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Nebraska Counties Explorer

Cherry County

Communities & Development

Cherry County Seat: Valentine

Total County Population (2020): 5,455

  • Cities (pop. & class): Valentine (2,633 • 2nd Class)
  • Villages (pop.): Cody (168), Crookston (71), Kilgore (63), Merriman (87), Nenzel (17), Sparks (7), Wood Lake (46)
  • Unincorporated Pop. (% of county pop.): 2,370 (43%)

Land Development (2022) (% of total land in county):

  • Agriculture: 92%
    • By method: Pasture (pure grassland) (91%); Irrigated (row crop/grain/forage) (2%); Dryland (row crop/grain/forage) (0%) • Neb. Dept. of Rev. - total equals agriculture's %
    • By commodity: Livestock (grassland) 89%, Corn 1% • USDA (NLCD) - equals agriculture's % plus some wetlands (8%) and minus public grassland/wetlands and reserve
  • Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Conservation Reserve & Exempt (combined): 8%

County Offices

Courthouse Address and Hours:

365 North Main Street
Valentine, Nebraska 69201
M-F 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

County Board Chairperson: Martin DeNaeyer

Complete list of county board members

County Board Meetings: 2nd & Last Tuesday

View the County's Government Maps

Visit the County Fairgrounds

NACO District: West Central

President: Corey Crandall, Keith County Commissioner

First Vice President: Ron Wertz, Hitchcock County Commissioner

Second Vice President: Chris Bruns, Lincoln County Commissioner

Secretary/Treasurer: Sandy Olson, Keith County Clerk

NACO Board Representative: Corey Crandall, Keith County Commissioner

Click for a live look at Cherry County (south of Valentine)


Population: 5,455
Land area (sq. mi.): 5,960.22
Population per square mile:0.9

Race & Age


White: 87.5%
African American: 0.2%
American Indian: 5.0%
Asian: 0.1%
Hispanic: 2.7%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 0.0%
Two or More Races: 4.4%


0-17: 24.5%
18-64: 54.8%
65+: 22.4%


Personal income per capita: $55,302
% of Population in Poverty: 11.4%
# of Housing Units: 2,979
Owner-occupied rate: 65.1%
Median home price: $147,530


Access to broadband (100 Mbps via fiber or cable modem): 23.4%

Sources: National Association of RealtorsNebraska Library Commission, U.S. Bureau of Economic AnalysisU.S. Census Bureau

Employment, Schools, and Child Care

Unemployment rate: 1.6% (as of September 2022)

County Employment Website:

High school graduate or higher: 96.9%

School Districts: Cody-Kilgore Public Schools, Gordon-Rushville Public Schools, Hyannis Area Schools, Mullen Public Schools, Thedford Public Schools, Valentine Community Schools

Bachelor's degree or higher: 23.9%

Community College Service Areas: Mid-Plains Community College, Western Community College

Countywide child care capacity: 10 providers; 112 children

Find child care: For a list of child care providers in your zip code, visit Nebraska DHHS or the Nebraska Resource and Referral System.

Cherry County Economy

Annual Gross Domestic Product (2020): $296,931,000

Cattle Producers: 404

  • Pastureland Cash Rent (avg.): $16/acre

Crop Producers: 121

  • Dryland Cash Rent (avg.): $36/acre
  • Irrigated Land Cash Rent (avg.): $171/acre

Grain Co-ops and Purchasers: Central Valley Ag

Local Grain Market: Click for today's grain prices in Cherry County

Farmers Market: Valentine Area Farmers Market - IGA ( August - October, Saturdays 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.)

Electricity Providers: Cherry-Todd Electric Coop., City of Valentine, Custer PPD, KBR Rural PPD, Lacreek Electric Association, Inc., Nebraska PPD, Northwest Rural PPD, PREMA

Well Locations (Irrigation/Livestock), Soils, Groundwater & Surface Water

Total Irrigation/Livestock Wells: 3,625

Surface Water Diversions (Irrigation): 154

Click for real time:

Streamflow data on the Niobrara River near Berry Falls (SW of Sparks)

Groundwater level data east of Cottonwood/Stevenson WMA

Groundwater level data near U.S. Hwy 83 and Loup River Road

Groundwater level data west of Bristol Lake

Sources: National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA), Nebraska Cooperative Council, Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary EducationNebraska Department of TransportationNebraska Office of the CIO, Nebraska Power Review Board, U.S. Bureau of Economic AnalysisU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau

2022 Levies and Valuations

County levy rate: $0.1940 per $100 of taxable valuation

County property taxes levied: $4,307,567

Total local government property taxes levied: $23,274,617

Total countywide taxable valuation: $2,219,986,414

Federal PILT payment to Cherry County (FY2022): $342,848 regarding 140,633 federally-owned acres

Federal SRS payment to Cherry County (FY 2022): $82,351 regarding the Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest

Click here for all levy rates in Cherry County

County Levy and Taxation Laws

Levy limits

Since 1996, counties and other political subdivisions have been subject to the levy limits listed in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-3442 and Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-3443.

Statutes and regulations

Nebraska Revised Statutes (Chapter 77)

Nebraska Administrative Code (Title 350)

Local tax reductions, exemptions, and credits:

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-902(5)(a) (Deed "stamp tax" exemption): "The [stamp tax] shall not apply to: ... (5)(a) Deeds between spouses, between ex-spouses for the purpose of conveying any rights to property acquired or held during the marriage, or between parent and child, without actual consideration therefor."

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-201(2) (Valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land): "Agricultural land and horticultural land as defined in section 77-1359 shall constitute a separate and distinct class of property for purposes of property taxation, shall be subject to taxation, unless expressly exempt from taxation, and shall be valued at seventy-five percent of its actual value, except that for school district taxes levied to pay the principal and interest on bonds that are approved by a vote of the people on or after January 1, 2022, such land shall be valued at fifty percent of its actual value."

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-6703(1) (Tax credit for school district taxes paid): "(1) For taxable years beginning or deemed to begin on or after January 1, 2020, under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, there shall be allowed to each eligible taxpayer a refundable credit against the income tax imposed by the Nebraska Revenue Act of 1967 or against the franchise tax imposed by sections 77-3801 to 77-3807. The credit shall be equal to the credit percentage for the taxable year, as set by the department under subsection (2) of this section, multiplied by the amount of school district taxes paid by the eligible taxpayer during such taxable year."

Sources: Nebraska Department of Revenue

State Senator: Tom Brewer (District 43)

Standing Committees (click for scheduled committee hearings):

Special Committees:

  • State-Tribal Relations

Map and statistics for Legislative District 43

Map of all districts in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Cherry County History

Number of Registered Historic Places: 12

Year Authorized: 1883

Year Organized: 1883

Etymology: Samuel Cherry (U.S. Army Lieutenant)

     Cherry County covers over 6,000 square miles, making it the largest county in the state (and the 65th largest county equivalent in the United States in terms of land area). The county is known for its diverse geography, which ranges from rolling prairies to rugged canyons, as well as its rich history and cultural heritage. 

     Originally, Cherry County was inhabited by several Native American tribes, including the Sioux, Pawnee, and Cheyenne. In the late 1800s, settlers began to arrive in the area and the U.S. government forced the Native Americans to move to reservations. The arrival of the settlers led to significant changes in the area, including the introduction of new industries, such as ranching and agriculture. The county's soil and water sources have made it a major center for agriculture, including crops corn, wheat, and soybeans being grown in the area.

     One of the most important historical events in Cherry County's history was the establishment of Fort Niobrara in 1880. The fort was established to protect the settlers from raids by Sioux warriors and to serve as a base for U.S. troops to patrol the area. The fort was also used as a supply depot for settlers, as well as a center for military operations in the region. Today, Fort Niobrara is a National Wildlife Refuge, offering visitors a glimpse into the history of the region and the important role it played in the development of the American West.

     The construction of the Valentine & Niobrara Railroad was another important local event in Cherry County. The railroad was completed in 1886 and helped spur economic growth in the area by connecting Valentine to the rest of the state. 

     When the county was formally organized in 1883, the residents opted to name it for Samuel D. Cherry, a U.S. Fifth Cavalry Lieutenant who had been killed two years earlier. Lieutenant Cherry had been leading a military patrol in pursuit of suspected robbers when one of his soldiers (who was heavily intoxicated) shot and killed him.

     The vast space of Cherry County abounds in natural resources. The area is home to several canyons, including the Niobrara River Canyon and Smith Falls Canyon, which are popular tourist destinations. Cherry County also offers visitors the chance to see the largest waterfalls in Nebraska (Snake River Falls in terms of volume, Smith Falls terms of sheer drop). The county is also home to the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, which showcases a variety of wildlife, including bison, elk, and pronghorn antelope. 

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Local Highlights

License Plate Number: 66

Number of Veterans: 373

Zoned County: Yes

Number of County-Owned Bridges: 37

Time Zones: Central & Mountain

  • Boundary line: The boundary line between the central and mountain time zones runs along the western boundaries of Crookston, Valentine, Cleveland, and Loup precincts in Cherry County, or approximately 12-18 miles west of U.S. Hwy 83 along various section lines in PLSS Range 30.
  • History of boundary line:
    • April 6, 1948: Northeastern Cherry County citizens vote to use central standard time. It is possible that the concentration of grain producers in that part of the county north of the Niobrara River, as opposed to the larger predominance of cattle and hay producers in other parts of the county, led residents there to prefer being in the same time zone as other grain producing areas along the Niobrara River to the east.
    • August 9, 1967: The Nebraska Legislature and Governor petition the federal government to move northeastern Cherry County from central standard time to mountain standard time, among other changes in central Nebraska. Federal Register, Vol. 32, No. 153
    • November 9, 1968: Northeastern Cherry County citizens vote 910 to 303 to return to central standard time.
    • March 5, 1969: Northeastern Cherry County citizens petition the federal government to return them to central standard time. Federal Register, Vol. 34, No. 43
    • May 23, 1969: The federal government places all of eastern Cherry County into central standard time (effective June 29, 1969). Federal Register, Vol. 34, No. 99
    • Aug. 1, 1970: Recodification of all standard time zones as 49 CFR § 71.7, which remains the regulation today. Federal Register, Vol. 35, No. 149

Election Data

General Election Turnout % (2022): 72.38%

Total Registered Voters (2020): 3,872

Number of Precincts (2020): 20

Number of Election Day Polling Places (2020): All Voting by Mail

Intergovernmental Data

Emergency Mgt. Planning, Exercise and Training (PET) Region: North Central/Sandhills

Natural Resource Districts: Middle Niobrara NRD, Upper Loup NRD

State Lands (acres): Anderson Bridge WMA (137), Ballards Marsh WMA (1,561.50), Big Alkali Lake WMA (889.40), Borman Bridge WMA (159.10), Chat Caynon WMA (437.57), Cottonwood Lake SRA (240), Cottonwood/Steverson WMA (2,902), Government Canyon Valentine Fish Hatchery (698), Merritt Reservoir WMA (8,962) Rat and Beaver Lake WMA (242.70), Schlagel Creek WMA (610), Shell Lake WMA (380), Smith Falls State Park (265.50)

Federal Lands (acres): Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge (19,131), Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest (114,722), Valentine National Wildlife Refuge (71,516)

Sources: Nebraska Department of Transportation, Nebraska Emergency Management AgencyNebraska Game & Parks CommissionNebraska LegislatureNebraska Office of the CIONebraska Secretary of StateU.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Federal Register - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (eCFR)