Local retirement center is closing its doors leaving residents searching for new homes

20 residents soon will no longer be able to call the facility home.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 11:47 PM CST
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LIDGERWOOD, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Nearly two dozen residents of a local retirement center will soon have to move out.

Dakota Estates in Lidgerwood is closing its doors, forcing its residents and employees to find new homes and jobs by the end of the year.

“They have bingo twice a week. There are six of us that play cards, “hand and foot,” said Lorraine Fuka, a resident of Dakota Estates.

Fuka says she’s had some good times while living at the facility.

“You get your meals made. You don’t have to worry about anything. It’s warm and the friends are good. It’s a nice place to live,” she said.

December 31st is the last day Lorraine and 19 other residents will be able to call Dakota Estates their home.

“This gets to be your home. It’s sad that we will have to break up and some don’t have anywhere to go,” said.

Fuka’s granddaughter Sophia Zaft added, “I think it’s going to leave a lot of families scrambling.”

Zaft says she too has a close connection to the retirement center.

“It was always so full of residents. So full of families coming to visit. There were huge activities and picnics,” she said.

She says her grandfather was instrumental in getting the retirement center up and running.

The news of the closing wasn’t easy for her family to receive.

“It’s especially painful for our family for us to hear about that because I know my grandpa would be disappointed,” Zaft said.

She says it’s disappointing how the facility’s closing has been handled.

“Lorraine is 98 years old and she has lived in Lidgerwood her whole life and now you’re going to tell her she has a month to figure it out,” Zaft said. “It’s really disappointing.”

Jim Holmy, a member of the Dakota Estates board declined to comment on camera, but says the biggest reason for the closure is that there isn’t enough income to sustain the facility or to pay employees.

Although, Zaft believes there are other reasons why.

“When things get this financially dire, there is always a concern for misappropriation of funds,” she said.

Zaft isn’t the only one making these claims.

The closure has been a topic of discussion among Lidgerwood residents and our Whistle Blower Hotline has been flooded with emails and calls from people making similar allegations.

“I think there deserves to be more transparency just concerning if there were any funds misappropriated. If so, what’s being done to hold people accountable,” said Zaft.

There has been speculation that the facility’s former administrator misused funds.

Holmy says there is not enough solid evidence to back up those claims.

He adds that the board is doing what it can to get every resident moved into a good home.

The board member also says there are seven veterans currently living in the facility and that Veteran Services is assisting with finding suitable homes.

There are a couple of employees who have dedicated more than 20 years to the facility, but they will soon have to find new employment.

Holmy says current board members have stepped in to work at the retirement center.

Zaft says she believes the board should dissolve with hopes of the facility reopening in the future.

“Its too late to help these residents now, but hopefully someone can make a difference going forward.”