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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jun. 15, 201512:00 PM EST

50 years ago: Mayor calls for pay raises for Jacksonville police officers

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Mayor Lou Ritter said he would recommend to the City Commission that a $40 base pay raise be granted to police officers, effective July 1.

The raise would increase a recruit’s base pay from $396 to $436 per month during the first six months. After the initial probationary period, the new officer would earn $453 per month.

Sergeants’ pay would increase from $470 to $510; captains from $560 to $600; and assistant chiefs’ pay would go from $760 to $800 per month.

In addition to their base pay, police officers received a $15 monthly longevity increase once every five years.

Ritter said the reason funds were available for the pay raise was the reduction in force of 23 officers, some of high rank.

There were about 400 officers on the force, even though the department had an authorized strength of 430 officers.

Meanwhile, city firefighters were petitioning for equality of pay with police officers. Ritter said while he was in favor of pay equality, there were no funds in the fire department salary account to allow an increase.

Firefighters complained that fire privates’ salaries already were $7.93 per month less than those of rookie police officers.

Ritter said he hoped with interest income from Municipal Court fines, 80 percent of which went into the city general funds, City Commission might find enough money the following year to give firefighters a base pay equal to police officers.

• Three people in Duval County were delighted with Tax Assessor Ralph Walter’s court-ordered real property reassessment program.

They were the owners of the only parcels out of about 180,000 whose assessments were lowered.

Two of the parcels were described as “unimproved property” and the third assessment was lowered due to a mathematical error in the previous tax roll.

Howard Kaufold, Walter’s administrative assistant, told the North Jacksonville Civitan Club he believed most property owners were satisfied with their new assessments because only about 1,200 formal protest petitions had been submitted.

• Duval County public schools would be dusting off their television sets when classes began in September.

After a yearlong dispute, the Board of Public Instruction and Community Television Inc. signed a contract to resume in-classroom video instruction for the 1965-66 school year.

The board agreed to pay $155,000 to Channel 7 to produce and televise elementary and secondary programs for students.

Nearly $115,000 of the budget was for direct costs including production staff, camera operators, directors, clerical staff and supplies provided by the television station. The remaining $40,000 was for administrative expenses, depreciation and other overhead costs.

School Superintendent Ish Brant said the cost was about $11,000 more than the school system previously paid for programs. During the 1963-64 term, programming was canceled after the school board and the television station were unable to reach agreement.

• The Beaches Hospital board of directors agreed to proceed with a $600,000 expansion program that would triple the size of the 25-bed hospital.

The action came after the board opened four bids for the work and tentatively awarded the job to Tharpe Construction Co. of Jacksonville Beach, the apparent low bidder at $345,363.

Architect’s fees, equipment costs and other expenses were expected to run the cost to $600,000, according to board Chairman George Ortegus.

The federal government would furnish 45 percent of the funds under provisions of the Hill-Harris Act. Ortegus said a bank had agreed to loan the hospital the remaining 55 percent of the budget.

• Approval of federal funds to establish a center in Jacksonville for counseling and referral of armed forces medical rejectees was announced by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

A $97,000 grant was on its way to the state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to be divided between the Jacksonville center and a similar facility in Miami.

Under the program, vocational rehabilitation officials would screen Florida men rejected from the services for medical reasons, counsel them on their health needs and then refer them for appropriate treatment.

• The Jacksonville Beach City Council was looking for a way to finance a summer youth opportunity program.

Council member John Joca, chairman of the Youth Opportunity Committee, said the program could provide jobs for young people at the golf course, in parks and other city departments and as lifeguards.

In other business, council enacted an ordinance setting a minimum distance of 500 feet between alcoholic beverages licensed businesses, but excluded businesses selling beer and wine only. A proposed ordinance that would have set a minimum distance of 1,000 feet between service stations was unanimously defeated.

• Three Jacksonville residents who rescued four people in separate incidents in 1964 received bronze medals and cash awards from the Carnegie Hero Commission in Pittsburgh.

Robert Bishop Sr. of 8923 S. MacArthur Court, Daris Crosby of 7830 Lake Park Drive and John Gassett of 1280 Lake Forest Blvd. were recognized by the organization.

In addition to the medals, Bishop and Crosby each received $750, while Gassett received $500.

Bishop, a 39-year-old service station operator, saved Ramona Gandy and Donna Gatner, both 2, from drowning when they stepped into water 20 feet deep while wading at Matanzas Inlet, south of St. Augustine.

Bishop, who was fishing from a 20-foot high bridge that spanned the inlet, dove into the water, swam upstream against a strong current and towed the two girls to shore.

Crosby spotted Julie Ann Terrell, also 2, standing in the path of a train approaching at 80 mph. A 38-year-old plant operator, Crosby jumped out of his car at the Oceanway railroad crossing, ran up the tracks and pulled the child to safety seconds before the train passed.

Gassett, a 17-year-old Ribault High School senior at the time, pulled Loretta Godwin, 41, from the bedroom of a burning house trailer at 3829 Elbert Ave.

After Godwin’s husband was unsuccessful in reaching his wife, Gassett chopped a hole in the trailer with an ax he brought from his nearby home.

After hacking through a section of the trailer, Gassett crawled inside and found Godwin unconscious on the floor. He pulled her outside about five minutes before the trailer collapsed. She was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where she died three days later.

• Johnny Leroy Brown, 17, received quite a welcome when he returned home to Jacksonville from New York City. He was greeted by official representatives of Duval County: four police officers, including Detective J.H. Britts.

Brown also received quite a send-off in March when he departed for New York. He left town amid a hail of bullets when police attempted to arrest him on 14 counts of burglary.

He was taken into custody at a relative’s home on McLaurin Street near Philips Highway. Britts said the warrants included charges of breaking and entering, grand larceny and petty larceny of stores, restaurants, service stations and other businesses.

Brown was the seventh youth to be arrested as suspected members of a burglary ring plagued the Southside area.

One of the other six was serving three years in the state prison after being convicted of burglary and the rest were in the state school in Marianna.

• For the first time in many years, the Jacksonville Children’s Museum obtained a collection of live animals.

The acquisition comprised several snakes and a small alligator donated by Howard Bailey and Jim McAlister, amateur herpetologists and snake fanciers.

Cages were being prepared for hamsters, rats, mice and a ring-billed gull, a gift from Ray Edwards Jr.

A beehive also was planned with a glass side so the inner workings would be visible. The bees for the hive were living in Edwards’ birdhouse.

Museum Director Doris Whitmore said the specimens would greatly augment the nature program offered to “Duval Discoverers,” students ages 10-16. The Discoverers would study all forms of wildlife and their feeding habits at the museum and on field trips during the summer school break.

• American Legion Post 88 marked Flag Day with a formal ceremony to properly destroy out-of-date U.S. flags.

The flags were burned during the rite while a team of buglers sounded a salute.

It was noted that the flags mostly were of the pre-1960 era containing 48 stars. The number was increased to 49 on July 4, 1959, to signify the addition of Alaska as a state. A year later, the 50th star was added when Hawaii joined the union.

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