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Melissa Payne joined WHNT News 19 as a reporter in December 2011 after working as a weekend anchor and reporter at KDLT News in Sioux Falls, SD. Before heading south, Melissa also worked as a reporter at News 25 in Evansville, IN. Now, Melissa is ready to explore all of northern Alabama, as she covers the Shoals for WHNT News 19.

Melissa spent her college years cheering on the Cardinals at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. While at Ball State, Melissa studied telecommunications and reported and anchored for NewsLink Indiana.

Melissa also interned at WTVW in Evansville, Indiana and WANE-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Always ready for an adventure, Melissa studied abroad in the Ghana for five months. Melissa says her experience in the African country was truly eye opening and humbling.

"This experience was more challenging than I ever expected, but I was excited to stretch myself to new lengths, step outside my comfort zone, and experience a culture so different than my own," said Payne.

While abroad, Melissa traveled all over West Africa, visiting rural villages, meeting tribal chiefs, and volunteering her time with Planting Technology International, a non-profit organization that builds computer labs and donates computers to schools in rural villages.

As a reporter, Melissa wants to tell the stories that mean the most to you. You can e-mail her your story ideas, and for news updates throughout the day, you can follow Melissa on Twitter: @melissapayn


Recent Articles
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    Parents Grateful For Handy Head Start Future

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Hundreds of families thought they would drop off their children at the W.C. Handy Head Start in Florence for the last time this Friday morning. However, those parents got a nice surprise, when they showed up at school. The program will continue operating for at least two more weeks. “We are ecstatic, we`re thankful, we`re grateful, we had faith,” said parent Brittany Vinson.  “We`re just overwhelmed right now, overwhelmed and thankful.” “I just told him, school`s […]

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    Handy Head Start To Stay Open For Now

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Florence City Schools makes a bold move in order to keep the Handy Head Start program open for two more weeks. The Head Start program funds were put on hold when the federal government shut down. The school district relinquished their grant from the National Office of Head Start in order to get keep the doors open for now. “What I’ve learned through this process is that sometimes you have to give up something to get […]

  • FBI Takes Over Shoals Robbery Cases

    LAUDERDALE, COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – FBI investigators have taken over two bank robbery cases and a loan company robbery out of Florence. Detectives have surveillance images but are still asking for tips from the public. Detectives say the First Metro Bank on Hough Road became the first target in a string of burglaries at Shoals businesses. A few weeks later the All Money loan service center got robbed. Investigators say the business was less than a mile away from the […]

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    New Leads In Lauderdale County Child Porn Case

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Lauderdale County investigators say they got new leads within the past 24 hours regarding the largest child pornography case they’ve ever seen. David Erick Gray is accused of having thousands of inappropriate images. Gray was scheduled to have a bond hearing Thursday afternoon, but that hearing was delayed due to these latest developments. According to investigators, a forensic purge of David Gray’s computers, tablets, and hard drives, uncovered more than 10,000 images of child pornography and […]

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    National Donation Won’t Keep Handy Head Start Open

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) A donation of $10 million will keep several Head Start programs open across the country, but the Handy Head Start in Florence will not get any of those funds. School leaders say they must read between the lines. Florence Schools Superintendent Janet Womack says a glimmer of hope in the Handy Head Start funding crisis, got darkened by details. “I as much as anyone want to see a solution so that education can continue for many years […]

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    Family Relieved After Arrest In Murder Case

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – After countless hours of police work, Florence investigators make a big break in a homicide investigation. Eugene Lee Jones is behind bars, charged with the murder of Lula Addison. Addison was found dead inside the City Lodge motel in July. Police say Addison only met Jones, hours before her death. Detectives say Eugene Lee Jones had been a person of interest from the beginning of the investigation. A second interview with jones Monday, led to his […]

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    Parents Concerned About Head Start Program Closing With Government Uncertainty

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – News that the W.C. Handy Head Start will close its doors due to the government shutdown forced parents of 280 students to start looking for a new place to send their children. “A lot of people can’t stay home with their kids so they rely on programs like this to be able to go to work, have their kids be educated, to give a better life for our children,” said Jennifer Swank, parent of two children […]

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    Government Shutdown Forces W.C. Handy Head Start To Shut Down

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Many communities in North Alabama are feeling the effects of the government shutdown. In Florence, school administrators have been forced to give parents notice that their head start program will be forced to close. In a letter given out to parents at the W.C. Handy head start program, Florence school administrators said they were saddened to pass along the news that because of the governments shut down, they would also have to close their doors. “They […]

  • Trash Pick-Up Option To Pay Fines In Colbert County

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) People in trouble with the law in Colbert County have a new option of paying off court-ordered debts. Now, if people can’t afford the fine, they can now choose to pick up trash, instead. With more than 600 miles of roadway in Colbert County, the commission chairman, Roger Creekmore says there’s plenty of litter lining the streets. The Colbert County commission plans to partner with Colbert County District Judge, Chad Coker, to get help picking up […]

  • Man Caught On Camera Stealing Groceries

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Police say a man loaded up his cart with groceries then went through the self check-out at the Wal-Mart Marketplace on Florence Boulevard.   However, without a clerk around, detectives say the man didn’t use the pay option. Detectives say the suspect took Wal-Mart’s low-price guarantee to a new meaning, when he went straight for the sacks, bagging his food, without ever ringing it up. The man can be seen on surveillance video pushing his full cart […]

  • Shoals Family Looking For Answers In Mother’s Death

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s been nearly two months since a housekeeper found a woman dead at City Lodge Motel in Florence. The Florence Police Department has been tracking down leads since Lula Addison’s death, but no arrests have been made. The grieving family of Lula Addison says they are still looking for answers to their mother’s death. “When you lose someone you love, you are suppose to be happy that they went to a better place,” said the victim’s […]

  • Toddler Found Wandering Streets in Colbert County; Mother Charged With Child Abuse

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WHNT) – Colbert County law enforcement say a toddler was found wandering the streets, close to a busy roadway. Amy Leigh Gladden, the child’s mother, is charged with willful abuse of a child. According to the Colbert County Sheriff, when deputies arrived to the area of Muscle Shoals Avenue and 7th Street, the baby only had on a diaper, and appeared extremely dehydrated. Sheriff Ronnie May says Gladden was sitting on her porch, passed out from a […]