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Interim manager starts work in Waynesville

fr managerThe new interim town manager of Waynesville has pledged to sustain the town’s momentum and not let it idle or backslide during the months-long transition to come.

Mike Morgan spent his first day on the job as interim manager Monday. In a meeting with department heads, Morgan gave them the green light to carry on with initiatives set in motion.

“My job is to coordinate,” Morgan said. “I don’t propose to know what’s good, bad, needs to be fixed, doesn’t need to be fixed. I’ve just fallen off the turnip truck.”

Don’t be fooled though. Morgan’s been around the block plenty of times on that turnip truck before falling off here in Waynesville. 

A local government junkie, Morgan is now on his fifth interim manager gig since  retiring after serving 18 years as the Weaverville town manager in late 2010.

Along with four interim manager jobs in four years, he’s taught local government courses to graduate students in WCU’s public affairs program. There’s one message he tries to impress on all his students.

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“There are very few jobs where the things you do today will have a long-range positive effect on communities 40, 50, 60 years from now,” Morgan said. 

Morgan comes on board at the beginning of budget season, and that’s priority one.

Town managers are often a critical voice in separating the wheat from the chaff when winnowing down the budget wish list.

Morgan said he will rely on department heads to help make those calls collectively — but said the buck ultimately stops with aldermen. As elected officials, they’re the ones the public looks to and should have the final say on anything and everything, Morgan said.

Although Morgan won’t launch any new initiatives or projects during his six-month stint in Waynesville, he doesn’t intended to park the town in neutral either. That’s good news for projects on the cusp of taking off — like building a new greenway leg or making over the public parking lot in Hazelwood’s business district. And it’s good news for those eager to see a solution to long-festering problems — like eradicating squatters from town parks or making the permit process more streamlined.

The Waynesville town board voted unanimously last week to hire Morgan as the interim manager until a permanent town manager is chosen, a process likely to take six months. 

Morgan is taking over for outgoing town manager Marcy Onieal, who was abruptly fired after the majority on the town board shifted in last fall’s election.

Morgan has held interim stints in Sylva, Marshall, Asheville and Weaverville.

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