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Quail Forever hires Bowles, QU staff

Former Quail Unlimited Executive Director Bill Bowles talks to reporters during a news conference.

Former Quail Unlimited Executive Director Bill Bowles talks to reporters during a news conference.

ALBANY, Ga. — Former Quail Unlimited CEO Bill Bowles said Monday that Quail Forever, a larger national organization, has offered to take over the quail conservation work done previously by Quail Unlimited.

MOBILE USERS: To see video from Bowles' news conference, click here.

In a news conference Monday morning, Bowles said he and his four-member staff, based in Albany, have been offered employment by QF, one of the largest quail groups left in the wake of the decision to fold Quail Unlimited. Bowles will be the Southeastern regional director, responsible for operations in Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Florida. The organization will be headquartered in Albany.

Bowles said it remains unclear what role Quail Albany, an organization that was publicly unveiled at this year's Celebrity Conservation Quail hunt, will have in the transition. He said Quail Albany was organized to make certain the celebrity hunt was staged in Albany each year.

Just completed, the next hunt will be held next November — timed to coincide with the start of quail season.

Monday's announcement was another twist in an already complex story that developed late Friday afternoon when Bowles sent out an email to Quail Unlimited's membership saying that the organization was closing immediately, giving way to Quail Albany, an organization that The Herald discovered had been formed in November 2012.

Bowles said Monday that the decision to shutter Quail Unlimited was one that was based on finances and debts he says were inherited from the old guard of the organization, which were aggravated by previously unknown debtors who surfaced once the organization began to right its ship.

"We didn't have records. ... We just rolled our sleeves up and went to work," Bowles said. "The debt as we knew it was $1.2 million, and we worked tirelessly over the last two years to get that down to a level around $300,000 ... and when we thought we were at one debt level, the bar kept rising."

Still, he says, that wasn't enough to keep the organization afloat. With mounting legal and financial challenges, Bowles said the decision was made to shut down Quail Unlimited forever and start up Quail Albany in order to save the annual Southwest Georgia quail hunts.

"We've worked hard these last two years, but it's like I've often said: We've been paddling a boat with a toothpick. This will not only give us some real oars to work with, but it'll give us an outboard motor," Bowles said.

At least one of QU's creditors says it will have to weigh Bowles' statement before deciding on whether to continue litigation meant to get money it contends the organization owes it.

James Hays of the Atlanta-based Hays & Potter law firm is representing office equipment giant Pitney Bowes in a lawsuit against QU for what the company claims is $27,000 in unpaid obligations stemming from QU's days in South Carolina.

He says that while Georgia law allows for creditors to pursue debts owed by companies they believe are still conducting the same business from the same location with the same principal individuals involved just under a new name, determining what assets QU may have had may weigh heavily on his advice to his client.

"Generally, a corporation can close its doors and walk away," Hays said, "essentially say 'we have nothing of value, sorry about the bills we racked up but we're out of here.' That's the ugly side of an economy that is based so much on credit. It's always a gamble."

While Bowles wouldn't specifically say who would be in charge of the celebrity hunts going forward — Quail Forever or Quail Albany — he did say that QF's considerable resources and national reach would give him the opportunity to focus on building partnerships with land owners and state governments to ensure Quail Unlimited's initial core mission — quail conservation and stewardship — is realized.

Bowles did say that sponsors were told of the shift from Quail Unlimited to Quail Albany before the celebrity hunt started last week and that all vendors have been paid.

Comments

bigbob 1 year, 2 months ago

I still would like to know how you can just change the name of a company & clear your debt so you can start over.

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albanygaguy 1 year, 2 months ago

Large companies do it all the time. You load up the old company with all the debt you can. Then you make sure that another company or person owns all assets that that company uses ie cars desk and even computers. Then you fold the old company and just keep the doors open under the new company's name. Large companies do it all the time to write down debt.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

Just jack it up and drive a new one up under it. Clearly this is BS.

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southwestga 1 year, 2 months ago

Where will this be based? The old office should belong to the creditors now. The Phoebe Foundation gave the land, rather than using that resource for poor sick people.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

Put Bowles and Chris Pike in the same jail cell for a couple of years.

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Wildlife 1 year, 2 months ago

Wow, lets set a little straight. Mr. Bowles not only knew of the financial crisis of the old QU, he was the active treasurer of QU before, during and for a time after the information of the problems surfaced. He has claimed this amnesia long enough. That position by definition of the QU bylaws meant he approved and provided the budgets to the board. Since taking over his name appears on legal records from many law suits old and new, he knew. All records in 2009 of the liabilities and financial conditions were accurate and verified by a CPA when he took over. The missing and uninvoiced guns totaled over $300,000 and he and the board were provided a list that they refused to move on, the bad debt to all vendors, the $1.2 million was being paid down, the nearly $600,000 due chapters and state councils seems to have been forgotten and all were properly accounted for by the then new accountants in GA in 2009 specializing in not for profits. The previously unreaveled and unrecorded long term liability of the retirement accounts was nearly $3.4 million in itself. These numbers were recorded in the minutes of the QU board unless they too have been "misplaced", atleast his copies.

To say and blame the "old guard" is an excuse for current poor management I don't know what degree he got from Auburn but if it was business, the first thing you do is due diligence whenever you take over anything. Credibility suffers when you keep blaming the "old guard", it is your job to fix it as a leader and he was the old guard. Did anyone think he would fix himself?

As a leader you deal with documented facts, written verification, honest answers all the time not smoke and mirrors.

The problem was never the chapters, members or workers, it was in the mismanagement at the absolute highest levels and one person did not cause the dissolution of QU but one person orchestrated it and it was not Bill Bowles.

The relationsjip with QF is very curious, he has absoluteley no experience as an RD and the business management shows itself very questionable so, whats in it for everyone concerned? Strange bedfellows and you can bet there is more to the story.

The people of Albany were and are wonderful, your efforts and freindship are well known to all who worked with you or walked the fields. You deserve much better than what is unfolding. Trust not unless it is in writing, verified with an insurance policy to back it up.

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