News

Decades later, crime echoes in survivor’s life

Bryant ArcherBryant Archer

By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Bryant Archer’s 17-year-old daughter wants to look for a job, and he can’t stand the thought of it.

Most of the jobs available to a 17-year-old now are like the one Archer was working when he was 17 on a night that changed his life forever.

Archer was one of four young people shot during a robbery on April 15, 1994 at Popeye’s in East Gadsden, and he was the only employee working that night to survive. Shot five times, he faced a long physical recovery and an emotional one that seems unlikely to end.

“I can’t sleep,” Archer said. “When I sleep I see things I don’t want to see.”

On that night in 1994, the restaurant had closed and Archer and a 17-year-old coworker were collecting garbage. As Archer got bags from the front, his coworkers was taking other bags out.

“By the time I was going to the door, they were coming back in,” Archer said. “They” were the coworker and two young men, faces covered with bandanas. The two other employees – an 18-year-old assistant manager and the 23-year-old manager – came around the corner.

“We all kind of met in one spot,” he said. The employees yielded to the robbers, doing as they asked, without challenge. After registers and the safe were opened, the two herded the employees into the freezer. Archer was first to go into the freezer. With everyone inside the door slammed shut, leaving them in the dark.

“It might have been 30 seconds,” he said. “I sat down. I’d just sat down when the door opened again.

“I heard the gun blast and my ear drum burst. I couldn’t hear anymore, my ears were just ringing.” Archer doesn’t know what led him to sit down in the freezer. His coworkers did not.

“I wonder if that made a difference. If I hadn’t sat down, would it have been much worse,” he questions.

Archer would be wounded five time, in the left arm, the shoulder, neck and jaw, breaking several teeth. A bullet hit his right arm after passing through one of the other victims.

With the robbers gone, Archer made his way out of the freezer, stepping over his coworkers to get to the office and call for help. He said he heard the police forcing their way in the front door of the restaurant. He had lain with his feet sticking out of the office so they would know he was there.

The police asked questions, he said, but he does not remember what he told them. Archer does remember what would be the break in the case: though their faces were covered with bandanas, he recognized the distinctive haircut of one of the young men – a 16-year-old who had worked at the restaurant for a while. The side of his head was shaved, Archer said, and he was able to see that above the bandana. He apparently gave police Cuhuatemoc Hinricky Peraita’s name, and they were able to find an address for him from a paycheck he’d not picked up.

Gadsden police put out information about the crime and within hours, Rainbow City police stopped a car carrying Peraita and Robert Bryant Melson, a 22-year-old Gadsden man.

The two were convicted of capital murder and Melson, identified by Peraita as the shooter, received a death sentence. Peraita received a life sentence, but committed a murder in prison that has since put him on death row.

In the years since, Archer feels most people have moved on with their lives after the crime that made headlines across the country and in others, that they don’t really remember what happened. The families of those who died, he said, still must deal with their loss – three people wrongly taken from their families, who still appear to Archer in his dreams.

“Sometimes they’re alive and I’m dead,” Archer said of his dreams. “Sometimes we’re playing cards.”

Archer says his children and his wife have probably had a harder time than him dealing with the aftermath of the crime, doing without things he can’t provide, because he’s not able to find and keep a job.

When people learn about his injuries, they think he’s too much of a liability to their health and workman’s comp insurance. Some jobs he’s had proved to physically demanding, because of the injuries he received.

There were funds available to Archer as crime victim, but during the time he was eligible to seek them, the company he’d worked for paid his medical bills. When the stopped, the time limit had passed on crime victims’ assistance, he said. The medical bills did not.

Despite his fears at the thought of his daughter behind the counter at a fast food restaurant, he can’t say he’ll forbid his daughter seeking a job. “Kids are expensive,” he said.

State lawmakers and staffers from the Coosa Valley RC&D Council presented a big check for a big project at Gadsden City High School - resurfacing work on the football practice field. Pictured above, from left: Jennifer Childress, of the council; Sen. Phil Williams, Coach Matt Scott, Gadsden City High School Principal Keith Blackwell, State House Minority Leader Craig Ford and Deborah Lindley of the council, met at the practice field to see what was accomplished with the grant, and to present the ceremonial check.State lawmakers and staffers from the Coosa Valley RC&D Council presented a big check for a big project at Gadsden City High School - resurfacing work on the football practice field. Pictured above, from left: Jennifer Childress, of the council; Sen. Phil Williams, Coach Matt Scott, Gadsden City High School Principal Keith Blackwell, State House Minority Leader Craig Ford and Deborah Lindley of the council, met at the practice field to see what was accomplished with the grant, and to present the ceremonial check.

Grant covers cost of work to make field safe

By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Those who witnessed the “before” at Gadsden City High School’s football practice field expressed appreciation for the “after” on April 11, when local legislators and representatives of Coosa Valley Resource Conservaton & Development Council presented a check to the school to pay for the project.

“It wasn’t a situation where we had a surface and made it better,”

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Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell

Coconut Pound Cake and Christy’s Corn Casserole

On two of my cooking chat lines, I asked everyone what their favorite Easter menu will be this year. Of course, I am on Southern chats. The most popular menu was the following: Baked Ham, Potato Salad, Deviled Eggs, Sweet Potato Fluff, Baked Beans, Coconut Cake, Sweet Southern Tea! Sounds good to me!

Coconut Pound

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Ronnie Watkins, former University of Alabama football coach Gene Stallings and Fred Sington, Jr. (pictured, from left) gather for a photo after Watkins and Sington were honored at the annual Boy Scouts of America American Values Luncheon on Tuesday (Apr. 15) at the Pitman Theater in Gadsden. Ronnie Watkins, former University of Alabama football coach Gene Stallings and Fred Sington, Jr. (pictured, from left) gather for a photo after Watkins and Sington were honored at the annual Boy Scouts of America American Values Luncheon on Tuesday (Apr. 15) at the Pitman Theater in Gadsden.

Boy Scouts honor pair of local supporters

By Mike Goodson/Staff Correspondent

The Lookout Mountain Division of the Boy Scouts of America held its annual Etowah County American Values Luncheon on Tuesday (April 15) at Gadsden’s Pitman Theatre.

Honorees at this year’s luncheon were former Gadsden businessman Fred Sington, Jr. and local businessman Ronnie Watkins. Both men were recognized for their contributions to scouting and to the community. 

Former University of

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Ain’t it nifty? Shakespeare’s 450 and the party is set for April 24, 25 at the Pitman

Get culture at a quick-step on April 24 and 25 as CharACTers and Downtown Gadsden Inc. celebrate the birthday of the Bard by staging The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).

The performance will feature all 37 plays in 97 minutes, directed by Cody Carlton, starring Jason Bozeman, Brian Boozer and Jason St. John. It is described as “an irreverent, fast-paced

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Past and present members of the Etowah County Board of Education, Sardis area educators and city officials and members of the local legislative delegation participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for Sardis Middle School, currently under construction on Sardis Road near Sardis High School.Past and present members of the Etowah County Board of Education, Sardis area educators and city officials and members of the local legislative delegation participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for Sardis Middle School, currently under construction on Sardis Road near Sardis High School.

Under construction: a middle school to serve Sardis

By Donna Thornton/News Editor

If weather cooperates, sixth, seventh and eighth graders in the Sardis school district could find themselves in a new school by Christmas - a long-needed middle school currently under construction just past the Sardis City Fire Station on Sardis Road.

Groundbreaking for the construction project was on April 13, although work has already begun on the structure.

Currently, the

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YMCA’s free Healthy Kids Day event will be April 26

On April 26, the YMCA of the Coosa Valley is holding a free community event to inspire more kids to keep their minds and bodies active. YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day®, the Y’s national initiative to improve families’ health and well-being, features games, poolside fun, arts and crafts and more to motivate and teach families how to develop a healthy routine

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The Master Gardeners annual plant sale is set for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday (April 18) and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (April 19) at the Master Gardeners site behind the Etowah County Board of Education offices at 3200 West Meighan Boulevard.The Master Gardeners annual plant sale is set for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday (April 18) and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (April 19) at the Master Gardeners site behind the Etowah County Board of Education offices at 3200 West Meighan Boulevard.

Master Gardeners plant sale is Friday, Saturday

By Donna Thornton/News Editor

This year’s Master Gardener’s annual plant sale required extra work, thanks to an unseasonable cold snap just days before the sale.

After days spent moving plants out of the green houses to “hardy” them for planting, predictions that temperatures would dip below freezing meant Betty Hall and other Master Gardeners had to move many of those plants back

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Fairy Gardens: Quirky fun on a small scale

By Liz Wood

If you’ve been on Pinterest or read a gardening magazine in the last few years, chances are you’ve heard about fairy gardens: tiny, whimsical landscapes complete with miniature ponds, pathways, ladders, furniture, even houses. The creative possibilities are limitless, and the results are just too cute.

But how did this quirky gardening sensation come to be? So far as

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Start a new chapter in your life at Regency Pointe

The best things in life are free. 

Just ask Bill and Judy Fulford, whose move to Regency Pointe provided them a worry-free lifestyle that allowed them to spend more time with the important people in their lives - each other. 

Seven years ago, Bill and Judy decided to sell their large, historic home and moved into a two-bedroom apartment home at Regency

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Cherry Creek Village in Attalla stands apart

Cherry Creek Village is a senior independent living community unlike any that you’ve ever visited.

Our attractive community is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in a tranquil neighborhood between Attalla and Gadsden.

Within a few blocks from Cherry Creek Village, you can enjoy the convenience of shopping at the various boutiques and antique stores of Historic Downtown Attalla. Or

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Pack’s Nursery and Garden Center is located at 1743 Rainbow Drive in Gadsden.Pack’s Nursery and Garden Center is located at 1743 Rainbow Drive in Gadsden.

Pack’s Nursery and Garden Center is ready for spring planting

By Donna Thornton/News Editor

The folks at Pack’s Nursery and Garden Center are as ready as anyone for this winter weather to end.

The staff had the added task of covering and bringing in spring plants in preparation for a mid-April freeze - at a time when they’d much rather be preparing customers to be putting those plants and flowers in the

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Seasonal maintenance can mean big savings for homeowners

Courtesy of StatePoint Media

If you’re not careful, basic and seasonal home maintenance can cost you a pretty penny and a lot of time. Take steps to simplify these tasks.  

Clean and Organize

Even if you use a professional cleaning service, you’ll still need some in-between maintenance:

 • Divide clutter into three groups: junk, charity and undecided. Toss the first, give away

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Darden Rehabilitation Foundation receives van from Honda

 By Donna Thornton/News Editor

A group of enthusiastic Honda employees delivered a 2011 Honda Odyssey van to a grateful staff at Darden Rehabilitation Foundation on April 9.

Darden applied for a grant through which the auto manufacturer would supply the business with the van for the agency’suse in serving its consumers in several counties.

Honda Community

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Amanda Bray Cody and Christopher Brothers display their book collaboration, Amanda Bray Cody and Christopher Brothers display their book collaboration, "Lila the Lavender Porcupine's Sticky Situation: The Bear in Despair."

Gadsden alums share book at their schools

 By Donna Thornton/News Editor


Amanda Bray Cody and Christopher Brothers returned to their old elementary schools in Gadsden last week to share a collaborative effort with current students – and to show children what creativity and hardwork can accomplish.

Cody is the author and Brothers is the illustrator of “Lila the Lavender Porcupine’s Sticky Situation: The Bear in Despair,” a

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Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell

 Chocolate Chess Toffee Pecan Bars, Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes

My sister-in-law, Ruth Bedwell, who lives in Rainbow City, encouraged me to enter the Chocolate Festival Cooking Contest this past Saturday.  I chose my Chocolate Chess Toffee Pecan Bar recipe and much to my surprise; it came in first place.  I met so many wonderful ladies from Rainbow City.  The event was

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Aubrey NewmanAubrey Newman

Saying goodbye to a ‘true hero’

 By Donna Thornton/News Editor


Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin recalled Aubrey Phil Newman as a “true hero”  while speaking to members of the Etowah County Commission on Tuesday (April 8) at a commission work session.

Newman died on April 5 at the age of 69. He served as an investigator in the sheriff’s department for 11 years, Entrekin said, during

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Foothills Classic gives bikers scenic ride

By Donna Thornton/News Editor


The YMCA of the Coosa Valley is registering riders now for its feature cycling event of the year: The Foothills Easter Classic bike ride on April 19.

Executive Director Leroy Falcon said there is a 25-miler, a metric and a century route – meaning bikers can choose a 25 mile, 61 mile or a 97 mile

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Alternative rock band Third Eye Blind will perform at Riverfest on June 13.Alternative rock band Third Eye Blind will perform at Riverfest on June 13.

Third Eye Blind headlines Riverfest on Friday

By Donna Thornton/News Editor


Just in time for ticket sales to begin on April 15, the headliner for the first night of Gadsden’s annual music festival has been revealed.

Third Eye Blind (3eb) will take the stage at 9 p.m. on June 13. The American alternative rock band was formed in the early 1990s in San Francisco and is best

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Goodyear celebrates retirees on April 24

 In February 1929, construction of the very first tire manufacturing facility in the South began. Four months later, the first tire was built and the city of Gadsden prospered.

Eighty-five years later, Goodyear-Gadsden remains the largest employer in Etowah County. It employs over 1,550 people that produce top-quality passenger and light truck tires for the original equipment and replacement tire

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GRMC seeks nominations for patient’s choice award

 Each year, Gadsden Regional Medical Center recognizes one of its nurses with the Patient Choice Award and the help of our patients and their families is needed.

The award recognizes the level of quality patient care, comfort and compassion offered by nurses each day.

As it has for the past six years, Gadsden Regional is asking the public for nominations.

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