The Bienville Democrat is on the move

By Michelle Bates

By Aug. 1, The Bienville Democrat will have a new home, but it will still be in downtown Arcadia. The newspaper is moving to 1982 N. Railroad Ave., Suite B, which is located between Crafty Skills LLC and the old pharmacy.

On June 23, Mayor O’Landis Millican gave the newspaper 45 days notice, as per the rental agreement, to move as he said he had a “buyer” for the property, located at 1921 N. Railroad Ave.

In 2019, the town declared surplus, and put up for sale, the property at $75,000. Millican said the offer was for more than asking price and he could not disclose the name of the company or the offer made. In July’s town council meeting, when asked about the move, he said he’d signed a nondisclosure agreement, effectively putting a gag order on it.

According to the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, the only way the sale of public property could be withheld from the public is if it’s “economic development negotiations,” or “trade secrets in a company.” However, it says nothing about making public the name of the company or the offer made.

And to date, according to the Bienville Parish Clerk of Court’s Office, no transaction has been made since the town purchased the building in 2009 for $28,000 from Louisiana National Bank, then First National Bank. The Bienville Democrat has rented the building from the town since Dec. 1, 2020.

The notice came on the heels of a story printed that wasn’t so favorable for Millican in the June 22 edition.

Whether the notice is because of that story is unclear.

The aforementioned story followed one a few weeks earlier in which an investigative audit regarding the spending of COVID-19 money was released by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office. Curtis Brown, an Arcadia citizen, who has also hassled the mayor since the beginning of the year, went to see Millican once the story published. He recorded the incident in which the mayor and Brown could be seen bickering regarding the investigative audit. The bickering escalated after Millican escorted Brown from Town Hall. Millican then made some allegedly disturbing remarks to Brown about his mother; and following the incident, the video went viral.

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