Courtesy of Madera County Historical Society
Twenty-five years ago, B.J. Gill, shown here practicing for statewide gymnastic competition, met his hero Arnold Schwarzenegger after the Make-a-Wish Foundation made his wish to see the famed bodybuilder come true. The 12-year-old youth was the victim of Franconia’s aplastic anemia.
25 Years Ago
Week of July 23, 1992
KILLER DOGS ON RAMPAGE — A small pack of dogs has been killing cats every early morning for the past two weeks on the west side of the City of Madera, according to Animal Control Officer William Ausbury. Three of the dogs are described as two brindle pit bulls and a shepherd mix that seem to be on the prowl between 4 and 7 a.m. each morning. Friday morning a witness told police there were six dogs together. So far the dogs have killed about 15 cats, according to Asbury. One woman reported seeing three dogs on her front porch attacking her cat, and there was another dead cat in her yard. “It is very difficult,” said Ausbury. “No one knows who they belong to, and when I go out there, they have vanished.”
KAUTZ IN LINE FOR A.D. POSITION — Pending school board approval, Don Kautz, 45, the vice principal of Thomas Jefferson Junior High School, will be named the athletic director for Madera High School. A 13-year veteran of Madera Unified School District, Kautz says his appointment is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. “It’s something I have wanted to do for a long time,” he said. In his new position, Kautz will oversee some 70 coaches, hundreds of students involved in sports, as well as athletic equipment and facilities. Kautz said his goal as athletic director will be to make it easy for coaches to coach and kids to play.
GILL’S WISH COMES TRUE, MEETS WITH SCHWARZENEGGER — It took B.J. Gill almost a year to decide he would accept the offer from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. B.J. didn’t feel sick, in fact, his bruising and bleeding was getting better just about the time Ross Thornton offered to fulfill any wish B.J. could dream up. Twelve-year-old B.J. Gill was born with a type of cancer in which his bone marrow does not function. The genetic illness is called Franconia’s aplastic anemia. After B.J. decided that he would like to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger, he along with his 10-year-old brother, Kevin, and father Greg, all went to San Diego to have a private meeting with the man who is as famous for his body as he is for his movies and his business acumen.
MUSD HONORS MUSIC TEACHERS — Two former Madera High teachers were honored Tuesday night for the love, knowledge, discipline, and respect for music they instilled in their students. To preserve their memories for years to come, Madera Unified dedicated the choral room of the high school to Lois Smades Worthington and the band room to Allen Harkins. They taught at Madera High for 38 and 25 years respectively. Worthington passed away March 9 at the age of 72. The ceremony proved to be emotional. Harkins was choked with tears at the unveiling, and Worthington’s husband and son were filled with heartfelt joy at the gesture.
MUSD TRUSTEES WON’T GO AFTER SALES TAX — Madera Unified trustees have decided against pursuing a sales tax initiative to fund the building of new schools because of the opposition from other school districts in the county. They also discovered they would have to share sales tax revenue with other agencies. Trustee Ray Seibert first suggested the idea after the board heard a presentation on passing a bond for building new schools. The board later learned that the State Center Community College district and the Board of Supervisors would get a portion of the proceeds. Seibert said that after MUSD got its share, it would be “pretty well watered down.”
50 Years Ago
Week of July 23, 1967
SUSPECTED KILLER SOUGHT IN NORTH FORK MANHUNT — An intense manhunt for a suspected killer who blasted down his grandmother, Mrs. Pearl Teaford, wounded two others, and exchanged pistol fire with a deputy sheriff is going on in the rugged mountains of Madera County. The manhunt for Taylor Morris Teaford, 32, has been expanded to a total force of 16 sheriff’s deputies. According to reports, Teaford is expected to head toward the high country, while North Fork residents have their homes tightly locked. In addition to the murder of his grandmother, Teaford is suspected of wounding his sister, Mrs. Sherry MacIntosh, 26, and passerby Charles Culpepper, 39, of Fresno.
SCHOOL BOARD ADOPTS POLICY ON PUBLIC CRITICISM — A policy package governing Madera Unified’s dealings with the public was adopted Tuesday night. The intent of the policy is to guard against interference with classroom instruction, protect employees from unwarranted and unnecessary attacks, and to set guidelines for public meetings. “Defamatory and abusive remarks are always out of order,” the meeting rules state. Complaints against district personnel are not to be received in open meetings. The chairman reserves the right to stop a speaker, and either he or other members of the board may move for an adjournment to end a board meeting.
DA FILES SECOND WELFARE COMPLAINT — A second new welfare case criminal complaint, this one for felony perjury, was filed Thursday by the District Attorney’s office. A 39-year-old woman is accused of making false statements on a welfare aid eligibility form. Instead of three persons, herself and two children, a total of six, including a man and two of his children were found living in her home. Earlier Thursday, District Attorney James Hanhart, filed a felony fraud complaint involving more than $1,500 against a woman who allegedly obtained aid under false pretenses while an unreported man lived with her and her son.
MADERA POLICE OFFICER KILLED — A young Madera policeman died Saturday when his small foreign automobile fishtailed off Calif. 99, overturned, and smashed into a chain link fence. Dennis Calvin Lowry, 24, was dead on arrival at Madera County Hospital where he was taken after the 10:30 p.m. accident. Lowry apparently was passing another car when one of the tires blew out causing him to lose control. Lowry began work for the Madera Police Department on July 10. Police Chief W. Horace Dowell said Lowry’s wife is a lab technician in a Fresno hospital, and he was apparently on his way to pick her up.
DON HELMUTH LOSES FIGHT FOR LIFE; SERVICES FRIDAY — Don Helmuth, injured last year in a football accident, died Tuesday in a local hospital. The pre-season accident occurred on Sept. 5, and Helmuth never regained consciousness. He underwent surgery twice in a Fresno hospital and was brought to a local convalescent hospital. Several weeks ago, Madera residents began the Don Helmuth Fund, which to date totals almost $3,000. The money will be used to aid the family with hospital and surgery costs. Services for the 18-year-old Helmuth will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in the Jay Chapel.