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Blackwood to head highway safety

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

ALBANY, Ga. -- Governor-elect Nathan Deal has named former newspaper and television reporter Harris Blackwood as the new Director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

The GOHS's mission is to educate the public on traffic safety and facilitate the implementation of programs that reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities on Georgia roadways.

"Part of my job is to administer federal grants from the National Highway Safety Administration for programs such as 'Operation Zero Tolerance' and 'Click It or Ticket,' " Blackwood said. "We want to educate the public and work with law enforcement to help prevent loss of life on Georgia's highways."

Blackwood served on the Deal for Governor campaign staff and from 1987 to 1992 was a staffer for Democratic Sen. Wyche Fowler.

A native of Social Circle, Blackwood has strong ties to Southwest Georgia.

In 1979, he worked as the news director for WCUP in Tifton before moving to Albany in 1980 as the state capitol reporter for WALB-TV. In 1985, he became the city editor for The Tifton Gazette.

For the past eight years, Blackwood has been a columnist and community editor for The Times of Gainesville.

"My job will entail a lot of public relations and marketing," Blackwood said. "I have a media background, and that will be helpful. I also want to use the abilities of the department's existing staff, which has done a good job for the people of Georgia."

Blackwood said he plans to make no major changes in the department, but he wants to better utilize its assets.

"I want to make sure we maximize the effectiveness of our existing programs," he said. "I also want to make sure we are doing everything we can to work with law enforcement in the state and help provide them with the vehicles and equipment they need for traffic law enforcement."

Blackwood is replacing outgoing director Bob Dallas, who was a first-term appointee of Gov. Sonny Perdue.