Rescue Mission Says Goodbye to Billy Fox

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Billy Fox is out as the Executive Director of the Panama City Rescue Mission.

The move came during Thursday night's Mission Board of Director's meeting, but apparently the board's been debating it for at least 2 years.

Board Members say this is the first step in a series of sweeping changes.

Panama City Rescue Mission Board Members won't get into specifics about why they're parting ways with executive director billy fox.

But after 8 years on the job, Fox will be leaving.

Rescue Mission Board President Reverend Henry Hazard says, "There were several reasons, and I would rather not go into that because we have an understanding that he's not to tell everything about us and we're not to tell everything about him but it was nothing immoral."

Hazard did say the board members had become weary of what he called a lot of negative media attention.

Much of that attention seemed to come from downtown residents and business owners, who claimed vagrants and the homeless were running people away from the downtown area.

Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki says, "We had a lot of truancy and a lot of calls - police calls - to the rescue mission over the years because there was a lot of incorrigible people mixed in with the truly homeless people looking for a home."

City officials toughened the city's panhandling laws, which helped with some of the problems; and they explored a number of options, including building a new homeless shelter out of the downtown area, but Fox refused to seriously consider relocating.

Brudnicki insists the city did not play a role in Fox's departure, saying, "Absolutely not, I'm just as surprised as you and everyone else. I had no idea."

Fox also fought a long legal battle with Springfield to expand the Bethel Village for women.

Despite the very public struggles, Hazard says Fox helped build the foundation for the Mission's future.

Hazard says, "He's got himself exhausted doing what he can to develop the rescue mission. There was no fault on his part in my opinion."

Fox declined to comment.

The Rescue Mission has already removed his biography from it's website.

Hazard says they hopes to have new Mission Director in a month.