Ascension Parish Council agrees to legal action in dispute with DEMCO

Staff Report

In a relatively brief Ascension Parish Council meeting held July 8 at the Donaldsonville courthouse, much of the time was spent in executive session discussing an ongoing issue with utility relocation involving electricity provider Dixie Electric Membership Corporation.

Ascension Parish Council Chair John Cagnolatti, right, is shown with Dempsey Lambert during the June 2 meeting held at the Donaldsonville courthouse.

After emerging from the private discussion, member Teri Casso made the following motion: "That the Ascension Parish government, through its parish president and with all the personnel under his authority, and the District Attorney, to take all legal action necessary to enforce the rights of Ascension Parish government and the Move Ascension road improvement program to demand the relocation of utility improvements in conflict with road construction, following the DOTD-established relocation procedures. This would also include granting the authority to solicit subject matter experts for testimony at trial."

The motion carried without objection. Members Dal Waguespack and Aaron Lawler were absent.

During the March 3 meeting held in Donaldsonville, Jean-Paul Robert, in-house counsel for Ascension Parish government, told the parish council March 3 that he had exhausted negotiations and recommended legal action over the dispute with DEMCO.

At the time, parish officials contended the company had caused delays for some ongoing road projects through the Move Ascension program.

The dispute includes the relocation of power lines and infrastructure.

DEMCO officials, according to previous reports, have contended they are not against moving the lines and infrastructure, but are seeking fair compensation. Reportedly, there are other complications involved.