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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
  • Push-ups before pumpkin pie, a Thanksgiving tradition for some in Huntsville

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – On a cold and damp Thanksgiving morning, more than three-dozen people ran, jumped, stretched and laughed in a Huntsville parking lot. Like many Thanksgiving traditions, this one also involved food. Although in this case, it was about providing food for the needy. For the last several years, Huntsville Adventure Boot Camp owner Joe Martin has led a Thanksgiving class to benefit a local charity. This year’s recipient was a non-profit that offers food assistance to struggling families. For each person who […]

  • Valley Christmas Tree Plantation in Madison County

    Madison County Christmas tree farmer says 2014 crop is a good one

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – George Brown is a forester who has been working with Christmas trees for nearly 40 years. He started Valley Christmas Tree Plantation on St. Clair Lane in Madison County in 1986. Brown grows four species of trees, all chosen for their ability to thrive in the Tennessee Valley. Each variety offers something different. Virginia Pine is a best-seller, thanks to its stout branches which can hold even heavy ornaments. White Pine has less sturdy branches with bluish-green to silver-green needles. Because it has very […]

  • Seeing the science of the holidays

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The holidays are coming to Sci-Quest and Huntsville’s hands-on science center will entertain with a winter wonderland of activities. The Science of the Holidays opens Friday, November 28th. Guests will have the opportunity to make 3D snowflakes, stocking stuffers and ornaments created on the center’s Egg-Bot printer. The new program will also include a Holiday Family Lab. At special times, you can explore the science of chocolate, the chemistry of candy and investigate The Case of the Missing Cookie. The Science of the Holidays […]

  • UAH students Beverly Martin, Patrick Doyle and Donna Baughn at the solar-powered bench they designed. Not pictured is Ashley Johnson.

    UAH students power up park bench for fellow “Chargers”

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – If you pass by the engineering building at UAHuntsville, you may notice a new park bench. But this isn’t just any bench. It’s a solar-powered charging bench. Electrical engineering students Donna Baughn, Patrick Doyle, Ashley Johnson and Beverly Martin designed it as their senior project. A solar panel is affixed to the top of a pole next to the bench. It feeds power into a weather-proof, tamper-proof box. The box provides plugs for students to recharge their cell […]

  • US Diplomacy Center opening in 2016

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (WHNT) – Work is progressing on the National Mall’s newest museum. The US Diplomacy Center in Washington, D.C. is scheduled to open in 2016. While curators are busy putting together the exhibits, representatives from the Department of State are spreading the word to potential visitors. During a visit to a diplomacy summit in Huntsville, TJ Grubisha said there would be three main exhibit halls. One hall will focus on education.  A second will ask visitors to examine how American diplomacy […]

  • Brig. Gen. Edward Daly speaks at Columbia High's 2014 JROTC Career Day

    Columbia High students learn about life in the military

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Columbia High School held its fourth annual JROTC Career Day Friday. Hundreds of students had the opportunity to learn more about life in the military. The guest speaker was Brigadier General Edward Daly. The Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army Materiel Command encouraged the students to make a plan, set goals and work hard – whatever they choose to do in life. While many students were still undecided about the future, at least two said […]

  • Matt Jones, FSU student

    FSU student from Lauderdale County recounts moments after campus shooting

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WHNT) – Matt Jones of Rogersville is in his first semester as a graduate student at Florida State University. Wednesday evening, he went to Stozier Library to work on a paper. After about five hours, he decided to call it a night. Shortly before midnight, he left the library and walked across Landis Green to a friend’s apartment. About 20 minutes later, “we heard this loud noise, a couple of loud noises and I thought it was fireworks…that was my initial […]

  • Regional diplomacy summit teaches millenials how to engage in a global world

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – For the first time in eight years, the International Services Council of Alabama hosted a regional summit. The “Diplomacy Begins Here” summit was unique in that it focused on millenials – those born between 1980 and the early 2000s. High school students, college students and young professionals were invited to attend the event Wednesday in Huntsville, which included a speaker from the U.S. Department of State, Rick Ruth. Ruth believes the millenial generation brings a particular skill-set to the diplomatic […]

  • As veteran unemployment rises, military job fair offers help and hope

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (WHNT) – Resumes in hand, dozens of men and women milled around business representatives taking part in Tuesday’s job fair at Redstone Arsenal. Presented by CivilianJobs.com and sponsored by Redstone Arsenal’s Transition Assistance Program, the job fair included a mix of Fortune 500 and local companies. The hiring event for veterans and transitioning military members came at an opportune time.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported a slight rise in veteran unemployment rates. Unemployment for post 9/11 veterans rose […]

  • GEO-Energy Summit brings national intelligence officials to Huntsville

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The 2014 GEO-Energy Summit began in Huntsville Wednesday. More than 200 people are attending the two-day event at the Davidson Center. With this year’s focus on energy independence and national security, organizers were excited to have Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, as the keynote speaker. In his address, Cardillo called Huntsville a “national security asset.” He praised the work being done in North Alabama to develop the geospatial technologies needed to obtain precise aerial imagery. These […]

  • homeless7

    Homeless Coalition asks for donations of blankets, coats; groups to discuss warming centers

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless will meet Thursday afternoon to plan for an emergency warming center in the Huntsville area. Executive Director Lineise Arnold says one church has already been identified that is willing to help. However, other church leaders who are interested in having their buildings used as temporary shelters are asked to attend the meeting at 2 p.m. at the Family Services Center in Huntsville. Another way to help is through the Annual Winter […]

  • The ties that bind; area veterans find companionship, peace in fly-fishing

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – On Veterans Day, the bands will play and the flags will fly. But on the Monday before Veterans Day it was the flies that were flying at the lake on Madison County’s Green Mountain. More than a dozen veterans gathered to tie flies and fly-fish during the outing organized by the local chapter of Project Healing Waters. The organization offers free fishing lessons and trips to disabled veterans. This will likely be the group’s last trip before […]


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