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Heather Barney, communications director for the state Department of Commerce, will be Gov. Norm Bangerter's press secretary for the final nine months of his term.

She is scheduled to start April 6, filling a vacancy left when Bangerter's longtime press secretary, Francine Giani, resigned to head the Division of Consumer Protection in the Department of Commerce."I'm pleased that Heather has agreed to join my staff in this key position," Bangerter said. "I've been impressed with her work at the Department of Commerce and know she will be a real asset to our office."

Barney is taking a leave of absence from the Department of Commerce to work for the governor. Her position there will be filled by her assistant, Jan Western.

Both positions are exempt under the state employment system, meaning whoever holds them when the new administration takes over in January is likely to be replaced.

"You can look at it that way. It's such a good opportunity for me," Barney said. "I really have a lot of respect and admiration for Governor Bangerter and I'm happy to be able to work for him."

She has served as the communications director for the Department of Commerce since January 1989. Among her responsibilities were directing the department's consumer education campaigns.