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Looking to bolster NCAA resume, West Virginia opens Big 12 Championship against TCU

Randy Mazey would like to think West Virginia has done enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament when regional matchups are announced Monday.

Still, the Mountaineers adding a victory or two to their season win total this week in the Big 12 Championship would make the Mountaineers’ baseball coach sleep much easier over the weekend.

West Virginia’s quest to do just that begins at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday when the No. 4 Mountaineers take on No. 9 TCU from Globe Field in Arlington, Texas.

A WVU victory would ensure the Mountaineers (33-20, 19-11) are off Wednesday and put them in position to play again at 1:30 p.m. Thursday against an opponent to be determined, though it could very well be top seed Oklahoma.

As for Tuesday’s tilt with the Horned Frogs (31-19, 14-16), West Virginia took two of three from TCU last week in Fort Worth, Texas, overcoming a 6-3 series-opening setback to win the final two contests of the three-game set.

“The team who lost the series has a little bit of momentum going in, because they’re playing as the underdog so to speak,” Mazey said. “They’re going to be playing to prove something. They’re fighting for their tournament lives. We know they’re going to get their best effort from the first pitch. That’s what we have to try to keep our guys focused on and get them to play like we’re the underdog.”

West Virginia secured the series win with a 6-5 victory in the rubber match, a game in which WVU scored four runs in the eighth inning to hold a five-run lead, before hanging on down the stretch. It marked the Mountaineers’ seventh Big 12 series victory in the 10 they have played.

TCU’s three-run ninth inning featured the potential tying run thrown out at the plate, before seldom-used pitcher Luke Lyman struck out Brody Green for the final out. It marked Lyman’s fourth appearance in Big 12 play.

“We played a great last regular season weekend,” Mazey said. “The message to the team is different from the message to the media. I need those guys to get fired up to go play baseball and I need you guys to put something cool on a website. Guys have to step up that haven’t played much or done much this year. We definitely got that out of Luke Lyman on Saturday. He got the last out in a very precarious situation and he’d thrown five innings all season.“

With a quick turnaround from Saturday’s season finale to the start of the Big 12 Championship, Mazey will look to be creative in the way he handles and utilizes his pitching staff. A win Tuesday would go a long way toward lining up the Mountaineers’ rotation in the fashion Mazey desires due to the team being afforded a day off before its next matchup.

“That would be a godsend to have that day off Wednesday to give you a day to rest and recover,” Mazey said. “You can’t attempt to think about Wednesday before you think about Tuesday, but it would be really nice. TCU is in a different spot because if they win Tuesday, they can’t take Wednesday off. 

“If you had to script this thing, that’s how you would script it.”

Since the Big 12 Championship moved to Globe Field in 2022, West Virginia has yet to win in four tries. Dating back to 2021, the Mountaineers have lost six straight games in this event.

“I couldn’t care less about that. The players couldn’t care less about that. The team that played here a few years ago, there’s only a few players left,” Mazey said. 

But two seasons ago, West Virginia lost to Oklahoma and then Kansas State to bow out early in Arlington, and those results loomed large in the Mountaineers not qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. West Virginia was 33-22 that season and won 14 of the 26 games it played against Big 12 competition.

Mazey believes his team, which enters Tuesday with an RPI of 33, has an even stronger case toward a regional bid this time around.

“We have an unbelievable case. We went 19-11 in the Big 12 and finished in fourth place,” Mazey said. “For them to not let us in would be a crime really. But they’ve committed crimes before, so I won’t go to bed at night feeling all that great about it until I see the Mountaineers pop up on the screen.”

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Turnpike drivers to notice new tolling system upgrades

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Those traveling the West Virginia Turnpike this summer may notice there are new digital signs above the toll lanes.

Parkways Authority Executive Director Jeff Miller

It’s all part of the multimillion-dollar upgrade to the highway’s tolling system.

West Virginia Parkways Authority Executive Director Jeff Miller admits most of the work is to a system travelers won’t see.

“It’s a cloud-based system with all new hardware at toll booths and toll plazas,” he said.

What users will notice is a new, more user-friendly Parkways website and the signs above the toll lanes.

Miller said the new system allows for the lanes to be changed quickly from cash only to EZ-Pass only or to a combo lane that does both.

The sign changes began first at the Ghent toll plaza but crews were making changes last week at the plazas at Pax and Chelyan. Memorial Day holiday travelers will see the difference, Millet said.

“It’s just a critical much-needed upgrade to the tolling system we have that during the holiday times and high traffic it will be beneficial to us,” Miller said.

Parkways Authority members gave approval in April 2022 to a $24.8 million contract with technology company TransCore to develop and install the new system. The current tolling system has been around since 2008.

The new system includes a quicker way to process transactions. Some new payment features were part of the testing.

In the coming months, there will be a brand-new Parkways website and mobile option for users to service their accounts.

Miller said the changes are more about the guts of the operation.

“While it’s fully comprehensive on everything we do both roadside and back office, you (the traveler) may see a new sign and a new website—we’ve tried to make those as nice as we can for everyone,” he said.

Miller said E-ZPass remains the quickest, most efficient way to move through the Turnpike’s three main tollbooths. An unlimited use pass can be purchased for $26.25 a year. Tolls are $4.25 per toll booth for passenger cars without an E-ZPass.

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Morrisey gets an early general election endorsement from former President Trump

Former President Trump has endorsed Republican Patrick Morrisey for governor of West Virginia in a post on his Truth Social media platform.

Donald Trump

“Patrick Morrisey has my Complete and Total Endorsement – HE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN!” Trump posted.

Morrisey was in a competitive four-way race for governor over the past year. He won last week with a plurality, 33% of the vote — coming in ahead of former House Judiciary Chairman Moore Capito’s 28%, Huntington businessman Chris Miller’s 20% and Secretary of State Mac Warner’s 16 percent.

In recent days, talk has flared up that some Republicans are so dissatisfied with Morrisey as the nominee for governor that they’ve reached out to gauge interest of Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat and former governor, to jump in against him.

Trump’s post highlighted the competitive nature of the Republican primary for governor. The former president urged the party to come together.

“Highly Respected Attorney General Patrick Morrisey ran against two very talented and popular opponents for Governor of West Virginia, a State I love and won by large margins in 2016 and 2020,” Trump wrote.

Trump continued, “Now is the time for all Republicans to unite behind Patrick Morrisey to ensure he has a tremendous Victory in November! Patrick will work closely with me to enact America First Policies, and is a FANTASTIC person to replace my friend and future U.S. Senator, Jim Justice.”

The former president endorsed Justice, a two-term governor in his primary bid for U.S. Senate. Trump endorsed Morrisey in a 2018 Senate race.

Trump remains very popular in West Virginia, with political figures either hoping to receive an endorsement from the former president or endorsing Trump to make a connection.

He has twice won West Virginia by wide margins.

In 2016, Trump got 68.5 percent of the general election vote in West Virginia, to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 26.4 percent.

In 2020, Trump got 68.6 percent of West Virginia’s general election vote, to Biden’s 29.7 percent.

Morrisey’s opponent in the general election is Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, a Democrat.

Patrick Morrisey

As attorney general, Morrisey has used the platform for high-profile challenges to federal policies from the Obama and Biden administrations. He recently led other state attorneys general in suing to block rules by the Environmental Protection Agency requiring cuts in emissions from coal and gas-fueled power plants.

Morrisey joined a 2020 filing with the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate election results in Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Justices dismissed it.

The attorney general intervened in a federal lawsuit that aimed to keep Trump off West Virginia ballots under claims that he is ineligible under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution from holding future federal offices.

Morrisey signed onto a filing with other attorneys general to support Trump’s position in a Supreme Court examination of presidential immunity in federal criminal allegations against the former president.

Trump’s endorsement highlighted alignment with Morrisey.

“Patrick has been a wonderful Attorney General, and will now be an incredible Governor who will fight tirelessly to stop Inflation, grow the Economy, restore Energy DOMINANCE, secure our Border, strengthen our Military/Vets, and protect and defend our always under siege Second Amendment.”

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Harrison County deputy charged with engaging in prostitution

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — A Harrison County deputy has been arrested and charged with engaging in prostitution.

Sheriff Robert Matheny

Sgt. Sam Morrison was arrested Monday morning without incident, according to Harrison County Sheriff Robert Matheny.

According to a criminal complaint, Morrison would regularly pick up a prostitute for sex while on duty in his marked cruiser. It happened in January in the Clarksburg area.

Matheny said the arrest stems from information the sheriff’s office received on May 8th regarding a separate investigation from Facebook’s parent company, Meta, regarding communications between Morrison that “appeared to indicate criminal activity.”

“The defendant did knowingly and intentionally engage in illegal acts of prostitution while on duty as a sergeant for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 7, 2024,” Matheny said during a press conference with reporters Monday.

Deputies interviewed the prostitute who told authorities Morrison picked her up in exchange for money.

“The source of information reported that her and Sam Morrison would regularly meet for sex while he was on duty, and he would pay her. The source of information stated that she would not have had sex with Sam Morrison if she wasn’t being for the service,” Matheny said.

Morrison was on scheduled vacation during the time of his arrest Monday. He was arraigned and then released on a personal recognizance bond.

Morrison was placed on leave without pay pending termination.

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MetroNews This Morning 5-21-24

Today on MetroNews This Morning:

–Special session continues at the Capitol with the most contention coming over a bill to fully fund the IDD wavier program

–Lawmakers take time out to remember late public servant Bob Ashley

–Huntington Mayor Steve Williams says he will not step aside as the Democratic nominee for Governor, regardless of what people want Joe Manchin to do

–In Sports, WVU opens play in the Big XII baseball tourney today and high school baseball regionals are underway

Listen to “MetroNews This Morning 5-21-24” on Spreaker.

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11-run sixth inning leads Frankfort over Fairmont Senior, 12-6

SHORT GAP, W.Va. — Down to their final six outs and trailing by four runs, Frankfort sent 14 batters to the plate in an 11-run sixth inning to secure the Class AA Region I series opener over Fairmont Senior, 12-6. The Falcons (19-8) remain unbeaten in postseason play and they have won ten of their last twelve games.

“The third time through, we starting attacking good pitches. We swung at some non-competitive pitches early in the game and we got ourselves down in counts. We didn’t do a very good job of executing,” said Frankfort head coach Matt Miller. “In the sixth inning, we got in good counts and we started hitting fastballs like we were capable of hitting.”

Frankfort’s first seven batters in the sixth inning reached base. Three Falcons scored twice in the frame. FHS collected five hits in the inning, walked twice, and had two batters hit by pitches. Uriah Cutter drove in three runs on two at bats in the frame and Lanson Orndorff added a two-run double.

Staked to a seven-run lead, Orndorff allowed a run in the seventh but he finished off a complete game, getting the final out on his 110th pitch. Orndorff allowed five hits and struck out six batters.

“He didn’t have his best stuff early. It took him three or four innings to find his off-speed pitches. He and I were talking in the fourth and he said, ‘I finally found my changeup’. Once he found his changeup, he was very hard to hit. He just bulldogged through.”

Blake Jacobs led the Falcons at the plate with a three-hit game. He also scored three times. Cutter drove in four runs.

FSHS (21-8) scored three runs in the third inning and two more in the fourth to build a five-run cushion. Brock Martin had a two-run single for the Polar Bears. Cam Peschel, Dylan Ours and Hayden Jones also drove in runs. Sammy Viani pitched 5 2/3 innings for Fairmont Senior.

The Falcons are one win away from securing their first regional title and state tournament appearance in five years. Game 2 of the best-of-three series shifts to Fairmont Tuesday at 6 p.m.

“I feel really comfortable with where we are. They are going to have good pitchers coming tomorrow too. I know we will probably see [Hayden] Jones. He did a great job against us the first time. So hopefully seeing him once earlier this year, we’ll be prepared for that.

“They believe in themselves and they believe in each other. That’s how we have overcome some deficits throughout the year.”

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Williamstown completes improbable rally against Wheeling Central to claim series opener, 17-16

WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. — Wheeling Central looked primed to leave Williamstown with a double-digit victory within five innings that would have given the Maroon Knights early control of the Class A Region I series.

Instead, the Yellowjackets overcame a 14-3 fourth-inning deficit and nine-run sixth-inning deficit, scoring six times with two outs in the home half of the seventh inning to complete an improbable rally in a 17-16 victory that leaves Williamstown in the driver’s seat.

“I’ve been around a lot of baseball,” Williamstown head coach Levi Maxwell said, “and I’ve never seen anything like that.”

The Yellowjackets (28-4) will attempt to complete a two-game sweep Tuesday in Wheeling, while the Maroon Knights (23-4) hope to overcome the disappointing series-opening setback and force a decisive third game.

“Whether they beat us 11-1 or 17-16 doesn’t matter. We have to come back and win tomorrow,” Central head coach Todd Cover said. 

After WHS pulled to within five with a four-run sixth highlighted by Wyatt Powell’s two-run double, Yellowjackets relief pitcher Tyler Coleman continued his strong outing by retiring Central in order in the seventh.

Still, with a five-run advantage and needing only three outs to secure the win, the visitors appeared in control. 

But when Ty Ott led off with a single, the Maroon Knights elected to utilize a fourth pitcher in left-hander Zayne Rosnick, who replaced fellow southpaw Kade Koroneos.

Rosnick responded by striking out Parker Schramm, and after issuing a walk to Luke Ankrom, he induced a fly ball to center off the bat of Carson Hill for the second out.

Down to its last out, Williamstown never gave in. Instead, Wyatt Siley worked a walk to load the bases and Jenner Burge followed with a two-run single to center. When No. 9 hitter Cooper Martin followed with a single to shortstop that brought in the Yellowjackets’ 14th run, it sent the winning run to the plate in the form of leadoff hitter Wyatt Powell, who worked his team’s ninth base-on-balls to create bases loaded situation for Maxwell Molessa, a West Virginia University signee.

Molessa fell behind 0-2 in the count but came through with a sharp single to right, allowing Burge to easily score from third, before Martin slid into the plate just ahead of the tag for the tying run.

“Simplify everything and don’t try to do to too much,” Molessa said of his approach. “Get a base hit and move some guys over.”

Ott came back up with an opportunity to end the game, and he did just that by sending a ground ball to second base that was misplayed, allowing Powell to score the winning run.

It set off a frenzied celebration in a game that was full of emotion and featured a brief meeting between the umpires and head coaches from both teams at the conclusion of the fifth inning, which had ended with Central reliever Landon Prager striking out Molessa.

“It’s a really emotional game between Nos. 1 and 2 in the state, and both teams and coaches are super competitive,” Maxwell said. “You get us one field and we’re playing for something that matters, there’s a lot of emotion there and our guys did a good job with that.”

At the time of the conference, Central led 14-7, and the Maroon Knights added to their lead courtesy of Koroneos’ two-run single in the sixth.

From that point forward, the Yellowjackets scored 10 unanswered runs to complete their rally.

“It wasn’t our type of game. We’re usually pitching and defense,” Cover said. “It definitely wasn’t us.”

Central got off to the start it desired, scoring three runs in the first on a Gary Hatfield sacrifice fly and run-scoring singles from Rosnick and Koy Lipinski.

Williamstown drew even in the second as Ott was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Schramm, the starting pitcher, followed with a two-run single.

But the Maroon Knights regained the momentum and then some by scoring six in the third, which chased Schramm from the mound. That inning featured Rosnick’s run-scoring double to right-center, run-scoring singles from Braxton Billick and Eli Tucker in consecutive at bats, the latter of which a second run scored on as the result of an error, and Hatfield’s two-run double that left the visitors with a 9-3 lead.

The Yellowjackets hurt their cause in the top of the fourth by committing three errors that aided the Maroon Knights’ five-run frame, which was highlighted by Hatfield and Rosnick’s run-scoring singles.

Coleman came on with two outs and the bases loaded in that inning and struck out Brayden Cover for what at the time looked like nothing more than a result that could help to prolong the game.

But Williamstown began to charge back and scored twice in the fourth, including once on a Schramm double, and twice more in the fifth on Powell’s two-run single to close its deficit to 14-7.

An hour later, the comeback had been completed in full.

“We could’ve ended the game early, but you let a good team hang around and this is likely to happen,” Cover said. “There’s nothing we can do now but come out tomorrow and fight.”

Central starting pitcher Steven Brodegard went 4 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and four walks.

Schramm allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. Coleman limited the Maroon Knights to two runs on five hits over 3 1/3 innings.

“We had a lot of walks today, which is uncharacteristic for our guys, but we hung in there and kept battling,” Maxwell said. “I can’t say enough about Coleman. That’s the best team we’ve played all year. Hats off to them. They swung the bats extremely well today.” 

Powell and Martin had three hits apiece, while Molessa, Ott and Schramm had two each in the victory. 

Rosnick had a game-high four hits and drove in three runs, while Billick, Tucker and Hatfield registered three hits apiece.

Powell and Sheffield drove in four runs each for their respective teams.

“We have to throw strikes and our defense has to play well,” Molessa said. “We were out of it there for a bit, but the underclassmen stuck with it and produced in big moments, so mentally, all of us are going to be in a good spot. It’s just carrying today into tomorrow and getting a good push off of it.”

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Bridgeport takes regional opener from Morgantown, 2-1

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — Highlights from Bridgeport’s 2-1 win over Morgantown in the opening game of the Class AAA Region I best-of-three series. MHS will host Game 2 Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Dale Miller Field.

(Highlights and photos by Teran Malone)

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With battle over details of human services funding, special session grinds into Day 3

A special session bounced back and forth between the House of Delegates and state Senate, with consideration of 15 bills and a simmering disagreement about the details of legislation to bolster funding to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Joey Garcia

“There’s a time to think this is the best we can do, and there’s a time to fight,” said Delegate Joey Garcia, D-Marion.

“We’ve been here for, really, really two days. I know a lot of people want to go home or think ‘OK, let’s just get done with this; let’s get everything we could have gotten done.’ But this is the time we can actually stand up and fight for the things we’ve said are important in this house.”

At the center of conflict were the specifics of a bill meant to improve the level of state funding for intellectual and developmental disabilities waivers, commonly called IDD waivers.

After the regular legislative session ended in March, Gov. Jim  Justice referred to “a dog’s mess” — saying a budget that passed during the regular legislative session left human services funding far short of where it needs to be.

The special session allocation would provide a little more than $5 million to the state Department of Health and $183,437,463 to the Department of Human Services in a new reserve funds that can be accessed by the agency secretaries when or if the money is needed.

Amy Summers

Delegates largely wanted to provide the funding, but sought greater assurances that the money would be used for its intended purpose. They had backed an amendment by House Health Chairwoman Amy Summers, R-Taylor, to require increasing the very low reimbursement rates for companies and their employees providing services for people with disabilities.

“We all know that if we don’t have the workers to take care of individuals in these settings then we will take care of these individuals in state psych hospitals,” Summers said in committee.

When senators removed that provision and kicked the bill back over, delegates had a long debate over what to do.

“And now we’re supposed to take that?” Summers asked.

Delegate Michael Hite, R-Berkeley, was also incredulous. “We roll over all the time. It’s time to say no,” he said.

Michael Hite

Delegates wound up refusing to concur and sent the bill back to the Senate, so the matter remains a live ball on day three of the session.

Evan Worrell

“We can just reject this amendment from the Senate and send it back the way we all agreed that it should have gotten out of here to begin with, and I think we should do that,” said Delegate Evan Worrell, R-Cabell.

The session, which started its second day on Monday, rolled on until about 9 p.m. It will continue on Tuesday with the Senate returning about noon and the House resuming about 1 p.m.

The governor put 15 bills on the call, and 13 of those have passed both chambers so far.

The special session schedule aligns with legislative interim meetings that were already planned for lawmakers at the state Capitol early in the week. Much of the interim schedule wound up being scheduling wreckage, though, as the special session bulled its way from chamber to chamber.

One of the bills under consideration will provide more than $80 million to the state’s colleges and universities to help provide funding for students affected by ongoing problems with the Federal Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA.

Additional financial matters for lawmakers to resolve during special session are surplus spending priorities. The regular session ended with passage of “a skinny budget” that left many surplus spending possibilities undone because of other uncertainties.

Supplemental spending measures include $150 million for highway maintenance and equipment, $50 million for new state agricultural lab facilities at West Virginia State University, $10 million for the Posey Perry Emergency Food Bank Fund, $27.3 million for Hope Scholarship funding and $2 million to the Department of Veterans Assistance for medical expenses.

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Kanawha County Commission soon to hire new member to fill vacant seat

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s boots on the ground now for the Kanawha County Commission as they discuss who will temporarily fill the recently vacant seat on the commission.

The now just two commissioners, Lance Wheeler and Ben Salango opened up discussions Monday regarding the timeline and procedure for filling the vacancy left behind by longtime and now retired commissioner Kent Carper following previous battle with health issues and an investigation into alleged misconduct.

They met at the Voter’s Registration Office in Charleston for a special meeting regarding the matter after taking all morning to canvass votes from last Tuesday’s May Primary Election.

After the seat became officially vacant on May 12, the commissioners have until this Friday, May 24 to look over resumes of qualified candidates and make their selection.

Lance Wheeler

Commission President Wheeler said during the meeting that the process of hiring someone to fill the role until November’s General Election will be handled as fairly and efficiently as possible. He said the candidate will officially be appointed during another special meeting on Thursday, May 30.

“We are going to make sure we do this as transparent as possible, and we’ll make sure on the 30th for the county commission meeting that candidates will have received a notice, and it will be on a public agenda in front of everyone who wants to be here,” said Wheeler.

Also during Monday’s meeting, commissioners made the decision to rescind a portion of Order 2013-309 pertaining to the hiring process of a new commissioner.

Specially, they made the motion to do away with the public interview process of that order. Commissioner Salango said he had to go through it in 2017 and it came down to him and a group of others in the same room being grilled on questions, and he said it hardly seemed a fair or efficient process.

“It’s just unnecessary, I’m not aware of any other government that would do that kind of process, so certainly it’s my recommendation that we rescind that portion of 2013-309,” Salango said.

Wheeler said he agreed that the process wasn’t being conducted in an efficient way and he believes it will go a lot smoother without that portion.

“I watched that at the time actually and that was very daunting for the people that came out and spoke,” he said. “I think this is something that we can come together, figure out someone for the next seven months, and get somebody who is big in the community and is able to work hard.”

The vacancy is currently being advertised on Kanawha County’s website and through a legal ad.

Ben Salango

They are encouraging qualified candidates to send in their resumes and cover letters to County Manager Jennifer Herrald at [email protected]. She will then forward all cover letters/ resumes over to the commissioners for review.

Former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant who won the Democratic nomination for Kanawha County Commission during the Primary Election, or Republican nominee winner and former state senator Chris Walters will be running against each other this November during the General Election for the commission seat.

After canvassing votes all Monday morning for the overall election, the commissioners say they are just waiting on a few more hand counts until the election can be certified on May 30. They had 48 hours from the point of Monday’s meeting to canvass all of the votes, but Salango said they could make adjustments if need be.

“If we needed to, like for any local elections, we could certify before then and just wait for the final county to turn in their votes,” he said.

Those who want to apply for the vacant spot on the commission must turn in their resumes and cover letters by Friday at 5 p.m.

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