Settling in

Gray begins work as new tourism director

The Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission welcomed their new executive director, Serena Gray, at her first commission meeting Tuesday morning.

Gray officially began work at her new position Monday, and the commission approved her employment contract at Tuesday’s meeting.

Commission Chairman Ty Pendergrass and Commissioners Tracy Campbell, Derek Melancon, and Nick Cox were in attendance, and each expressed his eager anticipation of Gray’s tenure.

“We’re all excited to have Serena on board, and I’m glad [she is] finally on the job,” Cox said. “We’re here to help in any way, and we’re so excited for the future of tourism in our parish.”

The executive director duties had been performed by Johnnye Kennon in an interim role since the termination of the previous director in February 2017.

“The more I think about all the great things Webster Parish has, the more excited I get,” Campbell said. “So we just need to put a plan together to get the word out and get folks here overnight, for day trips, weekend trips, whatever.

I’m looking forward to it.”

Gray said a large part of her plan to draw attention to the parish is through social media and online content.

“As we move forward, I look forward to getting more connected to people online across the parish and even outside the parish,” she said. “I know that’s how people enjoy to be connected with. I just want to drive us online and really make sure people see what we have to offer through not just our print ads or billboards but really going out there and giving people virtual tours.”

The commission unanimously approved Gray’s contract and granted her authority to sign on checks and contracts for the commission. Commissioners Nickey Patel, Karen Calvert, and Jim Huffman were absent.

In her final tourism report before handing over the reins to Gray, Kennon updated the commission on upcoming tourism-related events across the parish, including a visiting tour group booked for December and another for February 2019.

“We’re gearing up for another successful Christmas holiday,” she said. “Serena and I are going to attend a Holiday Trail of Lights meeting this afternoon, and we’re really excited for what’s going to happen. If you saw Christmas in Minden last year, we hope it to be even bigger this year.”

Other events highlighted include the town of Sarepta’s annual Fourth of July celebration, complete with music, car shows, food, and a kids’ area. In addition, the 12th annual steak cook-off in Springhill takes place July 28, with proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The board also approved $1000 to help fund Cultural Crossroads’ Minden Maker’s Fair taking place September 29.
Kennon, Gray, and tentatively Pendergrass will be traveling to Lake Charles to attend Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser’s Travel Summit on August 20-23.

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