A young man wants to take a shot at operating Burt Hardwick’s concession stand at the Orange County Courthouse, although the idea still has to meet with commissioners’ approval.

Hardwick, 70, blind since childhood, left the stand in May after 30 years, citing health issues.

“I have a 24-year-old visually-impaired individual that would like to be considered to operate Burt’s stand the way Burt did,” County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said Monday. He emphasized that everything is still in the discussion phase.

“As far as I know, Burt didn’t pay [the county] anything; it was Orange County’s contribution to the physically impaired and this young man is blind and would like to take over the stand for Burt,” Thibodeaux said.

County Assistant Attorney Doug Manning will work on the issue this week for a possible decision next week, Thibodeaux said. Friends of Hardwick and county employees kept the stand open on a part-time basis, until it was shut down in June for the time being.
Vending machines were being considered to fill the space, but have not been approved by county commissioners. Any proposal for machines will not go out for bids unless Thibodeaux makes a future request.

“This young man, he comes from a very well-known family in Orange,” Thibodeaux said Monday. 

“He has helped out his family members in a retail business and has also gone through the Occupational Training for the Blind [program] in Beaumont, so I think it would be a very strong thing for the court to take a look at this individual to operate the stand … I met with his mother and dad and they feel very strong and confident he’ll be able to handle this … this family and this young man are friends with Burt – and he has been visiting with Burt.”