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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
  • Emergency response drill at Huntsville High School

    City, county law enforcement test school crisis response during active shooter drill in Huntsville

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – For the first time in several years, law enforcement officers from Huntsville and Madison County came together for a widespread training exercise at a city school. The site was Huntsville High’s new Freshman Academy. The scenario was an active shooter. While officers and deputies knew a drill was scheduled for Monday morning, they received few details in advance. Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning says it was important there be, “a little bit of surprise, a little […]

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    While sentencing reform a subject of national debate, Alabama courts continue to evolve

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Over the years, Madison County’s alternative court system has evolved and expanded. However, drug court, established in 2001, remains a core component. District Court Judge Claude Hundley has overseen the program since his appointment to the bench in 2011. Looking out over a group of 14 drug court graduates Monday, he said, “all these people here are people who are not going to prison, people we are not feeding, people we’re not having to constantly deal with […]

  • COURTESY: Madison County Sheriff's Department

    Distracted Driving Program puts teens to the test

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Most parents are aware of the dangers of texting and driving. Many have even talked to their teenagers about it, but that’s as far as the conversation has gone. The Madison County Sheriff’s Department takes the admonition against distracted driving one step further. The department is wrapping up another summer of its Distracted Teen Driver Program. This has been the third year for the program, which offers a free one-day class to any student, ages 15 or older, who lives inside Madison County limits. […]

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    Safe driving course offered in Madison for older drivers

    MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – Most driving education courses focus on young drivers, teenagers with little to no experience behind the wheel. However, a safe driving course from AAA-Alabama focuses on drivers ages 55 and older. The one-day Safe Driving for Mature Operators class is offered every other month in Madison. Instructor Roy Turner says he tells his students, “as we go through this class, I’m probably going to tell you a lot of stuff you already know about driving. I’ll remind […]

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    Back to the Blues: 33rd Annual Handy Festival returns to the Shoals

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – The W.C. Handy Music Festival is back. The 10-day event, honoring Florence native William Christopher Handy, is now in its 33rd year. Handy, who died in 1958, was a famous composer. He was known as the “Father of the Blues” and the festival that bears his name brings hundreds of live performances to the Shoals. From July 18-27, bands will play at local parks, stores, restaurants and other businesses. There will also be a fun run and a […]

  • Education Exchange offers affordable option to teachers

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – School is only a few weeks away and many teachers are busy preparing their classrooms. It’s a task that can cost them hundreds of dollars. This year, however, there is a more affordable option for classroom materials. The Educator Exchange is a consignment sale organized by Tracy Walker. Walker, a former teacher, says she realized the need for such an event after trying to figure out what to do with her own supplies after she left the […]

  • West Huntsville Elementary

    UPDATE: Schools for Sale: Huntsville BOE approves selling West Huntsville Elementary

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Huntsville Board of Education unanimously voted Thursday evening the sale of West Huntsville Elementary School. Superintendent Casey Wardynski says the deal will close within the year and the school will receive the full asking and appraised value of $500,000. WHNT News 19 has learned the former school will be transformed into a small start-up technology ‘incubator.’ The name of the local group who will buy the space is West Huntsville LLC. The money will be put […]

  • Budding entrepreneurs get down to business

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The College of Business Administration at UAHuntsville is hosting a unique summer camp this week. Eighteen high school students from Alabama and Tennessee are getting a crash course in what it takes to start a business in UAH’s Experience Entrepreneurship Week. The camp, which has only been offered once before, is led this year by John Whitman. Whitman is a former entrepreneur who started a software company. He is now a visiting professor at UAHuntsville and directs the […]

  • Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19

    Reminder for storm victims: July 15 deadline to apply for FEMA assistance

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama residents who suffered damage from storms that struck the state between April 28 and May 5 must register for assistance with Federal Emergency Management Agency by Tuesday, July 15th. The severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding affected an estimated 40,000 people in nine counties, including Dekalb and Limestone. The original deadline for assistance was July 1st. However, given the scope of the disaster, the federal government decided residents needed more time to apply and the deadline was […]

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    Growing organic farms

    HARTSELLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Tucked into a corner of Hartselle, not far Interstate 65, there’s a 25-acre spread known as Rosita’s Farm. The farm is one of only about a dozen certified organic farms in Alabama. Owner Karen Wynne is an organic farming consultant. She says there are many reasons why more Alabama farmers don’t pursue certification. Wynne says some farmers find getting certified more work than it’s worth, especially since they can sell directly to customers at farmers’ markets or through community […]

  • Cleaning up County Line Road

    MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – A local college student is working to make Madison a more beautiful place, one soda can and fast food wrapper at a time. Tyler Clemons has organized Operation Clean Up County Line Road. The 21-year-old started the effort after noticing how much litter there was along the road. He was out on a run near James Clemens High School and says, “from County Line Road to Mill Road, I picked up probably five to seven pieces of […]

  • RCSL City Championships This Weekend at Brahan Spring Natatorium

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s a big weekend for competitive swimming, as 16 teams from Huntsville and Madison County compete in the Rocket City Swim League’s City Championships at Brahan Spring Natatorium. The public is invited to watch the swimmers, but get there early for a good seat. The diving competition is Friday. Younger divers compete in the morning and older divers compete in the afternoons. The swimming events are Saturday and Sunday.  Swimmers ages 10 and under compete in […]