Gonzales hatches new poultry lab
By Paul Schattenberg
GONZALES -- The new Sam and Sally Glass Poultry Diagnostic facility in Gonzales was dedicated in late February in a ribbon-cutting ceremony moderated by Gonzales County Judge David Bird and attended by Dr. Sam Glass and his wife, Sally, officials from Texas A&M AgriLife agencies, poultry industry representatives, and community members.
The 2,950- square-foot, state-of-the-art facility expands the poultry testing space and capacity of the pre-existing Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, which has operated in Gonzales since 1992. It also houses administrative offices and biological safety level-2 laboratories. The facility is located at 1162 Sarah Dewitt Drive, about a half-mile from the previous lab.
The lab was named for Sam Glass, a Gonzales native and 1960 graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University, and his wife. Glass was director of the Texas A&M Poultry Disease Laboratory until his retirement in 1997 and served the state’s poultry industry for more than three decades.
Dr. Tammy Beckham, Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory director based in College Station, said the poultry industry, which at any one time has an estimated 16 million birds on the ground in the greater Gonzales area, is a vital part of the community and economy in the region.
Beckham said that due to the aging of the previous lab facility on Water Street, it was necessary to find a location for a newer, more technologically advanced facility, and the Glass family stepped forward to donate the prime parcel of land where the new lab was built.
Dr. Martin Ficken, interim director of the facility, said the new lab and its latest technology will allow expansion of the lab’s molecular diagnostic capabilities, which will allow for more rapid and accurate testing.
Both Beckham and Ficken stated that Glass was a pioneer in advancing poultry diagnostics, and Beckham said the new lab would be dedicated to “bringing the most timely and best possible diagnostic service to the poultry industry.”
James Grimm, executive vice president for the Texas Poultry Federation, said, “With the presence of avian influenza and other avian diseases, it’s important to ensure that no diseased poultry gets into the food system, and that people can be assured the poultry they are eating is safe.
“The more updated the technology and the more efficient the processes, the greater the degree of confidence that test results will be accurate.”
Paul Schattenberg works with the AgriLife Communications office of the Texas A&M University System.