Orange County Courthouse snack and drink shop team celebrates anniversary

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, August 22, 2023

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If you drop by the Orange County Courthouse, you can find a little slice of the world still bright and kind, tucked into the corner of the main foyer.

Brett’s Place recently celebrated its 14th anniversary as a snack and drink shop within the courthouse.The shop is run by Brett Simpson, 32, who is conditioned with deafblindness, and Caleb Brown, 22, conditioned with autism.

A supreme example of dedication and perseverance, Simpson utilizes a unique Braille-like inventory system, self-designed to work around his challenges that keeps track of what and when he needs to restock.

Simpson and Brown are assisted by their mothers, Jo Ann Priddy and Kristy Brown, respectively.

Before Simpson, the courthouse previously employed Mr. Burke, who was fully blind, at the snack counter. On his retirement, the Courthouse wanted to keep the tradition of inclusivity going.

Caleb Brown, 22, and Brett Simpson, 32, stand in front of their 14th anniversary sign. (Jo Ann Priddy/Special to The Leader)

Simpson was hired as a contractor and maintains the status of fully self-employed. He still uses the vintage, but fully functional, Coca Cola refrigerator to store canned soft drinks, and has memorized exactly where every drink is stored.

The ornate counter, along with near-vintage prices of $1 for every item, and Simpson’s own stylish suspenders, all seem to slip you back into an easier time.

Priddy explained this work experience has been invaluable to Simpson.

“He would’ve never gotten where he is now if it weren’t for this place,” she said.

Kristy Brown agreed, explaining how crucial this job has been in the growth of her son over these past three years of employment. Overcoming the social challenges that come with having autism has helped develop Brown and gives him and Simpson legitimate life tools needed that weren’t offered elsewhere.

Priddy and Brown wish more people in the community knew of the opportunity offered at the courthouse, and wish to encourage anyone with a child with disabilities nearing graduation that would benefit from this program to reach out.

“It is a community training opportunity for students or adults with disabilities to gain work and social skills,” Priddy said. “You see people from all walks of life.”

Priddy said there are various social circumstances the courthouse contractors utilize to learn from and develop as working professionals.

Priddy and Brown wish for others to know how critical meaningful work, varied socialization and a sense of purpose matter to people who, for various reasons, “may have been told, like Brett and Caleb were, that they can never do anything.”

The snack counter operates Mondays through Thursdays fro 8 a.m. to noon. Though, Priddy says they’d love to have a third person working, so they could stay open daily for the remainder of the court hours.

Those who would like to get involved in the program can contact Jo Ann Priddy by email at or call 409-781-5683.

— Written by Kylie Mugleston