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Long before development of Blount Island, Downtown Jacksonville was the center of port activity.
Jax Daily Record Monday, May 4, 201512:00 PM EST

50 years ago: Audit of city treasury balances to the penny

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The annual cash audit of the city Treasurer’s Office, including unannounced spot checks on cash balances, showed the books balanced to the penny.

The report was delivered to City Treasurer H.S. Albury by City Council Special Auditor George W. Dandelake.

“The cash verification, which completed the audit of your office which was made over a period of eight months, disclosed that all moneys collected and received were properly accounted for through the use of numbered receipts and machine validation,” the report stated.

Investments in various securities and trust funds also were audited, verified and reconciled and showed a balance of $56,754,123.33.

The total amount of money that flowed into and out of all city accounts was more than $825 million, comprising the general fund, special funds and revenue bond accounts.

• The first year of operation of the Talleyrand Docks and Terminals under the Jacksonville Port Authority was expected to show gross revenue of more than $1 million with a profit of $300,000.

David Rawls, managing director of the authority, made the report to its board of directors.

He said since the authority took over operations, there was a 26 percent increase in coffee moved through the terminals and a 40 percent increase in paper products.

Rawls also reported $39,000 had been spent on engineering studies for the Blount Island terminal project and core borings showed an excellent substructure of solid rock for building the proposed facility.

The board awarded a $1.6 million contract for new dock facilities at the Downtown terminal to Diamond Construction Co. of Savannah, Ga.

Following the award of the contract, which had been under study by the authority due to threats by some union officials, John Bowden, president of the Northeast Florida Building and Trades Council, promised picketing of the project and political reprisals.

Bowden openly threatened County Commissioner T.K. Stokes, an ex-officio member of the authority, with labor-backed opposition and implied similar opposition for City Commissioner Dillon Kennedy. He also threatened organized labor opposition to the $25 million bond improvement program being proposed by the board.

Bowden and other labor leaders contended that Diamond Construction would pay “starvation” wages to workers on the project and would import workers from out of state, thus bypassing the local union labor force.

• The new Duval County Juvenile Court and Shelter, a $2 million addition to the waterfront government complex along East Bay Street between Catherine and Washington streets, was on schedule to open in summer 1965.

The building was designed by Register and Cummings engineers in association with architect John Pierce Stevens. It was being constructed by the William E. Arnold Co.

The project was a combination of three units: the court, detention facilities for delinquent children and an emergency child care and protection center for dependent children.

Each unit had a separate entrance and was isolated from the other units by electronically-locked doors on the interior and brick walls on the exterior.

The 22-seat chapel was to be dedicated in memory of Walter Scott Criswell, juvenile court judge from 1923-54, who died in 1963.

It would replace a facility where as many as 83 children were crowded into 12 sleeping rooms, each measuring 8 feet by 10 feet. Detention quarters in the new facility included 86 individual sleeping rooms, each equipped with a lavatory and drinking fountain.

• Eight construction workers were injured when wooden bracing collapsed atop a five-story addition to First Baptist Church at Ashley and Hogan streets.

Several members of the 14-man crew who were perched on the beams at the roof level were thrown one story to the fourth floor. Others were injured by flying timbers.

Only two of the men were admitted to hospitals while the others were treated and released.

More than 10 ambulances responded to the first police call for emergency assistance as early reports of the accident recalled the March 19, 1957, construction disaster at the Duval County Courthouse.

In the accident, a construction elevator plummeted to the ground, killing seven workers and injuring 12 others. It remains the most fatal construction accident in Jacksonville history. A memorial plaque bearing the names of the victims was placed on the northwest side of the building along East Bay Street.

• Sixty-four years after the Great Fire of May 3, 1901, an eyewitness to the virtual destruction of Jacksonville recalled his memories of the day.

“It burned our house on West Monroe Street and stopped right there,” said former City Council member Thomas Willard. He served on council from 1922-26 when John Alsop was mayor.

Willard was 14 at the time and was that day delivering The Metropolis, an afternoon newspaper.

“The fire ended my newspaper career for a spell,” he said.

After the ashes cooled, Willard went to work for 50 cents a day as a water boy in Hemming Park, where wheelbarrows were assembled for cleanup gangs.

“That was good money for a boy like me,” he said. “My father provided well for us, but he made his children earn their money.”

• Musicians who couldn’t read music performed a concert for a Jacksonville service club.

It wasn’t merely that they couldn’t read musical notation. They couldn’t see it.

The occasion was the inaugural talent show sponsored by the Southside Lions Club featuring the orchestra and choir from the Florida School for the Blind at St. Augustine.

Bud Davis, principal of the school, said the junior and senior high school students had been practicing together for about two years.

“These students, most of whom are totally blind, had to learn each note of their music by ear and then memorize an entire musical score,” he said.

Hubert Foster, choir instructor at the school, also was blind.

The talent show, a first for the students, was fitting for the club. Its largest, and most successful, project was sight preservation and working with the blind.

Robert Gurley, Sight Conservation Committee chair, arranged the concert. The club hoped to make it an annual event and it could be “the most looked-forward-to event of the year,” he said.

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