Mike Mills Out as Secretary of Parks, Heritage & Tourism

Mike Mills Out as Secretary of Parks, Heritage & Tourism
Mike Mills (Karen E. Segrave | KES Photo)

Mike Mills is out as secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism less than six months after he was appointed by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The Republican governor announced Mills' departure in a news release Friday. No official reason was given, but social media posts indicate that that Mills was forced to resign.

The Arkansas Times pointed to a Facebook post by Jimmy Bryant, director of the Division of Arkansas Heritage, in which Bryant said his staff "recoiled in disbelief" when they heard Mills had resigned. In a separate Facebook post, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Rex Nelson said that Mills was "fired — and given no reason."

Mills is the founder and owner of the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca and was Arkansas’ director of tourism from 1982 to 1986. He has served 40 years on the Tourism Development Foundation. When Sanders announced Mills' appointment in December, she called him "one of the premier outdoor recreation and tourism leaders not only in the state of Arkansas but across the country." 

Shea Lewis, director of Arkansas State Parks, was named interim leader of the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

In a statement, Sanders said Lewis is "perfectly equipped to step seamlessly into this new role and continue our work to grow our outdoor economy and make Arkansas an unparalleled place to live, work, and raise a family."

“I thank Secretary Mills for his service to this administration and years of work as a pioneer in Arkansas’ tourism industry," she said.

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