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Melissa Riopka is an Alabama native with strong ties to the Tennessee Valley. A graduate of Cullman High School, she received her broadcasting degree from the University of Alabama. From there, she traveled (slightly) north to Tennessee.

After a great eight years as a reporter/anchor in Chattanooga, Melissa went to work at a Birmingham television station. In 2010, it was time for another move following her husband's job transfer. Now she and her family are happy to call Huntsville home.

When she's not at work, you can usually find Melissa outside with her giant Golden Retriever and terrific toddler or out on Lake Guntersville. You can reach Melissa via Twitter @MelissaRiopka or at melissa.riopka@whnt.com

Recent Articles
  • UAHuntsville

    Tech Trek inspires girls to get involved in math, sciences

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama’s first Tech Trek camp appears to have been a success. The week-long residential camp, for rising 8th grade girls, wrapped up Friday at UAHuntsville.  The camp is designed to empower girls to become more involved in science, technology, mathematics and engineering. Tech Trek began at Stanford University in California in 1998. It was organized by the American Association of University Women. This year, the program added three more camps, including one at UAHuntsville. While the camps all […]

  • Huntsville Fire recruits take part in a live burn exercise on Beaver Dam Road

    Fire training gets real for Huntsville rookies

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The 2014 class of Huntsville Fire Department recruits battled their first fire Thursday morning. It was a controlled burn of a donated house on Beaver Dam Road. The exercise is an integral part of what the department calls Rookie School. Captain Frank McKenzie says, “to actually get the live fire is really important for the guys to get the training, because once they get on shift, their very first day they could be in a fire.” There are […]

  • Training the next generation of leaders

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – This weekend, nearly two dozen rising junior and senior high school students will graduate from the Challenge Youth Leadership Program. The program is part of Leadership Huntsville/Madison County. Public, private and home-school students from Huntsville, Madison and Madison County are eligible to apply for the week-long program. Participants are selected based on character traits such as personal integrity and a desire to serve the community. Program director Cassie Scott says a heart for service is essential to any leader. […]

  • City, county law enforcement test school crisis response in Huntsville

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – For the first time in several years, law enforcement officers from Huntsville and Madison County came together for a widespread training exercise at a city school. The site was Huntsville High’s new Freshman Academy. The scenario was an active shooter. While officers and deputies knew a drill was scheduled for Monday morning, they received few details in advance. Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning says it was important there be, “a little bit of surprise, a little […]

  • courthouse

    While sentencing reform a subject of national debate, Alabama courts continue to evolve

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Over the years, Madison County’s alternative court system has evolved and expanded. However, drug court, established in 2001, remains a core component. District Court Judge Claude Hundley has overseen the program since his appointment to the bench in 2011. Looking out over a group of 14 drug court graduates Monday, he said, “all these people here are people who are not going to prison, people we are not feeding, people we’re not having to constantly deal with […]

  • COURTESY: Madison County Sheriff's Department

    Distracted Driving Program puts teens to the test

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Most parents are aware of the dangers of texting and driving. Many have even talked to their teenagers about it, but that’s as far as the conversation has gone. The Madison County Sheriff’s Department takes the admonition against distracted driving one step further. The department is wrapping up another summer of its Distracted Teen Driver Program. This has been the third year for the program, which offers a free one-day class to any student, ages 15 or older, who lives inside Madison County limits. […]

  • road400

    Safe driving course offered in Madison for older drivers

    MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – Most driving education courses focus on young drivers, teenagers with little to no experience behind the wheel. However, a safe driving course from AAA-Alabama focuses on drivers ages 55 and older. The one-day Safe Driving for Mature Operators class is offered every other month in Madison. Instructor Roy Turner says he tells his students, “as we go through this class, I’m probably going to tell you a lot of stuff you already know about driving. I’ll remind […]

  • handy

    Back to the Blues: 33rd Annual Handy Festival returns to the Shoals

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – The W.C. Handy Music Festival is back. The 10-day event, honoring Florence native William Christopher Handy, is now in its 33rd year. Handy, who died in 1958, was a famous composer. He was known as the “Father of the Blues” and the festival that bears his name brings hundreds of live performances to the Shoals. From July 18-27, bands will play at local parks, stores, restaurants and other businesses. There will also be a fun run and a […]

  • Education Exchange offers affordable option to teachers

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – School is only a few weeks away and many teachers are busy preparing their classrooms. It’s a task that can cost them hundreds of dollars. This year, however, there is a more affordable option for classroom materials. The Educator Exchange is a consignment sale organized by Tracy Walker. Walker, a former teacher, says she realized the need for such an event after trying to figure out what to do with her own supplies after she left the […]

  • West Huntsville Elementary

    UPDATE: Schools for Sale: Huntsville BOE approves selling West Huntsville Elementary

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Huntsville Board of Education unanimously voted Thursday evening the sale of West Huntsville Elementary School. Superintendent Casey Wardynski says the deal will close within the year and the school will receive the full asking and appraised value of $500,000. WHNT News 19 has learned the former school will be transformed into a small start-up technology ‘incubator.’ The name of the local group who will buy the space is West Huntsville LLC. The money will be put […]

  • Budding entrepreneurs get down to business

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The College of Business Administration at UAHuntsville is hosting a unique summer camp this week. Eighteen high school students from Alabama and Tennessee are getting a crash course in what it takes to start a business in UAH’s Experience Entrepreneurship Week. The camp, which has only been offered once before, is led this year by John Whitman. Whitman is a former entrepreneur who started a software company. He is now a visiting professor at UAHuntsville and directs the […]

  • Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19

    Reminder for storm victims: July 15 deadline to apply for FEMA assistance

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama residents who suffered damage from storms that struck the state between April 28 and May 5 must register for assistance with Federal Emergency Management Agency by Tuesday, July 15th. The severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding affected an estimated 40,000 people in nine counties, including Dekalb and Limestone. The original deadline for assistance was July 1st. However, given the scope of the disaster, the federal government decided residents needed more time to apply and the deadline was […]