50 years ago: Commission continues push for consolidated government
The Duval County Legislative Delegation was being urged by the Local Government Study Commission to delay the city elections in May until the people could vote on a new government charter.
The commission had recommended consolidation of the city and county entities into one government.
He expressed fear that holding the election before a vote on recommended changes could materially damage the chances of a referendum on reorganization.
“People elected will state they have a public mandate for retaining the status quo. They will probably be bitter opponents of governmental reorganization,” Hester wrote.
“The electorate itself may be lulled into accepting the commonly stated argument that it’s the people in office, not the governmental structure,” he added.
The board of governors of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce endorsed the commission’s report, titled “Blueprint for Improvement.”
The resolution in support of the plan was introduced by Robert Feagin, chamber vice president for community affairs.
A similar resolution previously was adopted by the chamber’s State and Local Government Committee.
It said the governments in Jacksonville and Duval County were not structured adequately to meet the current or future needs of the growing community.
• The chamber also backed a $57 million bond issue for the city Utilities Department and adopted a $420,000 operating budget for 1967, the largest in the trade body’s history.
The budget was presented by Dr. Sanford Mullen, chamber financial vice president and treasurer.
Chamber President W. Ashley Verlander issued a challenge to the board asking for more involvement in the working affairs of the organization.
“1967 is going to be a can-do year and you are the men who have been charged with the responsibility of directing the affairs of the community’s top sales and development team,” he said. “I am extremely confident in you and your ability to help carry our community to greater heights.”
• The Duval County grand jury, which was investigating county government, called as witnesses 12 members of the preceding jury.
The latter had returned indictments against eight active and former elected and appointed officials after a probe of City Hall.
The call for the former jurors to appear was believed to be unprecedented in Duval County. State Attorney William Hallowes said he could recall no similar action in his 30 years’ connection with the prosecutor’s office.
If the current grand jury expected to get information from the former jurors that might be the basis for new indictments, the current foreman, George Ecord, wasn’t saying so.
Asked why the former grand jurors were being summoned and what information could be expected from them, Ecord said the jury wanted some answers as to what procedures it should follow “and any other information.”
He described himself and his fellow jurors as “23 very inexperienced laymen with a thousand and one questions.”
Ecord added he and his colleagues had no idea they were setting a precedent when they decided to summon their predecessors.
Asked if the jury expected to make any report about the interviews, Ecord said the panel “didn’t expect to develop anything the public would be interested in.”
Through Hallowes, Circuit Judge Marion Gooding also was called to appear before the grand jury.
As it was entitled to under the law, the jury was seeking Gooding’s advice on procedural matters.
• A 2,730-pound, 19-foot-tall concrete slab was fitted snugly into a parapet atop the Gulf Life Tower as the structure was “topped off” in a ceremony along the St. Johns River Downtown.
Filling the gaping hole on top of the structure put the building well on its way to becoming “the new queen of the Jacksonville skyline,” said M.S. Niehaus, president of the insurance company.
When the tower was complete, it would be the tallest building in Jacksonville, the tallest office building in Florida and the tallest building constructed of prestressed concrete in the country.
• The Duval County Board of Public Instruction raised the price of school lunches 5 cents to meet the new federal minimum wage increase and other cost increases.
L.O. Calhoun, assistant superintendent of business affairs for the school system, said the increase was caused by the wage hike and the rising cost of food, other supplies and overall salaries in keeping with other noninstructional salary scales in schools.
He also attributed the price increase to decreasing federal surplus commodity support in the lunchroom program.
Lunch would go from 30 to 35 cents for students in elementary schools and from 40 to 45 cents for adults; and from 35 to 45 cents for secondary school pupils and 45 to 50 cents for adults.
The additional revenue also would help offset added payroll costs.
“We can’t reduce personnel. The only alternative to increasing the prices would be a reduction in the quality of the food,” Calhoun said.
The new prices would add about $240,000 over the course of the school year.
Glenn Johnson, director of food services for the school system, said the cafeterias served more than 40,000 hot lunches each day.
• The Duval County Zoning Board rejected an application that would have allowed construction of a motel and cocktail lounge on the south side of the Arlington Expressway just east of the Mathews Bridge.
A large delegation of people who lived near the 8-acre tract in question appeared to oppose the rezoning petition.
The rezoning would have allowed consumption of alcoholic beverages on the property under a state license.
The applicant, Langdon Lockwood, said he wanted to open a motel and lounge to compete with the Thunderbird Motor Hotel and restaurant on the north side of the expressway.
• City Council confirmed unanimously the appointment of Phillip Atter as chief city parking meter inspector.
He succeeded Harry Nearing, who was appointed supervisor of county voter registration by former Gov. Haydon Burns.
Atter had been an administrative assistant to Mayor Lou Ritter.
• Religious history entered a new chapter in Jacksonville when two guitars and a bass introduced “a more lively beat” at St. John’s Cathedral.
The music was part of a proposed Communion service for the Protestant Episcopal Church. Its composer, Robert Arnatt, fully expected it might not be immediately accepted, but said that didn’t bother him.
“Of course, some people will criticize, but I don’t care,” he said. “This sound has been in American music for years. The syncopated beat is part of America.”
The proposed Eucharist liturgy was sung during the eighth annual Acolyte’s Festival. It was the first time it had been used in a general service anywhere.
Minor changes had been made in the liturgy over the years, but the new music would be the first major change in 400 years, if accepted.
The melody and text would be presented to the general convention of the Episcopal Church in Seattle later in 1967.
If approved, it would be used experimentally across the country until 1970. If it were to be adopted by the Seattle convention, it would become the standard liturgical service in 1973.