History often repeats, and there often are parallels between the news of today and 50 years ago. Here are some of the top news stories of this week in 1967 compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Associate Editor Max Marbut.
Council members deny pilfering city property
City Council members who had been voted out of office in the recent primary election strongly denied allegations that they had taken desk equipment and city books with them when they vacated their council offices.
One council member, Robert Roberts, pulled out the drawers in the desk in his office to show that his city-issued office equipment — a stapler, a desk pen set and a tape dispenser— were there. On top of his desk were his copies of the city and suburban directories.
He said he kept his copy of the City Charter at his private office because he took many calls related to city business there, and when he was at City Hall, he had access to copies of the charter there.
Council member Lemuel Sharp said his office never had been equipped with city office supplies because he didn’t use his office. “I haven’t even had a pencil in my office,” he said.
Barney Cobb admitted he walked out of City Hall with a typewriter after his final council meeting, but it was his personal property that he had kept in his office.
Cobb said he showed the paid receipt to the guard at the door Tuesday night when he left City Hall.
Also mentioned as having disappeared was the council’s scrapbook, containing newspaper clippings of stories about the city over the past years. The book contained a number of loose clippings waiting to be pasted onto the pages.
Sharp said that Roberts asked a city employee, Billy Powers, to take the book home and have his sister paste in the loose clippings.
Roberts said it was a move to assist council Secretary Nell Hayden, who was starting on vacation the following week and would not have time to complete the scrapbook.
The report that equipment from some of the council members’ private offices was missing apparently started when Hayden and members of the building engineer’s staff were checking the offices.
Maintenance personnel had been working in the council offices for about a week, removing name signs from doors and getting the offices ready for the new council, whose members would take office June 23.
Divine qualifications needed for mayor
Only Christ could fill the shoes of a “strong mayor” such as was being proposed under the city-county government consolidation plan that would be on an Aug. 8 referendum, said state Rep. Lynwood Arnold.
He challenged fellow members of the Southside Lions Club, meeting at the Town House restaurant, to write down the names of men qualified to handle the power and responsibility that would be dumped on the countywide mayor.
“There is only one — and they crucified him 2,000 years ago,” Arnold said.
The Duval legislator said he favored consolidation to let Jacksonville grow in size and character, but he was opposed to the much-amended plan that was scheduled for final review in Tallahassee the following week.
In addition to his objection about the role of the chief executive, Arnold said he was concerned about the growth of Baldwin and the Beaches if voters there opted not to participate in the consolidation plan.
“How would you feel, living in those communities, if Jacksonville came right up to your city limits?” Arnold asked.
Hart Bridge officially named by Legislature
The new toll bridge being constructed across the St. Johns River from Commodores Point near the Gator Bowl to Highland Avenue on the Southside was officially named the Isaiah D. Hart Bridge in memory of Jacksonville’s founder.
Legislation naming the span for Hart, who in 1821 bought 18 acres on which he built a log home near what is now Forsyth Street between Market and Newnan streets, was adopted by both chambers of the Legislature and signed by Gov. Claude Kirk.
The resolution authorized the State Road Department to construct and maintain at each end plaques or bridge markers designated in honor of Hart, who also served as postmaster for 10 years and later as clerk of court.
The bridge was scheduled to open to traffic in November.