Threat of courthouse closure concerns nearby Bessemer businesses - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Threat of courthouse closure concerns nearby Bessemer businesses

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BESSEMER - AL -

A famous restaurant is working to save the Jefferson County Courthouse in Bessemer. A county bankruptcy could mean closing the courthouse, and that could mean tough times for the city's most recognized eatery.

"When you walk in the door, it seems that you have met the people before," Frank Adams, a longtime customer said.

The corner of 19th Street and 3rd Avenue holds a landmark.

"The Bright Star has been in business 105 years," Jimmy Koikos, Owner, The Bright Star said. "We've been a vital part of downtown Bessemer for a long time."

"Even when I was a youngster, I would come here. I am 84 years old now," Adams said.

It's the place where people who work in the courthouse spend their lunches - in fact, The Bright Star owner says the restaurant relies on those lunch breaks.

"We have a lot of lawyers, we have a lot of people who get their car tags there, we have people who get their drivers license there," Koikos said. "We have people who pay taxes there. The Bessemer Courthouse is a vital piece of property for downtown Bessemer."

And the restaurant has launched its own campaign to save it.

"The Bright Star is working really hard to save the Courthouse," Koikos said.

"Those people live and work in this area and eating here is a habit," Adams said.

County Manager, Tony Petelos says, the possible courthouse closure is an unfortunate side effect of bankruptcy. And Wednesday, he met with the owner of the Westlake Mall to discuss moving the courthouse there. He says the lease would be pennies on the dollar for what the county is currently spending. Plus, the mall site has plenty of room and no one would lose their jobs.

But it's the location, business owners are concerned about...

"It will hurt the city, it will halt the traffic, and create a lot of problems if we lose the Bessemer Courthouse," Koikos said.

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