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Ascension Parish Council ratifies three directors

Michael Tortorich

During the Sept. 3 meeting, the Ascension Parish Council ratified Director of Planning and Facilities Ricky Compton, Director of Transportation Joey Tureau, and Director of Technology Brandon O’Deay.

Gov. John Bel Edwards meets with Ascension Parish officials at the Medical Special Needs Shelter at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales Sept. 1.

The council ratified both Tureau and O’Deay unanimously, but District 4 Council member Corey Orgeron objected to Compton’s approval.

“Words cannot describe what this guy has been to this administration, this building,” Chief Administrative Officer John Diez said in touting Compton’s experience.

Diez said dealing with rapid population growth is familiar to Compton, who worked for a Florida county that grew by more than 120,000 people in a 10-year period. Compton also oversaw facilities at Baton Rouge’s BREC parks.

Compton previously served eight years as the planning and development director for the Parish of Ascension. Former Parish President Tommy Martinez initially hired him. 

In March 2016, previous Parish President Kenny Matassa terminated Compton. Later that month, he was rehired and allowed to resign with back pay. 

According to his resume, Compton has experience including several projects from his time in Florida. He holds a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from LSU.

“Ricky is a true asset. It’s an honor and a privilege to work with him,” Diez said.

Orgeron asked Diez about Compton’s position as general manager of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.

“That’s his current title because his new title, as of a couple of minutes ago, did not exist,” Diez answered.

Council Chair Teri Casso then said the position was created in prior months.

“So we had two general managers of Lamar-Dixon for the last seven months?” Orgeron asked.

Diez replied that the title was just to “hold him over” until he could be ratified for the new position.

Orgeron followed by asking if creating a title is called for by the parish charter.

The Ascension Parish Council meets virtually Sept. 3.

Diez said it was something that had been worked on “for a long time.” He cited coronavirus delays, as well as proposed unconstitutional amendments.

As Orgeron’s questioning continued, Casso interrupted with her makeshift gavel.

“Alright, gentlemen. That’s enough,” Casso interjected.

“So we’re just going to run him through even though he shouldn’t be ratified?” Orgeron asked.

District 2 Council member Joel Robert immediately made a point of order.

“Go censure yourself, Mr. Robert,” Orgeron replied.

Casso said at that point she would be banging on the table if she had her gavel. She then acknowledged Robert on his point of order.

“It’s about this attack on Mr. Compton, as seen in his public Facebook post…” Robert began saying before Casso spoke over him.

“I take objection to that comment…” Orgeron said.

As Casso cooled down the quarrel, District 1 Council member Alvin “Coach” Thomas asked if the ratification included a raise in pay.

Parish President Clint Cointment said there would be no increase in salary included in the approval.

Prior to the roll-call vote, Orgeron objected. He was the lone member to vote against Compton’s approval.

In other matters before the council:

-- Diez gave a report on the state of emergency involving Hurricane Laura, praising the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

“Our OEP did what they always do, and that’s deliver. We’re proud of that organization. Things happen over there. It’s awesome to have a department like that,” Diez said.

During the storm, the communications department issued 18 press releases, 32 Facebook posts, and a variety of bulletins on the Ascension 21 channel. A tutorial on signing up for the Everbridge alert system was released as well.

Diez also reported on the relocation of the Cara’s House animal shelter to facilities at Lamar-Dixon.

“It was heavy lifting, but we pulled it off,” Diez said.

He lauded the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Prevost Hospital, and Volunteer Ascension for “rallying everyone together.”

He said the parish reached out to Dr. Chris Trevino, who serves as Chief Medical Officer for Lake Ascension hospital, and within 24 hours were set up to receive patients at Lamar-Dixon.

Gov. John Bel Edwards also visited the Gonzales site, where he met with local officials.

Diez said some parish employees used their days off to travel to Lake Charles and cook for more than 1,500 people.

“After 2016, we know we owed somebody somewhere,” Diez said, making reference to the flood devastation that year and the outpouring of support from outside the area.

Several local business owners contributed ingredients for the food, and Lamar-Dixon was used as a staging center.

“It’s a diamond for us,” Council member John Cagnolatti said of Lamar-Dixon. “It’s one of our crown jewels.”

-- The council approved the social media policy, which details access to parish government’s various accounts.

Public Information Officer Martin McConnell read the names of the employees who would have access to the accounts.

The parish maintains accounts on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Departments with Facebook pages include: Homeland Security, Recreation, Counseling, and the Health Unit. The main Facebook page, “Parish of Ascension,” is @AscensionGov.

-- Virtual town-hall meetings concerning the Ascension Sewer plan have been set for Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. and Sept. 11 at noon.

To register for the meetings, see ascension-sewer.com/virtual-town-halls.

Parish officials have been seeking to build a sewer system for the eastern region for years.

The private Ascension Sewer team has rolled out an advertising campaign touting their plan as a “cleaner, modern, and cost-effective” system.

Any sale of existing sewer assets would require a vote.

The council has agreed to hire three services to appraise the value to the parish’s sewer and land assets before moving forward.