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It's moving day in City Hall for 3 Tarpon officials

Empty picture hooks dotted the walls in Carey Smith's office. The trinkets had been cleared off his desk. His city manager nameplate was one of the last personal touches that remained.

Friday was Smith's last day on the job, a day that had come to be known in City Hall circles as "Black Friday" because it was the last day for two other department heads as well.

Cake, pizza and farewell gifts were at the heart of many conversations as city employees said their goodbyes to Smith, administrative services director Bob Bublitz and Mike Crawford, the director of planning and zoning.

Smith resigned to become city manager in Daytona Beach and Bublitz left the city after 14 years to take a job with the city of Clearwater's gas utility. Crawford ended his almost nine-year tenure in Tarpon Springs to join the Pinellas County Planning Council.

"I'm going to miss him terribly," Barbara Vernon, the planning department's secretary, said of Crawford.

To thank Vernon, Crawford had given her a dozen red roses Friday.

"There are a lot of good people in Tarpon," Crawford said. "I will miss Tarpon."

To make the transition easier for his as-yet-unnamed successor, Crawford left a projects list with new city manager Costa Vatikiotis, who will be sworn in to his new position during a ceremony Tuesday.

"I wish Costa luck," Crawford said.

Bublitz had spent the past few days reviewing city finances with Jeff Rosencrans, who has been hired as the city's new finance director.

While Rosencrans doesn't officially start work until Oct. 31, he flew in for a few days to work with Bublitz before his departure.

"He's very competent and he won't have any problems," Bublitz said.

Rosencrans, who left a job as finance director in Kings Mountain, N.C., said he was a bit surprised by Bublitz' resignation.

But, he said, "it doesn't scare me."

It's after Bublitz leaves that his absence will really be felt, said accounting technician Bonnie Diaz, who worked with Bublitz.

"I think the city is going to realize after he's gone all that he's done," she said.

As one of Smith's going-away presents, he was given a sponger's helmet clock during a party earlier this week, said his secretary Maureen Meyers.

"He loved it," she said. "He always wanted one."

As he sat in his barren office Friday, Smith reflected on his four years as city manager. He had survived an effort last year to fire him and recently withstood harsh criticisms from some commissioners.

"I like to think that some of the challenges and adversities have contributed to my growth as a professional city manager," he said.

Smith said he has briefed Vatikiotis on what's happening in the city and all the loose ends have been tied up.

"I don't leave things untied," he said.

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