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State Rep. Bill Basford
Jax Daily Record Monday, Apr. 20, 201512:00 PM EST

50 years ago: State Rep. Bill Basford drafts city-county consolidation bill

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

State Rep. Bill Basford of Duval County completed a draft of a proposed bill that would initiate the first step toward consolidation of the Duval County and Jacksonville city governments.

The proposed bill provided funds for a commission to study the feasibility of consolidation and make recommendations as to how it best could be accomplished.

Basford said he was requested by other members of the local delegation to draft the bill.

“I’m not sure they will agree with it,” he said. “The basic format for it has been adopted from the report of the local government study Hillsborough made last year.”

One of the first decisions to be made was who would serve on the commission.

“Under the Hillsborough plan, the commission was composed of prominent lay persons and not elected officials,” he said.

The bill provided $75,000 for the study, to be contributed in equal amounts by the city, county and private sources. The Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce would be required to certify the private funds were secured before public contributions would be made.

The proposed bill provided the study be completed before the 1967 Legislature convened.

• Basford also filed a bill that would allow a public defender to represent an insolvent person charged with a capital offense.

Under the law in effect in 1965, the court appointed an attorney to defend an insolvent person charged with an offense for which the defendant could be executed.

Basford said the intent was to save money and to protect the rights of an insolvent defendant by providing competent representation.

“The attorney appointed by the court in a capital case gets $500 for his defense and an additional $500 for an appeal,” Basford said. “We now have a system of public defenders with staffs who are perfectly competent to handle capital cases without additional expense to the state and counties.”

He said the bill would relieve judges of the responsibility of appointing an attorney and the risk of being accused of favoritism.

• An ex-convict broke down during the third day of his interrogation by Duval County detectives and admitted he murdered a waitress in a Normandy Boulevard tavern.

John Stanford, 34, told police he got into a fight with an unidentified man shortly before the Windward Tavern closed for the night and then pulled a knife.

Stanford told detectives the waitress, Donna Mack, jumped on his back during the fight. He whirled and stabbed her once, then continued to stab her seven more times.

Stanford also admitted to taking $35 from the cash register.

After admitting the slaying, Stanford took police to a vacant overgrown lot in the 6400 block of Buffalo Avenue and showed them where he hid his bloody clothing. The spot was less than one mile from 1538 Wigmore St., where Stanford lived with his wife and three children.

Stanford was arrested after his fingerprint was found on a beer can in the tavern. He was jailed on charges of murder and armed robbery after he was arraigned before Justice of the Peace Jessie Leigh.

Stanford originally denied any knowledge of the crime, but results of a polygraph examination revealed he had lied on certain questions, leading to the interrogations.

Stanford had a criminal record dating back to 1950, when he was sentenced to five years in prison for armed robbery in Texas. In 1959, he was sentenced to six months to 20 years for a $700 armed robbery of a Cocoa loan company. He escaped from prison in 1960, was recaptured and paroled in 1963.

• Fontaine LeMaistre III was elected president of the Princeton Alumni Association of North Florida.

Other officers elected were Robert Towers Jr., vice president, and Ted Crosby, secretary and treasurer.

Twelve area high school seniors were accepted for Princeton’s fall 1965 freshman class, the highest number of local admissions recorded in one year.

• The Board of County Commissioners agreed to ask the Budget Commission for $300,000 in the 1965-66 budget to build new playgrounds on or adjacent to the grounds of 12 public schools.

In the second day of what was described as “marathon shirt-sleeve sessions,” aimed at preparing a budget to submit to the commission, county commissioners also agreed to ask for $90,000 to finance free privileges for one year for county residents at the Jacksonville Public Library.

• The question of who would get a $1.6 million contract for expansion at Talleyrand Docks and Terminals raised controversy as the Jacksonville Port Authority began final steps toward approval.

The authority was threatened with a waterfront boycott by labor if the contract was awarded to the low bidder, Diamond Construction Co. of Savannah, Ga.

Chief spokesman for the protesting unions was John Bowden, president of the Northeast Florida Building and Trades Council. He said Diamond, being an out-of-state company, would hurt the economy by refusing to hire local union members.

He also alleged Diamond would not pay fair wages to the workers the company did hire, many of whom would be from other states.

• The Atlantic Beach Hotel, a beachfront landmark since 1901, was sold to two Jacksonville men who planned to spend up to $3 million to improve the property.

The sale price was not disclosed.

Attorney Hugh Culverhouse and James Winston, an investment banker, purchased the property from F.G. Adams, who operated the hotel since the death of his father, W.H. Adams, in 1943.

The hotel was built by the Flagler interests in 1901. It had 225 rooms and was a showplace until 1919, when it was destroyed by fire.

The elder Adams leased the hotel in 1917. After the fire, he purchased the property and built a 50-room hotel which opened in 1926.

The sale included the hotel, a restaurant and cocktail lounge and about 7.5 acres of land along the ocean.

The new owners said they would tear down several storage buildings and a water storage tower. They also planned to build a semi-luxury apartment complex west of the hotel at an estimated cost of $1 million.

• Thieves broke into the main concession stand at the Jacksonville Zoo, cut open a safe and stole $4,334.83.

The burglars left behind more than $5,000 in checks when they left the building, which was only 200 yards from where a night watchman was stationed.

A door on the south side of the stand was forced open by the thieves. Once inside, they used a torch to cut open the safe. A desk and file cabinet also were looted.

The break-in was discovered when Doc Baldwin, zoo manager, opened the zoo. It was thought the robbers entered the zoo grounds by boat from the Trout River or by walking through adjacent woods.

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