Last year, after the tragic May 27 incident that took the life of Grand Forks Police Officer Cody Holte and injured Ron Nord, a Grand Forks County Sheriff’s deputy, Bill Sullivan decided to have the snowmobile built to honor them.
The snowmobile, built by Ben Reese of Karlstad, Minn., is on display through Friday, Aug. 6, at the Rydell’s Chevrolet dealership at 2700 S. Washington St. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.
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It will also be displayed Saturday, Aug. 7, at Home of Economy, 1508 N. Washington, in conjunction with the Kenneth Olson Memorial Ride. Olson was a 25-year-old East Grand Forks police officer who was shot and killed July 19, 1978, responding to a citizen's late-night call.
When the May 27, 2020, tragedy occurred at a Grand Forks apartment building, Sullivan, of Grand Forks, had just enlisted Reese to build a snowmobile because he had just started to get back into racing, after a 20-year hiatus.
That’s when Sullivan decided the sled he’d asked Reese to build for him, should be built to honor Officer Holte and Deputy Nord, he said.
“I told Ben, we better powder coat everything in black and gold,” he said, noting that Reese is a renowned snowmobile builder whose sleds have been used in many championship races.
Sullivan recalled that “when Nord was released from Altru Hospital, he said, ‘I don’t want a wheelchair. I’m going to walk out of here for Cody.’” Sullivan added, “And I’m going to race this for Cody.”
Almost every part of the snowmobile has been handcrafted, he said. “(Reese) did a deluxe job on it. It’s one of a kind.”
On each side is a single line of script, “Sled built in honor of Cody Holte,” and a police emblem with Holte’s name, followed by “End of watch 5/27/20” and the officer’s badge number, “639.”
At the base of the windshield, under a star with the words “Grand Forks County Sheriff,” are the words, “Ron Nord Survivor.”
On the console, a metal plate is engraved with sled's serial number, which is the “end of watch” date and “639.”
On the leather seat, a single blue stripe is stitched into the black-and-white facsimile of the U.S. flag, and on the raised back of the black seat is stitched “639” in white. Chad Taylor, of Keith’s Upholstery, stitched the leather seat, including the flag motif.
Below the seat are the names of Altoz and Mattracks, manufacturing businesses in Greenbush, Minn.
On the nose of the sled are the words, “Hold the line,” and on the hood are the names and logos of sponsors involved in the project: Rydell, Ben Reese Racing, Custom Stripes, Keith’s Upholstery, Simplot, Dakota Bumper and Body Supply, and East Grand Forks and Grand Forks Police.
The name of Reese’s father, Hector Reese, who worked in law enforcement in Greenbush and Roseau County, is included on the hood.
Todd Grabanski helped Sullivan with the overall design of the sled. Grabanski's father James served 26 years for the East Grand Forks Police Department and his son, John, joined the same force four years ago, he said.
The sled is a symbol of the respect people in this area have for law enforcement -- something that is eroding in other parts of the country, he said. “Blue lives matter.”
Tommy Marcotte, who has developed his skill as an expert painter over a 36-year career with Rydell’s, painted the entire sled.
A small U.S. flag, with “SULLIVAN” to the right, is visible on the lower right side of the windshield.
The blue lines incorporated in the sled's design features have special meaning, Grabanski said. “Cody was holding the line of law and order.”