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The Blanding, Main Street and Southside drive-in theaters were screening the first Jacksonville showing of Elvis Presley's new movie, "Easy Come, Easy Go" this week in 1967.
Jax Daily Record Monday, Mar. 20, 2017 3 months ago

50 years ago: School board members seek pay increase to $400 a month

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by: Max Marbut  Staff Writer

Duval County School Board members were preparing legislation that would raise their salaries, set the superintendent’s salary at no less than $20,000 and pave the way for appointment of a superintendent in case the incumbent resigned before the expiration of his term.

Meeting in a special session, the board instructed its attorney to begin preparation of bills to be presented to the Duval County Legislative Delegation before its March 29 meeting.

One bill proposed would raise the salary of each school board member from $250 to $400 per month and the chair’s salary from $350 to $500 a month.

Board member Martinez Baker voted against the proposal. He said he could see no reason to raise board salaries because there was what he called “a strong movement” by teacher groups and others to eliminate salaried board members altogether.

M.C. Harden, board chair, spoke for those who supported the measure. He said school board members should be better compensated for their time and efforts in building the community.

Board member Hugh Wilcox said he had talked to peers in other counties and “some board members have expense accounts that are equal to our salaries.”

• Capt. James Swope, commanding officer of Mayport Naval Station, announced projects estimated to cost a total of $13.5 million planned for the base by 1970.

Mayport would be getting a transmitter building, communications building, a shallow-draft berth and bachelor officer quarters.

Swope said the projects were not yet approved, but on his wish list that also included a new carrier pier, a hobby shop and a gymnasium.

The Mayport projects, along with others at Jacksonville and Cecil Field naval air stations, were announced a few months earlier by U.S. Rep. Charles Bennett of Jacksonville.

Nearly $52 million in construction had been proposed for the three bases, he said.

• A few hours south of Jacksonville, Disney World would be under construction early in 1968 and opened by 1970, said Roy Disney, president of Walt Disney Productions.

He said the first phase would be the entertainment elements, but everything hinged on what the state Legislature did in April.

Disney said the state would be asked to set up a special district so the 43-square-mile park in Orange and Osceola counties could be self-governing.

The state would not be asked for any tax concessions or tax-supported subsidies for the $20 million initial phase, he added.

The entertainment phase would include the theme park, golf courses, hotels with a total of 3,000 rooms, 11 miles of monorail track and an airport for executive aircraft.

Disney said the entire project — nicknamed the City of Tomorrow — would take 10 to 20 years to complete.

The dream, he said, was a city of 20,000 people with a “total energy plant that would even rid the city of all its refuse and garbage with the pull of a switch.”

• Police officers sometimes complained that theirs was dirty work, and this week in 1967, Patrolman N.O. Deemers found out that literally was true.

He was patrolling on East Duval Street when he saw a young man run by his car and was then told by clerks in the Winn-Dixie store at Duval and Ocean streets that three youths had stolen several packs of cigarettes.

Deemers turned his car around, drove up Duval Street and sighted a winded suspect running over the bridge at Hogan’s Creek.

He said the suspect leaped headfirst off the span as he caught up with him. The man plunged into a tree and then fell to the ground, but came up running and splashed through the creek, followed by Deemers, who arrested him and took him to jail where he was charged with shoplifting.

During the chase and while searching for the suspect, Deemers was covered with slime from the creek.

“I feel filthy. I’m going home to take a bath,” he said.

• Most people in Jacksonville took great pride in the Fountain of Friendship at the park on the Southbank Downtown along the St. Johns River, but some had no respect for the landmark and made it one of the most common sites for vandalism with a growing list of incidents.

The city built a pump house at the park, not only to house the three pumps that drove jets of water high into the air, but also to provide an observation tower for the public to view the fountain.

The circular walkway to the top was outfitted with rails and lights that were regularly damaged and had to be replaced.

All the shields and the lamps had at one time or another had been broken. In one instance, 25 bulbs were broken in a single day, costing the city more than $500 for replacement and testing the circuits for damage.

On top of the observation tower, a glass dome allowed visitors to see inside the pump house. The thick glass was regularly broken and replaced each time at a cost of about $100.

Sections of the rail around the fountain were frequently torn loose and thrown into the fountain, which also had to be cleaned often to remove beer cans, paper cups and other debris people tried to toss into the jets of water.

On one occasion, three men were caught splashing around in the fountain.

When a guard ordered them out, they replied — with some indignation — that they were taxpayers and wanted to take a Saturday night bath.

They also instructed the guard that if he didn’t leave them alone, “we’ll just throw you in the river.”

One person drove their car down the steps to the lower level of the park.

Getting back up the steps proved more difficult, evidenced by deep rubber burns and broken concrete.

Many coins were tossed into the fountain, presumably with a wish attached, and children would climb over the rail to retrieve the money.

Friendship Park wasn’t the only public space that was popular with vandals.

The duck pond between the Coliseum and the Gator Bowl stadium was being covered with dirt to become a parking lot because people had stolen or killed the ducks and swans and uprooted the shrubbery in the pond’s rock garden.

At City Hall (the old one on East Bay Street), the fish in the pond disappeared after someone put baby alligators into the water.

It also was noted the City Council and City Commission chamber on the 15th floor had to be locked when not in use to prevent people from going there to sleep and leaving their wine bottles behind.

• Florida Junior College at Jacksonville planned to almost double its staff — primarily the faculty — before the opening of the fall term in September.

The existing staff comprised about 100 full-time employees and 15 others working part-time as instructors.

Of the 100 full-time staff, less than 20 were in administration and less than 10 were policy-making administrators, including President J. Bruce Wilson.

According to Oliver Finch, personnel director, a “concentrated effort” was underway to build the staff to as many as 190 by September.

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