Digging in to Wetzel’s legacy

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

Nathan Wetzel was Liberty Hill’s first mayor, and more importantly, was known as a man who embodied the spirit of the community.

Liberty Hill has decided to add to the community-focused long-time resident’s legacy with a park in his name, intended as a place for families to gather for fun for years to come.

“He was a strong leader for this community,” said Mayor Connie Fuller. “He was always willing to help others in the community, which is still the foundation of what Liberty Hill is today. Naming this park after Nathan Wetzel is our way of saying thank you for the contributions he and his family have made to the community.”

Members of Wetzel’s family, along with city leaders, gathered May 2 for a groundbreaking at Wetzel Park, on the southeast corner of Loop 332 and and CR 279.

“This is a fitting tribute because he believed in working hard but he also liked to play and have a good time,” said his daughter, Michele Wetzel.

In 2017, the Parks & Recreation Board and City Council both voted unanimously to rename the park Nathan Wetzel Park.

Since then, work has gone into planning and development of the park, with the Council voting at its April 23 meeting to bid out the planned improvements to the park.

Overall plans for the park include a splash pad, parking, bicycle racks and water station, and restrooms. There will also be shade structures bordering portions of the splash pad and anti-slip concrete decking around the splash pad to keep it cooler.

The splash pad includes various symmetrical sets of fountains on four lobes and sits on a site approximately 50-feet square. The fountains are controlled by push buttons for child activation.

The parking area is positioned on the north end of the site with two-way entrance on Loop 332 and entrance-only access on CR 279.

Wetzel spent a lifetime teaching in the area, teaching agriculture in Liberty Hill from 1950-1966. In 1966, he tasked three of his students with the challenge to design Liberty Hill’s water system.

Even after retirement, he returned to Liberty Hill ISD in 1981 to start Liberty Hill’s vocational education program.

“We’ve always taken a lot of pride in Daddy’s accomplishments,” Wetzel said of her father. “He loved children and he loved being a teacher his whole life.”

In his years of service, Wetzel was PTA president, president of the first Liberty Hill Water Supply Corporation, president of the Lions Club, American Legion member, Master of the Masonic Lodge, volunteer fire department board member and organizer of the first little league baseball in town.

With decades of service and commitment across every facet of the community, Wetzel garnered 79 percent of the vote in the city’s first-ever mayoral election.

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