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Nebraska Counties Explorer

Kearney County

Communities and Development

Kearney County Seat: Minden

Total County Population (2020): 6,688

  • Cities (pop. & class): Minden (3,118 • 2nd Class)
  • Villages (pop.): Axtell (732), Heartwell (81), Norman (32), Wilcox (330)
  • Unincorporated Pop. (% of county pop.): 2,395 (36%)

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

  • Agriculture: 93%
    • By method: Irrigated (row crop/grain/forage) (69%); Dryland (row crop/grain/forage) (13%); Pasture (pure grassland) (11%) • Neb. Dept. of Rev. - total equals agriculture's %
    • By commodity: Corn 50%, Soybeans 29%, Livestock (grassland) 12%, Alfalfa 1%, Wheat 1% • USDA - equals agriculture's % plus some wetlands (1%) and minus public grassland/wetlands and reserve
  • Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Conservation Reserve & Exempt (combined): 7%

County Offices

Courthouse Address and Hours:

424 North Colorado Avenue
Minden, Nebraska 68959
M-F 8:30 am - 5:00 pm

County Board Chairperson: Brent Stewart

Complete list of county board members

County Board Meetings: 1st Tuesday after 1st Monday & 3rd Tuesday

View the County's Government Maps

Visit the County Fairgrounds

NACO District: Central

District President: Carrie Miller, Nuckolls County Clerk, Register of Deeds, Election Commissioner

District Vice President: Kali Bolli, Garfield County Assessor 

District Secretary/Treasurer: Cara Snider Wheeler County Clerk

NACO Board Representatives: Bill Maendele, Buffalo County Commissioner

Click for a live look at Kearney County (east of Axtell)


Population: 6,674
Land area (sq. mi.): 516.24
Population per square mile: 13.0

Race and Age


White: 90.7%
African American: 0.0%
American Indian: 0.2%
Asian: 0.2%
Hispanic: 5.8%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 0.0%
Two or More Races: 2.9%


0-17: 25.2%
18-64: 54.4%
65+: 20.3%


Personal income per capita: $72,421
% of Population in Poverty: 7.6%
# of Housing Units: 2,966
Owner-occupied rate: 75.7%
Median home price: $162,640


Access to broadband (100 Mbps via fiber or cable modem): 79.2%

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

Employment, Schools, and Child Care

Unemployment rate: 1.7% (as of September 2022)

County Employment Website:

High school graduate or higher: 94.0%

School Districts: Axtell Public Schools, Gibbon Public Schools, Kearney Public Schools, Kenesaw Public Schools, Minden Public Schools, Silver Lake Public Schools, Wilcox-Hildreth Public Schools

Bachelor's degree or higher: 26.4%

Community College Service Area: 

Countywide child care capacity: 16 providers; 266 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.

Kearney County Economy

Annual Gross Domestic Product (2020): $338,079,000

Cattle Producers: 106

  • Pastureland Cash Rent (avg.): $37/acre

Crop Producers: 238

  • Dryland Cash Rent (avg.): $73/acre
  • Irrigated Land Cash Rent (avg.): $245/acre

Dairy Producers: 1

Grain Co-ops and Purchasers: Aurora Cooperative, CPI

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

Oil Wells Producing (barrels of oil/yr): 1 well (1,708 barrels)

Electricity Providers: City of Minden, Southern PPD, Village of Wilcox

Rail-served Communities: Axtell, Heatwell, Minden

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

Total Irrigation/Livestock Wells: 2,223

Surface Water Diversions (Irrigation): 36

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 Valuation

County levy rate: $0.2251 per $100 of taxable valuation

County property taxes levied: $4,315,367

Total local government property taxes levied: $27,682,625

Total countywide taxable valuation: $1,917,078,015

Click here for all levy rates in Kearney 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: Steve Halloran (District 33)

Committees (click for scheduled committee hearings): 

Map and statistics for Legislative District 33

Map of all districts in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Kearney County History

Number of Registered Historic Places: 8

Year Authorized: 1860

Year Organized: 1860 

Etymology: Fort Kearny (misspelled)

     The origin of Kearney County is rooted in the construction of Fort Kearny in 1848. At that time, Nebraska was inhabited by several Native American tribes, and European settlers had only begun to move west across the Great Plains. The earliest settlers faced opposition from the Native Americans intent on defending the lands they’d roamed for centuries. In response, the U.S. Army deployed scouts to identify a suitable location for building a fort. The Platte River became an unexpected adversary. The fort was initially slated to be built near Aurora (in Hamilton County), but the commanding officer at that time, Captain Childs, feared that no safe place could be found to consistently ford the river. His men moved further west and began construction just south of the river, but Platte rose one day and destroyed the early fortifications. Undaunted, Captain Childs relocated further south to the fort’s present location. Originally called Fort Childs, the garrison was much more of a supply post than a defensive stronghold. The name was later changed to Fort Kearny, after General Stephen Kearny. A misspelling of Kearny’s name gave rise to several communities being named Kearney, including Kearney County (and the city of Kearney in nearby Buffalo County).

     Besides the Native American tribes who inhabited the area (most notably the Pawnee), the earliest residents of Kearney County were soldiers, hunters, trappers, and pioneers looking to homestead within calling distance of the nearby fort and supply station. In 1860, twelve years after the founding of Fort Kearny, the Territorial Legislature established Kearney County and its population of 474 people. In the first decade, many people departed from or simply continued through Kearney County on their way to more westward counties. The population dwindled to only 58 in 1870. But Kearney County’s central location would prove invaluable, enticing thousands of new residents over the next two decades. By 1890, the population swelled to over 9,000 residents.

     In 1876, as the county experienced an increase in population and development, the city of Minden was established and authorized to hold the county seat, an honor previously held by Lowell. Remarkably, the community had no residents or buildings, and only its central location and available land convinced residents to transfer the county seat. The transfer was not entirely uneventful. When settlers arrived in Lowell to obtain and move the county records to Minden, they were greeted with a note on the door advising that those inside had a very contagious disease and that there was no suitable place to store the records in Minden. Undeterred, settlers assumed possession of the records and relocated them to Minden.

     Kearney County is renown for several local traditions, innovations, and preservations. First, Minden is known as “Christmas City” for illuminating its courthouse with over 10,000 lights each December and hosting a Christmas pageant first performed in 1946. Second, the Kearney County Canal gave rise to the Central Nebraska Irrigation and Public Power District and eventually, Kingsley Dam (named for local banker George Kingsley). Finally, no description of Kearney County would be sufficient without mentioning Pioneer Village, one of the Midwest’s premier exhibits of pioneer life in early Nebraska.

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Local Highlights

License Plate Number: 52

Time Zone: Central

Number of Veterans: 357

Zoned County: Yes

County Hospital: Kearney County Health Services

Number of County-Owned Bridges: 61

Election Data

General Election Turnout % (2022): 56.94%

Total Registered Voters (2020): 4,546

Number of Precincts (2020): 11

Number of Election Day Polling Places (2020): 10

Land Area per Polling Place (avg.) (2020): 51.62 sq. miles

Intergovernmental Data

Emergency Mgt. Planning, Exercise and Training (PET) Region: South Central

Natural Resource District: Tri-Basin NRD

State Lands (acres): Fort Kearney SRA (186.18), Northeast Sacramento WMA (40)

Federal Lands (acres): Bluestem WPA (75.93), Clark WPA (451), Freirichs WPA (46.50), Gleason WPA (569.58), Jensen WPA (465), Killdeer Basin WPA (38.36), Lindau WPA (152.38), Prairie Dog Marsh WPA (892), Youngstown WPA (183)

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, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (eCFR)