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Jax Daily Record Monday, Dec. 1, 201412:00 PM EST

50 years ago: A&P opens $4.5M distribution center

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

A $4.5 million food distribution center to serve a three-state area that would employ 250 people was opened by the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.

Officials of A&P, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Co. and the city, county and state attended the opening ceremony and took a tour through the facility at West 45th and Hilton streets.

The center would serve more than 100 stores in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida with their meat requirements and 116 stores in the area with grocery needs. The facility comprised a grocery and produce warehouse, meat plant, frozen food holding section, a salvage warehouse and an A&P supermarket.

“We are all delighted as interested citizens of every instance of growth and progress,” said Jacksonville Mayor Haydon Burns. “This is proof that this area of Florida hasn’t gone to pot, that it still is most progressive.”

• U.S. Rep. Charles E. Bennett suggested making the Virgin Islands the 68th county of Florida.

Speaking before the Florida Planning and Zoning Association, Bennett said a United Nations committee was urging the Virgin Islands be freed from colonial status.

“Why shouldn’t this be to the mutual interest of Florida and the Virgin Islands?” he asked.

Bennett said the 1,200-mile distance from Miami to the islands should not be a handicap.

“Hawaii is twice as far from the mainland as the Virgin Islands,” he said. “And since the Virgin Islands are too small to become a state, what would be more logical than making them part of Florida?”

Bennett made the proposal as one of the projects he would like to see accomplished by 1974.

“For this community, I express the hope that it may have, before the next decade is out, the best public school system in Florida, with first emphasis on education through high school,” he said.

Also on his wish list were a state university and a state junior college in Jacksonville.

“We owe this to the young people of our community and to our own current and future prosperity,” Bennett said.

• The Beaches Committee of 100 delayed for a second time a decision on whether to launch a drive for funds to finance a convention hotel in Jacksonville Beach.

Committee Chairman Ken Hendryx said the executive board would not make a decision on the issue until at least January.

He said the board felt embarking on the project would not be wise in view of the extensive damage caused in September by Hurricane Dora and the approaching holiday season.

• A drive to take the Florida judiciary out of partisan politics and base the selection of judges mainly on qualifications was launched during the Citizens Conference on Florida’s Judicial System at the Robert Meyer Hotel.

The plan would require legislative action followed by political action at the next general election on a proposed constitutional amendment that would revamp the system of electing judges and of disciplining and removing incumbents.

The plan provided for selection of judges to fill vacancies. It also provided for a nine-member statewide commission responsible for disciplining and removing incumbent judges for cause.

The plan still would call for election of judges at the polls, but there would be no political party nominations. Incumbent judges would offer themselves for election. Their names would go on the ballot and the voters would answer a yes or no question, “Should Judge X be retained in office?”

Voters would be advised of the qualifications of incumbent judges through political action and recommendations of local Bar associations, but the judges would run solely on their qualifications as opposed to against an opponent.

If the voters rejected a judge, a replacement would be made by a judicial selection commission.

• Duval County’s 15 public high schools still would have been accredited in December 1964 had accomplishments been presented instead of promises.

That statement was made by Herman Frick, chairman of the committee that recommended to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that the high schools be stripped of accreditation.

“If we had any evidence that Duval County’s tax base had been broadened or that more local resources had been forthcoming, we would have made a different recommendation,” he said at a news conference at the association’s headquarters in Louisville, Ky.

Frick said the schools could be reaccredited in 1965 without going through an extensive evaluation, provided the Board of Public Instruction could show evidence that action was being taken to correct deficiencies.

The committee took its action because Duval County did not provide enough local tax money for the school system and its 116,000 students, he said.

The 92 members of the association voted unanimously to reject accreditation of the schools, despite a plea from School Superintendent Ish Brant.

“Most of you are probably not familiar with the fact that ad valorem tax money available to a school system in Florida is limited to 20 mills by law,” Brant said. “The value of a mill is established by officials who are not members of the school board. In other words, the Board of Public Instruction nor I have any way of securing additional revenue. At the same time, we must sponsor the best program possible with the money provided.”

• The Health Facilities Planning Council endorsed a new 200-bed hospital planed for South Jacksonville but withheld approval of the proposed method of financing the project.

The endorsement came on a 14-2 vote at the end of a four-hour meeting called to receive information from sponsors who wanted to build the hospital at 3625 University Blvd.

Council members asked for additional information in November, when approval of the plan was refused on grounds that while the city needed more hospital beds, there would be an ample supply by 1967. Improvements planned by local hospitals would add 800 beds by that time.

Studies, based on hospital bed utilization in previous years and projected growth of the county, indicated that more than 800 new beds might cause a surplus.

Primary backers of the University Boulevard hospital plan were 110 physicians who were concerned about a bed shortage. The group had an option to purchase 14 acres at the site and estimated the building and equipment would cost $3.6 million.

The group was hoping to secure a $1.5 million federal grant for the hospital. The remainder of the financing would be through a mortgage commitment of more than $1.3 million, plus $468,000 in 6 percent, 10-year interest bearing debentures purchased by the sponsoring physicians, and $300,000 in gifts.

• DeWitt C. Dawkins Jr. was elected president of the Meninak Club to succeed George E. Utsey Jr.

Dawkins was president of a building supply company and a member of the board of governors of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce.

• A man was shot and critically wounded during a gun battle with police at Brentwood Golf Course.

Herbert Green, 22, was admitted to Duval Medical Center with wounds in his chest, head and shoulder.

He was shot three times by Patrolman Robert Hall Jr. after he opened fire on officers while fleeing the scene of a burglary in the golf course clubhouse.

Police received a call from a central burglar alarm office that a silent alarm had been tripped at the golf course. Hall and his partner, S.J. Limbaugh, and Patrolman W.F. Matthews were dispatched to the scene.

Green was ordered to stop when he came out of a side window, which police said he had broken to enter the clubhouse.

He refused to halt and then fired two shots at the officers, who returned fire. Green fell unconscious on the No. 1 fairway about 150 feet from the clubhouse.

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