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Life through the lens. For more than 20 years I have been fortunate enough to be a member of the WHNT News 19 family. The best part, I’ve been able to do so in the area I grew up in – “The Shoals”. A Florence native, I attended Florence City Schools and graduated from Coffee High School before attending the University of North Alabama (Roar Lions!).

In high school the photography bug latched on and I learned the craft of still photography and developing pictures while working on the yearbook staff. Those skills evolved into an interest in videography and journalism while in college. I had a family member working in the news industry at the time, so I was able to tag along to events and get the behind the scenes culture.

Nearing the end of my college career, I landed my first television job at WOWL TV-15 in Florence. At the time, the station produced two newscasts a day and was the Shoals NBC affiliate. I learned everything from running master control to teleprompter, shooting news video and honing my skills of editing and writing. There’s nothing like the first television job and being exposed to all facets of the building.

After my time at WOWL, I packed up my car and headed to Tupelo, MS for a photographer position with WTVA News 9. While there, I built my skills of photography and editing. Covering most of north Mississippi, I was exposed to all sorts of news events, validating my decision of making this a career I would love.

Months after arriving in Mississippi, WHNT News 19 called me home. Starting as an editor/photographer in Huntsville, I quickly proved myself and was promoted to the position of photographer in the Shoals Bureau. While working in the bureau I have had the chance to work with many distinguished journalists and received numerous state awards from my peers.

Telling the story of our residents in the Shoals is what makes each and every day so fulfilling for me. Which is why in December of 2015, I decided to move from behind the camera and begin reporting full time as Shoals Bureau Chief for WHNT News 19. This was a step of faith, and so far I have loved it. Our residents and viewers here have been so supportive in this new role, which makes me wonder why I didn’t do it sooner.

If you ever have a story idea, please reach out to me through one of several ways. You can email me at, or contact me through social media. My official Facebook page is “Carter Watkins WHNT” or on Twitter at “WHNT Shoals”.

What do I enjoy away from work? I love Jesus, wood-working, home projects, nature and theatre. My family and I are active members of Faith Church in Florence. I also volunteer with the Gingerbread Players of the Shoals Theatre (a children’s theatre group).

Recent Articles
  • St. Joseph students receive coveted campus award

    FLORENCE, Ala. – After four years of non-stop work, some students in Florence received a prized trophy Friday morning. But it’s not for work in the classroom, rather outside keeping their environment clean. Steve Trash is a world-renowned entertainer. Magic is his specialty, but recycling is his passion. The Shoals native travels internationally, performing magic tricks as a way to further his cause. “We’re absolutely making progress; curb-side recycling. Recycling is a fairly common idea; preventing litter, keeping our communities clean […]

  • Shaw selected to lead Florence City Schools

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The Florence City School Board has selected who they want to lead the school system forward. Of the four finalists, they decided to keep leadership in the family. Jimmy Shaw will be moving to the other end of the hall in the school system’s central office. Shaw, an Assistant Superintendent in Florence City Schools, has been chosen as the next superintendent. The board of six voted four in favor with two abstentions Thursday afternoon. One other finalist, […]

  • Burglary suspect identity being sought by Muscle Shoals police

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – Police have a string of burglaries they are investigating. One of those crimes was captured in the last couple of weeks on camera.   During the dark of night, Muscle Shoals police said this man burglarized a business. On April 6th, investigator state the man seen in these pictures broke into Crossroads Building Supply. Once the man got into the east Avalon Avenue location, police said he smashed a safe. Business owners told police the man […]

  • Sheffield murder suspect headed to mental health facility

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – A Colbert County man accused of murdering his father in 2014 won’t be going to prison. Following a not guilty plea, George Morris III has been committed to a state mental health facility. Colbert County Circuit Judge Hal Hughston issued the ruling after a hearing earlier this month. Hughston’s order commits Morris into the custody of the Department of Mental Health. During the hearing, a psychologist stated Morris suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Sheffield police say on September […]

  • Proposed agricultural center causing strife in Lauderdale County

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Lauderdale County could see a new agricultural and event center within two years. It’s not local leaders planning a 10,000 seat arena, but the legislative delegation from the Shoals. However, the project will be taking money out of local budgets. When power is generated from Wilson Dam, TVA pays state’s hundreds of millions of dollars called “In Lieu of Taxes”. Money which is then distributed to local and county governments. The Shoals delegation of representatives and senators […]

  • Jenise Spurgeon given bond amount; can’t have contact with victims if released

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A woman accused of abusing adopted and foster children appeared in court Tuesday afternoon. After weeks of being held without bond, Jenise Spurgeon now has the opportunity to get out of the Lauderdale County Detention Center. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, Jenise Spurgeon made her second appearance in court. Spurgeon was extradited from Cape Coral, Florida earlier this month after being arrested on several hundred charges. Charges which stem from years of abuse and neglect of foster […]

  • Hastings’ preliminary hearing continued in Lauderdale County murder case

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Late last week, Robert Eugene Hastings was transferred from state prison back to Lauderdale County. He was scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Monday. But Hastings was never transported to the courthouse. His attorney requested the hearing be continued, allowing him more time to prepare.  Judge Carole Medley approved the continuance, setting it for June 15th. On January 23rd, investigators said Robert Hastings and his brother-in-law, Justin Merriner, went to meet a drug dealer. Thirty […]

  • New detention center in Lauderdale County on the way?

    FLORENCE, Ala.- Leaders in Lauderdale County are taking a serious look at a new detention center. Twenty-one years ago, the Lauderdale County Detention Center opened. Jail administrators saw faults in the design even then. “There are flaws in the design of this jail, as far as the pipe chases and as for our being able to view. And what we have been looking at is a better design all the way around,” explained Jail Administrator Jason Butler. Butler wants to […]

  • Hospital employees tour new Florence facility virtually

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Even though a new hospital in Florence is more than 18-months away from opening, employees are already touring the facility. The super-structure is rising from the dirt. In just a few short weeks, iron workers have already erected the center section of the North Alabama Medical Center. Inside a work trailer just yards away, future employees are already strolling through patient rooms. “It’s amazing. It’s also amazing to see folks walk around beds that aren’t there, and […]

  • Lauderdale deputies search for fake money suspects; Florence PD looking for missing girl

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Investigators with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office would like to know who these two people are. The woman took her time shopping at Dollar General in Cloverdale on March 31st. When they finally made it to the counter, the man can be seen thumbing through his money. Where things went bad was when he paid with a fake $20 bill. He can be seen dividing the good money and counterfeit money up before sticking it back […]

  • Florence High School cuts ribbon on new broadcast center

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The national award-winning Florence High School Broadcasting Department cut the ribbon on its new studio Thursday. With equipment rivaling many broadcast television stations, anchors host the Falcon Five News. High school students take on every facet of a newscast and broadcast to screens around the school and online. Former WHNT News 19 anchor/reporter Jennifer Kilpatrick has helped build the program. “I think about what I knew coming out of college, and then what these kids are learning in […]

  • Theft ring broken up in northwest Alabama and southern Tennessee

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A two state investigation has broken up a major burglary case based in the Shoals. Mounds of stolen merchandise sit in the evidence locker at the Lauderdale County Sheriffs Office. Thousands of dollars’ worth of items, taken from homes in Wayne and Lauderdale counties. “These people have really been working us over, and the spirit of cooperation has really been wonderful,” explained Sheriff Ric Wilson of Wayne County Sheriffs Office. A theft victim was able to recover […]