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December 29, 2011
OSSIPEE— Judging by the number of postcards already returned to Ossipee Town Hall, it seems many have already made up their mind about whether or not the town's three fire precincts should merge.

The results of the survey, sent out earlier this month, will not be available until sometime in February. The deadline for returning the postcards to the town hall is Jan. 30, 2012.

In the meantime, for those who have not yet made up their minds and would like more information, there are four informational sessions being held. The public is invited to attend any or all of the hearings. The first hearing is at West Ossipee Fire Station on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 10 a.m.; the second is at Ossipee Town Hall following the selectmen's meeting on Monday, Jan. 9 at 6 p.m.; the third is at Ossipee Corner Fire Station on Sunday, Jan. 8 at 2 p.m.; and the final informational meeting is on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. at the Center Ossipee Fire Department.

The survey packet contained a letter from selectmen, an informational brochure created by the survey committee, and a postcard that asked respondents to indicate whether or not they are in favor of merging the town's three fire precincts. The packets were sent bulk mail to save money. With bulk mail, said Ossipee Selectman Harry Merrow, there is no forwarding. The mailing list was created from the town's taxpayer and voter registration lists. Only one packet was mailed to each person and no replacement packets will be issued. Not everyone makes sure their address information given to the town hall is up-to-date, however, said Merrow and, therefore, some people will never receive their packets.

Voters at March town meeting voted to spend $5,000 to create and mail the survey and a committee made up of fire chiefs, citizens, and elected precinct and town officials spent eight months creating the packet and survey. Some people have expressed concern that their response can be tracked and it is not an anonymous survey because the postcards are numbered. Merrow, who served on the committee on behalf of the town's selectmen, said the postcards are numbered to reduce the risk of any respondent submitting more than one survey and the numbered postcards are not linked to a list of names.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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