Barbour names Public Safety commissioner

By By Terry R. Cassreino / assistant managing editor
Dec. 23, 2003
Gov.-elect Haley Barbour today named a Mendenhall lawyer who is a former district attorney as his choice for commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
Barbour said he will ask the state Senate to confirm Rusty Fortenberry as head of the agency. Fortenberry is the former district attorney for Jasper, Smith, Simpson and Covington counties.
Fortenberry would replace David Huggins, who has headed the agency under Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.
Fortenberry's appointment was one of several Barbour announced during a news conference in Jackson today.
Other appointments were Melvin Maxwell, deputy commissioner under Fortenberry; Marvin Curtis, Highway Patrol chief; and Harold Cross, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard.
Barbour also kept two Musgrove appointees: Chris Epps, commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
Barbour, a longtime Republican leader, was elected governor in November after he defeated Musgrove, the incumbent Democrat. Barbour will formally take office Jan. 13.
Barbour's announcement was the latest as he continues to shape his gubernatorial staff. Earlier his month, he named former state Rep. Charlie Williams of Senatobia as chief of staff.
Still awaited is Barbour's choice to head the Mississippi Development Authority, the state's lead economic development agency. Barbour has called the choice crucial to the state's future.
Four potential candidates for the MDA job played prominent roles in Barbour's Job Creation Summit last week. They included David P. Rumbarger, president and CEO of the Tupelo-based Community Development Foundation; Jimmy Heidel, executive vice president of the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce; Gray Swope, president of the Hattiesburg-based Area Development Partnership; and Michael J. Olivier, executive director of the Harrison County Development Commission, who reportedly has taken his name out of consideration for the MDA post because he is under consideration for a similar position in Louisiana.