50 years ago: City attorney says JPs not liable for overpayments
Several Duval County justices of the peace and constables were deemed by County Attorney J. Henry Blount to be blameless for deficits in their accounts that were cited in a state audit report.
“In all those audits, the shortages were due to a statute being declared unconstitutional. These officials received money in good faith and equity is with them,” he said, speaking before the Board of County Commissioners.
Blount explained that a law setting JP and constable salaries at $9,000 annually was declared unconstitutional several years prior to the audit after officials had drawn that salary for years. Then the salaries reverted to the $7,500 received under the old law and the officials were held liable for the difference they had drawn.
Blount said the act was faultily drawn by a lawyer — who had since died — whom he did not name. He told the commissioners he intended to draw up a bill for consideration during the 1965 legislative session that would relieve the JPs and constables of responsibility for the deficit. Blount indicated he would leave it up to the affected officials to lobby the Legislature to adopt the bill.
• While considering construction of a new $25 million, 250-kilowatt electric-generating station, the City Commission was advised the Electric Department could save as much as $250,000 a year on fuel if they specified boilers that could use coal instead of oil or natural gas.
The report was the finding of a study commissioned by W. Thomas Rice, president of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
“It will be noted from the analysis that the city could adopt coal operation as the sole fuel, with provision for installation of oil or gas equipment at a future date, and save from $245,000 to $330,000 per year,” Atlanta-based engineer William Hammond told the commission.
He based his statement on several factors comparing the cost of building the new plant to burn all fuels, depreciation, operating factors for all fuels and the price of fuels delivered in Jacksonville.
“This saving would certainly justify the construction of a coal-burning plant now while conditions appear favorable from the fuel-cost standpoint, with the coal companies and railroads anxious for more business,” Hammond said.
• A U.S. Navy ordnance team removed a bomb from the bank of the Intracoastal Waterway north of Fort George Island and took it to Cecil Field Naval Air Station for identification.
The device was spotted by Buddy Allen, who operated a fish camp in the Cedar Pond section. The bomb was visible only at low tide.
Allen notified the Coast Guard light attendant station at Mayport. D.W. Blair, boatswain’s mate first class, in charge of the station, located the oyster-encrusted bomb and later took the disposal team to it by boat.
Blair said the bomb was badly deteriorated and it was not immediately known if it still contained an explosive.
• Harold Martin, vice president of the Barnett National Bank and former chairman of the Committee of 100 of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce, said Duval County needed a stronger identification with the advantages that had boosted the rest of Florida.
Speaking to the Jacksonville Beach Kiwanis Club, he said the county had been bypassed in many instances because it was not associated with Florida in the eyes of Northerners.
“We in Duval County do not share the attractive image which the Sunshine State presents to most Yankees,” Martin said from the podium in the Le Chateau restaurant in Atlantic Beach.
He recommended that the county spend money “to include this valuable image if it is to take advantage of the natural resources with which it is blessed.”
Martin also said steps should be taken to strengthen Jacksonville as the distribution center of the Southeast, increase industrial development, improve air terminal facilities, speed the development of the port and keep educated young people from leaving the area.
• An eighth person was arrested on a charge of submitting false art school attendance records to the Veterans Administration in order to collect VA educational assistance benefits.
Seven of those charged with VA fraud were veterans. The other defendant was Arlene Rita Rock, former operator of the American School of Art at 1233 King St.
Rock was charged with participating with the veterans in preparing and submitting the false attendance records.
The veterans and Rock were named in indictments returned by a federal grand jury in Miami.
• The Board of County Commissioners received complaints that specifications for bids on a 90-foot aerial platform for county firefighters eliminated all but one manufacturer.
The complaints were lodged by W. Ray Willis, representing American LaFrance, and John Harrison, president of Firefighters Equipment Co., selling the product of Pittman Snorkel Co.
Harrison told the board that only one manufacturer, Seagraves, could meet the specifications drawn for the platform.
“That’s the only one that could come close to meeting the specs. I don’t think it should be tied down so strongly,” he said.
Board Chairman T.K. Stokes Jr. said the bid specifications were drawn by a committee of volunteer fire department chiefs and the volunteer fire department coordinator. He said he felt certain the specifications were drawn honestly and took into consideration the needs of the county firefighters.
Stokes suggested to Harrison and Willis that they put their protests in writing and both agreed to do so. Stokes further told them the call for bids invited quotations even if the bidders were unable to meet exact specifications and that those bids would be considered.
Harrison and Willis acknowledged Stokes’ comments, but both said the tendency of a bid award committee would logically be to favor the bid or bids meeting specifications.
• Two men called by county detectives the “silk stocking bandits” received prison terms of 10 years each from Criminal Court Judge Hans Tanzler Jr.
Norman Ursry, 20, and Charles Jimmy Carter, 21, pleaded guilty to a $503.64 robbery on Jan. 7 of a Jackson’s Minit Market at Jacksonville Beach.
When sentence was imposed, the prosecution passed to the court’s inactive dockets a number of charges against the defendants.
In Ursry’s case, those included five robbery counts, one charge of assault and battery and one charge of assault to murder. There were five other robbery counts against Carter.
Officers said the pair wore stocking masks during armed robberies at various food markets.
• Defendants in criminal cases usually petitioned for early release from detention under bond, but that wasn’t the case for Mary Ellen Eaddy.
She was freed June 16 under a $500 bond when she was charged with the interstate transportation of stolen property, but asked P. Donald DeHoff to revoke her bond.
Eaddy said friends who paid the premium on her bond had been harassing her ever since her release and she would rather go to jail that “take any more tormenting.”
DeHoff accommodated her by exonerating the bonding company from further responsibility and turning Eaddy over to the U.S. marshal for confinement.
Eaddy and her husband, both of Charleston, S.C., were charged with federal offenses. Charles Eaddy pleaded guilty to charges of postal theft and transportation of a stolen U.S. Treasury check. Mary Ellen Eaddy was charged with transporting a stolen credit card from South Carolina to Florida and using it to purchase gasoline and oil on the trip.
• A weekend of free entertainment, including go-cart races, dance parties and a hootenanny, were scheduled at Jacksonville Beach.
The cart races, a new event at the Beaches, were scheduled at 2 p.m. on Sunday in front of the recreation center at the foot of Pablo Avenue. Recreation Department Director J. Wilton Smith said there would be 21 vehicles in three classes competing in six races.
Smith said if the event was successful, additional go-cart races would be held on the sand in the future. Sponsors of the races were the Jacksonville Beaches Area Chamber of Commerce and the North Florida Kart Club.
The hootenanny was set for 8 p.m. on Sunday in the band shell. George Maish, master of ceremonies, was to introduce performances by the Ridgerunners, the Coachmen and Teri Abstein, an 18-year-old Beaches resident.
Also on the bill were rock ’n’ roll dance parties at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, part of a weekly summer series in the band shell.