Muslim, Buddist, Hindu, Judaism? Hope you aren’t needing to go to the mission..they wont take you

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Here is an interview from the “In the Fight Faith” blog. Take a peek at the comments Fox offers about the PCRM accepting into their program people of other religions that those he professes to represent. As an community based organization that accepts tax payer dollars through third party organizations, Fox has let down our community again by discriminating against those in need for the simple reason of their religious beliefs:

Billy Fox, executive director of Panama City Rescue Mission, talks about the mission’s ministry.
Fill us in just a little bit. Tell us what the Panama City Rescue Mission is all about.

We’ve been at this a long time.
Rescue mission here, and every other rescue mission I’ve been at, is not a faith-based mission. It is faith at the top, middle, and bottom.
We start off sheltering people, feeding them – we’re feeding about 800 meals a day.
We give them opportunities to either connect with the other social services in the community.
If the people are working on their problems, then we continue to extend their time of stay.
My rule is, “We’ll try to match your effort. But if you don’t make an effort, we’ll match that.”

A lot of people establish programs that aren’t godly, because they make people dependent on their services. How important is it to make people self sufficient?

It’s essential in my biblical philosophy.
Those who are not ready to help themselves, and don’t want to let their pride down.
Then they just continue to stay in their bad behavior as long as we aid and abet it.
If they’re not ready, it’s never a waste of time sharing the love of God with someone.

One of the things that is really interesting to me. All of the ministries that are really working have said no to government funding. What would happen to the Panama City Rescue mission if you started taking government money?

The other night we had two young Muslim men who were here who refused to go to chapel.
I offered to call the mosque to pick them up.
If I was getting government money, and we did that, not only would they stop the money, many times there have been times where the money has been taken back.
Our purpose is to share the gospel. We’ve had about 900 people who have accepted Christ in the last nine months.
We’re going to pray and thank God for everything He has given us. You have to sit there and deal with it.
If you were at my house and ate dinner, you would hear me pray.

You sound like a tough love guy. Which comes first, tough or love?

Tough has to come first.
It’s a lot easier to start tough and get easy than it is to start easy, then get tough.
But the tough is still delivered with dignity.
That’s tough, but it’s also with respect and dignity.



Letter to the editor

Over the past few weeks I’ve read many articles from various news sources on the new Bay Area Resource Center. None of these stories matches up to what the new community resource center proposes on its website.  According to the website, this is NOT the current homeless mission in Panama City, but a group of private charities and religious organizations of many diverse faiths wanting to help their community. Add to that the facts that the center with its now multiple organizations  working in a way that no one single organization carries the sole responsibility of supplying our communities needs. This structure allows for  checks and balances prohibiting any one organization from losing their way in their mandate and mission.

The new Resource Center’s policies and procedures seem quite effective, as it starts with an intake process where staff assesses their immediate needs, such as food, shelter and clothing. They are given an ID card that allows them to access further services, such as a triage program that evaluates the physical and mental health of the participant via a health care clinic which would provide medication as well as a detox program.

Helping the individual find a job is possibly the most rewarding aspect. The Rescue Mission’s check-in rules for placement cut off at 3 p.m., which discourages the individual from seeking employment. Who honestly has a job that lets out at 3 p.m.? I certainly don’t!

Also, some have argued that the location of the Resource Center is too far away from the city, but there is a proposed trolley stop which would give the residents access to transportation. And the center will provide its own transportation but the key is the resources are there  on campus preventing the need for those participating in programs to be shuttled from location to location to find all the needed resources.

I feel this new Resource Center is a much better option than the current Rescue Mission because there are a variety of services offered with the goal of helping them get back on their feet instead of sustaining the problem. Well said

Ask yourself this: Would you rather cover up a problem, or try to fix it?

I hope you take the time to read the website for the new Bay Area Resource Center at and see all of the service and true compassion it will provide.


What the hope of the bay area resource center will bring to our community…

The Truth About the Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus

The Campus

  • Appropriate Facilities:  The community campus will provide safe and appropriate facilities designed specifically for use in providing the services that homeless persons need, including treatment, training and supportive housing.

Many such services are now provided in cramped quarters, often in older buildings, some with building code issues, in scattered site locations around the region.

  • Gated Site:  The services will be provided in a well-maintained, 70 acre gated community that sets the campus apart from its immediate surroundings with a buffer of land, landscaping, a full fence and controlled access and egress.  This will secure both the population on campus and the surrounding community.

Perhaps some in our community fail to recognize that a homeless person’s chief concern is how to keep themselves and their few possessions safe and not become a victim of theft or battery.

  • One Entrance:  Everyone entering the campus will enter through the Intake and Reception area where they will receive an identification badge. Participants will not only be identified, but will be immediately moved through the initial assessment process to primary care and an appropriate program. In this way, everyone on campus will be known and accounted for. No one will be wandering in and out at random.

Currently providers only serve a portion of those who request services, leaving others to wander the area trying to figure out what to do, where to go next and how to get there.

  • Security Provided:  Security staff will be on campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This will prevent many problems from occurring and if problem activities do occur, they will be dealt with as they happen. There will be no wait while police officers are summoned to the site.

Currently, providers do not have private security systems with staff on-site. Providers rely on city and county law enforcement to make themselves available and handle any problems that arise. This is a very costly alternative that places the burden on local government. It also ties up officers’ time and takes them away from their regular responsibilities.

  • Location:  The location selected is a large (70 acre) tract of land, in order to accommodate all the intended services, but also to insure an adequate buffer for the property. The group of volunteers working on site selection spent 15 months looking for the best possible location, considering proximity, size, and cost.

The few available sites similar in size closer to the downtown area are much more expensive and can’t therefore be considered.  So there were other sites seriously considered, but not pursued due to the factors listed above and, in some cases, the density of development already in place.


  • The Need for Transportation is limited:  Homeless persons will only need to find their way to campus just one time to receive services. All services will be co-located on the community campus.  There will be no need for frequent trips away from campus to access medical services, to participate in a job training program, or attend services at a worship center.

Currently available services in scattered sites around the area cause a homeless person to constantly seek transportation. One homeless couple in their 50’s, recently interviewed on WMBB, stated that they had to walk about ten miles per day to access the basic services they needed.

  • Vans Available:  If transportation is needed for persons residing on the campus, vans will be available for that purpose. There will also be one van designated for outreach, to pick-up persons who are on the street in need of assistance and bring them to the campus.

This van service does not currently exist in our community.

Continuous Care

Campus always open:  The campus will be “open” at all times.  Homeless persons will find  24 hour services on-site, meaning that residential programs will be paired with education, skills training and vocational programs, so that persons will have a place to stay at night and participate in self-help activities during the day. The Resource Center and Community Campus system is not just a Day Center, nor just a Homeless Shelter. It is a full service campus that engages people in developing self-sufficiency and employment skills and keeps them sheltered and safe while they are preparing for their transition back into the community. It does not turn people out at the end of the day after they have participated in a program, nor in the morning after providing night shelter.  As opposed to our current scattered site provider system, the campus offers an ongoing stable environment where residents can focus on gaining their own stability and the skills necessary to succeed independently in the community.

There is no service of this type in this area. The Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus will be a national model if allowed to proceed and will bring accolades to this community.


  • Service providers:   Providers will work together to offer comprehensive services for the poor and homeless people who come to the Resource Center for help. The service providers on-site will be churches, and nonprofit organizations, many of whom are faith-based. They are the organizations that now provide services to our community from their diverse locations.

At this time, some of the service organizations operate in our city and county, some across this region of Florida and a few state-wide. Since they operate in scattered site locations, it makes it difficult for them to coordinate services and makes it difficult for persons in need to access services. When providers are located at the same site, they can be both more effective and more efficient.

  • Cost-effective system:  When services are provided within one coordinated system, recipients are more likely to get what they need, when they need it.  Importantly, coordination tends to eliminate unnecessary and expensive duplication of services.  This system also finds ways to fill gaps in services, as providers recognize other providers who may have the service their client needs. Finally, when agencies co-locate on a campus and agree to operate under a centralized system, an economy of scale is established and the whole system is both strengthened and less expensive to offer as a whole.
  • Governance:  Each provider has its own organization and governance structure.  All are governed by a Board of Directors who has legal and fiscal responsibility for its organization. Each Board of Directors will approve a Memorandum of Understanding that will identify the services it will provide and the services it will receive from the Bay Area Resource Center organization.

Bay Area Resource Center   

  • Status:  The Resource Center is incorporated as its own legal entity and nonprofit organization. It has no legal or organizational ties to the City of Panama City or any other nonprofit organization. It was created to manage the campus and centralized client services. It will direct participants’ intake, assessment, case management, and services placement. It will also be responsible for campus facilities management, security and grounds care.
  • Funds:  The City of Panama City will not be providing operating funds now or in the future for the Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus.  The City will make a one-time expenditure to fund the land purchase for the campus. The project will then operate on federal grant funds, private foundation gifts, and individual donations.
  • Construction:  Once land has been obtained for this project, we will have the opportunity to collaborate with local and national service providers who have funding to construct and operate housing facilities. We have preliminary agreements with organizations such as Volunteers of America to build transitional housing for Veterans and to begin their project soon after the land becomes available.

Economic Development

  • Economic Engine:  The Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus will serve as a significant economic development engine, ultimately creating an estimated $18 million in construction and related activities and many new jobs in construction and also in ongoing operations.
  • Economic Development Corridor:  The Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus will stimulate commercial development and growth along the Highway 231 corridor.
  • Economic Redevelopment:  The Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus will provide a place to safely administer programs and services on behalf of those in need. Once the campus is open and those in need are accommodated there, the way is clear for the City of Panama City to pursue economic redevelopment activities and develop a robust downtown and Marina district for all to enjoy. These redevelopment activities will provide immediate employment opportunities and, over time, a revenue source for the city.

For more detailed information, please visit

Why We Can’t Fix “the Problem” Where It Is:

  •   The current facility is old and unsafe. (Doesn’t comply with current building or fire codes)

It is not cost-effective to attempt to rehabilitate the facility.

  •   The current facility is too small. 

There is not enough surrounding land to create a facility with the residential units, health clinic and supportive services necessary.

  •   The current facility can only accommodate 2 families at a time. 

The RM cannot be expanded to the extent necessary and, more importantly, the families cannot be adequately separated from the adult population.

  •   The current facility limits its services by length of stay and by who is admitted for service. We cannot continue to discriminate against persons living on the street because of their race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, health, addiction, etc. Perhaps even more importantly, we cannot expect those who are admitted to the Mission to progress to self-sufficiency in the limited time they are allowed to stay.
  •   The current facility does not maintain security on-site.

There will continue to be problems and a loitering population.

  •   The current facility does not provide a progressive continuum of rehousing opportunities.

The population of homeless persons will continue to be homeless and dependent.

  •   The current facility does not provide intensive day programming.

There is no classroom space to accommodate the education and training programs  and no office or work space to accommodate the case managers, trainers and counselors on-site.

  • The current facility does not provide primary health and dental services on site.

There is no point spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to add a clinic to an inadequate facility, even if space for the clinic were available.

  •   The current facility does not admit anyone who is not already “dry”.

Unfortunately, many homeless persons, including our veterans, are suffering from some type of addiction and refusing to deal with them ensures that a large part of the homeless population will remain homeless.

  •   The current facility is only open limited hours each day.

This contributes significantly to the problem of homeless persons loitering because even if they are sleeping at the Mission, they are asked to leave during the day.

  • The current facility is not handicapped accessible. Persons with handicapping conditions cannot get from one floor to the next as there is no elevator service.

This limits who will be served. Persons with medical problems, who may be among

those most in need of shelter and services, are denied an opportunity for assistance.

Moving the mission

When the Panama City Commission last week approved building a facility for the area’s homeless, was it offering the Panama City Rescue Mission a carrot or a stick?
Commissioners voted unanimously to purchase a $445,000, 70-acre parcel of land along the Star Avenue corridor that will serve as the future site of the Bay Area Community Resource Center — that is, if the Rescue Mission agrees to move from its downtown location up U.S. 231.
Task force representatives gave the impression at the City Commission meeting Tuesday that the Rescue Mission was on board with the plan. However, mission officials later said they were caught off guard by the commission’s vote. They were aware of the plan, but they didn’t expect the city to act this soon. Not true. The city commissioners, task force members and supporting organizations moved forward because they WERE given assurances that the PCRM was on board. As late as 48 hours before the vote, PCRM board members indicated that the PCRM was “90% on board”. With this commitment, city officials felt they had crossed the obstacles  that prevented the facility from moving forward. Imagine the disdain this created with task force members to find that Billy Fox again at the final hour had thumbed his nose at the community. They said they have not made a decision yet on whether to move. The Rev. Billy Fox, executive director of the mission, said the board of directors will meet Tuesday to review the strategic planning committee’s recommendation regarding the city’s offer to move the mission.
“They were premature in saying or reporting that we had made any decision,” Fox told The News Herald’s Valerie Garman. “The bottom line is that no decision has been made, but it will be made this coming Tuesday.”
Was the commission’s vote a way of enticing the Rescue Mission to leave downtown — or a method of forcing its hand?
The Community Resource Center Task Force, which has been meeting for more than a year to study the homeless problem, has envisioned the center as a one-stop shop providing emergency assistance. Services would include a health clinic, food bank, vocational training, child day care and programs for veterans and battered spouses (for more information, go
The Rescue Mission, though, already provides many of those services. The area doesn’t need two such facilities. Indeed, both the task force and the city have acknowledged that the goal isn’t to duplicate or compete with the mission, but to include it at the new center.
No, the plan has been to get the mission out of downtown. Many of its critics complain that the mission’s location on Allen Avenue makes it a magnet for vagrants who loiter around businesses and panhandle, making the downtown unattractive to customers and future development.
The idea is that moving homeless services outside downtown would discourage the chronic homeless who are the source of complaints, and who are the hardest to help, while maintaining a facility for those who are temporarily down on their luck and are willing to travel up U.S. 231 to receive assistance and improve their lives. Eventually, it is hoped, the vagrants will migrate to another town rather than make the effort to ride transportation every day to and from the Community Resource Center. (That assumes they won’t just camp out around Star Avenue.)
There’s at least one large obstacle to that plan: The Rescue Mission is a private non-profit that receives no government funding. NOt exactly true. As noted on the PCRM’s own website, they receive no “direct” taxpayer money. The reality is they receive siugnificant monies through organizations that act as a clearinghouse for tax payer monies and provide no real activities other than dispersing money. So, YES…without taxpayer money, the PCRM would be unable to financially run their operations. It doesn’t have to move unless it wants to sell to someone offering a fair market price. But should in the best interest of those they serve and the community at large. Keep in mind, although a “private “organization, it is not a private business with any of the management or board of directors carrying any financial risk or burden. The investments to found and operate this facility have been made by the community at larger that with their donations and tax dollars have commissioned the PCRM management and directors to provide services to the community in a repsonsible fashion. Since he was elected more than 18 months ago, Mayor Greg Brudnicki has been working to persuade the mission to pull up stakes.
At the urging of Commissioner John Kady, the City Commission wisely has adopted safeguards for taxpayers. For instance, the city won’t purchase the land on Star Avenue unless the Rescue Mission commits to making the move, and that once the center opens the mission will close. In addition, there will be no further city involvement and funding after the land is bought, and the Resource Center must not recruit for the homeless outside of Bay County.
The ball is squarely in the Rescue Mission’s court. Its decision should be based on what benefits might lie ahead, not what may be pushing from behind. Again, not completely accurate. The decisions should be made based on what is best for our community as a whole which includes neighboring property owners to a facility as well as those participating in programs. To provide services to the very small portion of our population, the rest of the community should not be impacted in negative fashion and creating unwanted hardship.

Some residents upset with proposed Rescue Mission move

PANAMA CITY — Residents of a local neighborhood turned out to Tuesday’s commission meeting to voice their displeasures with the location for a proposed homeless shelter.

Many residents of the Cherokee Heights community expressed a sense of being rushed.

“As residents, we should have consideration from the city for someone to contact us and let us know what’s going on,” said Jeff Payne, a Cherokee Heights resident. “We deserve to be able sit down with someone and discuss the impact this resource center is going to have on our neighborhood.”

A 70-acre plot of land was proposed to house the Bay Area ResourceCenter off Star Avenue. The goal of the non-profit resource center is to meet the needs of homeless, unemployed and disadvantaged individuals and families in one location, according to the vision statement.

City officials also hoped the Panama City Rescue Mission would move there but the Mission declined the offer.

“There’s safety considerations to think of,” said Freddie Kinard, ofCherokee Heights. “What’s coming to our mind is we’re going to have a compound-like structure. How is it going to look to the nation if we’re putting all of our folks in need out in the woods basically out in a pen?”

Kinard continued by saying, “it just looks bad.”

Several citizens asked the Board questions on a humanitarian level.

“What are we going to do for those who don’t want to check themselves into this campus? A lot of homeless people are not just down on their luck,” said Stephen Ringenberg, resident. “Are we just going to turn our back on those people if the Rescue Mission is shut down?”

Around 15 members of the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Bay County showed up to support the move.

“I commend the recommendation to build this project, which could be a model for the rest of the USA to address this problem,” said Jack Harvey. “We’ve gone from the issue of getting vagrants off the street to that of the human problem of helping those who have been disenfranchised and giving them back their dignity.”

He added that he was confident that when residents “find the details of this well thought-out plan they will be assured their concerns have been addressed.”

Mayor Greg Brudnicki responded with a call for an information campaign after the current Rescue Mission rejected a proposal to relocate to the area on Nov. 20.

“I believe we addressed that tonight,” said Brudnicki, of the feeling of miscommunication. “I think the Bay Area Resource Center will make sure they communicate better to the residents.”

Mayor not giving up on shelter plan

PANAMA CITY — Despite a rejection by the Panama City Rescue Mission, city officials plan to move forward on efforts to relocate the homeless shelter.

The main concern expressed by the Rescue Mission was the distance from resources for clients.

“We can deal with the transportation issue,” said Mayor Greg Brudnicki. “If it is about transitioning and fixing the problem, you need an area for temporary housing to be able to do that. They can’t stay in a small, one-acre place.”

The plan was to bring in Volunteers of America and set up the Bay Area Resource Center, a development with enough land to house around 20 community organizations, including the Rescue Mission, Bethel Village and temporary housing for veterans, according to Brudnicki. A Community Center Resource Task Force was appointed by the mayor to find and research the best possible location.

City commissioners unanimously agreed the location of the Resource Center was to be a 70-acre plot of land along the Star Avenue corridor.

“It’s about having a facility that can house people and transition people at different stages,” Brudnicki said, emphasizing the Resource Center would have programs and regiments for the people in “transition.”

“We’ve seen this work in Pensacola, San Antonio — it’s not perfect anywhere,” he said. “It just boils down to us sitting down one-on-one and explaining what the plan is and having some compromises.”

Brudnicki said the lack of cooperation was due to communication.

“The Task Force obviously didn’t do a good enough job communicating to the Rescue Mission, the county and the residents exactly what needs to be done,” Brudnicki said. “When we started this process it was about the need to have a better location for the Rescue Mission to operate. It needs to be more about transitioning, not enabling.”

During the process, Brudnicki said the Task Force efforts became more about the 35 percent of people finding shelter at the Rescue Mission who are veterans.

“There are going to be so many coming out after the war that there has to be a place for these people to go,” Brudnicki said. “We wouldn’t be looking at 70 acres if it was just about the Rescue Mission.”

Commissioners unanimously agreed to purchase the parcel of land for $445,000. However, at Commissioner John Kady’s request, the city agreed that a written guarantee the Rescue Mission would relocate must be obtained before handing over the funding.

“We’ve got to educate everybody and figure out how we make it work,” Brudnicki said. “If we can’t make it work, then we can’t buy the property.

Rescue Mission rejects proposed move…hmmm imagine that

PANAMA CITY — Rescue Mission directors declined a proposed relocation of the downtown homeless shelter during a closed-door meeting Tuesday afternoon.

However, mission officials left open the possibility of moving if the location and finances were right.

“We are not opposed to moving, we are opposed to it costing us to move,” said Rev. Billy Fox, Panama City Rescue Mission executive director. “Downtown is not imperative, but we do own our property. So we aren’t going raise millions of dollars to go out and make a move.”

The priority of the Rescue Mission, if it were to move, is “to continue exactly what we are doing downtown and enhance what we are currently doing,” Fox said.

In a statement after the Rescue Mission board of directors meeting, Fox said:

“After much discussion, the board of directors resolved the plan of the city of Panama City and the Task Force presented to us … was not conducive to the ministry … , therefore we have no interest in relocating. We would, however, be willing to entertain an offer of a building/land transfer for a different property to continue current ministries and expanded vision of the Panama City Rescue Mission.” Here is the translation: We are not interested in participating in facility operating in conjunction with multiple other organizations that run their organizations in a responsible way as doing such would open what we do to public scrutiny and then the community would learn the details of the scam we have been pulling over their eyes.

The location made all the difference, according to Fox.

“If [Panama City] wants to do this somewhere that is not 10 miles out of town, we are open to discussion,” Fox said. “It is outside of resources and jobs, and 80 percent of people we deal with can and will join our live-saving programs. If they are 10 miles outside of the city, they are isolated and have a long way to go. If they have something that’s closer in we’d like to discuss it with them.”

Fox said the Rescue Mission is not a church but a nonprofit, Christian organization, listed as a 501(c)3, established by bylaws that does not accept government money. OOPS…Fox lied again. Check their website… see the neat little word “direct” as in “we do not accept DIRECT taxpayer funding”? Take a look at our “jigsaw puzzle” post to learn the true meaning of “direct”   ( However, the Rescue Mission would look for compensation from Panama City for its property, according to Fox.

“We don’t want to make it sound like we are under duress,” Fox said. “They just forget we are property owners, and we don’t have to do what they say.” Oh my the arrogance….Billy Fox makes that statement as though HE owns the building. Billy Fox just an employee and the PCRM is just a board of directors. None of these people have any individual ownership in any of the property or facilities. The PCRM in actuality is owned by the community that through their donation dollars made the facility possible. Fox is playing games with what really belongs to the community as a whole. Fox could (and should be) fired and board of directors resign still leaving the PCRM as an entity that could then be run by a responsible organization that will provide required services in a way that is responsible to the community as a whole. There is precedence for this action. take a look at this post:

Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said earlier a proposal to buy the current Rescue Mission property has not been made. He could not be reached for comment immediately after the Rescue Mission board’s decision.

Members of a Community Resource Task Force, appointed by Brudnicki, addressed the City Commission before commissioners voted unanimously to approve the purchase of a parcel of land off Star Avenue on Nov. 13. The roughly 70-acre, $445,000 property is planned to be incorporated under the name “Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus Inc.”

Project manager Jo Shaffer wrote in a news release the location was intended to “balance the importance of accessibility for the homeless, with … the least impact upon local residents and businesses.”

Despite the rejection to Panama City’s proposal by the Rescue Mission, Shaffer said the Bay Area Resource Center will proceed with plans to accommodate other nonprofits expected to be involved.

“We’re going to proceed forward and we hope we can work with the Rescue mission over time,” Shaffer said. “As they get more information and see how this proceeds we hope they will feel more positive about it.”

Shaffer continued saying, “I truly believe the Rescue Mission would benefit from having a larger site and a new facility,” she said.

Neighborhood opposition

Earlier Tuesday, Cherokee Heights residents made clear their opposition to the Resource Center relocation plan at the Bay County Commission meeting.

Jeff Payne, a real estate agent who lives in the neighborhood, said he wanted to hear the commission’s stance for relocating the Resource Center. He said the neighborhood is concerned about the problems that could befall it if the plan went through.

Three others addressed the commission on the issue, speaking out against the Resource Center moving to CherokeeHeights. They expressed concerns about safety and mentioned schools in the neighborhood.

Commission Chairman George Gainer said this is a city issue and not a county issue.

“This is not a county plan,” he said.

The commissioners said they have scant details on the plan and they learned about it through local media.
Gainer said he was unsure if the Resource Center would be a homeless shelter or some other type of support facility. Gainer said homelessness is a problem and needs to be dealt with in the county.

“We’re not familiar enough with the current plan to move forward and I don’t think the city is yet. It’s a work in progress,” he said.

Commissioner Guy Tunnell said he’d heard from plenty of residents about the issue and that he was worried about the quality of life in the area too. He recommended Gainer contact Brudnicki to “discuss the situation.” Then the commission could figure out where to go from there.

“I need more information,” Tunnell said.

For future discussion, Tunnell said Brudnickicould address the commission or the city and the county could have a joint meeting.

Gainer said he would be happy to take the lead and the commission voted 5-0 that he proceed in that manner.

“It’s not a problem I want to take out of Panama City and inject in Cherokee Heights. … Hopefully we can address the problem,” he said.

More nonsense from Billy Fox…

PANAMA CITY — Despite action by the Panama City Commission on Tuesday to purchase a parcel of land intended to house the Panama City Rescue Mission, no decision has been made to relocate, according to the mission’s director.

The Rev. Billy Fox said the mission’s board of directors will meet Tuesday at 4 p.m. to review the strategic planning committee’s recommendation regarding the city’s offer to move the mission.

“They were premature in saying or reporting that we had made any decision,” Fox said. “The bottom line is that no decision has been made, but it will be made this coming Tuesday.” The reality is that the rescue mission management has  been a no-show through this entire process. PCRM has been invited and encouraged to participate all along but has has limited contact with the task force committee.  City commissioner had reached out to several members of the board of directors and were given a “90% verbal commitment ” by PCRM board members that the rescue mission was on board. With this assurance city commissioners moved forward to bring the concept to vote thinking that they had a unified face on the direction of the new facility. At last minute, all of a sudden Fox and other board members act like they have no idea what is going on an worst pull away their support for the facility after indicating that they would support. This is just more shanagans by Billy Fox.

Commissioners approved a request from Community Resource Center Task Force to purchase a $445,000, 70-acre parcel of land along the Star Avenue corridor to serve as the future site of the Bay Area Community Resource Center.  The Rescue Mission could be one of several services provided at the site.

The task force was appointed by Mayor Greg Brudnicki more than a year ago to address issues with vagrancy in the downtown area.

Project manager Jo Shaffer said the goal of the nonprofit resource center is to provide a one-stop emergency assistance location for needy people in Bay County.

But at Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner John Kady said the city needed to get back to the original issue, the location of the Rescue Mission.

Kady requested the city first require a written guarantee that the Rescue Mission would relocate before handing over the funding.

Out of touch, out of favor and out of time….

It seems that time has run out for the management of the Rescue Mission of Panama City. After years of ignoring the pleas of the community to reel in their operation and become responsible community neighbors, the rescue mission has now made themselves irrelevant. This arrogant and tone deaf attitude shows its ugly face in the comments made by Henry Hazard, Chairman of the board of the Panama City Rescue Mission in this news article. Mr. Hazard is quoted as saying “I assumed that it would not be in the public eye for a few weeks”. Really? Why would the rescue mission board of directors and management not be intimately involved in every discussion and decision made by the Community Resource Center Task force? As self professed experts on homelessness issues for Bay County, why is it the rescue mission has consistently been a no-show at intense discussions in a group that include national experts on homelessness, representatives from responsible civic and religious organizations and governmental bodies who have come together to offer true solutions to the cities homeless problem? Why is that when representatives of the rescue Mission find themselves painted in a corner to address real issues, they always want to fall back on religious talk with a most pretentious and belittling tone? Why would “people of faith” be so unwilling to listen to the blessings that the new facility potentially brings when those blessings don’t fall inline with their own agenda. The rescue mission has worn out its welcome. The community has become weary of their rhetoric and disgusted with how they have built a multi-million dollar business empire on the backs of the homeless and a naive community who blindly donate not knowing the truth of what the rescue mission really is. The sands of the hourglass have almost run out for the rescue mission chiming in a new era for the downtown community and a new facility which will truly provide the services to those in need, utilizing the resources and talents from a multiple agencies and organizations in a way that is responsible to the community at large. 

It’s being seen as the answer to Downtown Panama City’s vagrancy issues. City commissioners approved the purchase of land for a 70-acre Community Resource Center. While the city seems to be on aboard, some aren’t fully convinced.

When the commission voted last night to purchase this property. There was one group that was missing – members of the Panama City rescue mission. They say they were caught a bit off guard by the decision.

“I assumed that it would not be in the public eye for a few weeks,” said Pastor Henry Hazard, chairman of the board for the Panama City Rescue Mission.

Pastor Hazard says when approached about the plan by the city a few weeks ago, he thought there would be more time to figure out how the mission fit into those plans.

“We decided at that point we would investigate, we would pray about it, we would seek god’s will because it is God’s mission and we’re trying to minister in his way,” Pastor Hazard said.

At Tuesday night’s commission meeting, city leaders made the move, one that got the attention of the rescue mission and the residents in the neighborhood surrounding the center.

We went out to the nearby Cherokee heights neighborhood to see what residents think about their potential new neighbors.

“I just don’t think the location is very good,” said resident Justin Buschman. “It has nothing to do with them being close to the neighborhood, there has to be places more centrally located they can find.”

“People don’t have jobs, children don’t have food, anything that can help someone is a good thing,” said resident Sandra Fountain.

Opinions from the residents were ride ranging. Jessica Stone thinks the center is a good idea if executed properly.

“If it’s just going to be the same thing – a place to eat and sleep and they’re really not getting on their feet and getting out there – then it does worry me,” resident Stone said.

Pastor Hazard say their goals goes beyond that, but as far as their role with the new center the future is still uncertain.

“We’ve got to be absolutely certain that this is going to enhance our ministry and help us do our mission,” Pastor Hazard said.

The board is meeting next Tuesday to discuss the proposal and see how it works for them. Pastor hazard says don’t expect an immediate verdict – they want some time so they can arrive at the right decision.


Major step forward made to relocate Rescue Mission from downtown area

PANAMA CITY — The Panama City Commission has provided theCommunity Resource Center Task Force with a place to put the shovel in the ground.

The commission was met with applause Tuesday as they unanimously approved the purchase of a $445,000, 70-acre parcel of land along the Star Avenue corridor, which will serve as the future site of theBay Area Community Resource Center.

Project Manager Jo Shaffer said the goal of the non-profit resource center is to provide a one-stop emergency assistance location for needy people in Bay County.

But for commissioners, the approval represented a potential solution for an ongoing issue with the homeless population near the downtown Panama City Rescue Mission.

Commissioner John Kady requested the city first require a written guarantee that the rescue mission would relocate before handing over the funding.

“When we started this whole endeavor it was for one single purpose and that was to address the vagrancy issue in downtown PanamaCity,” Kady said. “We still need to get back to the core. We have an issue with the rescue mission in downtown Panama City.”

Kady also required no further city involvement in the project, no recruitment outside of Bay County and a development period restriction of three years.

Shaffer said the task force would be willing to work with the commission during the 60 day due diligence period to acquire necessary permitting for the site.

“I’m very sensitive to the needs of the rescue mission,” said Commissioner Billy Rader. “One good thing about this is they would have a day center; they would have the people on board for counseling to help these people get back on their feet and have some self esteem in their lives. Somebody’s got to take that leap of faith.”

Commissioner Mike Nichols also spoke in favor of the project, stating that the center will provide a safe place with 24-hour security and guidance for people in need in Bay County.

Funding for the purchase will come from the Florida State House Initiative Partnership (SHIP), but the city must provide a $25,000 down payment before the area is annexed into Panama City.

The 26-member Community Resource Center Task Force was appointed by Mayor Greg Brudnicki 15 months ago to address issues with the homeless population and poverty epidemic in the area.

“Somehow I don’t think it’s coincidental that this item is on the agenda the day after Veterans Day and during National Hunger and Homeless Awareness week,” said task force chair Emily Dowdy, who addressed the commission Tuesday. “The task force has done its due diligence. We have studied best practices and processed how other communities have successfully transformed their homeless populations into productive members of society.”

Task Force members have visited transitional campuses includingSafe Harbor in Pinellas County, the Waterfront Rescue Mission inPensacola, the Renaissance Community Center in Tallahassee and Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas.

Panama City also received a visit from homeless expert Dr. Robert Marbut in January, to offer solutions on how to improve the area’s homeless situation.

The most rapidly increasing homeless population is building from veterans returning home from overseas, Dowdy said, something that could greatly affect Panama City’s large military population.

“It is our sincere hope that the (Panama City) Rescue Mission will take advantage of the opportunity to construct new, updated facilities on a secure campus,” said task force chair Emily Dowdy. “The rescue mission has been invited to be one of the first service providers to join the operation of the community campus and provide emergency shelter as they do now.”