White Plains Voters Pass $226,588,508 Budget, 949 to 159. Approve $24 MILLION New Capital Reserve for Future AND $6.4 MILLION IN INFRASTRUCTURE FROM FORMER RESERVE FUND

WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. By John F. Bailey. May 21, 2019 UPDATED 12 mIDNIGHT.:

White Plains voters voted to approve the school budget by 85% today. The following video shows the moment when the final returns came in:

Michelle Schoenfeld, Clerk to the Board of Education emerged at 9:40 PM with the final results from Battle Hill and Church Street to complete the returns: recorded electronically and displayed on a screen, instead of the traditional chalk on the blackboard. WPCNR  VIDEO


Dr. Joseph Ricca Superintendent of Schools expressed his thanks to the voters. WPCNR VIDEO
Budget vote is displayed in the first two columns on the left. The votes for proposition 1 to spend $6.4 Million on infrastructure from the current Capital Reserve are in columns 3 and 4. The vote for Proposition 2, establishing a new $24 Million Capital Reserve are in columns 5 and 6. the last two columns are the votes for Sheryl Brady and Charlie Norris who ran unopposed for positions on the School Board.

As the school district explained in a previous briefing on the budget, Proposition 1, approved by a 994 to 106 plurality, does this:

Proposition #1 approves up to $6.4 million in expenditures for school improvement projects throughout the district, from the already existing 2016 Capital Reserve Fund. 

(In 2018, the voters in White Plains approved a $10,000,000 expenditure out of the reserve fund created in 2016.) By WPCNR rough estimate the first Reserve Fund raised approximately 16 Million in its three year existance, spending $10 million last year, and another $6.4 million depleting the leftover cash was approved for the 2019-20 budget in Tuesday’s vote.

Proposition #2 approved by a 954 to 116 margin, approves establishment of a new 2019 Capital Reserve Fund of up to $25 million over a period of 10 years, to replace the 2016 Fund which will be depleted.  Monies will be accrued through annual appropriation of unexpended funds and other legally available funds.  No additional taxes will be incurred by either of these propositions.  

The newly approved budget increases taxes by 3.44%, and is under the 2% property tax cap. Ann Vaccaro-Teich, Assistant Superintendent for Business said the budget was the result of good planning, cooperation, and hard work.

An unofficial total of 1,108 registered voters voted. There are 32,000 registered voters in White Plains, which means that 3.4% of voters eligible to vote voted. In 2017, 939 voters voted in the school budget election, meaning that voter participation increased 18% year to year.

This is Dr. Ricca’s second proposed budget the voters have passed. The first Ricca budget, the current 2018-19 budget , increased spending by 2.1 %. In the previous year, 2017-18, ending in June,  the budget was increased 2.58%. Though the school district was allowed under the tax cap to raise the budget 3% in Dr. Ricca’s first year , the Board and Dr. Ricca held the increase to 2.1%.

Dr. Ricca’s second budget, passed Tuesday is up 3.66% from the $218.6 Million budget of 2018-19. However an influx of over $2 Million in state aid is behind that 3.66% increase in expenditure. Without the additional state aid you would have a budget of 224.6 Million, or an increase of 2.7% year to year.

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“Derelict in our public duties to simply accept a bad deal struck by others.”

With 7 Days to Go Before Westchester County terminates the Standard Amusements Playland Agreement County Executive Appears to Stand Firm:

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION LEDGER. Statement by County Executive George Latimer on Playland from the Westchester County Department of Communications. May 21, 2019:

“The County elected to terminate this contract because Standard did not engage in the ongoing process to resolve its breaches of the Playland Agreement.  We outlined in detail ovCounty Executive With 7 Days to Go Before County Terminates the Standard Amusements Playland Agreement Appears to Stand Firm:er a year ago the basic problems we had with the original deal, and more recently, the failures of Standard to honor its commitments in the manager’s investment.

We wanted to work toward an amicable termination of the contract; later in the process, we offered an opportunity for Standard to provide consulting services in partnership with the County to reposition and strengthen the park. 

Those meetings, held between counsel for both Standard and the County, was the opportunity for there to be a new construct of our relationship that could be beneficial to the park, and to the people of Westchester. 

 “Subsequently, Standard has embarked on a campaign to undermine public confidence in park health and safety, working to purposefully injure the County’s ability to operate Playland.  This is disappointing behavior from a company that claims to be focused on the best interests of Playland. 

“Standard’s public relations firm has also been falsely accusing the County of a lack of transparency.  But it has been Standard that has failed to be transparent. 

Our Administration met publicly with the Board of Legislators for 2+ hours to answer questions and outline our position. We have held press conferences answering all questions from the press about this matter.

 On the other hand, Standard has not been forthcoming about the source and terms of the investment it claims is available to the company to satisfy its obligations to invest $27.75 million in Playland. 

Standard has refused to allow the County to complete its audit of the amounts Standard claims to have invested in the park. 

We already know that the vast majority of those amounts cannot properly be claimed as part of the company’s contractually defined Manager’s Investment.

Standard has yet to publicly answer questions about its investors, its specific plans for the park, the specific projects it would use its capital to fund, and a wide range of legitimate operational questions.

And financing an on-line petition that seeks to get people – who want to simply save Playland – to endorse their private takeover of the park, is deceptive.

“We all want what is best for Playland, and we agree that a public private partnership can accomplish that mission – but this deal with Standard Amusement is not a partnership; it is a giveaway of authority and responsibility of a precious public asset to a private organization whose motives and processes are at best, unclear, and at worse, deceptive. 

“We would be derelict in our public duties to simply accept a bad deal struck by others, and meekly acquiesce to the end of public management of Playland for the benefit of the people of Westchester.” 

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BUDGET DETAILS.

WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From White Plains Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Joseph Ricca. May 20, 2019:

 It’s time for our Annual Budget Vote & Election.  We are very proud of the budget we’re proposing for next year, which is fiscally responsible, tax-levy compliant, and supports 100% of our current programming.  The plan also adds exciting new learning opportunities for our students and keeps high quality teachers in every classroom.  It totals $226,588,508 and has a tax levy increase of 3.44%. 

Also on the ballot are two propositions relating to Capital Reserves. 

Proposition #1 asks the voters to approve (as we are required to do) up to $6.4 million in expenditures for school improvement projects throughout the district, from the already existing 2016 Capital Reserve Fund. 

Proposition #2 asks for voter approval (again, required) to establish a new 2019 Capital Reserve Fund of up to $25 million over a period of 10 years, to replace the 2016 Fund which will be depleted.  Monies will be accrued through annual appropriation of unexpended funds and other legally available funds.  No additional taxes will be incurred by either of these propositions.  \

We think you will agree that this is a responsible, economical method of maintaining our wonderful facilities, rather than relying on bonding which, in itself, has a high cost. You may wish to learn more by viewing this short video: https://youtu.be/TT3obcD1rO8

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WHITE PLAINS WEEK OF MAY 17–ON YOUTUBE AND whiteplainsweek.com www.wpcommunitymedia.org

WPWeek for 5-17 has been posted.

The youtube link is https://youtu.be/h9sT2MZPL2I 

The whiteplainsweek.com link is http://www.whiteplainsweek.com/

PLAYLAND UP UP AND AWAY!
BEST OPENING EVER–ATTENDANCE PROJECTIONS
THE UNFOLDING STORY BEHIND THE SCENES
DR. RICCA ON THE 2 PROPOSITIONS TO FUND SCHOOL DISTRICT INFRASTRUCTURE FOR FUTURE WITH NO ADDITIONAL TAXES UP FOR A VOTE MAY 21

PLUS A MINUTE REVIEW OF THE SCHOOL BUDGET AND CITY SCHOOL COMBINED TAX IMPACT

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Court Denies Kat Brezler Democratic Primary Challenge of Dem-nominated Common Council Slate,keeping her off Democratic Ballot. Judge Declares “Insufficient Signatures” After Board of Elections Approves a Sufficient Amount of Signatures. Then Democrats Sued.

Kat Brezler of White Plains  has been denied a place on the Democratic Primary Ballot for Common Council by a New York Supreme Court decison May 7. She has appealed the decision to the 2nd Circuit Appellate Court in Brooklyn. Her hearing will be heard May 22.

WPCNR CAMPAIGN 2019. By John F. Bailey. May 16, 2019:

Kat Brezler, the White Plains Democrat who filed 1, 175 signatures on petitions to secure a place on the June 25, 2019 Democratic Primary Ballot to challenge Democratic Party official nominees Nadine Hunt-Robinson, Jennifer Puja and Victoria Presser has had her petition denied by a decision handed down by Supreme Court Judge Sam Walker May 7.

The denial was determined by presiding Judge Walker after a suit was filed challenging the Board of Elections approval of 780 of Brezler’s signatures (she needed 696 to make the ballot).

After the Board had approved the signatures, a suit was filed by Victoria Presser (one of the Party nominated candidates), Diane Travers and Stephen Walfish. Judge Walker examined the 780 signatures and found, according to the Board of Elections, Brezler “did not have sufficient signatures.”

Brezler’s office released this statement to WPCNR:

“The decision comes after the judge ruled to invalidate signatures based on them not matching voter registration cards, some of which were from the 1970’s. Signatures ruled invalid included those from women who had remarried, a voter afflicted with Parkinson’s, and newly registered voters.

“How many disenfranchised voters is too many? My answer is one is too many! Knocking good signatures off a petition is voter suppression. Keeping candidates from ballot access is voter suppression. We need to stop these dirty tricks and let the voters decide who they want to elect,” 

Brezler’s campaign collected 1175 signatures of which only 696 were necessary to qualify for the ballot. The Board of Elections validated 780 of them.

“We’re fighting for an appeal because voters should decide if we’re going to expand low-income and affordable housing in White Plains, not a few entrenched local political operatives.

“We know we need to get big money out of politics, it infects every level of our system,” Brezler added.

Candidates Forum set for June 17, if Brezler is on the ballot.

A spokesperson for Ms. Brezler told WPCNR there is a League of Women Voters Forum scheduled for June 17 (no time or location set) that was supposed to feature the three Democrat nominees, Presser, Puja and Hunt-Robinson, and Brezler.

If Ms. Brezler is not on the ballot, there would be no primary and no forum. The League of Women Voters according to Andrew Custodio had not asked Republican Candidates, Custodio, Ann-Marie Encarnacao and Brian Peroni to participate.

The spokesperson for Brezler said, “By the end of this month we will have a definitive answer as to if we are participating in the Democratic primary (and therefore the forum, if it is only intended for Dem primary candidates.) Without Kat, there will be no primary. The party has endorsed 3 women for 3 seats so if that is the case I wonder if LWV will postpone this event until closer to the general election.”

Brezler will be back


The spokesperson announced that “According to their website, Working Families Party has only endorsed Kat, but I do know the White Plains Dems submitted WFP petitions for Jen and one other candidate, so they may very well be on the WFP line in November as well. Our WFP nomination has not been challenged, which is why we will appear on that line regardless in November.

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SEE “THE ANNUAL SCHOOL BUDGET PROGRAM” ON “PEOPLE TO BE HEARD.” DR. JOSEPH RICCA and Dr. ANN VACCARO-TEICH ON THE 2019-20 SCHOOL BUDGET UP FOR VOTE May 21 ON www.wpcommunitymedia.org. JUST SCROLL DOWN THE VIDEO WALL TO “PEOPLE TO BE HEARD”

Tonight’s “People to Be Heard” on White Plains TV channel 45 FIOS and Ch 76 Cablevision, John Bailey explores the White Plains City School District Budget up for a vote on Tuesday May 21. It is available to see anytime at www.wpcommunitymedia.org by scrolling down to PEOPLE TO BE HEARD.
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MTA SUED FOR DISCRIMINATION IN NOT UPGRADING STATIONS TO BE ACCESSIBLE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES in Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act

WPCNR STREET LEGAL. From Disability Rights Advocates. May 15, 2019:

A civil rights class action lawsuit was filed today in New York against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), challenging its prevalent, discriminatory practice of renovating New York City subway stations without installing elevators or other stair-free routes in blatant violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This ongoing illegal conduct harms hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, and also those who have heart or lung conditions, arthritis, or other disabilities that make it difficult, dangerous, or impossible to use stairs. (Editor’s Note: The White Plains Metro North Station has an elevator in place for access to the elevated platforms.)

The lawsuit was filed by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national nonprofit legal center, on behalf of three individual plaintiffs and a broad coalition of disability groups, including Bronx Independent Living Services; Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled; Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York; Disabled In Action of Metropolitan New York; and Harlem Independent Living Center. The law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP is co-counsel with DRA.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of another lawsuit filed by DRA against the MTA in 2016. That case, in which the U.S. government intervened, challenges the MTA’s failure to install an elevator as part of its seven-month closure and renovation of the Middletown Road station in the Bronx.

In March 2019, Federal Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that those renovations triggered accessibility obligations under the ADA regardless of how much those improvements cost.  The ruling cast a spotlight on the MTA’s practice of ignoring accessibility during subway station renovations. This lawsuit focuses on the same principle, but as applied by the MTA system-wide.

“The MTA’s actions clearly demonstrate that they value amenities like Wi-Fi over serving passengers with disabilities,” said Michelle Caiola, DRA’s Managing Director of Litigation, said, “MTA has a longstanding pattern of ignoring their ADA obligations when altering stations, harming not only those with disabilities, but all New Yorkers who benefit from elevator access, including parents with strollers and senior citizens. Its disregard and negligence should no longer be tolerated.”

The New York City subway is the fastest, most convenient way to travel throughout the City. The speed, frequency, convenience, and relatively low cost of a subway ride are unmatched by any of New York City’s alternate modes of transportation, including buses, cabs, and the Access-A-Ride paratransit service. Some of these alternate modes of transportation are also inaccessible to customers with mobility disabilities, highlighting the critical importance of the subway.  

Yet, individuals with disabilities are completely excluded from more than 75% of stations that do not offer a stair-free path of travel, making traveling around the City more burdensome and, in some cases, impossible. Half of all neighborhoods served by the subway do not have a single accessible station, and subway accessibility is even more dismal in outer boroughs where a disproportionate number of people with disabilities live.

This dire situation continues because for the past several decades—in contradiction to the ADA’s requirement that accessibility be included along with station renovations—the MTA has completed numerous major renovation projects to improve station usability for nondisabled riders.

The authority has spent millions of dollars and closing stations for months, while repeatedly failing to install the elevators necessary for customers with disabilities to access these renovated stations. The MTA has ignored the needs of its customers with disabilities for years.

“The MTA needs to get their priorities straight,” according to Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York. “When they’re already doing the work and spending money to fix a station, they need to remember to finish the job and install elevators.”

“For decades, the MTA has renovated stations at a cost of billions, blatantly evading the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Joe Rappaport, executive director of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled. “It’s long past time access is first among the MTA’s priorities, not an afterthought or not thought of at all.”

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the MTA to install elevators or other means of stair-access in all renovated stations, as well as a declaration that Defendants’ practice of ignoring accessibility during renovations is unlawful. Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages.

About Disability Rights Advocates (DRA)

Disability Rights Advocates is one of the leading nonprofit disability rights legal centers in the nation.  With offices in Berkeley, California and New York City, DRA’s mission is to advance equal rights for people with all types of disabilities nationwide.  DRA’s work in New York City has resulted in making half of the City’s yellow taxi fleet accessible to wheelchair users, a federal court order requiring the City to make its voting sites accessible, and a victory at trial in a class-action lawsuit challenging New York City’s failure to plan for the needs of persons with disabilities in disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.  More information can be found at www.dralegal.org.

About Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID)

For more than 60 years, the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled’s mission has been to empower persons with disabilities. BCID provides services for the community, helping people advocate for themselves, and leads advocacy for better transportation, housing and in other campaigns for full access and integration into the life of Brooklyn and New York City. Visit www.bcid.org for more information.

About Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY)
The Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York is a leading advocate for people with disabilities in New York City. It was founded in 1978 to ensure full integration, independence and equal opportunity for all people with disabilities by removing barriers to the social, economic, cultural and civic life of the community. In 2018, CIDNY reached more than 100,000 New Yorkers. For more information, visit www.cidny.org.

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Two Drivers Get it the WRONG WAY ON SAW MILL PKY– one Crashes. Other is Stopped by Police without mishap.

WPCNR POLICE GAZETTE From the Westchester County Police. May 14, 2019:

 Westchester County Police arrested two wrong-way drivers in separate incidents this morning and charged them with driving under the influence of alcohol on the Saw Mill River Parkway in northern Westchester.

In the first incident, which occurred about 1:10 a.m., the wrong-way driver collided with another vehicle near Grant Street in Pleasantville.

The wrong-way driver was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of travel in a 2013 Honda Civic when he collided with a 2011 BMW, seriously injuring himself and causing injury to the other driver.

The wrong-way driver, who had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, had to be extricated from his car by the Pleasantville Fire Department and was taken to the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla by the Pleasantville Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  He was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries.

The wrong way driver, a man in his 50s, did not have identification in his possession. County Police have a tentative ID and are working to confirm it.

The driver of the other vehicle suffered leg injuries in the crash and was treated at the emergency room at the Westchester Medical Center.

The wrong-way driver was charged with Driving While Intoxicated, Reckless Endangerment 2nd Degree and Assault 3rd Degree, misdemeanors. He will be required to surrender to county police to be booked on the charges following his release from the hospital.

The second incident occurred about 2:30 a.m. when county police received a report of a wrong-way driver traveling northbound in the southbound lanes in New Castle.  Officers observed the wrong-way vehicle, a GMC Envoy,at the Mount Kisco-Bedford border and were able to stop it at the Route 117 exit in Bedford.

The driver, who also had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, failed a field sobriety test. Matthew Seiter, 36, of Brookfield, CT, was subsequently charged with Reckless Endangerment 2nd Degree, a misdemeanor, and Driving While Ability Impaired and Reckless Driving, violations. He is due to appear in Bedford Town Court on June 5.

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Playland Brings Westchester In on Opening Day: 8,228 Fill the Park Highest Crowd in 7 Years

COASTER, PLAYLAND’S MASCOT SUPERVISES WESTCHESTER COUNTY EXECUTIVE GEORGE LATIMER CUTTING THE RIBBON TO THE NEW PLAYLAND PARK  “You have to get it just right the first time, ” sources quote Coaster . 
COUNTY EXECUTIVE GEORGE LATIMER WELCOMING THE MULTITUDES TO PLAYLAND PARK SATURDAY. All photos, Courtesy Westchester County Department of Communications
AND AWAAAAAAAAAAAAY WE GO!

WPCNR PLAYLAND GO ROUND. From Westchester County Department of Communications May 13, 2019:

Playland’s 2019 Opening Day is going in the record books as having the highest attendance the park has seen on opening day in 7 years.  The Park welcomed 8,228 people on opening day, with attendees enjoying the rides, food, musical entertainment and Kiddie Land shows. 

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “This attendance record shows just how important refreshed marketing, creativity and drive are when promoting an amusement park. The workers at Playland did a fantastic job readying the park – it was spotless and colorful and adorned with our new mascot Coaster.

 I thank them for their tireless work. Hearing the roar of the Dragon Coaster coupled with laughter under the warm sunshine was the perfect Saturday at Playland Park. I am excited to see attendance continue to climb as we roll out more of our promotional events at Playland this season.” 

Westchester County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Commissioner Kathy O’Connor said: “Opening day at Playland this season was a dream.  I am incredibly proud of the work of the Parks Department and incredibly thankful for County Executive Latimer’s support of Playland. Playland is different this season – you can feel the energy and excitement – and we are looking forward to rolling out all of our new programs and initiatives.  It is going to be a great summer at Playland.”

HARD TO TELL WHO HAS MORE FUN AT THE NEW PLAYLAND PARK– THE LITTLE KIDS OR THE BIG KIDS.

Westchester County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Deputy Commissioner Peter Tartaglia said: “I want to thank County Executive Latimer for his commitment and vision.  People are excited to come out to Playland in a way that has been missing for years. There is an excitement and a buzz, people see us more on television and on social media. Customers know this is a fun and safe place to be and they want to be part of it.”

Playland General Manager Frank Carrieri said: “The 2019 season at Playland is off to a tremendous start – we are proud and excited of all the new programs and events we are running this summer and the public is also. There is an energy and an excitement at this Park we haven’t seen in a long time, and I want to thank County Executive Latimer for believing in Playland and fighting to keep this the people’s park.”

COASTER ARRIVES ON VINTAGE 1928 PLAYLAND FIRE TRUCK

Playland has been Westchester County and the New York Metropolitan areas’ great family amusement park and entertainment center since 1928. For the 2019 season, the Park is welcoming many new, exciting events and promotions – including a collaboration with ArtsWestchester and the Westchester Parks Foundation for a public art display, the first new commercial in 10 years, the welcoming of “Town Days” to promote community and 11 new musical acts. 

The 30-sec TV commercial was produced in-house by Catherine Cioffi the Westchester County Director of Communications and her assistant Carl Pagano. Ms.Cioffi told WPCNR more commercials are planned. And you can see the commercial on this link:

LINK TO NEW PLAYLAND COMMERCIAL

Ms. Cioffi turned WPCNR over to Deputy Commissioner of Parks, Recreation & Conservation, Peter Tartaglia to answer WPCNR’s question about future public information efforts. Tartaglia in a statement said:

“Zanzarella Marketing is our media buyer as well as our consultant. The $850,000 consists of all media including social media- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, television broadcast and cable, New York and Westchester radio, billboards and digital boards in Westchester and the Bronx, area newspapers and area direct mail.”

Latimer continued: “This administration is committed to Playland. We plan to run this park with a level of energy and vitality that has been missing.  This is a County park for County people – and whether you live in the far northwest corner of this County in Cortlandt, Peekskill or Buchanan, or down in the southeast portion near Pelham Manor and New Rochelle, or if you are in Yonkers in the southwest corner, or North Salem in the northeast section of the County – Playland is a park for you.”

Among the new features for the 2019 Season: a public art display, Westchester Town Days, the Westchester Loves to Read Program, laser shows, 11 new musical acts, a new coaster mascot, new social media campaign #HeyCoaster, Playland museum, updated commercial and updated webpage (playlandpark.org).

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Loucks Games Glitter with Record-Challenging Performance, Inspiring All-In Effort by Hundreds of Athletes from Across the Land

Spectators and Competitors from cities, towns, track clubs from the great Northeast saw performances to remember at White Plains High School Saturday on a memorable day in the sun.
A Women’s 100 Yard Dash Heat Saturday morning at the Loucks Games
The Discus Throwers were flying with efforts that challenged meet and state records.
The first of the Men’s Mile Heats–A spectacular race

The Glen Loucks Meet on Saturday at White Plains High School was a spectacular exhibition of exciting, extraordinary competition of champions and aspirants to execellence in crisp cool spectacular weather. The efforts, the disciplined performance and strategic display of race strategies simply stunned in heat after heat, race after race. Discus and Javelin throw. It was youth at its best!

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