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Florida Gov. Haydon Burns gives his 1955 inaugural address in Tallahassee. Burns was a former mayor of Jacksonville. (Photo from
Jax Daily Record Monday, Jan. 5, 201512:00 PM EST

50 years ago: Louis Ritter sworn in as Jacksonville mayor, Haydon Burns inaugurated as governor

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Promising an administration of planning rather than trial and error, 39-year-old Louis Ritter became mayor of Jacksonville a few hours after former Mayor Haydon Burns was sworn in as governor of Florida.

Ritter became mayor at 8:43 p.m. when he took the oath of office administered by City Recorder W.C. Almand following his unanimous confirmation by the City Council and City Commission.

Ritter served on council from 1951-55 and as commissioner of airports and highways from 1955 until his resignation to make himself available for nomination for mayor.

In his first address after taking the city’s highest office, Ritter said he would establish a citizens’ study group to survey existing and future needs with a view to recommend changes or improvements that might attract more business and industry to Jacksonville.

The new mayor also said he would continue to work to improve race relations and would establish a commission on education.

“Working together, we will pass from the era of trying to sell Jacksonville,” Ritter said. “It shall now be our concerted plan to create a demand for Jacksonville through anticipation of the needs and desires of those who will seek Jacksonville for business or home.”

• At his inauguration in Tallahassee, Burns promised residents “an unrelenting determination” to serve as governor so in the years ahead they would look with pride at the activities under his stewardship.

In his address, Burns declared that Florida was a prosperous state but all the people were not sharing as fully as they should in the general prosperity.

“We must exert every effort to not only bolster what we have but to bring a soaring boost to our economy by expanding business and industry and attracting new enterprise, which will provide additional employment for our fast-growing population,” Burns said. “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”

Burns declared he would soon announce “the greatest single program for the development of tourism in the state’s history.”

He declined to give details other than to say it would be introduced in about 30 days.

Burns said the state no longer was just a winter playground but a “year-round mecca for those who seek relaxation and relief from their daily chores.”

He also set as another goal the completion of the interstate highway system in the state with a special emphasis on Interstate 95.

• Police Chief Luther Reynolds advised the City Commission that his department would be short nearly $95,000 long before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. He said he would be forced to stop operating police cars and would have to feed prisoners beans and hash.

He said the department needed $49,000 to keep its cars in service. Reynolds had requested $143,555 for the vehicles budget, but received a $65,950 appropriation for 186 vehicles.

Reynolds said his account for food and bedding would be short $7,577.50 and even if the menu changed to beans, hash, bread, syrup and coffee, the budget still would be $372.50 in the red.

City Council member Lemuel Sharp said the limited meal choices should come as no surprise to those in jail.

“They don’t go there for a vacation,” he said. “Any fellow going in a jail goes on a diet when he goes in the door. They don’t feed you there like they do at the Roosevelt or any other hotel. Beans and hash are pretty good.”

Sharp also commented on Reynolds’ claim that police cars would be taken out of service if more funds were not granted.

“The chief knows they’re not going to stop running the cars. This is a political football,” he said.

• For the first time in its 120-year history, the president of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention was scheduled to make an extended tour of the denomination’s Latin American mission stations.

Homer Lindsay, pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville and president of the mission board, planned to leave Jan. 24 for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Lindsay said the reason for the historic journey was new factors had entered into the task for missionaries around the world.

He said poverty, political uncertainty and population growth were as much a part of the modern missionary’s life as the traditional preaching of the gospel to non-Christians.

“It is my hope that the South American trip will provide me with insights into the problems of the missionary and also suggest ways in which potential converts can be reached,” Lindsay said.

In addition to Brazil, the itinerary included Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Peru.

• Miller Gaskin, president of Charter Real Estate Co., was named Realtor of the Year by the Jacksonville Board of Realtors.

David Nussbaum was installed as the board’s 1965 president; J. Glover Taylor was sworn in as vice president; William Watson, secretary; and William Marvin White, treasurer.

The announcements were the highlight of the annual meeting of the board at the George Washington Hotel.

• Jacksonville’s public television station, WJCT, acquired a new location for its facilities.

Station President R.B. Snyder said the two-story structure at 2017 Main St. would provide 15,000 square feet of floor space, six times more than the space the station was leaving at 2797 Heywood Dowling Drive, which had been WJCT’s home for five years.

“We were able to acquire this building on terms which approached philanthropy,” Snyder said.

He said local businessmen and citizens had already pledged to help fund furniture, construction materials and other items needed to convert the building.

Remodeling of the former automobile sales and service property at Main and 12th streets was in progress.

Fred Rebman, WJCT general manager, said offices and studios would be moved to the new location immediately, but moving the station’s technical facilities would take several months.

The cost of the building was not disclosed by station officials. Rebman said he anticipated no expense in moving the station’s facilities because of contributions and of the staff doing the job.

• Circuit Judge William Durden ordered Tax Assessor Ralph Walter to appraise Duval County’s real estate at its full value July 1.

In a 30-page order, Durden said Walter might be directed to arbitrarily double the 1964 assessments to prepare a legal 1965 tax roll.

A key point of the ruling addressed the definitions of “just valuation” and “fair-market value.” Durden declared the two terms were legally synonymous.

The judge noted his decision would provide additional revenue for the public school system by adding to the tax roll most of the 51,000 totally exempt homesteads in the county.

It was noted the state attorney general probably would appeal the decision on behalf of the state comptroller so the Florida Supreme Court could affirm or reject Durden’s decision, thus making it binding upon the other 66 tax assessors in the state.

• The Na-

tional Park Service re-

ported Fort Caroline National Memorial had nearly twice as many visitors in 1964 as in 1963.

A total of 100,486 people toured the site in Arlington in 1964, compared with 51,909 the previous year, said B.C. Roberts, park superintendent.

The increased attendance was attributed to a half-scale replica of the fort that opened in the summer and the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival in what would later become North Florida of Jean Ribault and the Huguenots.

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