Following the decision by a grand jury not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, 100 Middlebury College students and staff demonstrated in front of Mead Chapel. The shooting and the decision not to indict ignited nationwide discussions around police brutality and racism. Later this month several dozen Middlebury students held a “die-in” to draw more attention to unequal treatment by police.
The election was the big story in November.
Drivers here, as in the rest of Vermont, had to remind themselves that on Oct. 1 a new law that banned talking on cell phones while driving went into effect.
Shoreham residents mourned the loss of their selectboard chairman, Paul Saenger, who died Oct. 5 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Saenger, 59, had been in his 10th year on the selectboard at the time of his death. Former Selectwoman Karen Shackett was appointed to serve the balance of Saenger’s one-year term, which will be up for grabs in March on Town Meeting Day.
On July 2, the Public Service Board experienced a bout of sticker shock when Vermont Gas Systems announced a $36 million cost increase for its Phase I pipeline project. The company said the 40 percent hike was due to increased oversight and a nationwide surge in demand for pipeline construction. State regulators were not amused, and fined the company $35,000 for failing to draft an updated budget for more than a year.
In June, Middlebury learned a project that will disrupt downtown life and traffic will be delayed until this coming spring: Replacement of the two railway overpasses under Main Street and Merchants Row. Officials said design changes and logistical issues were behind the postponement. A concrete tunnel will eventually supplant the two overpasses and taller passenger trains will be able to use the tracks.
Tears flowed as May arrived. Popular longtime Middlebury Union High School physics teacher and football coach Carl Ciemniewski — better known as Mr. C, Coach Z or just Z to his students, athletes and friends, respectively — collapsed and died while attending a Tiger boys’ lacrosse game. He was just 55, but had a history of heart issues.