At a listening session set for Thursday night, the north country will be talking and the 10th Mountain Division commander will be listening. 

What he hears will help the Department of Defense make a big decision on the size of Fort Drum's population. 

It's crucial that the right message is delivered.

"We have deliberately made sure that topics we feel are crucial, that that message needs to be heard. We have proactively reached out to individuals to make sure we do have the right message and coordination," said Beth Fipps of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization.

Indian River Central School District Superintendent James Kettrick is one of those individuals. 

Sixty-five percent of Indian River's students come from military families and the school district stands to lose federal aid if Fort Drum shrinks.

"We want to tell the commanding general that we're the neighbor that you know.  We're right next door.  We've addressed any of the needs associated with growth," said Kettrick.

Samaritan Medical Center will be another key player at the listening session. 

The Watertown hospital has seen a lot of growth over the last decade and it's largely due to growth at Fort Drum.

"As we make improvements for the benefit of Fort Drum, it spills over and provides benefits for everyone who lives in the north country.  So it truly is a win-win for everybody," said SMC's Tom Carman.

The listening session is at Case Middle School in Watertown on Thursday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

It's an open session, so anyone who wants to speak is welcome.