By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Mack Theater buzz updates local story

The buzz crisscrossed McMinnville in minutes last week: J.W. Millegan and his two sons were buying the iconic Mack Theater building.

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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The prospect of saving and repurposing that historic landmark is welcome community news, but it comes with some interesting caveats.

The Millegans are on the prowl for hedge fund investors to finance several aggressive development projects. A hedge fund, says Quora.com, is a lightly regulated partnership of “sophisticated investors with enough experience to protect themselves.” As fund managers, the Millegans make the investments, collect 2 percent of asset value as an annual management fee, and keep 20 percent of defined profits.

The suggestion of a $3 million Mack Theater plan strikes some as underpriced, based on what today’s building, fire and historic codes have affected other projects. But win or lose on the bottom line, those 2 percent annual fees can add up.

That Woodworth Contrarian Fund, LP has announced plans to build a $120 million international equestrian center outside Yreka, California, after similar plans failed here in Yamhill County. Then, there’s the fund’s local investment in mysterious Volta PowerGen, a topic too complex to address here. More on that, perhaps, in time.

As for Millegan himself, his reputation is a cautionary tale for rich investors.

He was ordered in 2016 to close his brokerage business after an arbitrator found him in reckless disregard of client financial security. That led to personal and business bankruptcy cases, but the court declined to dismiss his responsibility for the arbitrator’s $447,000 award. He sued his attorney for malpractice, and prolonging that case is preventing finalization of the bankruptcy action and arbitration debt.

A $25 million Falls Event Center lawsuit against Millegan and Volta PowerGen owner Paul Peterson remains in limbo, likely to disappear in the aftermath of FEC owner Steve Down’s financial collapse. And there still is no word from the FBI about its 2017 raid on Millegan’s local home and business.

Maybe it all will be produced as a movie for the opening of a new Mack Theater.

We do have to acknowledge a personal interest in Mr. Millegan’s finances. After filing for bankruptcy, he abandoned several extremely large, particularly heavy executive desks and tables in leased space inside our downtown building. When we pleaded for him to remove the unwanted office furniture, his attorney threatened us with legal action for harassment.

So, if you have a million to invest in the Woodworth fund, we’ll throw in a real nice desk.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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