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It Took a Village to Stop a Village

It is said there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. I’d like to throw another into that group, your village. By that, I don’t necessarily mean the town in which you reside. I mean the people you choose to surround yourself with.

Everyone has their village of people. The Facebook group they post to ask if anyone else’s kid is struggling with the new grading policy at the middle school. The ones they text seeking advice on which color to paint the kitchen. The organization of like-minded individuals they volunteer with because they feel passionate about the cause. The neighbors you wave to each time you pull in and out of your driveway. You may not know them well, but you know if you ever needed one more cup of milk for your cookie recipe, you could stop by and they’d happily provide.

This is the village that helps raise your kids, because the struggle is real, and there’s always someone in the group who’s “been there and done that” to offer some words of wisdom. This is the village that helps shovel you out during a snow-pocalypse. These are your friends, your neighbors, your community.

These are the 220 people who showed up on Monday, September 19 at John T Magee Middle School in Round Lake to show their opposition to the Ski Hill proposal.

So let’s dive in, everyone, and look at how our village defeated our village and where we go from here.


You may not always want to play the game, but sometimes you catch more flies with honey, as they say. For those who drink sarcasm along with their morning brew, it can be so hard to hold back. I get it.

The Ski Hill Facebook group has a large following, but there are a handful of well-spoken individuals who organized themselves via an email chain to ensure we had all the main points covered. We came to play. While we in no way wanted to hog the entire 30 minute time limit, we wanted to make sure the most valid, high profile arguments were publicly made and recorded before the vote took place.

We ordered ourselves in a specific way, for maximum impact, and even those who were not part of the initial group added value to the entirety of the speaking portion of the evening. We planned to seat ourselves nearest the podium, and after our second speaker a line formed, so we quickly queued like it was Sunday mass and salvation awaited.

People came with their comments prepared, or the calming knowledge they had done presentations before, so they addressed the crowd with command and credibility.


Once again, there was a slight rule change for this evening. The 30 minute total time limit would still be enforced as would the 3 minutes per speaker, but if a speaker were to continue, he or she would not be stopped, it would simply take away from the total time. There would be no continual interruptions, requests for the speaker to stop, or the mayor banging on that damn gavel like it was a housefly that personally offended him.

Also, trustees could motion to extend that 30 minute total to ensure all who wanted to speak were given the opportunity to do so.

Of course, what are rules unless you have someone willing to call you out on them.

The first speaker was Ken Ashman, attorney for the nine Townline Road families who were in danger of having their street turned into a construction entrance. The audio is posted on the village website.

Mr. Ashman worked hard to limit his remarks to around 7 minutes, considering he had much to cover. From his opening statement challenging the 30 minute time limit to his closing comments calling on the board to put the Ski Hill proposal before the people in the form of a referendum, Mr. Ashman made a powerful first impression on the night.

Perhaps the most poignant moment was when Mr. Ashman called on everyone opposed to the Ski Hill project and the 30 minute limit to stand in silent protest, a message delivered to the board loud and clear.


Linda Troester, the only candidate for Lake County Board District 2 who’s shown up to every village meeting on the Ski Hill issue, was second to speak. She addressed what we’ve all been thinking these last two months regarding the board’s continued silence; when will you be answering our questions? Not only did engineering firm Baxter & Woodman have a list of 76 issues which needed to be addressed in Mr. Powell’s Ski Hill proposal, but the community has been emailing and publicly asking questions for the past 6 weeks. Would we be getting answers to any of them before the vote? Spoiler alert: no.

Local hero Howard Garcia Schultz again brought the same passion and fire he had on hand at the September 6 meeting when he stepped up to speak. At the last meeting, he asked the board, who wants this Ski Hill? As we all know, this too went unanswered.

So Mr. Garcia Schultz did his own research and went to the source, Dan Powell. He read a transcript of Mr. Powell’s interview with CBS2 which aired on August 29. Mr. Powell stated, “To me, it was to bring something significant to the community that was a plus and also exciting for me…We don’t live in a mountainous region, and we have to build that hill.”

I’ll give you a moment to digest that quote, and I’m sure you’ll see what Mr. Garcia Schultz did. This project is all about Dan Powell. Me, me, me. No one went to him and said, “Hey Dan, love what you’ve done over on Wilson Road. Do you think you could build a bigger one so I could ski down it in July?”

Mr. Garcia Schultz also stated that the believability of facts provided to the board and community has nothing to do with social media. Social media did not create the facts, it was simply the tool used to share them with a wider audience. It doesn’t matter what you call them, facts are still facts, and that doesn’t change their validity.

Finally, in perhaps the best use of his time, Mr. Garcia Schultz called out the utter lack of a solid business plan put forth by Mr. Powell. Business plans need more than just pretty pictures, and as a homeowner, Mr. Garcia Schultz would need to provide more detailed information to “add a patio to my backyard” than Mr. Powell has provided for this project.


Yes, that was the theme of my 2:30 speech (I timed this one and practiced it multiple times). Metaphorically, I needed the trustees to ask themselves if they were willing to tie their personal and professional selves to Dan Powell and his Ski Hill proposal.

By approving the Ski Hill, it meant they approved of his business plan. That they didn’t see the gaping wreck we vividly imagine. Accepting this annexation means doing business with Dan Powell, and that means you approve of his business practices, both past and present.

My most powerful statement: “As taxpayers and property owners within village boundaries, by approving this proposal, you are willing to risk our most important assets, the value of our homes, and the reputation of our community on the word of Dan Powell.”

Because it’s the truth. Speaker Jeanne Dauray came up to the podium a few people behind me to relay research based facts on property values and how they are negatively impacted by landfills. An unfinished Ski Hill is nothing more than a landfill, sitting there, rotting away, sinking our home values with it.


Susan Pribyl, our resident FOIA queen, discussed CHDS, the Wilson Road property, and a Zoom call held last week with Mike Adam, Deputy Director of Environmental Health at the Lake County Health Department. He’s the one who’s been sending countless violation letters to CHDS and copies to the village over the past 3 years.

Ms. Pribyl received an education on how the process usually unfolds for companies that violate EPA regulations, and how they remediate those violations. In the 22 years Mr. Adam has worked for the health department, it is rare to take an operator to court, but here we are with CHDS as either “unable to comply or unwilling to do so.”

The village does not have its own engineer, so it contracts with Baxter & Woodman. As part of the Compliance Commitment Agreement (CCA) entered into in 2019, a village engineer is to inspect CHDS monthly. Through FOIA, Ms. Pribyl obtained an August 2020 email sent to village official Katie Parkhurst from the Baxter & Woodman engineer stating that the health department was concerned about “ongoing, willful ignoring of the CCA requirements” making the village aware that Mr. Powell was not complying with remediation for the past 2 years.

Also surprising is that in these past 2 years, from September 2020 to August 2022, the village engineer (i.e. the Baxter & Woodman contractor), provided no emails, written documents, and reports to the village of on-site visits or inspections, which they were again required to do monthly. Yet Greg Giroux and Matthew Sullivan from LCHD came out to CHDS 10 times in that timeframe to report violations. They wrote reports, took pictures, and sent copies to both CHDS and the village.

When Ms. Pribyl sought clarification about why there was no written documentation, she was told via an email from the village that “any issues were handled verbally.” Really? Do tell. Because if they were truly “handled”, there would be no lawsuit at Wilson Rd right now.


My good friend Kate Lopatowski has a daughter the same age as my own. The girls have known each other since Kindergarten. Whether band, choir, art, speech team, and theatre, they’ve done it all over the years.

So when Kate messaged me that Sam was working on an art project to visually represent what we, as a community, see as the result of this Ski Hill project under the leadership of Dan Powell, I knew it would be good. And of course, it was spectacular.

During Mrs. Lopatowski’s show-and-tell, you can hear conversation between the mayor and whomever else he is speaking with (possibly the village attorney, Mr. Peck), as he had the microphone the board members were using nearest to him. Once the visual presentation ended, Mayor Kraly explained the 30 minute time limit had come to an end, but asked how many speakers were left in the line which formed. There were about 5, so he asked among the board if they were okay with allowing an extension to let everyone finish, to which they, and the audience present, all agreed.

And so, we do take this opportunity to thank the mayor and the board for listening to their constituents, and also being able to “read a room” by allowing the public to finish their comments. However, if you would like to avail yourself of the audio, you can tune in around 34:45 as the mayor admonishes two or three others who joined the lineup following the extension, one of whom appeared to be former Mayor Jim Dietz.


Speaker Mac Glore pointed out that there were really only two benefits to the Ski Hill project for the village in the short term: the promise of “up to” $1.5 million in tipping fees and the extension of water and sewer lines--something any developer will be responsible for as the “first in” on a property.

Mr. Glore took on that $1.5 million in tipping fees. As taxpayers, we are being asked to tie our home values to a project that has a lot of uncertainty to it. “Up to” is not a guarantee. The amount of dumping is dependent on the number of construction projects in the area sending their dirt in to be dumped. Slow construction and you slow your profit and thus extend your timetable. In the CBS2 interview, Mr. Powell says the timeline is 4-10 years. Initially the proposal was 10-12 years. Does anyone really have a timetable mapped out? No.

Would there be future tax revenue with the Ski Hill and restaurant. Maybe. But you have to have faith the project is finished, up and running, making a profit, and stays around to keep generating that revenue. Given Mr. Powell’s past history, I’m not sure that’s a safe bet. Where are his finished projects that haven’t ended in lawsuits?


I did not catch the speaker’s full name, but I believe it was David. He decided to approach things differently, and we are all better for it.

He began by stating that no one on the board looked younger than 21, so likely all had past dating history in which someone got cheated on. And with so much life experience, everyone has or knows someone who’s experienced the serial cheater.

You know the type. The one that cheats is forgiven, then cheats again, only to come back begging forgiveness, claiming to love you, making excuses to assure you that they still love you, that “this time will be different” because you are special and the others were meaningless flings.

“Mr. Powell doesn’t love you,” David calmly stated as the audience erupted with laughter. How can you not?

The scenario he painted was the perfect metaphor for what’s happening here. Mr. Powell doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to past clients. Public records exist for a reason, and Mr. Powell and/or his LLCs have found themselves as defendants in civil lawsuits more than once, and not just the case involving CHDS and Wilson Rd.


The final speaker, Bob Shutan, restated some important Snowflex information. Besides the obvious fact that Wilmot Mountain has an operational ski hill yet has not pursued year-round Snowflex use, he pointed to another nearby example: Lake Geneva Resort. The Grand Geneva is a year-round tourist destination, not just for skiing, but for shopping, restaurants, the hotel, and so much more. If any location were interested in adding a few Snowflex runs to an already existing hill with already existing infrastructure, surely it would be them.

In a strange twist of fate and circumstance, Snowflex has one US sales representative. Take a stab at where he lives? That’s right, Lake Geneva. Yet he’s 0-2 in bringing Snowflex technology to already existing facilities in his state.

Later in the evening, the mayor addressed the “person who went to Snowflex” claiming that they never heard of Dan Powell. Mayor Kraly claimed to have a letter from Snowflex saying they have been working with Dan Powell for 10 months and Snowflex (aka Briton Engineering, Snowflex is the product) will take care of slope design, engineering, and supervision of how the hill will be built.

I’ll buy part two of that statement, because that’s what Briton does, but my guess is part one is the complementary phone call Dan Powell made to the sales rep in Lake Geneva and the subsequent letter and/or included materials he received following the call.

Audience members asked reasonable questions. How come we’ve never seen that letter? Why didn’t you share that when Mr. Powell’s contact with Briton Engineering came into question? My bet is this letter wasn’t posted because if you read it, it’s dated over 10 months ago and it’s a typical sales letter. “Thank you for contacting me about Snowflex, here’s the information you requested.” That’s not a contract, that’s a sales rep doing his job, and it’s another failure on Mr. Powell’s part to thoroughly explore the exact front end costs of his fantasy.


The next item on the agenda was to seat a new member to the village board, Mark Amann. As many of us are likely unfamiliar with village history, Mr. Amann’s grandfather was one of the original village board members and his father was a four term mayor. You can visit the village website's history page and find mention of Frank Amann at the end.

Following the board meeting and the vote, Mr. Amann stated he was prepared to vote for the proposal, but changed his mind after further researching the annexation agreement and speaking to concerned community members. You can read more about the meeting from

Daily Herald reporter Mick Zawislak who’s been following the Ski Hill saga since the beginning and was present at the vote Monday evening.


As the time drew near to motion for the various ordinances which were needed to officially enter the Ski Hill, the annexation agreement, and the zoning needed for the property, Trustee Charlie Foy stood to address the audience.

It should first be noted that Trustee Foy was absent from all previous Ski Hill related public meetings. He was a long-time Round Lake Police Chief and became trustee in an unopposed election in 2015, along with Mayor Kraly and Trustee Rodriguez.

He began by stating that he was around when the property on 120 and Fairfield was purchased, with the dream that a grocery store would go there. I believe many have heard that there was once talk of a Jewel going in somewhere on that corner. He then said there was talk that a Condell clinic--I’m assuming like the walk-in on Rollins Rd--was going to go there.

Trustee Foy noted the property was empty, making no money for the village, since around 2000. “If anyone is interested in why we may vote this in, that’s why.” Obviously, this statement was met with many boos from the audience.

It’s difficult to hear what happens next on the audio, as the mayor bangs the gavel like a millipede just crawled across the table and shouts at various people for being “out of order” in their attempt to respond to Trustee Foy.

Here’s my response: You don’t own that land, the Light Family does. You never have. It’s never made money for you, because it’s never belonged to you. It would be nice to have it annexed into the village and have it produce revenue. That is the goal. I’m fairly certain everyone agrees with that. But a Ski Hill that will never be built is not the right project and Dan Powell is not a developer. So let’s move on and find something else.

Trustees Schottland and Patel also took an opportunity to speak with the crowd. Both stated that they took their due diligence in listening to, researching, reading, and hearing both sides of this issue. They have investigated the pros and the cons associated with the agreement, they have read the entire Hawthorn Woods court case and the intricacies involved, which fault both sides, not just Dan Powell.

Trustee Schottland stated the vote for or against the proposal is not as simple as everyone makes it seem. That there are positives to the village which are worth heavy consideration. At the same time, she still has questions about the agreement in the way it is written.

Finally, Trustee Shottland stated that she hoped she would see this much community involvement at events like the Farmer’s Market, which was not well attended, the Community Gardens, which stopped because they were not well utilized but are intending to bring back, and that she hopes we continue to show up.

My response is, if the village would like to figure out a better way to communicate to residents what’s happening and when, we would be happy to show up. Trustee Schottland stated communication was an issue, and I agree. Village officials warned us not to believe everything we read on social media, yet they do not participate in any social media--and I'm not sure if a website really counts.

Perhaps they should start using social media to their advantage and actually, I don’t know, CREATE A ROUND LAKE FACEBOOK PAGE, which also goes along with an INSTAGRAM, and TWITTER FEED, so they can post information like EVERY OTHER city, school, or sports team. Even the Dalai Lama has a Twitter account.

If you want people to show up, you need to tell them where to be. People are lazy. They want information to come to them, rather than have to search for it themselves. Why go search the village website daily or weekly, as a separate chore, when I’m already on Facebook to post something and can have your village event, along with the PTO, my friend’s birthday party, and three other things show up in one place.

Trustee Patel, while mostly quiet throughout the process, stated that he listens to the business proposals brought before the board openly and with no judgements, and looks at the opportunity from all angles in a logical way. He said he feels debate and constructive criticism are essential to the process, and that he bases his decisions on trust, concept, and experience.

While there was some back and forth between audience members shouting out to him, this was his chance to make his statement, as we had our opportunity to speak without interruption. Trustee Patel also stated he does not use social media, except for LinkedIn, as he finds the rest simply as a place to vent.

He’s obviously entitled to that opinion, and there’s no doubt social media is, and can often be, a toxic waste dump (not unlike another dump we may be familiar with), but like anything in life, when used the right way, it can work well. I doubt the makers of Tide Pods had devious plans for their invention, but there’s always some idiot who will ruin it for the rest of us.

You see, there are settings for that. You don't want your post about when and where the Farmer's Market is taking place to devolve into a rant about the latest water bill, then disable the comments. You can choose to "push out" information and not respond to anything that comes in unless through official channels like email. Trustee Patel may not use social media, but if you want more of the 18,000+ population of Round Lake to show up to something, maybe enlist someone who is familiar with the last decade to give it a try on behalf of the village.

At the very end, Mayor Kraly gave a brief rundown of his long involvement in local politics and bemoaned that there will always be someone unhappy with any decision you make.

However, the part of this whole process that disappointed him the most, he stated at the first planning meeting (back in late June...the audio is now available) “a group of you came, not even residents” and claimed they already had scenarios worked out and were basically against the proposal from the start, having heard not the first word about it. “You started making up stories before you knew what the truth was,” he stated, and you can listen to the audio from Monday for yourself (1:09:20).

Here’s the thing, sir. The reason some of the people in the group who came to the Planning and Zoning meeting on June 28, 2022 weren’t residents is because you were proposing to annex the unincorporated road on which they live.

And the reason they showed up was because this was the sign informing them of the meeting, which residents of Round Lake would have to pull over, exit their cars, walk up to, read, and then rewind if they wanted that same information.

By way of reply, which was not allowed on Monday evening, here is what Dan Cordoba, whose parents live on Townline Road and were also at the meeting, had to say.

“Mayor Kraly was at the zoning meeting…in street clothes. None of us “non-residents” knew who he was. I figured he worked for the village or worked for Powell, being as he was seated close to Powell.”

Obviously when a sign shows up on the property across the street from where you live and you read the words “ski hill” you will want to learn more, and it was with that intent these “non-residents” attended the zoning meeting. Their initial concerns had to do with flooding and storm water as two of the neighbors have had severe issues, as well as the use of Townline Road seeing as that is the street they live on. From experience, they can’t fit a school bus and a car side by side on that street--someone has to give in and pull off.

They listened, they asked questions, and the proposal passed that day 3-2. Mr. Mayor, what did you expect these people to do, roll over and take it? They left and wanted to know more. They knew nothing about Dan Powell or CHDS. But when you start digging, you tend to uncover a lot of dirt. Facts are facts. They don’t care about opinions or emotions, they simply exist. And thus, here we are.


There are only two things meant to survive the nuclear apocalypse: Twinkies and cockroaches. So it was time for this issue to be decided upon one way or another.

According to Illinois code, the three ordinance agreements on the table needed to pass by a ⅔ majority vote, which would include the vote of the mayor in the event of a tie. For those who are not fond of math and even less fond of fractions, ⅔ is 67%. So if your board has six members and is split 3 for and 3 against, that’s only 50%. If the mayor chimes in and votes for the proposal, 4 out of 7 is only 57% and still not enough for the ⅔ threshold.

We need 3 no votes to end the Ski Hill.

As with everything, there are formalities, so a motion is made and then there is a second. The voting begins as names are called. Three ordinances were introduced, one to authorize the annexation agreement for the Ski Hill, one to annex the property, and one to approve the zoning changes needed on the property.

The crowd was nervous at Trustee Foy, and Trustee Law voted yes to the first ordinance. Our group had suspected the first yes, but had been unsure about the second and were desperately hoping to convince him. As each of the following names were called out, the mood cautiously changed, audible gasps were heard. Trustees Schottland, Patel, Rodriguez, and Amann all voted no. A result of 4-2, no need for the mayor to vote.

As there were still two more ordinances to be motioned and voted upon, the crowd attempted to remain calm, but a sense of triumph mixed with wonder spread. From the beginning of this battle nearly three months ago, no one thought we had a chance at stopping this abomination.

The same results were recorded for the following votes, and you could see the moment disappointment and resignation crossed the faces of Mr. Powell and his attorney, Mr. Shaw. Well, you can see it because I happened to grab a photo of it before my camera battery died.

As the shock wore off, the mayor called the meeting to a close, and the crowd fully appreciated the moment with cheers, hugs, and handshakes.

While there were a few Ski Hill supporters in the audience, none of them spoke when given the opportunity to do so, though to be fair, I doubt I’d have the guts to walk into a room full of Packer fans decked out in my Bears finest right now either.


First, we take a moment to breathe. We did a big thing, Round Lake. Raise a glass and/or finish the damn bottle, mama didn’t raise a quitter.

Continue to stay involved. We can’t fall asleep again, or we’ll end up with a Space Shuttle launch pad at Townline and Bacon Rd. Cool, yes. Destructive, also yes.

The Ski Dump Group has future plans, and we would love for you, whether you live in Round Lake or in a nearby community, to be involved.

  • Round Lake IL Community Alliance The Ski Dump Facebook Group has been renamed because it has a new purpose. Whether you are a resident of Round Lake, unincorporated, or live in one of the surrounding communities, you can help shape the look and feel of the area. You don’t have to vote for the mayor to drive the roads in this area, and either like or detest what you see. So if you want to make it better, then get involved in making it better. Dan Cordoba and Julie Colehower have worked tirelessly to set up this group and make it a place where we can share ideas, get facts, provide resources, or ask and answer questions. This is where it all started, and this is where it will continue.

  • The CHDS, LLC Property at Wilson Road is being sued by the state of Illinois. There is a process that will play out and possible repercussions depending on the ultimate outcome of the case. While the lease between CHDS and the village is set to auto renew this month for another 5 years, CHDS may not have that much time left at its current location. The original permit applied for in 2018 and granted in 2019 has an expiration date of 2024. Just like a driver’s license, you need to renew. What are the chances the entity issuing your permit allows you to renew when they’ve had to cite you for violations you refused to correct, so they took you to court?

  • We need ideas to increase revenue. According to the 2022 Budget, operating expenses start exceeding revenues after 2023 (page 8). So bringing in more business IS important, and laying the foundations NOW should be a priority as a community. We should meet with Katie Parkhurst, the Director of Economic Development, and work as a committee to explore and expand our resources to bring in ACTUAL developers, not impersonators. So if you don’t want more dumps in this town, it’s best to start thinking about what you want.

  • Wilson Road brings in rent payments according to their lease agreement. Those rent payments likely include some kind of tipping fee. So as crappy as that corner is to look at, it does help make revenue for the village, and that’s why the village won’t be terminating the lease or kicking CHDS out unless forced to do so.

The same 2022 budget (page 9) gives you an idea of the forecast revenue CHDS provides to the village: $125,000. So if you want to replace CHDS, you need to find something that will make up lost revenue, or do even better. If a Packer fan rented a store front to sell team merch in the heart of Bears country, you may not like it, but you don’t get to kick him out. However, if his lease ends and the landlord is presented with a community backed proposal to allow a world famous chef to take over that storefront knowing he will receive twice the rent payment, maybe the Packer fan gets sent packing.

  • Round Lake Political Action You’ll need to be an actual Round Lake resident and registered voter to cast your ballot, but anyone can help make a difference. We have some work to do on the village board. It’s been stated in previous blogs that there hasn’t been a contested election since 2015, and that needs to change. Due to the number of appointed board members in recent months, there will be 5 of 6 Trustee positions up for election in 2023. That means changing the entire face of local government in Round Lake. A Facebook group was formed to make meaningful choices for residents, work toward positive change, take the momentum of this grass-roots effort, and continue to bring the economic development we want, while also respecting residents, property values, the environment, and our neighbors along the way.

  • GoFundMe The nine families along Townline Road mounted an all out war against Dan Powell and the annexation agreement to save their driveways from becoming a construction entrance. And by default, they helped save our town from becoming home to another dump site. By hiring Ken Ashman, they took on the brunt of the legal expense needed to dig into the details of the Ski Hill annexation agreement, the Wilson Road lease agreement, the business practices of Mr. Powell, and the legal issues associated with the FOIA documents and the state lawsuit. Mr. Ashman consulted with our group, our community, our residents on his time outside of his clients. His professionalism, dedication, and commitment to our cause was impressive. He spoke at board meetings for his clients, but also for us. If you can donate to the GoFundMe set up to help the costs incurred by those living on Townline Road, please do.

And so, we smash one hill to dust and face off with another. We may not enjoy looking at it, knowing it pollutes our air and ground water, but we need to work with the village to line up profitable alternatives to bring more revenue to our area, give our local government a face lift, and work to better communicate and involve our residents and “non-residents" alike.

We are all busy with work, family, and laundry that sits in the dryer because you forgot it was there. We have bills to pay, both the ones we anticipate and the ones where your teenager uses the front bumper to scrape two door lengths down the side of her art teacher’s car. We’ll laugh about it in 10 years, which will be just in time to see our insurance rates drop back a bit.

But in the midst of all the chaos of life, we can’t forget about our village. We take care of the people who take care of us. And now we need to expand and include not simply our circle of mom friends or the guys you watch the game with each week, but the larger community as a whole. Regardless of our individual views and differences, we need to see the bigger picture, the value and purpose inherent in what we’ve built, and grow from there.


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