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Roanoke's Chris Morrill clocks out one last time

Shayne Dwyer/WDBJ7
Shayne Dwyer/WDBJ7(WDBJ)
Published: Apr. 14, 2017 at 4:27 PM EDT
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Friday was Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill's last day. He spent it tying up loose ends and reflecting on how far he's come.

His successor has not yet been hired, but Friday he signed out. Many in the city attribute the recent positive changes to Morrill and his leadership.

Packing boxes is a task hardly anyone likes to do. Now former Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill had a lot to pack after seven years in this office.

"Seven years is a pretty good run for a city manager, it's almost like football coaches you're lucky if you make it more than four or five years."

He announced his departure for a new role in Chicago back in February. He's hardly been a lame duck since then.

"I announced two months ago and between working on the budget and getting everything done I hadn't really thought about it until I woke up this morning and it's the last day, it's hard to believe," Morrill said. The one thing that I'm most proud of is how we've changed the way that Roanokers feel about themselves. When I got here people almost apologized for it, I don't think they recognized their assets so I made it my mission to go out and talk to anybody who would listen to me about what an incredible place this is."

Screws for art and a laptop on the desk are some of what's left. What can't make the trip is now in good hands - Morrill gave a stuffed monkey to the young-daughter of a colleague for safe keeping.

Keeping Morrill on track the last 18 months was Wanda McGill.

Arguably as close as family, she's blessed to have worked under such a smooth operator.

"Very busy, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 15," McGill said. "Sometimes calls that come in, situations, were not always pleasant but you would never know from Chris Morrill, the city manager."

In his final hours, handwritten thank you notes were the task at hand. And he says it won't be goodbye, just a see ya later.

"I will be back as often as I can really just to enjoy it and to see the progress because I think we're on the right trajectory and I think we're just going to accelerate," Morrill said.

Morrill said the one thing that popped out to him as he packed up his office was a stretch of the chain that used to close off the North Entrance to the Municipal Building. He says it was one of the first things he saw when he came here - he hated it, wanted it open, he succeeded, and that chain is proof of success.