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Jax Daily Record Monday, Sep. 25, 201706:50 AM EST

6 Navy flyers killed in midair collision

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Property owners can get lower tax assessment — but there’s a catch; 3 candidates unopposed for re-election
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

A patrol bomber and a jet fighter collided over Jacksonville Beach and crashed on the east bank of the Intracoastal Waterway. Six men were aboard the two planes and there were no survivors.

The isolated site and swampy terrain made it impossible for rescue crews and firefighters to reach the crash scene near the Ocean Park residential section.

Before securing the area and deciding to let the fires burn out, fire department and Navy personnel chopped down trees and used any material available to build support for vehicles.

Lt. Cmdr. Ralph McClure, public affairs officer for Fleet Air Jacksonville, said the P2V Neptune patrol aircraft was assigned to  Patrol Squadron 30 at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

 The F-8 Crusader jet was assigned to Light Photographic Squadron 62 at Cecil Field Naval Air Station and was operating from the aircraft carrier Shangri-La.

Jacksonville Beach Mayor William Wilson, who lived not far from the crash scene, said he heard a plane’s engine sputtering as it came over his house and then heard the collision moments later.

William Mabry, manager of the Pic N’ Save store in Atlantic Beach, said he first saw the Neptune out of his store window at what must have been the instant after the collision.

“I looked up and saw pieces of the airplane flying upward while the plane itself slowly started down. Then I noticed bigger pieces of metal floating down. I watched it until I saw a big puff of smoke and an enormous red flame. I knew that was the end of it,” Mabry said.

Property owners can get lower tax assessment — but there’s a catch

Real estate owners who wanted to risk their property to get a lower tax assessment would have their chance, said County Assessor Robert Mallard.

Under the terms of what was known as the “Pope Law,” property owners who wished to challenge their 1967 tax assessment could put the property up for auction at a figure they felt was a fair valuation.

If there was a bid equal to or more than the set figure, the property would go to the bidder at the price bid.

If not, the assessed valuation on the tax rolls would be the figure listed by the owner.

When the law went into effect in 1965, after nearly 20,000 protests were lodged with the Equalization Board, a total of 396 parcels were put on the auction block and four were sold.

There also were nearly 20,000 protests in 1966 when 171 parcels were auctioned and 11 were sold.

With only 763 protests before the board in 1967, Mallard said he didn’t expect many people to invoke the Pope Law.

Three candidates unopposed for re-election

There was an unexpected turn of events in local politics this week in 1967: Despite more than 130 candidates filing to run for offices in the consolidated government that would go into effect in October 1968, three candidates who filed to retain their offices would be re-elected without opposition in the October primary election.

They were Mayor Hans Tanzler, City Council member Mary Singleton and Municipal Judge John Santora. However, the remaining 135 people running for the other 30 offices would have to begin lining up support.

“It’s got to be the greatest honor ever given a man in public office,” Tanzler said.

He said a combination of circumstances contributed to his escaping opposition, including his early support of the consolidated government plan while he was running for mayor.

Tanzler said he assumed he would have opposition for the $30,000-a-year job in the new government, but added he was happy he wouldn’t have to campaign.

Singleton said she was thrilled to have no opposition to her candidacy. “It’s a good feeling,” she added.

“I’m the kind of guy who tries not to use a lot of worn-out political clichés,” Santora said. “My personal feeling is it’s an endorsement of the way the job has been done.”

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