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Mike Charbonneau latest person to leave Wake County schools to work at DOT

The revolving door from the Wake County school system to the state Department of Transportation continues. Mike Charbonneau, currently Wake's director of public affairs, will be leaving to become director of communications at DOT. The school system has hired Renee McCoy, a former WRAL news anchor and more recently chief spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Resources, to replace Charbonneau. Greer Beaty will remain in a communications role at DOT.

State workers heading north

In these days of tight budgets, state employees packing their parkas for a conference in Alaska got co-workers buzzing.

Two employees from the state public health labs in the Division of Public Health are in Anchorage for the Association of Public Health Labs conference, Lynn Bonner reports.

They are traveling on scholarships from a professional association of public health lab directors, said state Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Renee McCoy.

The two have no hands-on duties in the state's response to the H1N1 flu, she said. One employee is an information technology specialist and the other is a quality assurance manager.

HHS picks a new chief spokeswoman

The state Department of Health and Human Services has picked a new public affairs director.

Renee McCoy, a 25-year television news veteran, will become the department's chief spokeswoman. McCoy worked at WRAL and as a freelance reporter and anchor at NBC-17 and UNC-TV. McCoy started a Raleigh-based media consulting company in 1999.

McCoy worked as Director of Public Relations for the N.C. Department of Correction in 1986, during the administration of Gov. Jim Martin.

The public affairs post at Health and Human Services has been a high-profile one since February 2008 when a News & Observer series uncovered the massive failure in the state's attempts to reform the mental health system.

In the aftermath of the series, Gov. Mike Easley had then-public affairs director Debbie Crane fired. Crane's replacement, Tom Lawrence, has had to cope with frequent revelations about patient abuse or neglect at state institutions.

The department has adopted an agency-wide focus on enhancing trust and confidence in the Department, as well as a Zero Tolerance Policy in his approach to implementing changes at DHHS facilities across the state.

Update: McCoy will make $89,900 a year, according to the department. She started on Monday. 

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