This Week in History 1/3/19


5 years ago, 2014

AT&T shifted 64 of its customer service jobs from a Downtown Jacksonville office tower to its Fleming Island call center, however, the move did not create new jobs for Clay residents as the Jacksonville residents who held the jobs retained them here.

Clay County Animal Care and Control welcomed Jennifer Broadhurst as its director. She would become the first veterinarian to hold the post in Clay County.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office charged Green Cove Springs accountant James Kevin Hargnett with 563 counts of grand theft for allegedly stealing $15 million from his employer between November 2006 and August 2013.

10 years ago, 2009

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office charged Leo Louis Kaczmar III with arson and first-degree murder in the death of his father’s girlfriend, 49-year-old Maria E. Ruiz. Kaczmar burned the home at 3159 Dothan Rd. in Green Cove Springs to cover up the homicide.

Clay deputies charged Thomas Miller of Keystone Heights with aggravated domestic battery after he allegedly ran over his wife, Georgiann Miller, causing to flip through the air over the vehicle in their driveway on Twin Lakes Road.

Clay deputies arrested Paul J. Balmer on an outstanding Ohio warrant for drug trafficking only to find he was wanted for murdering another man, his wife and their adult daughter who lived with them in Franklin Furnace Ohio.

20 years ago, 1999

Orange Park High Assistance Principal Larry Lancaster credited the school’s block scheduling program with improving discipline at the school that reported 690 fewer student infractions from the prior year.

Green Cove Springs Police Chief Gail Russell credited controlling the drug trade to the city not experiencing any murders or robberies in the prior year, following a three percent downward trend in crime statewide.

Dale Eggers and his son Rory put the finishing touches on the River Dance music hall they owned and operated on Blanding Boulevard.

30 Years ago, 1989

Jacksonville actor Kent Lindsey, also known as “Safari Sam,” came to Orange Park to shoot an episode of the independent TV series “Your Wildest Dreams.”

The Board of County Commissioners awarded a $104,950 contract to the Nolan Co. to renovate and build a new wing on to the Keystone Heights Public Library branch. Another bid was approved for M&S Construction to build a new pole barn at the Clay County Fairgrounds for $57,000.

After 24 years, Sheriff Jennings Murrhee would not be sworn in during a January 1999 ceremony after being defeated by former Orange Park Police Chief Dalton Bray.

40 years ago, 1979

A fire at Camp Blanding’s Enlisted Personnel Club caused an estimated $191,500 damage to the 5,500 square foot, two-story wooden building.

Clay County mourned the death of lifelong resident W.E. Cherry who served from 1925 to 1931 on the Board of County Commissioners and from 1937 to 1965 on the Clay County School Board. In 1962, Clay County’s newest elementary school was named after him.

Park Avenue Racquet Club co-owners Jim Gordon and Dave Walchle joined its board members in Orange Park to hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for a $1.1 million expansion of the facility that would include eight air-conditioned racquetball courts, lockers and health spa.


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