Ferriday Alderman: Haney’s Big House not to be used for profit

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, May 11, 2023

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FERRIDAY, La. — Controversy over a letter posted on social media about the inappropriate use of Haney’s Big House came to a head Tuesday when an alderwoman said that the facility was being used illegally.

During the Ferriday Board of Aldermen meeting, Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd read out a portion of a 2015 contract for leasing “Haney’s Music Hall,” also called Haney’s Big House, which says that it is prohibited for the venue to be used for private events where the host would make a profit.

“This is something we voted on in 2015,” Lloyd said. “Use of the facility for a profit function is strictly prohibited. No money shall be collected at the door for attendance at any function. Any breach of this contract is subject to forfeiture of the center and any fees collected.”

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Lloyd also pointed out the contract states a $50 fee shall be assessed for a police officer to monitor any events held at the facility and an additional $50 fee charged for an additional officer if the event has more than 200 people in attendance.

Ferriday Tax Clerk Debra Elaine-Jones said Wednesday that she found the contract from 2015 and that the rules should still be the same today. However, after administrative changes, Jones said the contract had been reduced to a shortened and “vague” version of itself for a lessee to sign and the rule about not hosting events for a profit wasn’t being followed.

Grant funds awarded by the USDA for Haney’s prohibits the facility from being used for a profit, Jones added.

The discussion of Haney’s Big House had been sparked by a Ferriday business owner’s letter of complaint that was addressed to the mayor and Board of Aldermen and posted on social media.

Anna Brakenridge Ferguson, who owns Brakenridge Furniture Co. at 506 Louisiana Ave. in Ferriday, complained about “outrageous and obscene behavior” at a social gathering that took place Sunday, April 23, at Haney’s.

That particular Sunday, Rashonda Brown hosted a Sunday brunch. The event, “Baddies Do Brunch,” advertises breakfast plates and bottomless mimosas for $30 per person.

Brown said she is baffled at why the complaint was aimed at her gathering.

“I’ve never had any issues or heard of any issues,” she said. “I’m not quite sure what the issue even is. I’ve been doing this for a year.”

Ferguson said her letter to Aldermen is not about the gathering but about public intoxication and accidents that resulted from it that, she says, create bad publicity for Ferriday.

“It’s time to address a problem,” Ferguson said. “We want business entrepreneurs and investors to know that Ferriday is here and open for business. It’s a great town and great people.”

In a responding letter also addressed to the mayor and Board of Aldermen, an attorney representing Brown threatens a lawsuit against the Town of Ferriday if it suspends the contract with Brown, stating it would be discriminatory to do so.

Another brunch is scheduled to take place at Haney’s on May 21.

In her response letter, Attorney Marlin J. Jenkins stated, “… We must address the racially insensitive, racially-biased, and bigoted, April 27, 2023, letter addressed to this honorable body. … Ms. Brown’s events are being unfairly targeted.”

Jenkins’s letter later states, “We hope this situation can be resolved amicably for all parties involved. We anticipate reasonable accommodations can be made. However, a repudiation of existing contractual agreements, coupled with discriminatory state action, may leave no options but to seek redress in Federal courts.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Lloyd asked if past renters needed to pay a fine if they made money from events they held at Haney’s, but Town Attorney Philip Letard said he would have to review the contract they signed first.

No actions regarding Haney’s were taken.