All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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The Church of Spiritual Technology, which owns some 3,000 acres in The Mattole, has a membership of 45 people; this, according to Michele Ouelette of "the Los Angeles area," who represents himself as a spokesman for the church.
Those associated with the church are reluctant to speak, giving rise to rumors, many of them.
The church is not L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology, as many thought, according to Ouelette, nor is it the Church of Science and Technology, as reported in this newspaper June 12, 1986, when what was left of the Walker Mansion, the oldest building around Petrolia, was burned in a controlled fire on Mother's Day to make room for a new structure.
The county is widening the Old Mattole Road which leads into Sunset View Ranch, established in 1858, and on ranch grounds the road also is being widened and graded by the church.
The former home of Ben and Louise Walker, which sits on a knoll, has been remodeled and is now the residence of the caretaker, Jim, who would not give his last name, but said he is a member of the church.
Just below this home, a new house, close to the site of the Walker Mansion, is being built with huge cellars. Roger Safier, contractor, and a crew of 12, are building an 8,000-square foot house which may be the retreat early reports mentioned. Safier said it will be one story. Safier hires the subcontractors, he said.
Up hill, the barn has been remodeled to make it earthquake proof, its foundation braced by rocks.
Other sources said the top of Walker Mountain will be blasted off to make room for vast, underground vaults to store church documents, but that work has been delayed until steel arrives. A new road into this area is being built and can be seen from Ocean House, it was pointed out.
The Church of Spiritual Technology not only bought the Walker ranch in 1984, but, later, the Francis Cook ranch next to it, Ouelette said, and Bill Branstetter is running about 200 head of cattle on the land.
Ouelette said he will be here in January.
[Picture / Caption: Foundations for new home.]
[Picture / Caption: Former sign read 'Welcome'; now it's 'Road Work Ahead'.]