WINNSBORO — Fairfield County Museum director Pelham Lyles was recently recognized as the Statewide Tourism Employee of the Year.
Lyles was presented with the award by Jayne Scarborough, executive director of the Olde English District Tourism Commission.
A panel of six North Carolina judges conducted an extensive review of the nominations submitted for several well-deserving nominees and once the review was complete, the judges selected Lyles to receive the award.
Lyles is a eighth generation resident of Fairfield County whose family has a rich history in the area. It is this history, coupled with Pelham’s curiosity about the lives of others were like that led to her desire to share Fairfield County’s history with others.
“The history of things is important, don’t tell me its not,” Lyles emphasized. “If you know where you come from, you know where you’re going.”
Lyles said that her inspiration for history comes from her 95-year-old father, who many years ago convinced the building’s owner to donate it to the county with the purpose of becoming a museum.
Chamber of Commerce board chairwoman Denise Jones read a letter written by Gov. Nikki Haley congratulating Lyles on her esteemed accomplishment:
“It’s a great day in South Carolina when we can recognize our citizens whose hard work contributes so much to our state’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry,” Haley wrote. “Through your leadership at the Fairfield County Historical Museum you play a vital role in preserving and promoting the rich heritage of Fairfield County.”
Haley also stated that Lyles has been the museum’s sole employee, but has still tripled visitation in the last three years.
Lyles did so by bringing a variety of programs including bringing Smithsonian exhibits to the museum.
Lyles thanked council for allowing the hiring of another position and encouraged residents to visit the genealogy room, which is the second floor of the museum.
“It’s a wonderful job and you’d be amazed at what’s going on there,” she stated.
Additionally, Lyles thanked the numerous volunteers who help keep the museum turning.
“They’re (volunteers are) the army that makes things happen at the museum,” she noted. “They have provided steam and elbow grease to help better the museum’s operations.”
Fairfield County Council Chairman David Ferguson congratulated Lyles on her achievement
“I’ve known Pelham most of her life and she has done a wonderful job at the museum,” he said. “State recognition is something to be proud of and we’re proud of her for it.”