OCEAN SPRINGS -- The Biloxi Bay Bridge will get its walkway security cameras.
A former Pascagoula attorney, now living in north Mississippi, saw a report recently about the grass-roots group Women Against Violence Everywhere raising money. He decided the cameras need to happen.
Bob Wilson, 70, sent an $8,000 certified check to his Pascagoula friend Lynn Rouse, who will deliver it to the women Friday.
It's time to order the cameras.
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Amazingly, it has been just a little more than a year since WAVE's first walk to raise awareness for bridge safety, said Robin Cooley, one of six women who founded WAVE. The group formed within days after a woman reported she had been raped on the popular walkway of the bridge at night. That was November 2014.
Forming WAVE was an instinctive reaction that has paid off in awareness.
Shaken by the episode, many in the community stepped up. Word spread that women needed to be wary. They took extra precautions when they went running anywhere in town. Some made it a point to run with a buddy or group.
Then came the idea of cameras. Police said the cameras will be installed on the Ocean Springs side -- one looking toward the parking lot and approach to the bridge and one surveying the walkway. The nearby Ocean Springs Yacht Club has offered to house the electronics. Police said the cameras will have the ability to record and store video.
A bridge worth fighting for
After 2005's Hurricane Katrina, the rebuilt bridge, with its walkway, became a popular recreation area. It has its own Facebook page where pictures of the view from the top show sunlight sparkling on the water of the Mississippi Sound and Biloxi Bay.
"Awesome addition to the MS Gulf Coast!!!! ... a landmark," one Facebook post says.
"Beautiful bridge especially at night. One of my favorite things to see lit up," says another.
Cooley said she grew up in Ocean Springs and is now raising her daughter there. She said it's important to help Ocean Springs keep its small-town feel and that includes the ability to wander alone.
"Even though it's grown a lot, Ocean Springs still has that close-knit, community feel," she said, "and people want to keep it that way."
Cameras became a goal, as has better lighting, but additional lighting might turn out to be a more complex and expensive issue because the state Department of Transportation doesn't support it.
Based on an estimate of the cameras' cost, the women of WAVE had a goal of raising $10,000.
In December, they told the Sun Herald they had raised $2,700.
Then came the call from Wilson, who initially contacted police right before Christmas.
"We were thrilled," Cooley said.
Rouse will present the check at 10 a.m. Friday in front of the Yacht Club.
The city will buy the cameras, she said, and the plan now is to have city police monitor them.