(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
Fiddler’s Green in Corunna announced the facility would be closed by Sunday, Jan. 31 “due to the pandemic and other marketplace forces” via an email. The notice emphasized the closure was not permanent, stating that the Bad Axe facility would remain open to veterans.
“The closure for Corunna will only be temporary while we continue work on the construction and restructure of our building and overall mission within the Shiawassee and surrounding communities,” the emailed notice stated. Any questions regarding the closure were to be directed to Bethany Frechette, the new director after Eric Motz resigned in mid-January.
In a press release from Frechette, she shared, “While the goal of Fiddler’s Green was never to close its doors, we find ourselves in this current situation. The owners, employees, veterans, volunteers, and community have worked so hard to make this a success. Unfortunately, due to circumstances unknown to all the above mentioned, we are facing a temporary shutdown in order to restructure and re-launch the organization in Shiawassee County.”
Freschette continued with, “Along with COVID-19 challenges, the previous director, Eric Motz, had a direct impact in this decision process. Due to the pending investigation and his improper acts against Fiddler’s Green, the vulnerable population we serve and the community, we will have to take this time to regroup so that when we reopen, we are able to provide a full independent living for our veterans.” Freschette did not elaborate on any allegations directed at Motz.
According to Freschette, the closure will be temporary with the plan to open the Corunna campus in three to four months “after we have the opportunity to make the appropriate changes internally. Most veterans that were previously housed at the Corunna facility were from the Bad Axe location and are being moved back this week. Local veterans were given options, including moving to Bad Axe, or being relocated locally.”
Freschette also added that, “Fiddler’s Green is in good standing with the local Veterans Affairs office and has been working with them to offer additional resources to the vets who may need it during this tough transition. Fiddler’s is also in connection with similar organizations and will continue to work with those groups to serve the veteran population.”
In December 2019, a $500,000 purchase agreement with Fiddler’s Green LLC was announced with the city of Corunna, regarding the sale of the former Shiawassee County Medical Care Facility located at 729 S. Norton Street in Corunna. The 63,177-square-foot property, purchased by the organization, was then converted into a veteran housing community with an open house event for phase one of construction held on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Due to construction delays the opening had been held back by a few months.
As mentioned earlier, Fiddler’s Green operates another independent living facility for veterans in Bad Axe. During the September open house last year, Eric Motz, still the director at that time, had shared that as a veteran with 15 years of service, including seven combat tours, he was inspired to work with the homeless or near homeless veteran population in Michigan.
Fiddler’s Green offers short-term, long-term and transitional housing for veterans in need.
As for ongoing local veterans assistance, Shiawassee County Veterans Affairs is available and can be contacted at (989) 743-2231. Director Mike Reed shared the VA office located in downtown Corunna, can still offer temporary housing through a local hotel, along with other community resources that are available.
Shelly Ochodnicky, the director at the Owosso Homeless Angels campus in downtown Owosso, also shared Homeless Angels would assist in housing homeless veterans if needed. Homeless Angels in Owosso can be reached at (989) 723-5400 for further information.