Nyle Maxwell, Waymon Ferrell, and the iconic water tower in Downtown Round Rock were recognized for their contributions to the culture, development, and history of the community.
The Local Legend Awards program was established in 1990. To date, 74 recipients have been honored. Award recipients in the past have included not only people, but organizations, places like Lone Star Bakery, and a book, “Historical Round Rock Texas.” Award recipients are selected based on the following criteria:
- Importance to the City’s founding or growth;
- Association with an historic place or event;
- Impact of service to the community’s history, development or culture;
- Achievements that have brought honor and distinction to the City of Round Rock.
Local Legends are awarded a certificate of recognition and recognized on a plaque that lists all past honorees since the program’s inception.
Nyle Maxwell Jr.
Nyle Maxwell and Nancy Kellerman married in 1985 and moved to Nancy’s hometown of Round Rock five years later. He and Nancy immediately set about making their community a great one to live in.
From 2002 through 2008, Maxwell was honored to serve two terms as Mayor of Round Rock. He established office hours to allow residents to present concerns and ideas for improving the city and brought the Homeowners Association Presidents together in order to facilitate cooperation and collaboration between the neighborhoods in the City. He also forged a partnership between the Chamber and the City in the form of the Economic Development Committee, which still exists today.
While Maxwell was in office, there was a growing concern that the declining sales tax from Dell Computer would require the City to raise the property tax rate. Maxwell focused on building destination retail, including IKEA and the Premium Outlet Mall, as a way to build sales taxes and keep property taxes low.
Maxwell lobbied heavily for the Round Rock higher education campus where Texas State University, A&M Health Science Services, and Austin Community College coordinate programs to greatly enhance the opportunities for Round Rock and surrounding area residents to get top-notch training locally. Medical services exploded when St. David’s, Seton and Scott and White all announced new facilities or major expansions in Round Rock. Maxwell brought these organizations together to offer a collaborative approach to health care.
The Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships invests heavily in its employees’ growth and development, and the dealerships and employees support their local communities through volunteering, sponsorships, and donations. Maxwell’s crowning achievement has been putting together the Round Rock Community Foundation, a collection of individual funds and resources given by local citizens to enhance and support the quality of life in Round Rock. Since its inception the Foundation has given out more than $6.2 million to local charities and community service organizations through grants, donations, and sponsorships.
“If you’re going to live, work, play and raise a family, then you have a responsibility to your community,” Maxwell said upon his recognition at the Council meeting. “What separates Round Rock from any other town or community in Central Texas is that we understand the gift we have of community.”
Waymon Ferrell had the distinction of serving every law enforcement role in Round Rock from the 1930s through the early 1960s: Night Watchman, County Constable, City Marshal, and Police Chief. He did all this despite losing both hands in separate accidents while performing seasonal work at the Co-op cotton gin.
Ferrell had already lost his left hand when he started his law enforcement career as a night watchman, which provided law enforcement while the elected City Marshal slept by responding to calls for service, checking to make sure businesses were locked and turning the streetlights on and off.
By 1932, Ferrell had become a Special Officer and frequently partnered with City Marshal Luther Ramsey and County Constable Fred Olson on liquor and drug cases. In 1933, the Round Rock Leader commended Ferrell for subduing a much larger drunk man without drawing a weapon. In 1934, he was credited with foiling a robbery by three men who had previously murdered two fruit sellers near San Antonio. In a busy six-day period in 1945, when he was a County Constable, he helped Rangers and Highway Partrolmen arrest one man for assault and forgery, another for car theft, and four teenagers who confessed to killing a Marine in Oklahoma.
In 1955 Ferrell was appointed City Marshal, and became Police Chief when the city created a police department. Ferrell spent most of his adult life making Round Rock a safer place to live, do business, and raise a family.
Ferrell’s family members, and members of the Round Rock Police Department, were in attendance at the recognition ceremony to honor this Local Legend.
“He was a tough man, doing a tough job in a very tough time in our history. He gave it his best shot, no pun intended,” said Jack Ferrell, Waylon’s son.
The Water Tower
Before Round Rock had a central water system, residents got their water from the downtown mineral well, from cisterns, or purchased barrels of water that had been collected from nearby springs. In 1928, citizens soundly defeated a $36,000 waterworks bond, but only seven years later the water tower was built. The Works Progress Administration funding and a downtown fire in 1929 clarified the need for a ready, pressurized water system. A citywide sewer system soon followed in 1938, also made possible with WPA funding. The City’s pure water supply was a much-touted marketing point.
As the city and its water system grew, the downtown water tower became obsolete and was decommissioned. In 1999, Ruth Koughan donated funds in memory of her husband William to build a park under the water tower. William’s CPA office had been at the foot of the tower, and she wanted to make the area more attractive. In the mid-2000s, the Parks Department installed holiday lights, making it visible for miles. By the mid-2010s the tower has become a symbol of downtown Round Rock and the subject of innumerable social media photos, cementing its iconic status.
“I would argue that this water tower is the most prominent feature that we use when we’re marketing the City of Round Rock,” said Michael Thane, who became City of Round Rock’s Director of Utilities in 2006. “I know that we’ll make sure to protect this tower for many years to come.”
Local Legend Award nominations are accepted throughout the year by the Planning and Development Services Department of the City of Round Rock. For more information, contact Joelle Jordan at 512-218-5422 or email@example.com. Additional information on this year’s recipients, past recipients and photos are available on the City’s website at roundrocktexas.gov/locallegends.