Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial in Grand Forks may be completed this fall
The memorial, which will be located at Optimist Park, will honor law enforcement officers from northwest Minnesota, northeast North Dakota and Manitoba, who have died in the line of duty and will be a place where the legacy of law enforcement members can be recognized and honored
GRAND FORKS — After years of planning and fundraising, Grand Forks will soon have a memorial honoring fallen law enforcement officers.
Grand Forks is the largest community in North Dakota that doesn't have a memorial for law enforcement officers, according to the Grand Forks Park District.
Grand Forks County commissioner and head of the steering committee for the memorial, Bob Rost, said he has been working on getting a memorial in Grand Forks for about four to five years. Rost said he started working on planning the memorial when he was the Grand Forks County Sheriff, a position he retired from in 2018.
“It’s always been a very soft spot with me,” Rost said. “The recognition that these people gave their lives to protect all of us, I just wanted to get one done.”
In 2020 fundraising began with the goal to raise $250,000 for the memorial. Rost said one of the biggest contributors to the memorial is the Red River Valley Motorcyclists Club. Last year, the Red River Valley Motorcyclists Bike and Car Show Fundraiser raised $30,000. Rost said they plan on doing the same this year as they just held their car and motorcycle show at the Alerus Center where some of the proceeds go toward the memorial as well as to the Veterans Memorial Park, Veterans Honor Flight of North Dakota/Minnesota and other local charities.
Another large donation came from Art and Debbie Bakken last year in the amount of $10,000. Art Bakken is a former Grand Forks City Council member and also served on the city’s public safety committee.
Rost said while the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the fundraising process down, contributions have since picked back up.
“I mean even Giving Hearts Day we got $30,000. We never expected that,” Rost said.
Along with the Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial steering committee working on the memorial, Rost said the Grand Forks Park District has helped out a lot as well.
George Hellyer, the executive director with the Park District, said the memorial project was used as the beneficiary for the Grand Forks Parks and Recreation Foundation 2021 and 2022 Giving Hearts Day campaigns.
While fundraising has ended with the $250,000 having been raised, Rost said contributions are still trickling in. Rost said any extra money will go towards maintaining the memorial such as changing out the flags and ensuring the lights are working.
Since the memorial will be in Optimist Park, Hellyer said the Park District will be responsible for maintaining the memorial and the cost of doing so will be included with all other park maintenance expenses in the park district's budget.
As of right now, Rost said Tony Anderson Construction will start the cement work shortly once the ground dries up. The granite and statue have already been ordered and Rost said he hopes the memorial will be complete by the end of September.
The Northern Valley Law Enforcement Memorial will feature a statue, flagpoles, memorial benches and pavers, a granite monument with four sections representing each jurisdiction in the Northern Valley and a stamped concrete plaza with a paved connection to the warming house. The memorial will honor law enforcement officers from northwest Minnesota, northeast North Dakota and Manitoba, who have died in the line of duty.
The names of donors who made a contribution of $1,000 or more will be placed on a donor recognition plaque near the memorial.
Rost said it is his hope that people will be able to gather at the memorial in the future for the Northern Valley Police Week Memorial Service held every year in May. The service has typically been held outside of the Grand Forks County Courthouse.
Both Roth and Hellyer said they have seen a lot of support and donations made for the memorial.
“The Park District has seen great community support for this project,” Hellyer said. “A number of businesses and individuals have donated towards this project.”
Rost said he is proud of the support the memorial project has received throughout the process.
“I do appreciate all the support that we’ve received from the community," Rost said. "The community’s been very supportive of this.”