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Jax Daily Record Monday, May 25, 201512:00 PM EST

50 years ago: Sheriff requests funds to hire more officers

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Sheriff Dale Carson secured the support of West Duval business owners and a school principal in his plea to the Budget Commission for additional funds to hire more county police officers.

Rick Altobellis, president of Jacksonville Tractor Co., was spokesman for a group of firms complaining of frequent break-ins and asking for additional Duval County Patrol personnel. He said one business had been burglarized 16 times.

Welcome Shearer, principal of Paxon Senior High School, said adults were the main culprits in numerous break-ins at the school.

Carson asked for $1.9 million for the County Patrol in the 1965-66 fiscal year, a $500,000 increase.

Patrol Chief W.S. Johnston said the patrol had 151 officers and an additional 49 positions were requested to bring the force up to 200 officers. He said that would give the patrol one officer per 1,000 population, still well below the national police average of 1.9 officers per 1,000.

Also included in the patrol’s request was $6,000 for a new boat.

One of the major challenges facing the commission was the school budget, which would not be submitted until July.

Considering disaccreditation of public high schools and the county property tax reassessment program that would increase property values, commissioners were expecting a substantial increase in funds requested for schools.

• A 300 percent increase in Duval County real property valuation was disclosed by Tax Assessor Ralph Walter when he released preliminary figures in his court-ordered revaluation to reflect “fair market value.”

Preliminary tabulations showed taxable assessments on real property of $1.4 billion, a substantial increase over the 1964 taxable value of $366 million.

Walter said the tabulation on taxable personal property would not be released until June 20, but he estimated it would be $350 million, compared to $138 million in 1964.

As result of a lawsuit filed by taxpayers, Circuit Judge William Durden in January found the 1964 tax roll and the previous rolls rife with inequities.

Many assessments fell below the just value called for by Florida law. Durden ordered Walter to prepare the 1965 tax roll on the basis of fair market value, which he found synonymous with just value.

Durden’s landmark decision, applicable eventually to the entire state, was upheld by the Florida Supreme Court.

Tax notices were being prepared for mailing to owners of about 180,000 parcels of property. The notices would show the full assessment on the property. To calculate how much of the value was taxable, the recipient would deduct from the total any exemptions he or she was entitled to under the law, Walter said.

In addition to the $5,000 homestead exemption, there was a $500 deduction for widows, $500 for disabled people and total exemption for paraplegics.

• The Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce Public Relations Committee approved a resolution urging the creation of a centralized agency to coordinate publicity activities for all local government entities.

The plan was proposed by John Durrett, committee chair, and Ted David, executive secretary to Mayor Lou Ritter.

They said while there was a municipal budget appropriation for advertising, there was no provision for a public relations program that would produce articles of interest to the national media and focus on Jacksonville’s attractions for tourists, new residents and industry.

• Three prisoners in the maximum security section of the county jail overpowered a guard with a homemade knife in an attempted jailbreak that brought more than 100 armed police officers to the scene in minutes.

City, county and state officers surrounded the jail. The guard, Don Wilson, 23, was not harmed.

The prisoners returned to the cells about 20 minutes after the incident began when none of the keys taken from Wilson would unlock a door that would have led then over a second-floor catwalk and into the county courthouse.

• City Council enacted an ordinance to give city employees a time-service pay raise amounting to $5 a month beginning Jan. 1.

The council’s action on the pay increase came after the Duval County legislative delegation rejected a bill presented by city employee groups. The legislators said whether to grant pay raises for city workers was strictly up to elected city officials.

• A salary of $20,000 was recommended for whoever was selected to be president of the new Duval-Nassau junior college, which still was in the planning stages.

Twelve candidates had applied for the post, including two Florida junior college presidents and a junior college president from Massachusetts.

In considering sites for the future campus, the Duval-Nassau Junior College Advisory Committee announced its interest in city-owned property near the Jacksonville Zoo.

Attorney Fred Kent, committee chair, said a site along the Trout River near the zoo would be “much more ideal” for the junior college than property at Imeson Airport suggested by Mayor Lou Ritter.

At least 160 acres would be needed for the expected 6,000-student enrollment.

• The Jacksonville Coast Guard Reserve Port Security Unit was presented the District Commander’s Award as the outstanding reserve unit in the 7th Coast Guard District.

The award was presented annually to one of 24 reserve units in the district that achieved the highest percentage scores in drill attendance, promotion examinations, correspondence courses and inspection evaluation.

The unit’s personnel lived in Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach. They provided security forces for Jacksonville port operation in the event of mobilization.

• A man thought to have been bitten by a rattlesnake was killed when his car smashed into an expressway abutment near the Trout River Bridge.

Police believed Richard Davis, 39, was speeding toward a hospital when the crash occurred.

In the victim’s wallet, officers found a penciled note that said: “Urgent. Please read. Rattlesnake bite.”

The note explained that Davis heard a noise in his car and stopped to check on it. He wrote he thought he must have stopped directly over a large rattlesnake, as he heard the snake just as he put one foot outside the vehicle. At that time, the reptile struck, the note said.

Patrolman L.A. Blackburn said Davis was driving his car toward town on Interstate 95 at high speed when he either lost control or blacked out at the wheel.

The vehicle went off the highway just south of Clark Road and struck an overpass concrete pillar.

• John Canarina, conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, was one of four conductors awarded a fellowship to the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass.

Scheduled to leave for Berkshire June 24, Canarina would return at the end of August to begin his fourth season as conductor and music director of the orchestra.

• Residents of the Beaches were given the opportunity to join the Jacksonville Blood Bank’s “family plan.”

The mobile unit was stationed at Neptune Baptist Church at 407 Third St to accept blood donations.

Each donation entitled the donor’s family to free transfusions for one year, if needed.

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