Ascension Parish Council, three parish presidents honor Ken Dawson

Michael Tortorich
Donaldsonville Chief
Shown from left are Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment, Councilmen Travis Turner, Alvin Thomas, and Joel Robert; Ken Dawson, Councilman Dal Waguespack, Council Chairman John Cagnolatti; Council members Teri Casso, Corey Orgeron, Chase Melancon, Dempsey Lambert, and Aaron Lawler.

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment and the Ascension Parish Council recognized Ken Dawson upon his retirement from parish government during the Feb. 17 meeting.

An ordained minister, Dawson previously served on the West Feliciana Parish Police Jury. He was also West Feliciana's parish president for four years. 

He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Southern University. Dawson went to work for Stone & Webster and helped to build the River Bend Nuclear Power Station in St. Francisville. He then went to work for River Bend itself to help to bring it online.

Shown from left are Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment, Ken Dawson, and former presidents 
Tommy Martinez and Kenny Matassa.

Dawson was named Chief Administrative Officer for Ascension Parish in 2012 and served in that capacity for eight years. He later took on the role of infrastructure division director in 2020. In the role, he oversaw all parish water and sewer systems.

Former parish presidents Tommy Martinez and Kenny Matassa were both in attendance to congratulate Dawson.

"When Tommy Martinez asked me to come to Ascension Parish about ten years ago, I guess he was taking a chance. Even though you live in an area, you don't really recognize the benefit of the area until you really ingrain yourself," Dawson said.

In a file photo from 2019, Ascension Parish Chief Administrative Officer Ken Dawson is shown with U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy. Dawson has retired after working for parish government through three administrations.

He thanked Martinez for the opportunity to take "his dream job." Dawson also thanked Matassa and Cointment for having him continue with parish government.

Dawson received a standing ovation following his final words, which included an encouraging blessing.

After retiring from Ascension Parish, Dawson will work for the Southern University system.

Westside councilman presses on water system

Gary Beard, the executive director of the six-parish Capital Area Groundwater Conservation District, gave a short presentation to update council members during the parish president's report.

District 1's Alvin "Coach" Thomas, who represents the west side of Ascension Parish on the council, pressed forward with questions about the parish-owned water utility that serves westbank citizens.

Thomas pushed for answers, as he has done during previous committee meetings. He has maintained his constituents have ongoing issues with billing from the Ascension Consolidated Utility District 1 and Parish Utilities of Ascension water system.

Chair John Cagnolatti pointed out the discussion was not on the agenda and moved on to the next item.

Prior to proceeding, District 4's Corey Orgeron requested for the item to be added to the agenda for the first meeting of March at the Donaldsonville courthouse.

Council approves security agreement for PUA

About three weeks ago, an incident happened at the Parish Utilties of Ascension office in Donaldsonville where a woman allegedly attempted to attack a teller, according to former council member Bill Dawson.

The woman also reportedly went to an unnamed elected official's residence and knocked on the door in the middle of the night.

In discussing adding a deputy for security, Thomas said he thought the situation was "overblown."

"The situation was one incident that happened at the water company," Thomas said.

"I don't think the people of Donaldsonville or the westbank itself would appreciate that sort of gesture in saying it's not safe to go into the water company with one incident," he added. 

Orgeron followed by saying he was unaware of any incident occurring at PUA.

"I'm hoping it's not just because these are people in Donaldsonville that we think we need to put armed guards out there. I'm hoping there's justification behind it," Orgeron said.

Bill Dawson said he felt it was necessary for the personnel at the office.

"This is the same contract you guys use to provide the deputy that's here tonight. We're not saying Donaldsonville is any more dangerous than any other place. It's a personnel safety issue. Our workers who are the tellers there are not comfortable at this point in time. I do not think it will be permanent," Dawson said.

He also stated no issue was found with the woman's bill.

Due to an objection, a roll call vote took place. It passed 5-4.