NORRIDGEWOCK — On April 24, Sheryl Cole emailed the Norridgewock town manager asking about permits for a new home she and her husband, Gene, wanted to build.

The kids were grown, but the grandkids started coming and they needed a bigger house.

“Then the unthinkable happened,” Sheryl Cole said Monday.

In the early morning hours the following day, April 25, her husband, Cpl. Eugene Cole, 61, of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, was shot and killed in the line of duty in Norridgewock, not far from the home he shared with his wife on Waterville Road.

“I just checked my email,” Sheryl Cole said Monday. “It was the 24th, and on the 25th I emailed the code enforcement officer that we’d have to put it on hold for awhile. It happened that morning. I had to tell them I wouldn’t need the permits.”

Four days later, after a massive manhunt involving about 200 law enforcement officers from state, local and federal jurisdictions, John D. Williams, 29, of Madison was arrested and charged with Cole’s murder. Williams, shirtless and barefoot, was cuffed with Eugene Cole’s own handcuffs only 1½ miles from the Cole home. He has pleaded not guilty.

A funeral service for Cole, held in Bangor in May, drew thousands of people, including law enforcement officers from across the country.

Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster offers a folded American flag to Sheryl Cole, widow of Cpl. Eugene Cole, during a funeral service at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on May 7. Staff file photo by Michael G. Seamans

On Monday, ground was broken for a new house, courtesy of two local contractors and a lot of help from their friends. And if all goes as planned, it won’t cost Sheryl Cole a penny.

“We’re going to build her a new house,” Joel Violette, president of Fairfield Drafting & Construction, said from the site Monday morning. “They’re getting ready to dig it out and the concrete guy will be here tomorrow.”

Violette and Mickey Wing, president of Central Maine Disposal and Excavation of Fairfield, have drawn up the plans and are donating equipment and man-hours to build the house while collecting donations of just about everything else to get the work done.

There is also a bank account set up at Kennebec Savings Bank at 226 Main St. in Waterville to collect donations to help with the project.

“We raised four kids here, and I thought after the kids move out, it’ll be fine for just the two of us,” Sheryl Cole wrote Monday in a Facebook message. “But then the grandkids starting coming, and this place seemed to keep getting smaller and smaller … so I finally agreed to adding on a room (actually I insisted on that) but he had pretty much talked me into building a house.”

Violette said the Coles were looking to build a double-wide, modular cape-style home.

“After he passed, she got the numbers and the numbers didn’t work,” he said of the estimated price. “It was a lot more money than she had expected.”

Cpl. Eugene Cole

Violette said Sheryl Cole contacted his office, which also is on Waterville Road, to see if he could build the house cheaper. Instead, he said he drew up plans for a split-level house with a couple of finished rooms in the basement to be used as a big playroom for the grandchildren.

Violette said his crew will build the house and CMD Excavation will do all the earthwork. Dixon Concrete of Benton will be doing the foundation. Auburn Concrete and Mattingly Products are donating the concrete, and all the material to form the foundation has been donated by Gagne & Sons of Belgrade.

Once completed, the house will be 28-by-42-feet, with three bedrooms in a ranch-style home.

“If we can get enough donations to cover material costs, it’ll cost her nothing,” Violette said. “If anyone wants to send donations for the Cole house, it would greatly help us. We’re about halfway there.”

Wing said Violette contacted him and asked him to help, and he was more than willing to pitch in.

“Him and I got together and talked about it and started reaching out to the many friends and businesses that we have on both sides and started getting a bunch of donations from other companies,” Wing said.

He said Zimba Co. of Fairfield is donating the sheetrock for the interior walls. Fortin’s Home Furnishings of Winslow is donating all the kitchen appliances. Cayer Security Service of Waterville is donating the security system.

Neither Violette nor Wing knew Cpl. Cole personally, but both said the shooting death of a well-respected law enforcement officer has touched everyone in central Maine.

“Her family went through something that no family should have to, and anything we can do to help her, we’re going to,” Violette said. “We can’t right the wrong, but maybe we can help a little.”

Wing echoed Violette’s sentiment.

“These folks need some help – she lost the man of the family that was working and it’s an unfortunate situation and if there’s anything we can do to help her family in a time of need, we’re more than willing,” Wing said.

Sheryl Cole said she was flabbergasted when she heard that materials and labor for her new house were being donated.

“All I can say about the house is … I couldn’t believe it!” she said. “(Joel Violette) told me the foundation was being donated. Honestly, I don’t remember much after that. I got very emotional – cried a lot. But he kept on telling me about all the people and all the time, products and services that had already been donated. I was completely overwhelmed, shocked and amazed! I still don’t remember much of what he told me.

“I’m still a bit in shock by this whole thing. The amount of good, kind, generous and caring people in this world continues to flabbergast me, and I suppose that is always a good feeling to have.”

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

[email protected];

Twitter: Doug_Harlow

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