• The City Commission rejected all bids submitted for construction of a Downtown public library as being much more than the city could afford.
Lowest of the five bids on the proposed block-long library along Ocean Street, between Forsyth and Adams streets, was $564,876 more than the $2.3 million the city had appropriated for the construction from a bond issue approved by voters in 1962.
The commission directed Taylor Hardwick of the architecture firm Hardwick and Lee, designers of the library, to modify the design to come up with a building that would fit within the city's budget allocation.
There was some grumbling among the bidders over the expense that was incurred preparing bids. Spokesmen for the contractors said the city should have known before the bid call was issued that the project would cost much more than the funds available.
The apparent lowest base bid on the project was $2,864,876, submitted by Daniel Construction Co. Next was by The Auchter Co. at $2,868,000. The highest was $2,950,000.
In other public library news, Director of Libraries Harry Brinton said electricity and telephone bills of the libraries were in arrears and there was not enough money in the budget to pay them.
He said also the rapidly dwindling operating fund would mean suspension of some janitorial services before Dec. 31, the end of the fiscal year.
Cecil F. Bailey, chairman of the library board of trustees, said the shortage resulted from the city borrowing $45,000 from library operations accounts to make up deficiencies in the general employee salary accounts.
• Circuit Judge Albert Graessle Jr. heard arguments on a motion to strike part of former City Council member John Lanahan's answer to a $750,000 libel suit brought by Mayor Haydon Burns.
In his answer, Lanahan denied that he caused publication of any false and malicious newspaper advertisement directed at Burns.
The answer, filed for Lanahan by attorney Walter G. Arnold, said also that one statement contained in an advertisement Burns contended was libelous was inserted by The Florida Times-Union and Jacksonville Journal without Lanahan's consent.
The libel suit stemmed from a full-page advertisement published April 3 during Lanahan's campaign for mayor. When voters went to the polls, Burns defeated Lanahan by a wide margin to win the Democratic party nomination for mayor-commissioner. Lanahan resigned from the council to run for mayor.
Statements in the advertisement that Burns contended were libelous were:
"Yes – crime does pay – somebody" and "Bootleggers tell of payoffs to mayor's office."
In his answer, Lana-han acknowledged he did cause publication of the former phrase and that he did it in good faith and without malice.
Lanahan denied he caused publication of the latter phrase and said the word "office" was inserted in the advertisement by the newspapers without his consent.
Lanahan said he did send the newspapers an advertisement containing the following language:
"Yes, crime does pay – somebody. Jax schools lose millions. Bootleggers tell of payoffs to mayor's police."
Lanahan's answer said the statements he actually sent to the newspapers for inclusion in the advertisement "were justified by the occasion and were qualifiedly privileged on fair comment and criticism."
He said Burns was a public official and what was sent to the newspapers was "in the public interest."
Burns' attorney, Martin Sack, argued that portions of Lanahan's answer to the complaint should be stricken as failing to state a defense.
Sack said even if the advertisement's original copy was changed, Lanahan was liable because the newspaper was his agent and he would be responsible for what his agent did.
Even if he did not authorize publication of the advertisement in the form in which it appeared, Lanahan ratified it by refusing to retract it and apologize, Sack said.
Arnold countered that if Lanahan did not make the statement Burns claimed was libelous, then no malice could be laid to Lanahan.
Sack argued that even if the original copy said "police" rather than "office," it would still be libelous, citing an Alabama court ruling in a case against The New York Times.
Graessle made no immediate ruling, but set Oct. 11 to hear further arguments.
• Jacksonville was named the country's outstanding community of its size in fire prevention efforts for 1962-63.
The announcement was made at the George Washington Hotel during the kickoff for Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 6-12.
The national fire prevention award was presented annually by the National Association of Insurance Agents to the top-performing city in each of six population categories.
Mayor Haydon Burns called fire prevention and safety "two of the city's most difficult subjects to sell the public." He praised the cooperation between city and county officials for a "most difficult job extremely well done."
• A crane excavating holes for new Broad Street Viaduct pilings ruptured a 6-inch, high-pressure gas main and then a welder working nearby ignited the escaping gas.
No one was injured, but the flaming gas spewed 30 feet into the air and caused about $1,000 damage to the crane, which was owned by The Auchter Co., general contractor for rebuilding the viaduct.
Firefighters called city gas department workers, who shut off the gas flow after about 20 minutes.
S.M. Carpenter, Auchter's general superintendent, said the 40-ton crane was using a steel beam to punch holes for pilings through the remains of an old wooden pier under the ground at Water Street.
He said the gas company had marked out gas mains in the area when construction started but there apparently was a misunderstanding and the crane hit one of the lines.
• George Olsen was elected mayor of Atlantic Beach when he defeated former Mayor William Howell 519-466.
Olsen, 36, was executive vice president and general manager of the Gator Bowl Association.
• Mayor Haydon Burns endorsed a community effort to purchase the Jacksonville Suns and pledged his support in keeping the Triple-A baseball franchise.
"You can count on me to be in the front ranks – not as a speaker but as a producer," he said at a rally at the Roosevelt Hotel.
Shares of stock had to be sold at $10 per share by Dec. 1 to raise $200,000 to retain the team.
"I don't want to see anything taken away from the spot in the sun we earned. Loss of the Suns would mar our story. To close up shop would be a severe blow," said Burns.
Have you ever wondered what life was like in Jacksonville half a century ago? It was a different era of history, culture and politics but there are often parallels between the kind of stories that made headlines then and today. As interesting as the differences may be, so are the similarities. These are some of the top stories from this week in 1963. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library's periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.