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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
  • Courtesy: American Cancer Society

    Coping with cancer over the holidays

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The holidays can be a wonderful time but many cancer patients find them difficult. That’s according to the American Cancer Society, which issued a report called “Cancer During the Holidays.” The report details ways of dealing with the physical and emotional stresses of the holidays. It underscores the importance of patients allowing themselves to feel however they feel. In other words, there should be no pressure to put on a happy face for friends and family. […]

  • Students make generous donation to Downtown Rescue Mission; more help still needed

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – When the students at Monrovia Middle School learned there was a critical need for toy donations to the Downtown Rescue Mission’s Christmas program, they sprang into action. Student council member Sarah Taylor knew from experience that her classmates were generous. “Every time we’ve done a fundraiser or something to help other kids, they’ve definitely helped,” she says. In just a few days, the Student Council Association collected more than $1,000 worth of gifts that will go to […]

  • Holiday Shipping Help at Hand

    MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – As the countdown to Christmas continues, shipping carriers are working around the clock to get millions of packages delivered in time for the holiday. While their main focus is on these deliveries, they also have a message – for senders. There are some mistakes you may be making that could hold up the processing of your package. Wes Plemons owns The Mailbox Store at Madison and offers professional packaging help. His store carries 60 types of boxes. He […]

  • Groundbreaking for the new Sonnie Hereford Elementary, to open in 2016. (Melissa Riopka/WHNT News 19)

    Huntsville City Schools breaks ground on new Sonnie Hereford Elementary

      HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A civil rights leader called it one of the best days of his life, as Huntsville City Schools broke ground on the campus bearing his name. State, county and city officials joined Dr. Sonnie Hereford III at Tuesday’s ceremony on Barbara Drive. In 1963, Hereford and his then 6-year-old son became the first to integrate an Alabama public school.  It is considered one of the pivotal moments in the civil rights movement. More than 50 years […]

  • Job seekers urged to take advantage of Alabama Career Center’s free help

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Wednesday night, a team of specialists from the Alabama Career Center spoke with 250 callers on the WHNT News 19 Job Action Line. The lines were so busy, we know some viewers weren’t able to get through. The good news is, the Alabama Career Center is always available to help job-seekers. The center’s free services include career counseling, job training programs, GED preparation and resume writing help. Staff members can also help people navigate the state’s job […]

  • Image: Salvation Army

    Salvation Army volunteers organizing thousands of toys for area children in need

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Salvation Army volunteers have turned a donated building in Huntsville into Santa’s Workshop. They’re working seven hours a day to organize toys donated to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Children whose families meet certain need-based criteria are eligible for the program. Each child submits a wish-list, which is then picked up and filled by donors. Once the gifts are returned, the volunteers get them ready for distribution. This year, the program will provide gifts to more […]

  • Davidson Center filled with cheers, chants as space campers celebrate successful Orion launch

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Chants of “Orion” mixed with cheers of celebration as nearly 100 space camp trainees watched the first test flight of the Orion spacecraft. The campers gathered early Friday morning for a second watch party at the Davidson Center’s digital theater. The disappointment of Thursday’s scrubbed launch was quickly replaced with jubilation as the campers watched the Delta IV Heavy Lift rocket lift off via simulcast from the Kennedy Space Center. A few senior managers from Marshall Space Flight […]

  • Courtesy: Burritt on the Mountain

    “Kris Kringle’s Candlelight Christmas” returns to Burritt on the Mountain

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A traditional Christmas celebration is coming to Huntsville, as Burritt on the Mountain prepares for “Kris Kringle’s Candlelight Christmas.” The annual event, a favorite for many Tennessee Valley families, will be Friday and Saturday. Hours are 4:30-9:00 p.m. each day. Regular admission rates apply. Volunteers spent hours decorating Burritt Mansion. Guests are invited to tour the mansion and enjoy the exhibit of antique chocolate molds featured on the ground floor. In the historic park, each building […]

  • The US Space and Rocket Center hosted a watch party for Thursday's scheduled Orion launch

    Students’ enthusiasm for space undimmed by delayed Orion launch

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – After a few hours of hopeful waiting, it was a disappointed crowd that left the Davidson Center Thursday morning. The US Space and Rocket Center had hosted a watch party for the scheduled launch of the Orion capsule. Two screens were connected via NASA TV simulcast with Kennedy Space Center in Florida. About 350 space camp trainees sat alongside area students and officials from Marshall Space Flight Center.   There were cheers as the countdown clock […]

  • Road_Work400x225

    Old Madison Pike project at halfway point

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A major road project in Huntsville has reached the halfway point. In November 2013, crews began improvements on Old Madison Pike. The project encompasses work from Pope John Paul II Catholic High School, near Jan Davis Drive, to Slaughter Road. It includes a new four-lane road, bridges, sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Currently, ALDOT Division 1 Engineer Johnny Harris says the contractor is about “50 percent” finished and crews are on track to complete construction in early fall 2015. […]

  • Image: NASA

    Getting Ready for Orion: A preview of the mission and its connection to the Tennessee Valley

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – NASA and the Tennessee Valley will be focused on the state of Florida for the next few days ahead of the launch of the Orion spacecraft. NASA says the weather is a 70 percent go for Thursday morning’s scheduled launch.  The agency also tweeted Wednesday morning that Orion is now on the launch pad.  Here are the latest updates in NASA’s Orion blog. #NASA #Orion on the launch pad this morning ready to fly into history! […]

  • NASA gets social for Orion launch, CVB invited to the party

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Some representatives from the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau will be among 150 social media users at Thursday’s scheduled launch of the Orion spacecraft in Florida. NASA invited its social media followers to apply for credentials, giving them the same access to the launch as journalists. The CVB’s marketing team, along with CEO Judy Ryals, was selected to attend the events at Cape Canaveral. Another staff member was invited to watch the launch live at Marshall […]


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