Harker Heights, on U.S. Highway 190 just east of Killeen in Bell County, originated when two landowners, Pinckney R. Cox and Harley Kern, began subdividing their land and selling lots in 1957. Their 400-acre plot corresponded with the boundaries of Water Control and Improvement District No. 4, established in 1955. Purchasers of the lots demanded water, and Cox led in getting a water system completed in September 1960. Sometime before that, residents of the area, estimated at 600 to 700, had filed a petition for an incorporation election, which occurred on September 24, 1960. Voters overwhelmingly approved the incorporation and named Harker Heights in honor of Harley Kern, who had died earlier. Cox, the first mayor, held the office from November 1960 through April 1966. In December 1988 the city annexed the 2,200-acre Comanche Hills utility district, which increased the townsite from 4,400 acres to 6,600 and added almost 3,500 people to the population, bringing the total to 16,500. Harker Heights is a bedroom community; most of its residents work in Killeen, Fort Hood, or elsewhere in Bell County. A 1987 study estimated that 8 percent (approximately 4,300) of Fort Hood personnel living off base lived in Harker Heights. The city has 300 businesses but no major industry. The schools are a part of the Killeen Independent School District. Four recreation areas are available to citizens, in addition to the Killeen Municipal Golf Course and Stillhouse Hollow Lake. In 1990 the population of Harker Heights was 12,841. In 2000 it was 17,308.