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Media Articles - 2000s

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7 January 2003
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Scientologists buying Arrowhead Lodge

The Associated Press, 17 May 2000

Arrowhead Lodge on Lake Eufaula will soon become the home of a drug and alcohol abuse treatment center with ties to the Church of Scientology.

The nonprofit Association for Better Living and Education plans to pay the Choctaw Nation about $1.9 million for the 256 acre resort, said Gary Smith, executive director of the Narconon Chilocco New Life Center in Newkirk.

The group will then lease the property near Canadian, in Pittsburg County, to the Narconon treatment center.

"It was an awesome facility when it was built, but it's pretty run down, so there's quite a bit of renovations to do," Smith told The Daily Oklahoman. "It's going to take a number of months."

He said initial renovation work will cost about $1 million. The 75-bed treatment center in Newkirk plans to move and expand to as many as 300 beds at Arrowhead.

Arrowhead State Park and the Arrowhead Golf Course will remain under the control of the state Tourism Department, department spokesman Ron Stahl said Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the tribe, Judy Allen, confirmed the pending resort sale, which is expected to close in a couple of days.

Narconon Chilocco uses saunas, vitamins and a special diet as part of its three-month treatment. The plan was developed by the late L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology.

Some residents in the area opposed Narconon's plans, saying they were concerned about safety and property values. Other homeowners said they see potential benefits, including the economic infusion.

Narconon plans to bring a staff of 60 and a payroll of $1 million to Arrowhead. It will also hire about 10 local residents for security, maintenance and housekeeping jobs, Smith said.

Bud Shaw, trustee of the Arrowhead Estates housing addition, said residents' feelings are "pretty mixed."

"Some of us feel like it's probably better than the state maybe turning it into a prison someday."

Smith sent a six-page letter to nearly 1,000 residents of Arrowhead Estates and the towns of Canadian and Crowder, to explain the plans and try to ease residents' concerns.

"The Narconon Program in Oklahoma has been operating a successful residential drug rehabilitation program in this state for nearly 10 years," Smith wrote. " Narconon enjoys a very positive working relationship with many local vendors and last year graduated 200 people from its treatment program."

But Wanda Stone, chairwoman of the Kaw Nation, said Narconon never presented accurate figures to the any of the five north-central Oklahoma tribes that lease grounds to the group.

She said it refused to allow tribes to look at figures that might show how many people were being treated at Narconon and what they were paying.

Narconon promised the 25-year-lease, signed in 1990, would generate $16 million to the Kaw, Ponca, Otoe-Missouria, Tonkawa and Pawnee tribes. The five tribes received less than $1million from Narconon during its lease.