Plaquemine family fights chemical plant over burial grounds
PLAQUEMINE, La. (WAFB) - Cemeteries are meant to be places for families to pay respect to loved ones who have passed on, but the Reveille Town Cemetery in Plaquemine has become grounds for an ongoing legal battle.
Janice Dickerson says she’s riding on faith to get possession of the cemetery her family has used for more than a century. She says she’s fighting Westlake Chemical Plant to determine who owns the lot.
“We are here because nobody believes this is happening and how we’ve had to fight. The person who owns this property is in fact the people who purchased it in 1881, our ancestor,” said Dickerson.
According to an old deed, the property was purchased by Dickerson’s third great grandfather, Robert Taylor, under the Mt. Zion Baptist Association, which is currently listed as the owner. However, Westlake says it has maintained the cemetery located within its property since 1990.
Dickerson says her family has also helped maintain the lot and should be entitled to the property since they’re the purchaser’s descendants.
“They want to bulldoze this graveyard. It’s not going to happen,” said Dickerson.
The Westlake Chemical Plant issued a statement, saying they do not intend to physically disrupt the graveyard, and that they only want to preserve the dignity of those buried and protect those who come to visit. However, Dickerson’s attorney believes their intentions may not be in good faith after the plant allegedly denied the family access to the cemetery to bury a loved one.
“That’s what caused the battle of the possession because this was the first time that the chemical plant had turned people away,” said Christopher Meeks, Dickerson’s attorney.
According to Westlake, the Louisiana Cemetery Board issued a cease and desist order prohibiting operation of the cemetery until property disputes were settled.
“We’ve done everything we can to try to approach the chemical company to come up with a reasonable solution,” said Meeks.
A check of records in the 18th Judicial District Court shows ownership was denied to Dickerson. It’s now in the court of appeals.
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