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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
  • Dixie Derby Girls get ready for Skate Wars Weekend

    Rolling with the Dixie Derby Girls

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Huntsville Stars may leave town but the Rocket City’s second longest-standing sports team has no intention of going anywhere. In fact, the Dixie Derby Girls are rolling right along. If you’ve never caught a roller derby bout, team members say it’s a great spectator sport. Fans sit just yards from the action. While it may take a game or two to catch on to the strategy, programs provide information on the basic rules and scoring. […]

  • Gloves, garbage bags and grubby clothes: Community cleanup organized for Wheeler Wildlife Refuge

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala (WHNT) – At 35,000 acres, Wheeler Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge in Alabama.  Encompassing both sides of the Tennessee River, it stretches from Huntsville to Decatur. For the last 76 years, the area has protected migrating waterfowl, along with endangered and threatened species. However, Wheeler Wildlife Refuge is also quite popular with people. An estimated 700,000 people visit annually to fish, camp, kayak and bird-watch. Unfortunately, the outdoorsman’s adage of “take only pictures, leave only […]

  • Huntsville, Madison, Madison County law enforcement receive tactical first aid kits

    Huntsville, Madison, Madison County patrol cars getting potentially life-saving supplies

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Huntsville Hospital officials announced Wednesday morning they were using a $46,500 grant from the Madison County Legislative Delegation to buy tactical first-aid kits for Huntsville, Madison and Madison County law enforcement officers. The two police departments and sheriff’s department have a combined total of approximately 600 patrol cars. Each car will get one kit. The kits go far beyond basic first-aid supplies. The supplies include a combat application tourniquet, a special gauze that promotes rapid clotting to stop […]

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    Prayers, donations, time – Downtown Rescue Mission could use it all

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala (WHNT) – The Downtown Rescue Mission is setting a record most local restaurants would envy. The Christian ministry is on track to serve 300,000 meals this year. That’s around 600 meals a day. The mission also houses approximately 250 people a night. Of course, these are the kinds of records the organization would rather not set. However, the increasing numbers have become almost predictable. Over the last few years, the agency has seen an annual increase of 15-20% in demand […]

  • Torch Technologies CEO Bill Roark and his employees present a $150,000 check to the Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County

    Huntsville company donates $150,000 to help community

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A Huntsville company has donated $150,000 to help establish a new community fund. Torch Technologies made the announcement during a check presentation Thursday to the Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County. Stuart Obermann, president of the Community Foundation, says the money will enable the creation of the Community Catalyst Fund, a perpetual endowment. Since being established in 2009, the foundation has distributed $3.4 million to deserving programs in the Madison County area. However, foundation leaders wanted a way to […]

  • Helping children succeed in STEM fields

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium always brings interesting exhibits and experts to Huntsville but this year also brought an opportunity for parents. For the 2014 event, organizers wanted to expand their focus on the next generation of innovators in science, technology, engineering and math. So, a STEM education forum was offered Wednesday at the Von Braun Center. The forum offered educators and parents guidance on how to help interested children prepare for these highly-competitive jobs. Judy D’Amico […]

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    Infant University to begin next month in Huntsville

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) Infant University begins next month in Huntsville but don’t let the name fool you. At this school, it’s the parents who will be doing the learning. Infant University is the latest outreach from Village of Promise. The non-profit provides a number of services to neighborhoods in the area of Northwest Huntsville, with the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of generational poverty.  The free nine-week program will give new and expectant parents some of the tools they need to raise […]

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    Restaurant Week bringing plenty of spice to Huntsville August 14-25

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Restaurant Week returns to Huntsville August 14th-25th and organizers expect this year’s event to be the best one yet. Thirty-eight local restaurants are participating, offering special fixed-price meals during the 10-day campaign. Two-course lunches will be offered at $5, $10 and/or $15. Three-course dinners will be available for $10, $20 and/or $30. The big kick-off will be a new event called  A Night Out With the Chefs. From 7:00-9:00 p.m. Thursday, August 14th, diners are invited to Straight to […]

  • Local Purple Heart recipients at the re-dedication of their monument

    Plenty of “heart” at re-dedication ceremony for Madison County’s Purple Heart monument

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Nearly 20 recipients of the Purple Heart gathered at the Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial Park Thursday morning for a re-dedication of their monument. The monument was ordered by the Madison County chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart more than eight years ago. At that time, Veterans Memorial Park was just an idea. So, the monument was placed at the US Space and Rocket Center. The park eventually opened in Downtown Huntsville in 2011 and last […]

  • Huntsville, Madison and Madison County students begin new school year

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – The first day of a new school year is in the books. Thousands of students from Huntsville, Madison and Madison County returned to class Tuesday. All three systems made some changes from the previous year. However, the greatest adjustments took place in the Madison County system. For the 2014-15 school year, the county system moved to staggered start times. Younger students now report to class at 7:45 a.m. Older students begin their day at 8:30 […]

  • Members of Lacey's Spring Volunteer Fire Department receive donation from Firehouse Subs for new turnout gear

    Lacey’s Spring Volunteer Fire Department gets new gear thanks to grant

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Wednesday was a very good day for the Lacey’s Spring Volunteer Fire Department. The department received 15 new sets of turnout gear, worth more than $31,200. The donation came from Firehouse Subs. The restaurant chain was founded by firefighters and routinely donates to public service agencies and first responders. The Lacey’s Spring VFD is made up of 32 members who respond to fires, emergency medical calls, water rescues and wrecks. The training is intense. The job is […]

  • Armed Forces Week celebration underway

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Armed Forces Week is once again being celebrated in Huntsville, Madison and Madison County. City, county, state and federal dignitaries met Monday morning for the signing of a proclamation at the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial. While many communities recognize Armed Forces Day, Madison Mayor Troy Trulock says he believes this is the only area to dedicate an entire week to honoring the armed forces. “That just shows the support we have in the Tennessee Valley […]


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