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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jan. 25, 201612:00 PM EST

50 years ago: Mayor Ritter wants to study city getting back into golf business

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Mayor Lou Ritter, despite a somewhat lukewarm reception from other city officials, said he was strongly in favor of the city establishing a new golf course and recommended the issue be studied.

The city closed its two courses — Hyde Park and Brentwood — in 1959 because of racial integration and a year later sold them to private interests. Ritter said both courses were “doing fine” under private management.

He suggested the perimeter of Jacksonville International Airport, which was under construction, as an ideal site for new links.

“I think there is a need for it in a city of our size and growth potential,” said Ritter. “I would hope in time we could go back into the golf business.”

City Council President W.O. Mattox Jr. said he was opposed to the city once more operating municipal courses unless a definite need was established.

“I would recommend we stay out of the golf business and not compete with private industry. When we did operate them we certainly didn’t make any money on them,” he said.

“I think private courses are providing enough for the people to play, but if it ever got to the point where private clubs were not providing the facilities or operating strictly as private clubs, that would be a different matter,” said City Commissioner Claude Smith.

Jacksonville Beach was glad to be in the golf business and showing a profit on operating its course. The 18-hole layout was one of the biggest revenue producers.

In 1965, income from greens fees, lockers fees and memberships totaled $140,000.

Expenses were a little more than $77,000, yielding net revenue of about $63,000.

City Manager Phillip Kinsey said he had not completed his preliminary estimate of 1966 golf expenditures and receipts for consideration in preparing the new budget.

“But I can tell you I am estimating that both revenue and expenses will be up a little,” he said.

Kinsey said night play under lights that were installed in 1965 and an anticipated increase in daytime use were expected to increase revenue.

The hike in expenses would come from salary increases, additions to the labor force and debt service to pay off the $25,000 loan incurred to finance installation of the lights along nine holes of the course.

• In Tallahassee, staffing of the new Florida State University School of Law was nearly complete and the facility would open its doors in September to 50-75 students, said Dean Mason Ladd.

He said more than 170 potential students had inquired about admission but the inaugural class would probably be held to a small number.

Authorized by the 1965 Legislature, the FSU School of Law would be the third state-supported law school, joining the University of Florida in Gainesville and Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

There were indications the FAMU law school might be merged with the FSU school, Ladd said.

With the FSU campus so close to the center of state government, facilities in the capital would be used as part of FSU’s curriculum.

“Students can see law in action while they are studying law from books,” said Ladd.

• Gov. Haydon Burns said he was opposed to county school boards using national teacher tests as a basis for giving public school instructors salary raises and would be willing to back legislation to prohibit the practice.

He said Duval County had recently started using grades on the National Teacher Examination and similar tests as a basis for granting teacher pay raises.

State School Superintendent Floyd Christian and Attorney General Earl Faircloth said there was no law prohibiting the program.

Faircloth previously rendered an opinion that counties could use the tests in making salary adjustments, provided the county did not pay lower than the minimum salaries set by the state.

After Burns made his declaration, state Rep. Bill Basford of Jacksonville said he had asked Faircloth to reconsider his opinion.

• The City Commission demanded a letter from a corporate officer of WJXT TV-4 before permitting certain city records to be photographed.

The matter came before the commission in a letter from station News Director Bill Grove, who said reporters on his staff had been refused permission to make photocopies of the material by City Auditor John Hollister.

Grove said the reporters were investigating the assignment and use by the city of oil company credit cards.

He said reporters were allowed to examine the records but were denied permission to make copies.

After a lengthy discussion, the commission authorized Hollister to permit copies to be made of the records providing a letter was received from an officer of the television company.

Chapter 110 of the Florida Statutes said all state, county and municipal records “shall at all times be open for a personal inspection by any citizen of Florida” and prohibited officials from “refusing the privilege to any citizen.”

The statute also stated any person had the right of access to records “for the purpose of photographing said records.”

Failure to provide access was punishable by a fine of $100 or a three-month jail sentence, plus removal from office.

When the matter was raised, Mayor Lou Ritter asked City Attorney William Madison about the commission’s position. Madison said the law was perfectly clear.

“It’s all right with me if they want to look at my oil company credit card,” Ritter said.

“I just don’t see where this is news,” said City Finance Commissioner Dallas Thomas. “If they think something wrong is going on, why don’t they say so? I think the request should come from some official of the company.”

The request came during a series of stories by WJXT regarding use by city officials and employees of city-owned motor vehicles and equipment.

• The salmon-colored exterior panels of precast concrete were being installed on the new federal building Downtown, now the Charles E. Bennett Federal Building along West Bay Street.

Most of the time lost when about one-third of the structural steel in the building collapsed during a wind storm in August 1965 had been made up, said A.G. Cole, general superintendent for Warrior Constructors Inc., the general contractor for the $6 million structure.

He said the building would be finished within a few days of the originally scheduled completion date, Oct. 18, 1966.

• The Diocese of St. Augustine donated a three-story building at the southeast corner of Ocean and State streets to Jacksonville’s war on poverty.

Formerly used as a convent and orphanage, the 45,000-square-foot building was valued at $160,000.

The announcement was made at the inaugural meeting of Greater Jacksonville Economic Opportunity by Catholic Charities Executive Director John Lenihan on behalf of Archbishop Joseph Patrick Hurley.

Arvin Rothschild, president of GJEO, said the building would serve as an ideal headquarters for the organization.

Antipoverty projects totaling $1.9 million already had been implemented in Jacksonville and were awaiting federal funds, said Gordon Bunch, executive director.

• After returning from Washington, D.C., County Commission Chairman Bob Harris suggested city and county officials join forces to evaluate 200 programs of federal aid available to urban areas.

Harris was among a group of 32 county officials who conferred with Vice President Hubert Humphrey concerning the effect of federal grant-in-aid programs on county governments.

Harris said the consensus at the Washington conference was that property taxes alone could no longer bear the load of financing city and county governments. Making use of federal aid could take some of the burden off property owners, he said.

Federal grants were available for air and water pollution control, solving water and sewer problems, rehabilitation of alcoholics and financing branch libraries.

The commission backed a proposal that a conference be sought with city officials within 30 days to coordinate efforts to obtain available federal funds.

Harris pointed out local residents were paying federal taxes and if they didn’t take advantage of federal funds they were “missing the boat.”

• The 8,300-ton steamer American Harvester, which docked at the Port of Jacksonville at six-week intervals, collided with the Belgian tanker Esso Gheni in the Wester Scheldt River in the Netherlands during heavy fog.

The John P. Best Shipping Agency said the stern of the American vessel was badly damaged, but no injuries were reported on either vessel.

Capt. William Lawton, master of the American Harvester, lived with his wife at 7423 Goodnow Road.

Charles Masters Jr., the second officer, and his wife lived at 2018 Sprinkle Drive.

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