Our weekly roundup of Toasts & Roasts:
A toast to Lufkin native Ecomet Burley, who was inducted Saturday into the Southwestern Conference Hall of Fame in Lubbock. Recruited as an offensive lineman, Burley quickly became one of the best players in the school’s history as a defensive lineman. As a freshman, he was named the most valuable lineman at the Sun Bowl. He was among the first Red Raiders to letter as a freshman when the NCAA changed its policy about allowing freshmen to play. The following season, he had 102 tackles and forced five fumbles in earning SWC Sophomore of the Year. In 1974, he improved on those numbers by making 124 tackles, seven of those going for losses. He was rewarded by being named a second-team All-America selection. He was only the second defensive tackle in the school’s history to receive All-America honors. He was an All-Southwest Conference selection in 1973, 1974 and 1975. In his four seasons with the Red Raiders, his teams had a combined record of 31-14-2. He was inducted into the Texas Tech Hall of Fame in 2004. Following his senior season, he played in the Japan Bowl then played six years in the Canadian Football League. After football, Burley spent several years in school administration before being named the director for the Center for Safe and Secure Schools, a division of Harris County’s Department of Education.
We’ll roast the individual or individuals who apparently broke almost every state law about hunting alligators when they killed and abandoned an alligator around midnight Aug. 19 near the Jones Park pier. Game warden Tim Walker said Operation Game Thief will pay up to $1,000 for tips that lead to the conviction of whoever shot the alligator. In core counties, the general hunting season is Sept. 10-30. Core counties are those counties constituting the prime historical habitat for the American alligator in Texas. It’s a violation of Texas law to intentionally feed a free-ranging alligator. Lawful hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset — between sunset and one-half hour before sunrise, no person shall set any baited line capable of taking an alligator, or remove an alligator from a line set; take an alligator by means of firearms from, in, on, across, or over public water. And alligators may only be taken on private property. There are numerous other state regulations concerning alligator hunting that go into much greater detail. The alligator appeared to have wandered between the area for several months before its death. Walker said alligators wouldn’t stay near ponds of such size under normal circumstances, and suspected being fed caused it to stay. “We felt like he was probably being fed. There were some individuals who had pictures of him really close,” he said. “Normally, a gator won’t let anybody get close to him without being fed. I was told he was there for several months.’’ Game wardens are hoping someone in the community can help. Those with information may call Operation Game Thief at (800) 792-GAME (4263) or the Texas Parks & Wildlife Law Enforcement Office in Lufkin at 632-1311.
A toast to the four students who have become the pilot class for the 2019-20 vet tech program at Wells High School, and to the school partnering with an Alto veterinarian on the class. The students are Jessica Arriola, Ashlea Jones, Alexa Scroggins and Oscar Agvillon. The one-year program allows students to gain 300 hours of coursework and 200 hours of work in a veterinarian clinic by partnering with Dr. Dan Kessel in Alto. According to program director Season Caughlin, the program gives students an opportunity to have a career to go to after high school. At the end of the course, the students will take an exam to become a certified CVA Level 1 Vet Tech. The class falls under an advanced science category rather than an elective. Three students work online and with Caughlin on their coursework every morning on campus while one student heads to Kettering’s office in Alto for hands-on experience. The coursework is primarily composed of videos and checkpoints instructing students on the primary responsibilities of everyone in a vet clinic and how a vet tech’s role plays into that system. The time with Kessel gives students practical experience and an opportunity to explore a possible career path. “We are trying to offer as much as we can to interest our kids because we don’t want to waste their time,’’ elementary school principal Bryan Caughlin said. ‘‘We don’t want them to be a part of something they may not use later. We’re trying to get them as much relevance as we possibly can.”
Editor’s note: Is there a person or organization you’d like to nominate for either a Toast or a Roast due to a recent accomplishment, event or incident? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 631-2618. You can also contact us anonymously through our online news tip page at lufkindailynews.com/tips.