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Survey respondents want three fire precincts in Ossipee



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SELECTMEN HARRY MERROW AND MORTON LEAVITT help to count the fire department survey response cards at Ossipee Town Hall on Feb. 6. An overwhelming number of respondents do not want the selectmen to pursue a merger of the town’s three fire departments.(Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
February 09, 2012
OSSIPEE — Nearly a year after Town Meeting voters here gave selectmen the go ahead to spend $5,000 on a fire precinct survey, the results are in.

The majority of those surveyed are in favor of Ossipee continuing to operate with three separate fire precincts.

A committee of town and fire precinct officials and citizens worked for months preparing the survey and informational brochure that was mailed to the list of registered voters and the list of non-resident property owners in December.

Four public hearings were held to give citizens the opportunity to voice their opinions, have their questions answered, and hear why they should not be in favor of merging the town's precincts.

Survey response postcards were due Jan. 31 and the results were tallied at Ossipee Town Hall on Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. There were 1,494 postcards counted. Of those who responded, 1,017 were opposed to the merger idea while 477 were in favor. Of those who were opposed, 450 were registered voters and 567 were non-resident taxpayers. Of those in favor of a merger, 255 were registered voters and 222 were non-resident taxpayers. A handful of postcards were not counted because there was either no answer on the card or the answer was difficult to read.

The surveys were mailed using the cheaper bulk mail process that does not allow forwarding mail if the town hall did not have the correct address to send it to. At least three people – and it is nearly impossible to determine how many more – said they never received their survey, including a fire precinct commissioner, an assistant fire chief and a town police officer. To avoid the risk of citizens completing more than one survey, the mailing was the only way the survey was distributed and extras could not be obtained at Town Hall. Soon after the mailing went out and selectmen were alerted to the problem that some were not receiving their surveys, Ossipee Selectman Harry Merrow said that would not matter unless the survey results were close. As it turns out, they were not.

According to Merrow, the people have spoken and now the merger idea is a dead issue and selectmen will be taking no further action.

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