Head of Georgia’s emergency response agency is stepping down

Jim Butterworth and Gov. Nathan Deal at a 2013 event.

Jim Butterworth and Gov. Nathan Deal at a 2013 event.

Georgia’s top emergency management official is stepping down in December to take a private sector gig after about two years on the job, the latest significant shake-up of Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration.

Jim Butterworth has led the Georgia Emergency Management Agency since November 2014, when he was tapped to replace Charley English. English had been on the hot seat for a series of embarrassing mishaps during the icy blast that brought metro Atlanta to a standstill earlier that year.

Butterworth, who was previously the head of the Georgia National Guard, was charged with implementing a new weather strategy that was devised after the 2014 storm. The winter weather task force appointed by the governor has led to more equipment and more aggressive efforts to clear roads long before snowflakes fall.

More: How Gov. Deal is using a spate of openings to reshape Georgia government

Deal’s office indicated Monday that Butterworth’s departure had nothing to do with the state’s response to Hurricane Matthew, which forced millions to evacuate and killed at least four people in Georgia. Top Deal aide Chris Riley said discussions with Butterworth began more than a month ago and that he decided to leave office on Sept. 26.

He is set to be replaced on Dec. 1 by Homer Bryson, the commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Deal said he would tap Greg Dozier, who was a top Bryson deputy, to succeed him.

It’s the latest in a flurry of activity from Deal’s office. He tapped Chris Carr, the head of the state’s economic development arm, on Wednesday to replace outgoing Attorney General Sam Olens. And he appointed Carr’s deputy Pat Wilson on Friday to lead the economic agency.


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