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Veterans home gets first tiny house

Veterans home gets first tiny house
Veterans home gets first tiny house
Dan Crecelius, left, and Jim Fraze stand on the porch of a tiny house at the Southern Indiana Veteran Living and Rehabilitation Facility at Carefree. Photo by Stephanie Taylor Ferriell
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]

The Southern Indiana Veteran Living and Rehabilitation Facility is moving forward, having recently obtained its first two tiny houses, one of which has been placed on the property, located off S.R. 66 at Carefree.

Board member Dan Crecelius credited board chairman Jim Fraze with finding the initial home, citing his expertise in bargain hunting.

“It was probably half price,” Crecelius said.

The 12- by 34-foot home, which is insulated and wired, cost $5,000.

The second home was purchased just last week at a discounted rate from Robert Steas in Corydon. That home is 12 feet by 40 feet. Complete with cabinets and appliances, it’s in move-in condition, said Fraze.

“He gave us a real good deal,” he said of Steas. “People’s been good to us.”

Volunteers are in the process of finishing the interior of the first home, which will contain a small bathroom and kitchenette, along with a sleeping area.

These two homes are just the first in what the SIVLRF board plans as a veterans’ tiny house community. Last year, the board purchased the 13.5-acre property which includes a house and garage. Behind the house is a large area that contains 40 lots, originally planned as a mobile home park, with electric, sewer and a lift station.

“It’s really an ideal piece of property,” said Crecelius.

The property borders Interstate 64 and even has a billboard, which the board hopes to refurbish and use in the future.

An alternative school class hopes to construct another tiny house on the property, and there’s a person who may donate two additional homes.

“We plan to have four livable going into the winter,” said Crecelius.

The organization has also obtained a smaller structure, which it will likely turn into a laundry facility for the community’s residents.

The two men said COVID-19 certainly slowed down progress in some aspects, but it actually helped in another way. Abel Construction, a Kentucky-based contractor, donated its services to refurbish the interior of the brick home on the property. Crecelius and Fraze estimated the value of that contribution was between $7,000 and $8,000.

“They couldn’t work due to coronavirus,” said Crecelius. “They had a crew here for 10 days.”

The home is currently the Leavenworth base for the Crawford County Ambulance Service.

“It’s helping the county, but it benefits us far more,” said Fraze.

The Crawford County Board of Commissioners entered into an agreement with the SIVLRF board, which allows the ambulance crew to live in the house rent-free with the ambulance service paying utilities.

That arrangement saves the SIVLRF board between $300 and $400 per month while providing a centrally-located area with a living area for ambulance crew members.

“It’s a win-win for both,” said Fraze.

Crecelius said having medical personnel on site is a big asset for the veterans’ community, noting it’s likely many residents will be dealing with health issues.

SIVLRF housed one veteran last fall in the brick home. That person has since moved on.

Fraze said the SIVLRF is in good shape financially, noting all work has been completed by donations and volunteers.

Both men said neighboring property owners are happy with the home and the Leavenworth Town Council has been supportive as well.

“We just keep getting lucky,” said Fraze.

Crecelius added, “This piece of property was a stroke of luck, and maybe a little help from above.”

The SIVLRF wants to hear from veterans interested in moving to the property. Anyone interested may call the Crawford County Veterans Service Office at 812-338-3141 or the Harrison County Veterans Service Office at 812-738-4249.