BETHLEHEM -- A brighter star will shine over the little town of Bethlehem this Christmas.
Leaders in the Barrow County city -- which draws people who want the Biblical postmark on their Christmas cards -- nearly have finished building a replacement luminary in time for a 2009 debut.
''It will be much brighter -- or at least this time, it will be brighter than it had been before,'' said Wayne Ridgeway, an electrician and Bethlehem City Council member who's helped build a new star for the city.
Ridgeway and machinist Louie Martin, helped by a few other local handymen, have worked for more than a month to craft a 12-by-12 illuminated iron star from scratch.
The group used new angle iron, wiring, light sockets and slightly more than 50, 100-watt incandescent bulbs to return the star to its former glory, Ridgeway said.
''Everybody's been kind of concerned that we wouldn't get it back in place before the Christmas season,'' he said. ''We can't imagine a Christmas season without the star. I'd totally be tarred and feathered for the rest of my life if I didn't get it back up.''
Many in the city of 1,000 people were disappointed with the dimness of the old star, which stood above a town famous for a post office where workers hand-stamp more than 130,000 letters, cards and packages each year.
Council members decided in March that the star was long overdue for a facelift.
The city icon had taken a beating from the elements for more than 50 years and was visibly rusty, said Mayor Sandy McNab. Some of its original lights no longer worked.
''You could hardly see it from very far, so we're hopefully going back to where you can see it for miles,'' McNab said.
A men's group associated with the First Methodist Church pledged $1,000 to help pay for a new star, which the church uses each year in a living Nativity.
In all, the new star is expected to cost $2,000, with the remainder financed by the city, Ridgeway said.
Ridgeway plans to finish the work this week in time for workers to return the star to its post above the city square.
''It's just a matter of attaching the bulbs and attaching the circuits,'' he said Monday.
The star, which also comes equipped with its own timing sensor, will debut Nov. 27 and shine every night through New Year's Day, Ridgeway said.
''We just think it will add a lot to the season, really, and to the programs that we have under the star,'' he said. ''We're just excited about the Christmas season with a new star.''