BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A Coast group received its first significant donations toward a campaign to improve security on the Biloxi Bay Bridge. It's been nearly a year since a woman was sexually assaulted on the bridge. Since then, a group of friends has been trying to raise money to purchase surveillance cameras for the span. Support arrived Tuesday in the form of two big checks.
The first check, in the amount of $1,250, came from the Trehern Charitable Foundation of Pascagoula. The executive director said the donation means a lot to the organization's founders, Ed and Jan Trehern.
"The Treherns have moved to Ocean Springs. They're building a house down from the bridge. After the incident last year, this came to our attention. We brought it to our board. We felt like it was a worthy cause," said Trehern Charitable Foundation Executive Director Dennis Ray Smith.
Charter Bank followed with its own $1,250 donation. Both checks, totaling $2,500, will be the seed money to purchase a $10,000 camera system for the Biloxi Bay Bridge.
"We're very supportive of that and want to do everything that we can to help them get started and having an environment that women can feel safe and secure," said Charter Bank Vice President Rich Westfall.
Raising money for surveillance cameras has been the main mission for WAVE (Women Against Violence Everywhere) since a sexual assault on the bridge happened last November.
"Not that long ago, there was a rash of car burglaries. That would help with that. That would help if there was another attack on the bridge," said WAVE co-founder Heather Denison. "It's great that they care about our community as much as we do."
"This is a big step towards getting this bridge safer, and we really appreciate you just kicking this off and starting the ball rolling," said WAVE co-founder Robin Cooley.
"It's 25 percent of the goal. So, we're going to ask people to donate, other corporations or businesses," said Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran. "There will be cameras on each end of the pathway. It will have a remote signal that will actually go through the yacht club's computer system, and then the police departments in Biloxi and Ocean Springs will be able to monitor it."
WAVE called the financial support a major step toward making the popular pathway safer so families don't have to walk in fear.
"This is where our heart is. It's where we grew up. There's going to be children on this bridge. We want everybody to feel safe and secure," said Smith.
"I think it'll raise awareness. Being an organization that is able to step out first and help hopefully will inspire some other people to contribute so that their effort is widely successful," said Westfall.
WAVE is planning to hold a bridge walk in November, exactly one year after the attack. Members will make another push for donations for the camera system at the event.