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Quail Unlimited Founder speaks out on “Misleading” stories on web


web posted November 5, 2009
EDGEFIELD – With the recent controversy that has come from an article published by the Covey Rise on the financial shape of Quail Unlimited, EdgefieldDaily.com sat down with the Quail Unlimited Founder, Jerry W. Allen, on Monday to get to the bottom of the stories and rumors. Mr. Allen stated the article by Covey Rise was “not factual” and “misleading” and was actually the work of a disgruntled employee who has been trying to ruin the conservation group as a “vendetta”.

“Back in 1981 I founded Quail Unlimited,” Mr. Allen said. “All my life my goal has been to do something for wildlife conservation. I invested over $300,000 of my own money to get it off the ground.” Allen, a former wildlife biologist, also worked with Tom Rodgers when the National Wild Turkey Federation was started. “I was the one who set up the programs for it.”

When Quail Unlimited was founded, “I built the office right there beside my house with my own money,” Allen said. He then enlisted the help of Rocky Evans of Augusta to manage the operation. The foundation grew and expanded across the country by adding additional chapters helping to fund the operation and conservation efforts. In 1993 the present office building was constructed with the help of state chapters.

Rocky Evans, Mr. Allen said, did a wonderful job and contrary to the report by Covey Rise, he retired in March due to health issues. “Rocky is dying from scleroderma,” Allen said.

Craig Alderman was hired in March of 2009 to take over on a temporary basis and then attempted to take over Quail Unlimited by trying to circumventing the board of directors, a plan that failed and eventually lead to his firing. Mr. Allen said it was then that Alderman began making trouble for the organization by making claims of missing guns and contacted the ATF, the IRS, the Attorney General’s Office, and the bank. In the meantime he was spreading what Allen called false statements to state chairmen of other chapters.

The ATF came in and spent four days searching through everything and has not reported any problems to date, Mr. Allen said. “Mr. Alderman said there were 150 guns missing, he told others 180, and some others 100. As far as I know there are no guns missing,” Allen said. “In the 25 years I was there (Allen retired five years ago due to open heart surgery) I have never known there to be more than 100 guns in that safe at one time. And being the CEO I would have known.”

Mr. Allen said there are financial problems at Quail Unlimited due to the economy which led to fewer dollars coming in and the rest of the blame he laid at the feet of Alderman and his false claims.

With the turmoil Alderman was creating, Senior Vice President Donnie Buckland resigned and joined forces with the National Wild Turkey Federation. “I don’t’ blame Donnie for that,” Allen said. “I would have done the same thing.”

As the money issues began to worsen Quail Unlimited closed their doors and are currently filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy, Mr. Allen said. “I think the chapter 11 will stop the foreclosure, but I think they’re still going to lose the building.” Mr. Allen stated the bank note is around $275,000.

Allen said the board of directors is moving the operation to Columbia South Carolina, “which I think is a bad move because that’s going to leave all the staff, some 130 years of experience. They won’t have it.”

Another issue that was taken out of context was the retirement package Mr. Allen and Mr. Evans got when retiring. Both of which have been lost. Mr. Allen was drawing retirement for the past five years but was also continuing to raise between $200,000 and $250,000 a year for the organization he said. When the economy turned south he voluntarily cut his retirement package drastically. “Nobody asked me to do that,” Allen said. “I did it because I loved that place. I built it. I breathed life into it.”

Mr. Allen said when he left Quail Unlimited fiver years ago there were close to 400 chapters and in the last six months it had dropped down to around 170. Something he blamed on the rumors that Mr. Alderman has been spreading. The budget when he left was $7.2 million and recently he said it dropped into the neighborhood of $1.2 million.

Mr. Allen said he hopes that Quail Unlimited can survive the problems it is facing, but he is not getting involved. “Right now I just want to enjoy my boys, the (Carolina) Dove Club, and relaxing,” he said. One piece of advice he would offer to anyone wanting to start a non-profit is, “Don’t, because people won’t remember what you did.”

A letter to Covey Rise has been sent requesting a full retraction of their report. “I just wanted to get the truth out there,” Mr. Allen said. As to EdgefieldDaily.com, he said, “I know everybody reads it.”


Editor's note: The Covey Rise report can be found here.

 




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