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Blackwood to head state highway safety office
Columnist, former editor was adviser for Deals campaign
Harris BlackwoodNEW
Harris Blackwood

Gov.-elect Nathan Deal named the next director for the Governor's Office of Highway Safety on Friday.

Harris Blackwood, a campaign adviser who is currently heading up communications for Deal's inaugural events, will take over the position in January.

Prior to joining the Deal campaign, Blackwood was community editor of The Times and still writes a Sunday column.

"I am deeply honored to have been asked by the governor-elect to head this agency," Blackwood said. "Safety on our highways has always been a deep concern of mine. I have lost friends to accidents, some due to drinking and driving. It is my sincere hope that working with law enforcement officials around the state, we can make it a safer place for the people of Georgia."

The Governor's Office of Highway Safety is the agency that administers funding for safety programs such as Click It or Ticket and Operation Zero Tolerance.

"It's a roughly $18 million annual budget," Blackwood said. "Almost 99 percent of the budget is from federal highway dollars."

Blackwood said he will be designating funding to local law enforcement agencies.

"It's an opportunity for them to step up traffic enforcement and receive incentive funding for them to do that," Blackwood said. "The state of Georgia has had a demonstrated record of reducing deaths. We've been very successful doing that and I hope to work to continue that great success."

Blackwood's last column will run Jan. 2 in The Times.

"I will miss my weekly visits with the readers of The Times," Blackwood said.

Deal also announced Friday that he'll appoint Doug MacGinnitie as the next commissioner of the Department of Revenue. The outgoing commissioner, Bart Graham, has accepted the governor-elect's request that he join the Office of the State Treasurer, where he'll serve under State Treasurer Tommy Hills.

MacGinnitie is a former member of the Sandy Springs City Council who ran unsuccessfully for secretary
of state earlier this year.

Deal said that he'll keep Debbie Dlugolenski as the Office of Planning and Budget director and Chief Financial Officer. During her tenure at the Office of Planning and Budget, Dlugolenski has served as Deputy Director and Division Director for Physical and Economic Development.

Other new appointments:

n Tonya Boga, director, Office of the Child Advocate. Boga currently serves as a Juvenile Court Mediator in the Cobb Judicial Circuit. She has represented children as a Guardian Ad Litem in both Juvenile Court and Superior Court for many years.

n Melvin Everson, director, Governor's Office of Workforce Development. Everson is completing his second term in the state House of Representatives, where he represented portions of Gwinnett County. Previously, he served four years on the Snellville City Council. Everson spent 23 years in the U.S. Army.