be used by multiple tenants in the shopping center, Hilliard has asked his neighbors to be more respectful. He's also asked his landlord to step in and request assistance from other tenants, but the trash pile continues to grow.

Wednesday, 2 On Your Side reached out to landlord Henry Tran. He did not get back with WBRZ regarding a comment, but Dollar Tree, Inc. and Waste Management did.

Dollar Tree, Inc. says it got in touch with the Family Dollar Field Leadership Team. Its immediate focus was getting the trash cleaned up as soon as possible. This was taken care of Wednesday afternoon. It's also focusing on ensuring the area is maintained going forward.

Waste Management says it's been in communications with Family Dollar and is working to gain authorization to "right size" the current service levels, to avoid a similar issue in the future.

Hilliard tells 2 On Your Side a junk removal service was called to the area Wednesday afternoon to clear the area. By the time this story aired on WBRZ, a crew was still tending to the mess.

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Keep carrying coins for downtown parking, no change planned yet http://www.wbrz.com/news/keep-carrying-coins-for-downtown-parking-no-change-planned-yet/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/keep-carrying-coins-for-downtown-parking-no-change-planned-yet/ On Your Side Tue, 20 Mar 2018 6:03:53 PM Brittany Weiss Keep carrying coins for downtown parking, no change planned yet

BATON ROUGE - A plan to upgrade and manage the City-Parish downtown parking system remains under review.

The parish has been working on this for years, even hiring a consultant for $100,000 to help switch from the ancient coin fueled meter technology to something more modern. The new system would encompass the street parking meters and three City-Parish owned parking garages.

In late 2016, Atlanta-based Lanier Parking Solutions was awarded a contract for the job of improving the downtown parking system, but the project was never moved into action.

Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel says the original request for proposal did not include the purchase of the equipment, including meters, needed for the upgrades.

"At the end of the day, the numbers just don't really work to our benefit," said Gissel. "What is the cost of the equipment, what is the cost of the maintenance, etc."

The City-Parish admits, the current system presents a problem. The street meters are so old, they don't make new parts to fix them. If something breaks, it can't be replaced with the same model. Adding fuel to the fire, earlier this year Baton Rouge Police arrested a man accused of stealing 78 parking meters in the Baton Rouge area.

Gissel says the option on the table to make all the improvements needed, might be too expensive. In the Lanier proposal, cost estimates for in-garage equipment range from $606,000-$630,000 amortized over 3 years. Proposals for on-street parking meters were not included. The City-Parish says it has budgeted approximately $1.7 million for the purchase of parking meters and in-garage equipment.

In 2017, revenue from meters and the three City-Parish owned garages totaled $880,330. In 2016 it was $1,055,990 and in 2015 it was just shy of one million at $996,440. A new system would bring with it higher rates and enforcement.

Gissel says while the current proposal is still on the table, the City-Parish is working on more research and exploring all options before moving forward.

Comment from Lanier was not available at the time this story was published.

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Property owner blames drainage for destroying land http://www.wbrz.com/news/property-owner-blames-drainage-for-destroying-land/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/property-owner-blames-drainage-for-destroying-land/ On Your Side Thu, 15 Mar 2018 5:44:20 PM Brittany Weiss Property owner blames drainage for destroying land

SAINT FRANCISVILLE - A man blames development for destroying his piece of paradise in West Feliciana Parish. Slowly, over the last five years or so, Michael Kadair says water has changed his life and the lay of his land.

Instead of being able to enjoy his 125-acre property near the joining of US-10 and US-61, Kadair says he's spending his time making repairs, which is not why he made the initial investment. He says the problem started when construction crews began work on widening the busy highways nearby.

"As the roadwork started, it started to change the drainage onto my property," he said.

DOTD says the widening of US-61 and US-10 in Saint Francisville had been completed about six years ago. Prior to that, Kadair was able to discover every inch of his property. Now, when it rains, a raging river runs through the property. It's washed away roads and tracks of land that allow him to travel from one acre to the other

"I can only access about 70 acres of my property," he said.

Kadair purchased the land in 2002. Back then, he says there was very little water that flowed through the property. Now he's concerned all the drainage was redeveloped with construction to drain directly through his property, to Thompson Creek.

To help solve the issue, with the help of a professional, Kadair installed culverts to bridge the gaps between his land and help the water drain. The force of the water has been so powerful, those culverts have become dislodged. In one case, the water has washed away the dirt around the culvert, creating a sinkhole.

"You're destroying parts of my property, knocking out trees, knocking out roads," he said.

Kadair says he's had nothing to do with all the damage his property has taken on and it's not making him happy. He's tired of looking at the destruction and would like someone to find a permanent fix.

Last week, 2 On Your Side contacted DOTD about Kadair's concerns. A DOTD engineer met with Kadair. DOTD tells 2 On Your Side the topography and soil tend to lead to natural erosion, but the hydrology department is investigating.

An update is expected in the near future.

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Even with insurance, USPS denies claim for woman's lost package http://www.wbrz.com/news/even-with-insurance-postal-service-denies-claim-for-lost-package/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/even-with-insurance-postal-service-denies-claim-for-lost-package/ On Your Side Tue, 13 Mar 2018 6:13:44 PM Brittany Weiss Even with insurance, USPS denies claim for woman's lost package

BATON ROUGE - Somewhere between Washington state and Memphis, a package containing vintage jewelry and other items went missing. The woman who mailed the package, Margo Soule, lives in Baton Rouge and she's frustrated that the United States Postal Service won't honor her insurance claim.

"You know, it's just been a bunch of BS is what it's been," said Soule.

For the last few months, Soule feels like she's been seriously tested. She says she's tired of filing appeals and sending information to the claims department about the items that were lost.

Last year, as she prepared to move from Seattle, WA, Soule packed her tax information, social security card and birth certificate in a box with antique jewelry and a coin collection. She insured it for $200, which is less than she says the items are worth. She mailed the box on September 6, 2017, from Washington to Baton Rouge so they'd be there when she arrived.

When she flew into town, the package still hadn't been delivered. She called USPS and tracked the package online. Each time she was told it was "in transit."

September 23, 2017, an envelope arrived containing a piece of the box she shipped with the address label and barcode for insured mail. It came from Memphis, TN, and included a letter from the USPS.

Two days later she filed an insurance claim for her lost items. According to paperwork Soule received from USPS, that claim was denied for not filing a claim within a specified time frame and not providing detailed receipts that reflect the value of the items included in the package.

"I bought them years ago, it was antique jewelry," she said.

An appeal didn't produce results, either.

Soule has spent months trying to track her items. She knows she'll likely never see them again, which is why she's asking for a resolution and for the postal service to honor her insurance claim.

Soule had to get a new social security number and a copy of her birth certificate.

Tuesday, 2 On Your Side contacted the USPS. In a statement, the USPS says, "The Postal Service appreciates its customers and strives to provide excellent service. When mail service issues occur, we take steps to quickly resolve customer concerns. In this specific case, local management has communicated with the customer to offer an apology and to work together to arrive at a solution the customer finds acceptable. We apologize for any inconvenience."

USPS confirms someone will be in touch with Soule to resolve her issue soon. It is not clear what specific time frame the USPS was referring to in the claim response letters sent to Soule.

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Heavy machinery drives over grave sites, creates muddy mess http://www.wbrz.com/news/heavy-machinery-drives-over-grave-sites-creates-muddy-mess/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/heavy-machinery-drives-over-grave-sites-creates-muddy-mess/ On Your Side Mon, 12 Mar 2018 6:11:51 PM Brittany Weiss Heavy machinery drives over grave sites, creates muddy mess

BATON ROUGE - A disturbing find at a cemetery in Baton Rouge. A man with a loved one buried at Roselawn Memorial Park is outraged at what he found.

Buddy Berry says feet from his mother's resting place, tractors drove right over grave sites and headstones, some stones were driven into the ground and are now surrounded by a muddy rut collecting a pool of water.

"But here they ran all over the graves," he said. "They're deep, they rolled over the headstones, they've pushed headstones deep in the mud."

It's the total disregard for this cemetery, where families have been burying their loved ones for nearly a century, that has him so angry.

"I'm really mad, I can't use the words I really want to use," said Berry.

At first, Berry says he thought kids had gone for a joy ride, but as he got closer he saw the tractor tire marks.

"Which led me to believe that the people working at the cemetery actually drove over and through these graves," he said.

A cemetery manager visited the 2 On Your Side crew when they arrived to speak with Berry. She confirmed the ruts were made by the grounds crew as they prepared to dig a new grave nearby. The manager told WBRZ three different machines were working when it happened and while the cemetery is aware of the issue, there's not much that can be done because the ground is so wet.

The tracks come from multiple angles, disturbing history that's been laid to rest. The headstone of Lelia Cain, wife of C. G. Steadman and laid to rest in 1926, has been driven into the mud.

"These are people's families," said Berry. "They were put here and in the care of this cemetery."

Berry questions that level of care that's been tending to families for centuries.

"The people that deserve the apology are the families of these people, not me," he said.

Roselawn Memorial Park says it plans to patch the disturbed area as soon as the ground dries. Monday, 2 On Your Side asked the cemetery management if it had a plan to prevent something like this from happening in the future. While management says it has done some research in the past, it could not provide an immediate solution.

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Stinky valve removed, church breathing easy http://www.wbrz.com/news/stinky-valve-removed-church-breathing-easy/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/stinky-valve-removed-church-breathing-easy/ On Your Side Thu, 8 Mar 2018 5:34:21 PM Brittany Weiss Stinky valve removed, church breathing easy

BATON ROUGE - A valve releasing a stinky odor is gone, following a 2 On Your Side report last June.

Ted Lee, who attends Korean Baptist Church, says the 20-foot pipe was only supposed to be on the church's property for about six months. He says a representative from the City-Parish visited the church and pitched the idea for the temporary valve in 2016.

The valve was at Burgin Avenue and Boston Street behind the church. It stood on top of a concrete slab. The valve was connected to the sewer force main that pumps from Pump Station No. 5 on Valley Street to South Wastewater Treatment Plant on Gardere Lane. It allowed the air in the force main pipe to dissipate, releasing a smell into the air.

Lee said the smell was awful.

"You know, bathroom, sewage," he said.

This week, the pipe was removed and a permanent odor control unit was installed, making the air smell clean once again. The solution is designed to entrap and filter the current volume of air.

Wharton-Smith, INC. has been contracted by the City-Parish for the work. Supervisor John Hendrix tells WBRZ his crew tied a new line onto the existing line and ran it underground to the odor control unit, which is not on the church's property.

"All of that was removed and everything new installed is installed on the city's servitude," said Hendrix. "Very little impact to their property."

Lee says he can now take a deep breath at church, no problem.

"I'm so happy about it," he said.

Hendrix anticipates the work to wrap up by early next week.

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Flood house rotting, not gutted following 2016 flood http://www.wbrz.com/news/flood-house-rotting-not-gutted-following-2016-flood/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/flood-house-rotting-not-gutted-following-2016-flood/ On Your Side Wed, 7 Mar 2018 6:32:10 PM Brittany Weiss Flood house rotting, not gutted following 2016 flood

BATON ROUGE - A flood-damaged house has been left to rot. The floors were ripped up in August 2016, but the rest of the house was left standing.

Grace Battley lives next to the property on Hickcock Drive in Baton Rouge. She called 2 On Your Side to inquire further about her concerns.

"Nobody's gutted this house over here and the mold has taken over," she said.

The homes in the neighborhood off Hooper Road got about eight feet of water. As every day passes, Battley becomes more and more disgusted with what is festering next door.

"I was concerned about my health," she said.

She called the City-Parish about her concerns. The City-Parish tells 2 On Your Side it inspected the house last Wednesday and confirmed Battley's fears. It says the house is in violation of the International Property Maintenance Code.

According to paperwork posted in the window, the house is in the hands of the mortgage company. The City-Parish says it's issuing a violation letter to the current property owner and the mortgage company. It will provide 30 days for the house to be brought into compliance, and if action is not taken, the matter will be referred to the Parish Attorney's office for legal action.

Mortgage Contracting Services, or MCS, is managing the property. Wednesday, 2 On Your Side contacted the company but a request for information about what is required of MCS at this particular property was not fulfilled by the time the story aired.

There is a realtor's name and number posted on the front door of the house. Calls to this person and company were not returned.

WBRZ also contacted the listed property owner for the address. She tells 2 On Your Side the house was turned over to the mortgage company, JPMorgan Chase, prior to the flood two years ago.

"I don't know what they're going to do with it," said Battley.

A spokesperson for JPMorgan Chase tells 2 On Your Side, "Because of legal issues involving the home, sale of the property has been delayed. We hope to resolve that as soon as possible."

Although there will be no immediate action, Battley is hoping the issue will be taken care of soon so she won't have to live next to a moldy house forever.

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