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Killeen is directly adjacent to the main cantonment of Fort Hood. Its economy depends on the activities of the post, and the soldiers and their families stationed there. It is known as a military "boom town" because of its rapid growth and high influx of soldiers.
In 1881, the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway extended its tracks through central Texas, buying 360 acres (1.5 km2) a few miles southwest of a small farming community known as Palo Alto, which had existed since about 1872. The railroad platted a 70-block town on its land and named it after Frank P. Killeen, the assistant general manager of the railroad. By the next year, the town included a railroad depot, a saloon, several stores, and a school. Many of the residents of the surrounding smaller communities in the area moved to Killeen. By 1884, the town had grown to include about 350 people, served by five general stores, two gristmills, two cotton gins, two saloons, a lumberyard, a blacksmith shop, and a hotel.
Killeen expanded as it became an important shipping point for cotton, wool, and grain in western Bell and eastern Coryell Counties. By 1900, its population was about 780.
Around 1905, local politicians and businessmen convinced the Texas legislature to build bridges over Cowhouse Creek and other streams, doubling Killeen's trade area. A public water system began operation in 1914 and its population had increased to 1,300 residents.
Until the 1940s, Killeen remained a relatively small and isolated farm trade center. The buildup associated with World War II changed that dramatically. In 1942, Camp Hood (recommissioned as Fort Hood in 1950) was created as a military training post to meet war demands. Laborers, construction workers, contractors, soldiers, and their families moved into the area by the thousands, and Killeen became a military boomtown. The opening of Camp Hood radically altered the nature of the local economy, since the sprawling new military post covered almost half of Killeen's farming trade area.
The loss of more than 300 farms and ranches led to the demise of Killeen's cotton gins and other farm-related businesses. New businesses were started to provide services for the military camp. Killeen then suffered a recession when Camp Hood was all but abandoned after the end of the Second World War, but when Southern congressmen got it established in 1950 as a permanent army post, the city boomed again. Its population increased from about 1,300 in 1949 to 7,045 in 1950, and between 1950 and 1951, about 100 new commercial buildings were constructed in Killeen.
In addition to shaping local economic development after 1950, the military presence at Fort Hood also changed the city's racial, religious, and ethnic composition. No blacks lived in the city in 1950, for example. By the early 1950s, Marlboro Heights, an all-black subdivision, had been developed. In 1956, the city school board voted to integrate the local high school. The city's first resident Catholic priest was assigned to the St. Joseph's parish in 1954, and around the same time, new Presbyterian and Episcopal churches were built.
By 1955, Killeen had an estimated 21,076 residents and 224 businesses. Troop cutbacks and transfers in the mid-1950s led to another recession in Killeen, which lasted until 1959, when various divisions were reassigned to Fort Hood. The town continued to grow through the 1960s, especially after US involvement deepened in the Vietnam War and demand for troops kept rising.
By 1970, Killeen had developed into a city of 35,507 inhabitants and had added a municipal airport, a new municipal library, and a junior college (Central Texas College). By 1980, when the census counted 49,307 people in Killeen, it was the largest city in Bell County. The city had a heterogeneous population including whites, blacks, Mexican Americans, Koreans, and a number of other foreign nationals. By 1990, the population had increased to 63,535, and 265,301 people lived in the Killeen/Temple metropolitan area.
After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the late summer of 1990, the city prepared for war, sending thousands of troops from the 2nd Armored Division and the 1st Cavalry Division to the Middle East.
On October 16, 1991, George Hennard murdered 23 people and then committed suicide at the Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen (see Luby's shooting).
In December 1991, one of Killeen's high school football teams, the Killeen Kangaroos, won the 5-A Division I state football championship by defeating Sugar Land Dulles 14–10 in the Astrodome.
By 2000, the census listed Killeen's population as 86,911, and by 2010, it was over 127,000, making it one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation.
Numerous military personnel from Killeen have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As of April 2008, more than 400 of its soldiers had died in the two wars.
On November 5, 2009, only a few miles from the site of the Luby's massacre, a gunman opened fire on people at the Fort Hood military base with a handgun, killing 13 and wounding 32. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a career officer and psychiatrist, sustained four gunshot wounds after a brief shootout with a civilian police officer. He suffered paralysis from the waist down. He was arrested and convicted by a court martial, where he was sentenced to death.
In 2011, Killeen got media attention from a new television series called Surprise Homecoming, hosted by Billy Ray Cyrus, about military families who have loved ones returning home from overseas.
On April 2, 2014, a second shooting spree occurred at several locations at Fort Hood. Ivan Lopez, a career soldier, killed three people and wounded 16 others before committing suicide.
Killeen is located in western Bell County at 31°6?20?N 97°43?36?W (31.105591, ?97.726586). It is bordered to the north by Fort Hood and to the east by Harker Heights. Killeen is 16 miles (26 km) west of Belton, the county seat and nearest access to Interstate 35.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 54.2 square miles (140.5 km2), of which 53.6 square miles (138.8 km2) is land and 0.66 square miles (1.7 km2), or 1.24%, is covered by water.
Climate data for Killeen, Texas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 88
Average high °F (°C) 58
Average low °F (°C) 36
Record low °F (°C) 5
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.66
Census Pop. %±
1890 285 —
1900 780 173.7%
1910 1,265 62.2%
1920 1,208 ?4.5%
1930 1,260 4.3%
1940 1,268 0.6%
1950 7,045 455.6%
1960 23,377 231.8%
1970 35,507 51.9%
1980 46,296 30.4%
1990 63,535 37.2%
2000 86,911 36.8%
2010 127,921 47.2%
Est. 2019 151,666 18.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2010, there were 127,921 people, 48,052 households, and 33,276 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,458.9 people per square mile (949.3/km2). There were 53,913 housing units at an average density of 999.9 per square mile (386.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 45.1% White, 35.1% Black, 0.8% Native American, 4% Asian, 1.4% Pacific Islander, 7.9% from other races, and 6.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 22.9% of the population.
Among the Hispanic population, 16,321 (12.8%) were of Mexican descent, 8,117 (6.3%) were of Puerto Rican descent, with a sizable population of Central Americans at 1,758 (1.4%).
There were 48,052 households, out of which 40.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.1% were married couples living together, 17.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.8% were non-families. 24.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 33.2% under the age of 20, 38.7% from 20 to 39, 22.8% from 40 to 64, and 5.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years.
The median income for a household in the city was $44,370, and the median income for a family was $36,674. The per capita income for the city was $20,095, compared to the national per capita of $39,997. About 11.2% of families and 16.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.5% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.
In 2007, Coldwell Banker ranked Killeen, Texas as the most affordable housing market in the United States with an average cost of $136,725.
According to the city's 2008 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
# Employer # of Employees
1 Fort Hood 58,187
2 Killeen Independent School District 6,000
3 Central Texas College 1,360
4 Advent Health (formerly Metroplex) 1,300
5 Fort Hood Exchange 1,218
6 City of Killeen 1,100
7 First National Bank 1,000
8 Teleperformance 936
9 Killeen Mall 800
10 Walmart 650
Killeen Mall serves as the city's main shopping destination, and one of two regional shopping malls in Bell County.
Arts and culture
Vive Les Arts Theatre
Killeen is home to Vive Les Arts Theatre, a full-time arts organization which produces several Main Stage and Children's Theatre shows each year.
The adoption of the City Charter in 1949 established the council-manager form of government under which the City of Killeen still operates today. The mayor is the city's chief elected officer, but he has no administrative power. He does, however, preside over the city's seven-member city council, which sets all policy. The city elects its mayor and three council members at large, meaning that every registered voter within the city limits may vote for all four positions. The other four council members represent specific districts of the city and are elected by voters living in their districts. Terms for the mayor and all council members are two years, with a three-consecutive-term limitation for each office. The city holds nonpartisan elections each May. The mayor and the at-large council members are elected in even-numbered years, and the four district council members are elected in odd-numbered years.
According to the city's 2008 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the city's various funds had $133.4 million in revenues, $119.0 million in expenditures, $523.3 million in total assets, $219.9 million in total liabilities, and $90.4 million in cash and investments.
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Killeen High School
The Killeen Independent School District (KISD) is the largest school district between Round Rock and Dallas, encompassing Killeen, Harker Heights, Fort Hood, Nolanville, and rural west Bell County. KISD has 32 elementary schools (PK–5), 11 middle schools (6–8), 4 high schools (9–12), and 5 specialized campuses. KISD's four high schools and mascots are the Killeen High School Kangaroos (the original citywide high school), the Ellison High School Eagles, the Harker Heights High School Knights, and the Shoemaker High School Grey Wolves.
Memorial Christian Academy (K-12) and Creek View Academy (previously Destiny School), a K-9 charter school of Honors Academy, are in Killeen. In 2015, Killeen added its Early College High School.
Colleges and universities
Central Texas College was established in 1965 to serve Bell, Burnet, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Llano, Mason, Mills and San Saba Counties, in addition to Fort Hood. CTC offers more than 40 associate degrees and certificates of completion.
Texas A&M University-Central Texas was established in September 1, 1999, as Tarleton State University-Central Texas. The university currently offers bachelor's and master's degrees.
See also: List of newspapers in Texas, List of radio stations in Texas, and List of television stations in Texas
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Killeen's main newspaper is the Killeen Daily Herald, which has been publishing under different formats since 1890. The paper was one of four owned by the legendary Texas publisher Frank W. Mayborn, whose wife remains its editor and publisher.
The Herald also publishes the Fort Hood Herald, an independent publication in the Fort Hood area, not authorized by Fort Hood Public Affairs, and the Cove Herald, a weekly paper for the residents of Copperas Cove.
The official paper of Fort Hood is The Fort Hood Sentinel, an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army that is editorially independent of the U.S. government and military.
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Killeen is served by a small regional airfield known as Skylark Field (ILE) and the larger Killeen–Fort Hood Regional Airport (GRK).
The Hill Country Transit District (The HOP) operates a public bus transit system within the city with eight routes including connections to Temple, Copperas Cove, and Harker Heights. The HOP buses are easily identified by their teal and purple exteriors. The HOP recently purchased new buses with the new color green.
Major highways that run through Killeen are Interstate 14/U.S. Highway 190 (Central Texas Expressway or CenTex), Business Loop 190 (Veterans Memorial Boulevard), State Highway 195, and Spur 172 (leading into Fort Hood main gate). Interstate 35 is accessible in Belton, 16 miles (26 km) east of the center of Killeen.
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The city of Killeen is protected by two municipal civil service departments: the Killeen Police Department and the Killeen Fire Department.
Killeen Police Department
The Killeen Police Department has 342 members in its organization with 260 allotted sworn strength. It is responsible for all police functions in Killeen, Texas, covering about 55.235 square miles.
Police Chief Charles "Chuck" Kimble leads the department; his first day was Sept. 1, 2017. Among his top accomplishments since assuming command is a reduction in crime, The Killeen Herald reported. Challenges for the department include being short-staffed with a near-doubling in calls for service over 15 years, according to a Department of Justice report.
Killeen Fire Department
The Killeen Fire Department is separated into three separate divisions; Training, Fire Prevention, and Operation. Currently the department provides emergency services from 8 fire stations strategically placed throughout the city. Nearly two hundred personnel staff 5 Engine Companies, 2 Ladder Companies, 7 Ambulances, and one Aircraft Rescue Firefighting unit. In addition to the line companies, the two battalion captains are assisted with EMS supervision by the EMS Lieutenant assigned to each shift.
KFD recently relocated Fire Station #1 to a new facility on Westcliff Road to provide improved responses in the northern areas of the city and Fire Station #9 is currently being planned on the southwest area of town to improve protection to the growing population in that area.
In 2017 Killeen was ranked the 9th most dangerous city in Texas based on crime data. The city's violent crime rate of 766.2 in 2017 was more than double the national rate of 382.9
The number of murders rose from 10 in 2014 to 17 in 2015, an increase of 70%. The number of rapes increased from 114 to 189, an almost 66% increase from the prior year. There were 16 homicides in 2016. There were 22 homicides in Killeen in 2017, the deadliest year on record since 1991.
In 2008, there were 885 violent crimes and 4,757 non-violent crimes reported in the city of Killeen as part of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) Program. Violent crimes are the aggregation of the UCR Part 1 crimes of murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Non-violent crimes are the aggregation of the crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.
Killeen's 2008 UCR Part 1 crimes break down as follows:
Crime Reported offenses Killeen rate Texas rate U.S. rate
Murder 10 8.6 5.6 5.6
Rape 66 56.9 32.9 29.4
Robbery 216 186.4 155.2 154.0
Aggravated assault 593 511.6 314.4 281.6
Violent crime 885 763.5 508.2 470.6
Burglary 1,711 1,476.2 946.5 743.4
Larceny – theft 2,877 2,482.2 2,688.9 2,200.1
Motor vehicle theft 169 145.8 351.1 330.5
Non-violent crime 4,757 4,104.2 3,986.6 3,274.0
Rates are crimes per 100,000 population. The Killeen rates are calculated using the estimated 2008 population figure of 115,906 as provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Memorial to those killed in the Luby's Massacre
The Luby's massacre was a mass shooting that took place on October 16, 1991, at a Luby's restaurant in Killeen. The perpetrator, George Hennard, drove his pickup truck through the front window of the restaurant, and immediately shot and killed 23 people, and wounded 27 others before fatally shooting himself. It is the seventh deadliest massacre by a single shooter in U.S. history.
Amerie, R&B singer; father was stationed at Fort Hood and she lived in Killeen and attended Ellison High School at one time
Brad Buckley, veterinarian and incoming state representative for District 54 in Killeen, January 2019.
Scott Cosper, Killeen businessman who serve one-term in the Texas House, 2017–2019.
Don Hardeman Hardeman played five seasons with the Houston Oilers and the Baltimore Colts. In his short career, he scored eleven rushing touchdowns and caught two more. He rushed for 1,460 yards on 397 attempts and caught 58 passes for 285 yards.
Tommie Harris, defensive tackle for the NFL's Chicago Bears; former star at Ellison High School in Killeen.
Othello Henderson, defensive back for the NFL's New Orleans Saints.
Oveta Culp Hobby, United States Army – first woman to earn the rank of a colonel in the United States Army, and first secretary of the former United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
Cory Jefferson, professional basketball player, he was drafted 60th in the 2014 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs and was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Played at Baylor from 2009–2014 and attended Killeen High School.
Burgess Meredith, actor; played the Penguin on Batman television series that aired during the 1960s; also played Rocky's manager in the movie Rocky that starred Sylvester Stallone.
Tia Mowry and Tamera Mowry, of Sister, Sister fame; father was stationed at Fort Hood and they lived in Killeen for a short time.
Elvis Presley, briefly stationed at Fort Hood in Killeen.
Darrol Ray, NFL player, attended Killeen High School, where he played quarterback. Drafted in the 2nd round by the New York Jets in 1980. Owner of Ray's Smokehouse BBQ in Norman, Oklahoma.
Terry Ray, American and Canadian football player for Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Edmonton Eskimos, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Attended Ellison High School.
Burt Reynolds, actor, former resident of Killeen.
Royce O'Neale, NBA player, from Killeen.
Ciara, R&B Singer Parents were stationed in Fort Hood at the time of her birth.
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