Grand Forks sheriff leading candidate for 'America's Favorite Crossing Guard'
GRAND FORKS—Bob Rost spends most of his time leading the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department, but before and after school, he grabs a stop sign and dons his crossing guard gear as he helps children cross the street at J Nelson Kelly Elementary School.
It's one reason why the sheriff, who has been directing foot traffic at the Grand Forks school nearly every morning and afternoon for 13 years, could become "America's Favorite Crossing Guard."
The Safe Kids Worldwide contest has 55 nominations from around the country, and Rost, the only nominee from North Dakota, was in the lead with 4,106 votes as of Thursday morning, Jan. 18.
Anyone can vote for their favorite crossing guard once every 24 hours until Jan. 31 at safekids.org/crossing-guard. The winner will be announced in late February.
Aside from bragging rights, the winner will receive crossing guard clothing and equipment valued at $500, and the school representing the winner will be given $500.
Rost said he doesn't do it for recognition.
"I just do it for kids," he said, adding it was quite an honor to be nominated.
Rost has been credited with launching the crossing guard program in Grand Forks and North Dakota. He and others helped convince the Legislature in 1991 to pass a bill that would allow crossing guard programs across the state. Since then, crossing guards—in the form of school staff and volunteers—have popped up at elementary schools across the city.
There are few crossing guards in North Dakota, said Carma Hanson, coordinator for Safe Kids Grand Forks. Rost has made time along with his duties as sheriff to mentor students to help with pedestrian training, she said.
"The fact that he makes pedestrian safety a priority, I think, speaks volumes to the kind of tone he wants to set in the community and how important kids are to us in our community," she said. "Bob has shown a lot of leadership in that."
Hanson, who nominated Rost for the award, said the sheriff has become popular among students who see him as they cross the street. He often gives the children high-fives, with students calling him "Sheriff Bob."
The program helps on two fronts, Rost said. Children can cross the street safely, especially during a time when traffic is heavy and vehicles don't stop for pedestrians.
He said he also makes an effort to show children officers are friendly and there to help.
"I want them to understand that law enforcement are their friends. We're not the enemy," he said.