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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
  • Annual meeting of Huntsville City Council and Board of Education

    Huntsville city leaders go back to class and like what they see in the school system

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle took his seat in class promptly at 7:30 a.m.  Council President Mark Russell joked that if any tests were given, he’d perform about as well as the first time he attended Huntsville High. These city leaders, along with the rest of the council and some executive staff, were in a classroom at Huntsville High’s Freshman Academy Thursday morning for their annual meeting with the Board of Education. Representatives from both bodies say they work […]

  • Food Bank of North Alabama

    Food Bank of North Alabama working to prevent food waste, feed more hungry families

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Food Bank of North Alabama is getting serious about preventing food waste.  With the help of a grant from the Walmart Foundation, the agency created a new position called Retail Store Donation Coordinator. The coordinator’s job is to work with area grocery stores to secure donations of unsold food that would otherwise go to a landfill. Annually, the Food Bank of North Alabama hopes to save more than 3 million pounds of dry goods, fresh produce and meat […]

  • mlk breakfast 1

    30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day unity breakfast brings hundreds together at VBC

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – One of Alabama’s longest-running events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. returned to Huntsville Monday. The 30th annual unity breakfast, sponsored by the Delta Theta Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, drew nearly 1,300 people to the Von Braun Center’s North Hall. David Points, Jr. is president of Delta Theta Lambda.  Describing the crowd, he said, “as you look around here today, you’ll see all races, creeds, but…you’ll see a common theme that will permeate this […]

  • Alabama Governor Robert Bentley addresses the crowd at the State Capitol after he is sworn in to his second term in office. (Jan. 19, 2015)

    Inauguration Day: Governor Bentley sworn in for second term in office

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – Governor Robert Bentley took the oath of office Monday morning in Montgomery to officially begin his second term as Alabama’s chief executive. Other state officials were sworn in as well. In his inaugural address, he talked about the accomplishments of the past four years but also the challenges that lie ahead.  Governor Bentley also expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve again. “I love this state. I love the people of this state. You have asked […]

  • Robert Lightfoot talks to the crowd about the SLS project. (Gregg Stone/WHNT News 19)

    NASA Associate Administrator likes what he sees at Marshall Space Flight Center

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot was in Huntsville this week.  He attended the annual meeting of Downtown Huntsville Inc. at the Von Braun Center and visited Marshall Space Flight Center, where he served as deputy director from 2007 to 2009. “When I was here, we had just cancelled Constellation. The shuttle was retiring. There was a lot of concern,” Lightfoot recalled. However, he said he found a much different environment at MSFC during this week’s visit. “What I […]

  • Deundrez Woods with his young son, Jailyn

    Mother suing after 19-year-old son dies of gangrene at Madison County jail

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – How can an unpaid parking ticket earn a young man a death sentence? That’s what his mother is asking. As previously reported by our news partners, The Huntsville Times/AL.com, 19-year-old Deundrez Woods died August 21, 2013 at Huntsville Hospital – two days after being found unresponsive in a medical observation cell at the Madison County Jail. His mother, Tanyatta Woods, is now suing Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning, Chief Deputy Steve Morrison, and Advanced Correctional Healthcare […]

  • Image: MGN Online

    Falling fuel prices good for Huntsville’s bottom line

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Gas prices continue to drop. In the Huntsville metro area, a gallon of regular unleaded is averaging $1.17 less than a year ago. Drivers aren’t the only ones enjoying this downward trend. It’s also having a positive effect on city budgets. The city of Huntsville’s annual fuel budget is $4,170,530 for its fleet of approximately 1,345 vehicles. In fiscal year 2014, the average monthly fuel cost was $320,000. A few months in fiscal year 2015, and the bill […]

  • Bob Jones High School more than halfway through major renovation

    MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – Bob Jones High School Principal Robby Parker says a major renovation is about “65 percent complete.” Constructed in 1996, the school on Hughes Road has undergone minor renovations before. However, this $21 million project is impacting virtually every inch of the campus. Construction started in March 2014. Since then, crews have finished work on the main office, the media center, the small gym and surrounding areas. They’re currently remodeling the “B wing” and its more than two-dozen classrooms. Over spring break, workers will move on […]

  • Christian Women’s Job Corps of Madison County to begin new semester of free classes

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Christian Women’s Job Corps of Madison County is about to begin its Spring 2015 semester. The classes offer free help in job training, money management, career development and GED preparation. They are open to women ages 18-60. There are no financial or educational requirements. However, applicants must be alcohol/drug-free for at least six months. Transportation assistance is available. A limited number of daycare scholarships are also available. Classes will be held at the following locations: The PLACE […]

  • humantrafficking

    Helping victims of human trafficking in Alabama

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Nine months after its creation, the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force sponsored its first event. On Friday, the mayors of Huntsville, Madison, Hoover, Northport, Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile and Tuscaloosa were asked to sign proclamations, recognizing January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Friday, January 9th, as Alabama Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Task force members hope to encourage more Alabamians to educate themselves on the issue. According to the group’s website, ENDITAlabama.org:  Human trafficking is the second largest […]

  • Huntsville Utilities Dispatch Center

    Keeping the heat on for Huntsville Utilities customers

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The brutally cold temperatures that swept into the Tennessee Valley did not create any widespread power outages. Huntsville Utilities reported only small, isolated outages Wednesday night into Thursday morning and crews were able to quickly make repairs. Keeping the heat on for customers was a major concern, HU Spokesman Joe Gehrdes said. Crews were placed strategically around Madison County to enable faster response times. While the worst of the freeze may be over, Gerhdes says customers are still asked […]

  • The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Photo provided by: NASA TV)

    Equipment problem caused SpaceX launch to be scrubbed

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WHNT) – NASA has scrubbed this morning’s scheduled launch of the Dragon space craft on board the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The space agency posted the news on its Twitter page. The countdown has aborted for today's launch attempt of @SpaceX #ISScargo mission to @Space_Station. — NASA (@NASA) January 6, 2015 The decision to scrub the launch came with less than 90 seconds to go on the countdown. NASA says an actuator used to steer the rocket “failed […]


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