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Who Are We and Do We Have a Purpose?

August 28, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Who Are We and Do We Have a Purpose?
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“Since we have expanded by use of intelligence and detection of not necessarily sustainable gradients, continued civilization is not a foregone conclusion…. Our oil economy freeloads on photosynthetic fossil fuels, buried treasures that the rest of life passed by. But these treasures are running out.” Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan, Into the Cool, 2005.

There are at least two very good questions a reader might want to ask me, inquiries which I encourage. Why am I writing this column? What do I expect to accomplish or do I have a purpose? The short answers are that I write these columns to clear my head and my purpose, what I expect to accomplish, is to come as close to understanding reality or truth as I possibly can. It would be great to anticipate the future of Homo sapiens and to discover if we have a purpose. The latter is a quest that is limited by my own intellect and also by the information which is available to me within the time frame of my sojourn in life. The long answers are not just much longer but raise more questions. … Continue Reading

The Wisdom of Children and Foolish Old Men

August 2, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on The Wisdom of Children and Foolish Old Men
Malala Yousafzai

“Without education no country can make progress. Girls education is the only solution to the present crisis being faced by the nation.” Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai [1] was born on July 12, 1997 into a Sunni Muslim family of Pashtun ethnicity in the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Yousafzai was educated in large part by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is a poet, school owner and an educational activist. He runs a chain of schools known as the Khushal Public School. Malala Yousafzai has advocated for the right of children to be educated and for women’s rights in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. After having destroyed over one hundred girls’ schools, the Taliban had set an edict that no girls could attend school after January 15, 2009. After this date the Taliban continued to destroy schools. The government intervened and negotiated a deal which allowed some of the girls’ schools to reopen. … Continue Reading

On Being Human or a Consumer Unit

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“When greed is seen as acceptable even praiseworthy there is clearly something wrong with our collective value system.” Dalai Lama Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World.

“All matter has condensed out of energy, all changes are driven by energy conversion, and all structures originate from energy fluctuations.” Reiner Kummel, The Second Law of Economics, Energy, Entropy, and the Origins of Wealth. … Continue Reading

The Parable of Easter Island

June 19, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on The Parable of Easter Island
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“No other site that I have visited made such a ghostly impression on me as Rano Raraku, the quarry on Easter Island where its famous gigantic stone statues were carved. To begin with, the island is the most remote habitable scrap of land in the world.” Jared Diamond, Collapse.

In his book Collapse, Jared Diamond describes several failed human societies and civilizations. One that stands out is Easter Island. When it was first discovered and inhabited by Polynesians it was a veritable paradise, a resilient community. There was a thick forest to supply material for dugout canoes and homes and plentiful marine life in the oceans accessible by canoe to feed the islanders. Unfortunately, the trees were exploited, mined rather than harvested, if you will, in a wholly nonrenewable fashion. These trees were not just cut down to supply the needs of the islanders, food and shelter, but also to quarry the gigantic stone statues for which the island is famous and haul them for miles to the beach rolling them on fresh cut logs. … Continue Reading

Loudoun Transition Initiative

June 7, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Loudoun Transition Initiative
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By Guest writer Will Stewart

Will Stewart is an electro-mechanical engineer trained in the design of energy generation, HVAC, and solar applications. He designed the passives solar aspects of his current home, as well as the photovoltaic system that powers it. He also is an enthusiastic gardener, fruit and nut tree landscape designer, shepherd of a flock of Finnsheep, an avid bike commuter, and all-around supporter of a wide variety of sustainable practices. He is a former president of Sustainable Loudoun and an Enterprise Architect.

Bothered by steadily increasing impacts from global warming? Ever wonder what Bush meant when he said “America is addicted to oil”? Want less ‘globalized’ food and more local healthy food choices? Want a local economy that is resilient enough to withstand sequestrations and national/global economic disruptions? On June 8 at 1:00 p.m. in Oatland Plantation, you can find out what you can do to make a difference in these areas… … Continue Reading

The Age of the Universe

May 28, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on The Age of the Universe
age_universe

“This whole Big Shebang got started just a bit over 13.5 billion years ago. The trials and errors, painstaking observations and brilliant insights that have led to this answer amount to one of mankind’s most impressive intellectual accomplishments.” David Weintraub [1]

Astronomer David Weintraub explores the history of our discovery of the age of the universe in his appropriately titled book “How Old is the Universe.” From the nascent science of the ancient Greeks such as Aristotle and Eratosthenes to the mature science of present day astronomers and their space telescopes he describes how humans have tackled this question. Based on the most recent observations using the Hubble space telescope, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe and the Cosmic Background Explorer in combination with our theoretical understanding of the laws of nature such as quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity scientists have estimated that the universe is between 13.5 and 14 billion years old. This estimate uses four independent methods based on white dwarf (a type of star) cooling times, the ages of star clusters, the physics of the expanding universe and measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. … Continue Reading

Galileo and the Deniers

April 26, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Galileo and the Deniers
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“Some years ago, as Your Serene Highness well knows, I discovered in the heavens many things that had not been seen before our own age. The novelty of these things, as well as some consequences which followed from them in contradiction to the physical notions commonly held among academic philosophers, stirred up against me no small number of professors—as if I had placed these things in the sky with my own hands in order to upset nature and overturn the sciences. … Showing a greater fondness for their own opinions than for truth, they sought to deny and disprove the new things which, if they had cared to look for themselves, their own senses would have demonstrated to them. To this end they hurled various charges and published numerous writings filled with vain arguments.” Galileo Galilei [1]

Galileo wrote these words to a patron, Madame Christina of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany in 1615, complaining about professors who attacked his proof of the Copernican heliocentric solar system. While the facts and eventually history sided with Galileo, he was subject to house arrest and his less fortunate contemporary Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake [2]. … Continue Reading

Mission to Our Home Planet, a Future with No Landfills and Some Fine Music!

March 21, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Mission to Our Home Planet, a Future with No Landfills and Some Fine Music!
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Loudoun County Regional Science and Engineering Fair Energy and Environmental Sustainability Awards Results and Ceremony Announcement

Every year REHAU, Inc. of Leesburg Virginia along with Sustainable Loudoun sponsors four awards for the Regional Science and Engineering Fair. The name of the award is the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Award. The presentation ceremony will be on Wednesday April 24 at REHAU’s North America headquarters at 1501 Edwards Ferry Rd. in Leesburg. The students will display their winning projects and be available to discuss them at 6:00 p.m. Between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. entertainment will be provided by the Potomac Falls High School (PFHS) Guitar Quartet sponsored by Sand Energy. The formal program begins at 7:00 p.m. with a talk by NASA astrophysicist Dr. Michelle Thaller. Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick, III, Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools will present the awards. Refreshments will be provided by REHAU. This event is free and open to the public. … Continue Reading

When Will Norfolk and Virginia Beach Have To Be Abandoned?

March 14, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on When Will Norfolk and Virginia Beach Have To Be Abandoned?
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“[F]ive meters of sea level rise … is at the low end of what we should expect and is now almost certainly locked-in. We may be able to slow it down but it is highly unlikely that we can prevent it from happening.” Tony Noerpel [1]

I based this assessment on evidence from the recent paleoclimate record including two previous interglacials in the Pleistocene Epoch: the Eemian (about 125,000 years ago) and the Holsteinian (about 400,000 years ago) and the mid Pliocene Epoch (about three million years ago). While there is considerable evidence going back over the entire Cenozoic Era which includes all Geological time since the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, the Earth was a different place much older than the beginning of the Pliocene Epoch, 5.3 million years ago due to plate tectonics. The Isthmus of Panama land bridge between North and South America formed about 3.5 million years ago modifying the ocean currents and heat transport from the tropics to the polar regions. It therefore seems a reasonable assumption that extreme climates after this time may be good analogues to the current climate event since the locations of continents and ocean circulation have been the same. The caveat is that human emissions are increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide at a rate ten to hundred times faster than during any other identified event in Earth history during the last 300 million years with the exception of collisions with asteroids such as the one which slammed into the Gulf of Mexico 65 million years ago, killing all the dinosaurs. Climate Scientist Andrew Glikson pointed out that: “asteroid collisions result in instantaneous release of carbon dioxide from the impacted, melted and vaporized target rocks, including carbonates and shale, and so release carbon dioxide much faster than the rate of human combustion of fossil fuels.” … Continue Reading

The Con in Economics

noerpel150

“In so far as a theory can be said to have assumptions at all, in so far as their realism can be judged independently of the validity of predictions, the relation between the significance of a theory and the realism of its assumptions is almost the opposite of that suggested by the view under criticism. Truly important and significant hypotheses will be found to have assumptions that are wildly inaccurate descriptive representations of reality and, in general, the more significant the theory, the more unrealistic the assumptions.” Milton Friedman [1].

I first read this remarkable passage by Milton Friedman a few years ago in Steve Keen’s book Debunking Economics [2]. Keen is one of only twelve economists to have predicted the recent great recession [3] so he is entirely credible. Still I’m a skeptical person and with due respect to Friedman I had to read the original paper. Even assuming Keen’s quote is accurate and it is; it may have been taken out of context, and it is not. I found Friedman’s remark so outrageous that I had to comment on it, and apparently so did a whole lot of other people. I came across the original paper along with several critiques by other economists, including Paul Samuelson, and philosophers, including Ernest Nagel, in Bruce Caldwell’s book Appraisal and Criticism in Economics, A book of Readings [4]. Economic methodology is an esoteric subject even for economists but the selections in the book are interesting and expose us to yet another example of how not to think. … Continue Reading

Willfully Ignorant

February 20, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Willfully Ignorant
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“Unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.” IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, [1].

“The natural state of the Earth with present carbon dioxide levels is one with sea levels about 70 feet higher than now.” Kenneth Miller [2].

“Science Literacy is a vaccine against the charlatans of the world that would exploit your ignorance.” Neil deGrasse Tyson. … Continue Reading

Bursting the Ideological Bubble

January 16, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Bursting the Ideological Bubble
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“We now live in a culture in which it is entirely possible to live the vast majority of one’s life inside a[n] ideological bubble.” Slaughter and Gutenson [1]

“Right action trumps right doctrine and even legally correct ideology when all is said and done.” Slaughter and Gutenson [1]

“The problem that faces our societies is that we have developed industries and policies that were appropriate at a certain moment, but now start to reduce human welfare, like for example the oil and car industry. Their political and financial power is so great and they can prevent change. It is my expectation that they will succeed. This means that we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change.” Dennis Meadows [2]

A year ago I read the book Hijacked; Responding to the Partisan Church Divide, by evangelical pastors Mike Slaughter and Charles Gutenson [1]. It made a deep impression on me and has been a topic I wanted to address but was fearful of appearing overly critical. So let me state up front that I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it. Additionally, I admire and respect both authors for their good works (right actions) and their commitments to social justice. Hopefully, my comments will be considered conversational rather than argumentative. … Continue Reading

Year in Review

December 26, 2012 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Year in Review
noerpel150

Happy Holidays and a Review of a Few of the Year’s Important Climate Papers

“Rates of sea level rise reached at least 1.2 m per century during all major episodes of ice-volume reduction.” Grant et al. [1]

Several recent papers have compared the climate projection of the International Panel on Climate change (IPCC) assessments with the subsequent historic record. These include Brysse et al. [2]; Rahmstorf, Foster and Cazenave [3]; and another paper by Frame and Stone [4]. David Frame and Daithi Stone compare the projections from the first assessment report published in 1990, more than 20 years ago, with the climate history to date. They conclude that “the climate is responding to enhanced levels of GHGs in accordance with historical expectations.” Climate in this context is averaged surface temperature. … Continue Reading


 

 

 

 

 

 

Columns

The Holocene Climate

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(Public Input Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, 7 March, 2017) Figure 1 shows the climate variation over the last million years. The low points on the curve correspond to ice ages when glaciers up to a mile thick covered New …

Choosing To Forgive

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By Samuel Moore-Sobel “Truly forgiving is the ability to say, ‘Thank you for giving me that experience.’” James Arthur Ray vaulted into fame on the Oprah Winfrey Show back in the mid-2000’s. Stunned hearing these words while watching The Rise and …

Five Key Retirement Questions

Smith0035

Beyond asking yourself where you see yourself and even what your lifelong goal are, effective retirement and longevity planning begs some very big questions. Review the points below and consider how housing, transportation and health considerations all play a role …

Work Woes

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By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, I’m a manager at a large tech company and my boss has directed me to fire someone on my team, but as a Christian, I just can’t do it. It’s true that the employee …

Joy or Suffering

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde No one likes to suffer. When given the chance, many people would choose to laugh rather than cry, to sit in silence with their friends rather than talk through their feelings, because not even their friends …

Wage Radio

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I will always remember – very fondly – the first time I ever set foot on the property at 711 Wage Drive Southwest in Leesburg, Virginia. It was a warm, sunny July morning in 1997, and I’d driven all the …

Speaking Truth to Power

noerpel_new

“With public sentiment nothing can fail. Without it nothing can succeed.” Abraham Lincoln On Thursday evening, February 23, I requested the Board of Supervisors pass a proclamation resolving to support the March for Science on Earth Day, April 22 [1]. …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016

grads_woodgrove

Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

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Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016

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Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

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Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016

adamspromoted

Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

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Calendar

March 2017
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
February 27, 2017 February 28, 2017 March 1, 2017 March 2, 2017 March 3, 2017

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV
March 4, 2017

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event
March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 March 7, 2017 March 8, 2017 March 9, 2017 March 10, 2017 March 11, 2017 March 12, 2017
March 13, 2017 March 14, 2017 March 15, 2017 March 16, 2017 March 17, 2017 March 18, 2017

Wine & Chili Weekend

Wine & Chili Weekend
March 19, 2017

Joshua Carr River Safety Foundation Rummage Sale

Joshua Carr River Safety Foundation Rummage Sale
March 20, 2017 March 21, 2017 March 22, 2017 March 23, 2017 March 24, 2017

March Fourth Friday

March Fourth Friday
March 25, 2017 March 26, 2017

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch
March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017

”Homage to Mother Earth”

”Homage to Mother Earth”

Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event
April 2, 2017

”Homage to Mother Earth”

”Homage to Mother Earth”

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater, “One Slight Hitch”

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater, “One Slight Hitch”
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Steady and NoBull

Lifestyle

Loudoun Workforce Resource Center Presents STEM Career Fair March 28

16 Mar 2017

Illustration of STEM education word typography design in orange theme with icon ornament elements

Anyone interested in a career in the rapidly growing field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is encouraged to attend an upcoming STEM Career Fair in Loudoun. The Loudoun Workforce Resource Center, in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC)’s Loudoun campus and NOVA SySTEMic Solutions, is holding a STEM Career Fair Tuesday, March 28, from 1:00 to 4:00 …

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Keep Loudoun Beautiful—Greater Lovettsville Area Volunteers Needed

16 Mar 2017

Lovettsville Boat Launch 7-26-09

The Keep Loudoun Beautiful spring clean-up takes place the entire month of April and greater Lovettsville needs volunteers. Bags, vests, gloves and grabbers are available at the Lovettsville Community Center during normal business hours, Monday-Friday. This is a great group or individual activity that can be scheduled around your availability. E-mail Lovettsville Area Leader, Laura Lieberman, for details and to …

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National Awkward Moments Day

8 Mar 2017

awkward

?Laughing at Yourself Is the Best Medicine No one knows who invented National Awkward Moments Day, Saturday, March 18. That’s no surprise, since it probably came about as the result of one stunningly awkward moment that the owner of that moment was hoping to forget. We surveyed our readers and friends to ask them about their most awkward moments, sharing …

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Editorial

Priscilla Nabs Plum Planning Commission Post

Loudoun County Seal Color

Appointment Shocks Many On January 3 Supervisor Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge) nominated Tom Priscilla for the Loudoun County Planning Commission to represent the Blue Ridge District. Priscilla was …

Op-ed

Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!

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– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West

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– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

Why Williams Gap Road Should Not Be Paved

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Today, most residents of Loudoun County know nothing about Williams Gap, even those living on Williams Gap Road (Route 711). Knowing who “Williams” was, why a gap in the Blue …

Vote No To the Minor Special Exception

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We are a group of Loudoun County citizens who will be adversely affected if the board grants a special exception for the Catesby Farm property at your upcoming meeting. You …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm

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By Andrea Gaines On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born …

Around Virginia

Protecting Free Speech

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By Dave LaRock (R-33) As elected officials and members of the legislature, our most fundamental responsibility is to protect God-given constitutionally protected rights. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the government, including governmental public colleges and universities, from infringing on free speech and the free exercise of …

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Walbridge To Run for State Delegate in the 33rd District

Tia walbridge

Tia Walbridge announces her run for the District 33 seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Walbridge is a wife and mother of two daughters and an active member of the Round Hill community. “Like many people in our district, my family has found its prosperity in a Virginia-based small …

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Office Building on Capitol Square To Be Named After Civil Rights Pioneer Barbara Johns

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Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the newly renovated state building located at 202 N. 9th Street on Capitol Square in Richmond (currently known as the 9th Street Office Building) will bear the name of civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns. The building, which reopened last year, houses the Virginia Attorney General’s …

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Sports

Vikings Runner-Up at the State Championship 

8 Mar 2017

vikings

The Loudoun Valley Vikings are the boy’s runner-up at the VHSL 4A State Indoor Track and Field Championships at Roanoke College.  During the 2015-2016 school year, the Loudoun County School Board approved Indoor Track and Field as a Tier 2 (self-funded) sport.  The seven boys competing scored 48 points, second …

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WLVBC U14 Boys Finish 3rd at VA Beach Event

23 Feb 2017

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The Western Loudoun Volleyball Club’s U14 Boys Team garnered 3rd place in their first travel tournament of 2017, the Virginia Beach Invitational. This event was held Feb. 18-19 and featured more than 24 teams from the U14 to U18 age group. The team was second on their net on day …

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