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Gloria Ray's name removed from downtown building | News

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Gloria Ray's name removed from downtown building
News, People
Gloria Ray's name removed from downtown building

A prominent downtown building that's home to the Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau no longer carries the name of its former president, Gloria Ray. New leadership at the CVB calls this a next step in re-branding itself as "Visit Knoxville."

If you look up close on the brick wall of the Visitor's Center you'll notice some leftover glue. Those spots are where a sign once identified it as the Gloria Ray building.

"Before the signs came down, we got some feedback. Since they've been down, we haven't really gotten any," said "Visit Knoxville" President Kim Bumpas.

Bumpas said last week crews removed the outdoor plaque and a second metal sign from inside the building that featured a casting of Ray's face.

"We took it down in the fashion that we are doing it to be less dramatic about it so to be respectful of what anybody ever perceived past processes to be," said Bumpas.

The building, located at 301 South Gay Street, became the "Gloria Ray Building" in a ceremony in June, 2010.

Former Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale and State Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker were on hand for the dedication, which Ray told 10News was a surprise.

"I don't feel worthy. I don't feel deserving. I feel like there's a lot of people's names that need to be up there. But I'm proud that you decided to put my name there," Ray told the crowd at the dedication ceremony.

Even though local officials attended the ceremony, at the time, neither Knox County or the City of Knoxville owned the building. Neither government was required by law to approve the naming. In fact, documents show KTSC purchased the building from TVA under a permanent easement agreement, for $400,000 in 2003.

Board meeting minutes show no indication that the full board ever voted to name the building after Ray or to spend $4,636 of KTSC's money on the metal signs. Board minutes from May 19, 2010 indicate KTSC's Executive Committee of the Board unanimously voted to accept a recommendation from Ragsdale that the building be named in honor of Ray, and that the county would pay for both signs. However, according to KTSC's financial records, KTSC paid for the signs instead of the county.

"It's 100 percent focusing on the future and getting the Visit Knoxville brand out there," explained Bumpas.

The CVB's new name is slowly appearing around the property. All indoor signs that bore the old KTSC logo were taken down the same day as Ray's signs were removed. The board voted to change the organization's name to the Knoxville Convention and Visitor's Bureau at their July regular meeting; they now do business as "Visit Knoxville."

It's a transition that took off after KTSC's board forced Ray into retirement in February when legal issues with her employment contract came to light.

"The building is the Visitors' Center. So it's the Visit Knoxville Visitors Center," explained Bumpas.

Even with signs of the past slowly going away, one large reminder is sticking around. The CVB is leaving the Knoxville mural on this brick wall, Bumpas said, because the city of Knoxville also uses the logo.

The CVB's current board will discuss the signs at their regular meeting in September. If it votes to hang the signs back up, Bumpas said they will be re-installed.

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