NORRIDGEWOCK — This Sunday would have been Eugene Cole’s 62nd birthday.

There won’t be cake or birthday candles, but there will be a celebration of the life that was cut short April 25 with a single gunshot while he was on duty as a Somerset County sheriff’s corporal.

The Cpl. Eugene Cole Memorial Bridge will be dedicated beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday on the south end of the bridge that crosses the Kennebec River in the town of Norridgewock, where Cole lived and raised a family with his wife, Sheryl, and where he died not far from the bridge.

U.S. Route 201A will be closed to traffic beginning at 1:30 p.m. Sunday from Wade Street north to Sophie May Lane, including Clark and Depot streets, according to an itinerary provided by Norridgewock Town Manager Richard LaBelle who will welcome attendees at 2 p.m.

The national anthem is to be sung by Evelyn LaCroix, a 10-year-old from Skowhegan who won the seventh annual Madison Idol competition March 24 and who played the lead role in the production of “Annie” at the Waterville Opera House.

After an invocation by the Rev. Kevin Brooks, the scheduled includes remarks by Rep. Brad Farrin, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster and District Attorney Maeghan Maloney.

Jeffrey Johnson, a candidate for the Senate District 3 seat versus Brad Farrin in November, said he will be on hand as well. A representative from the office of U.S. Sen. Angus King also will be there, as will Sen. Rodney Whittemore, whose legislative seat is being sought by Farrin and Johnson.

Visitors then will be invited to walk across the bridge with the Cole family to unveil two bronze plaques on the bridge, as well as a historic interpretive panel mounted in the terrace on the northern side of the river. Elks Club members plan to lay a wreath at the first bronze plaque.

The ceremony is expected to end just before 3 p.m. The roads will reopen to traffic about 3:10 p.m.

In June, The Maine House of Representatives and the Maine Senate both approved a bill to name the bridge over the Kennebec River in Norridgewock after Cole.

Farrin, of Norridgewock, submitted the bill. The Norridgewock Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the measure as well. Town Manager Richard LaBelle said the town was approached by Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster about renaming the bridge after Cole. LaBelle said Lancaster asked him and the Board of Selectmen to draft a letter showing full support of the name change.

Norridgewock also declared April 25 as Corporal Eugene Cole Day.

The proclamation from selectmen states that Cole was “a dedicated member of our community and shall be remembered from this day forward for his service and sacrifice. This day shall be a day recognized in the Town of Norridgewock by performing good works, service to the community, and selfless acts.”

Cole was shot and killed during the early morning of April 25 while on patrol in Norridgewock, where he lived. The shooting took place just minutes after Cole apparently stopped to check on John D. Williams, who had duffel bags and a bulletproof vest after being dropped off at a driveway around 1 a.m.

Williams, 29, was arrested in Fairfield after a massive four-day manhunt by state, local and federal authorities. He made his first court appearance April 30 and was charged with murder. He later pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Cole’s death was the first police officer shooting death in Maine in nearly 30 years.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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