Lufkin home health care biz owner wants to open East Texas science museum

Dr. Neal Naranjo with part of his collection
Dr. Neal Naranjo with part of his collection

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Thanks to a Lufkin dinosaur-enthusiast, East Texas could be the home of a new science museum.

Dr. Neal Naranjo spent his childhood as he says most East Texans do.

"I was always picking up arrowheads that were lying around," said Dr. Naranjo, Co-owner of Pineywoods Home Health Care.

The excitement of discovery never dimmed in Dr. Naranjo who went on to study anthropology and archeology in college.

Although he and his wife, Mary Ann, own a Lufkin home health care business, he spends his free-time leasing land in Montana digging up dinosaur bones.

"Like people here will lease a ranch or something to go deer hunting - up there you can lease it to… go dinosaur bone hunting," said Naranjo.

Storage has become a problem after decades of bringing home dino-bones.

Between his wife's threats…

"If you don't get these off my dining room table, I'm going to make some caveman soup," said Mary Ann Naranjo.

... And a family friend's suggestion - he got the answer.

"You need to have a museum… You need to have a museum," said Naranjo.

Next to his home health care business is a vacant lot, and that's where Dr. Naranjo plans to build his 10,000 square foot science museum.

He says it will have The Houston Museum of Natural Science beat for two reasons.

"One, I'm going to have more skeletons. Two, I'm going to do dioramas," said Naranjo.

He wants East Texan kids to not only see the dinosaurs, but also what their habitats looked like.

"If I pull it off correctly there ought to be a lot of 'wow'," said Naranjo.

That's what he's most excited about.  Seeing the reactions from people when the museum's doors finally open, which he believes could be within a couple of years.

Dr. Naranjo is working with the Lufkin Planning and Zoning Commission on a parking lot issue.

Once its approved there… and by city council, construction could begin as early as the beginning of the year.

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