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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.

Melissa currently anchors WHNT News 19 at 5 with Greg Screws and WHNT News 19 at 6:30 with Jerry Hayes.

When she’s not at work, you can usually find Melissa outside with her family, enjoying the hiking trails around Monte Sano or the waters of Lake Guntersville.

You can reach Melissa on Twitter @MelissaRiopka or at

Recent Articles
  • GSES Spelling Bee Winners (L-R) Tanner Herring, 2nd place winner; Marcus Minichino, 3rd, place; Aubrey Dithmer, 1st place. Also pictured, Melissa Riopka and Principal Jennifer Douthit

    Congrats to some S-U-P-E-R students!

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Congratulations are in order for some hard-working, quick-thinking elementary students. It’s not easy standing on a stage, trying to remember whether “bemused” has two “e’s” or an “e” and an “i.” In fact, it’s enough to leave anyone feeling a bit bemused. That’s why I was so impressed with the poise and confidence exhibited by the students in Friday’s spelling bee at Goldsmith-Schiffman Elementary School. It was a pleasure to serve as a pronouncer for the event, which is a preliminary for […]

  • James McNeal (Image: Madison County Sheriff's Office)

    Former children’s minister arrested on additional sex abuse charge

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – A former children’s minister has been arrested again on an additional charge of sex abuse of a child. James “Javie” McNeal was arrested Thursday on another count of sexual abuse of a child less than 12.  He was booked in the Madison County Jail on $30,000 bond. The Madison County Sheriff’s Office said another child came forward to make similar claims against McNeal. McNeal, 39, was initially arrested in December on two counts of sexual abuse of […]

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    Check that chocolate, salmonella concerns prompt voluntary recall

    The US Food and Drug Administration released the following announcement about possible salmonella contamination in some popular chocolate products: Palmer Candy Company (, a privately-held, fifth-generation manufacturer of chocolate and holiday confections, announced today a limited recall of certain chocolate products after being informed by a supplier that a milk powder ingredient used in a compound chocolate coating that they supply to Palmer Candy Company has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The voluntary recall, in cooperation with the […]

  • Rusty is just one of the animals available for adoption through the Spay/Neuter Action Project (PHOTO: SNAP)

    Did you add a new pet to your family? Some tips on helping a furry family member make the transition

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Whether by adoption or purchase, many families add a pet to their home during the holidays. Sadly, some of these animals are later abandoned after not “working out.” With that in mind, we spoke with a local animal advocate about ways new pet owners can help the animals adjust to their new environment. Ideally, Maranda Mink with the Spay/Neuter Action Project (SNAP) says owners would spend time researching their decision beforehand. Is this animal a good fit […]

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    Annual “Blanket & Cold Weather Gear Drive” continues as need rises with cold temps

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless is once again collecting blankets and cold weather gear for the most vulnerable members of our community. This donation drive has been going on since early October. But donations are dwindling as the cold temperatures move in later this week. NACH is collecting: Sleeping bags Blankets Coats/Jackets Gloves/Socks Thermal Underwear Warm Hats/Toboggans Sweatshirts/pants Scarves Items may be gently used or new. Adult sizes only, please. Donations may be dropped off […]


    2017 shaping up to be a big year for HEALS

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – For more than 18 years, HEALS (Health Establishments at Local Schools), Inc. has been making health care available to children who might otherwise go without essential services. The non-profit continues to grow, expanding on-site medical, dental and optometry care at schools in Huntsville and Madison County. Next year is shaping up to be a big one. In January 2017, HEALS Executive Director Connie Carnes says a dental and optometry clinic will open at Lincoln Academy in Huntsville. Another clinic, […]

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    What many elderly need this holiday season? Food, medicine and basic necessities

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The 2nd Annual “Angels for the Aging” charity drive is now underway. Through Wednesday, November 30th, grocery store gift cards are being collected for CASA of Madison County and Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG) to distribute to elderly, disabled and homebound clients. The cards will help provide medications, food and other basic necessities to some of our most vulnerable neighbors. The cards may be dropped off at the following locations: Huntsville Health and Rehabilitation […]

  • Joel Feldman speaks to students at Grissom High School about the dangers of distracted driving. His daughter was killed by a distracted driver in 2009, and since that tragedy, has become a nationally known speaker on this topic. (Photo: Melissa Riopka/WHNT News 19)

    Grissom, Huntsville High students hear important message about Distracted Driving

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Through 2016, WHNT News 19 has partnered with Morris, King and Hodge, a Huntsville law firm, to spread the important message encouraging people to Stop Distracted Driving. We’ve presented this through a series of reports and visits to schools around north Alabama. Today, we visited Grissom and Huntsville High.  We were joined by Joel Feldman, a man who has made it his mission to end distracted driving.  He is an attorney who founded End Distracted Driving after his 21-year-old daughter […]

  • mother's hand holding feet of new born baby sick in incubator chamber in hospital (Photo: Getty Images)

    Understanding the danger of premature birth, working toward a brighter future for babies

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – World Prematurity Day is Thursday, November 17. The global event is intended to raise awareness of preterm birth and the danger it poses. Approximately 15 million babies are born prematurely each year. That works out to about one in 10 births. An estimated 1.1 million die of complications. While the problem may be more evident in developing countries, the United States is not immune. On average, there are 500,000 premature births in the U.S. each year. In fact, premature […]

  • Madison Fire & Rescue crews demonstrate what can go wrong when deep frying a turkey.

    Madison Fire and Rescue talks turkey fryer safety

    MADISON, Ala. – With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, Madison firefighters are not only telling people about the importance of cooking safety – they’re showing them. Monday, a small crew gathered outside Madison Fire & Rescue Station #1 on Mill Road to demonstrate how *not* to deep fry a turkey. A firefighter in turnout gear used a hook to drop a frozen turkey into the vat of bubbling oil. Almost instantly, flames shot several feet into the air and enveloped the fryer. The […]

  • BBB of North Alabama's 19th Annual Torch Awards

    BBB of North Alabama holds its 19th Annual Torch Awards for Ethics

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Better Business Bureau of North Alabama held its 19th Annual Torch Awards for Ethics ceremony today at the Jackson Center in Huntsville. The BBB accepted nominations from any business or non-profit in the thirteen counties of North Alabama. Here are the winners and finalists in each category: SMALL BUSINESS  Winner:  BID Designs, LLC. Finalists:  Burleson Pool Company, Inc., Feria Painting Inc., Integration, LLC., Jackson Plumbing Heating & Cooling MID-SIZE BUSINESS Winner:  Nesin Therapy Service, P.C. Finalists:  […]

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    Local high school senior chosen for State Superintendent Student Advisory Council

    MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. – A Brindlee Mountain High School senior is one of just 16 students from across the state selected to serve on the 2016-2017 State Superintendent Student Advisory Council. Meredith Mosley, 17, says she was “blown away” and humbled by her selection. She and the other members held their first meeting with State Superintendent Michael Sentance in Montgomery last Tuesday to discuss some of the top challenges facing Alabama students. Mosley says the students, representing middle schools and high […]