Gov. Nikki Haley said Friday she had stepped in to help find missing 20-year-old Heather Elvis, a move, she said, is rare for the governor to do.
“I have been in contact with the family,” Haley said. “I have been in contact with [South Carolina Law Enforcement Division] during the entire investigation, as well as with the police department here on the ground. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, and we’re going to do everything we can to help this family find their daughter.”
Elvis was last heard from around 3 a.m. on Dec. 17, when she called a family member to talk about how a date she was on had gone well, her family said. She was reported missing two days later when her car was found at a boat ramp about 8 miles from her home, according to police.
Haley was in town Friday as a guest speaker at the Chicora Rotary club meeting, and made the comments at a press briefing after the meeting. She said it is atypical for a governor to get involved in a missing person’s case, and did not elaborate on what help she provided.
“We try and avoid direct contact because there are so many missing people in South Carolina,” Haley said. “This family, in particular, raised quite a few concerns and needed some extra attention, and so we did finally get to talk to them and make sure that their concerns were put to rest. We did everything we can to help them so they feel confident through this process.”
Haley said she did not foresee needing to get involved in future searches.
“We are very blessed to have Chief [Mark] Keel with SLED and what we do is we give all the support to the sheriff’s department when we need to, and when they tell us that they need additional support, we give it,” she said.
Haley’s stop focused more on her accomplishments in her first three years as governor. In fact, she mentioned Horry County once – at the 19 minute mark – in her 20-minute speech.
“We’re doing some great things in South Carolina, but we have work to go,” Haley told the crowd. “We continue to be excited about progress, the funnel is full when it comes to jobs. Horry County, we’re trying to get jobs here and change this so it’s not all about tourism...”
Haley referenced the 1,000 jobs that are projected to be created in 2013, including jobs from gun manufacturer PTR Industries, a second gun manufacturer, an aeronautics manufacturer, the expansion of a business that makes fuel additives and a call center that announced in late December that it was building a facility in Horry County and will employ 615 people.
When asked, she would not give an update on Connecticut-based Stag Arms, a third gun manufacturer who has said it has narrowed down to South Carolina and Texas as states it would move if it decided to move its operation.
Haley received a round of applause when she explained that the state’s Department of Social Services has been working to get people off of welfare and into the workforce, and not just check the required boxes and hand recipients a check.
“What we now do is we check the boxes and we ask, ‘Well, what do you do? What are you good at? What’s your skill set?’ ” Haley said. “We took what they had to say, we matched them with businesses, and in the last several months, we have taken 20,000 people off of welfare, put them into a job and with a 97 percent retention rate, they have stayed in those jobs.”
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.