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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 carter.watkins@whnt.com, 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
  • Florence police continue search for theft suspects

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Earlier this week, a Florence general store and pharmacy was burglarized. Fortunately, a surveillance picture exists and police are hoping it will lead to arrests. It’s a single image, but one which is very telling. Around 3:30 Monday morning, burglars broke into Fred’s located on Florence Boulevard. This is an image of one of the suspects. According to Florence police, a large amount of controlled substance pills were stolen. Investigators said thieves stayed in the store nearly […]

  • Florence moves forward with blight property removal across the city

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A major city clean-up project is underway in Florence right now. Working with property owners, the city is removing dilapidated structures considered a nuisance. With one swing of the boom arm, a section of this Pine Street home falls to the ground. It’s one of two burned out homes which have sat in the neighborhood for nearly two years. “We remove the building itself and clear the lot, in hopes of completing the circle of redevelopment,” said […]

  • Spurgeon bond reduced; could return to Florida to face prosecution

    FLORENCE, Ala. –  A Florida resident facing hundreds of felony charges related to child abuse could soon be making bond in Lauderdale County. A bond reduction order was issued Wednesday morning in Lauderdale County District Court. However, if Jenise Spurgeon is released on bond she will have a long list of conditions to abide by. In an orange jumpsuit and shackles, Spurgeon was escorted into the courtroom of Judge Carole Medley at 9a.m. Originally scheduled for a preliminary hearing, prosecutors […]

  • Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office receives new water patrol equipment

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer boating season. In Lauderdale County, the sheriff’s office will be patrolling the waters using their latest pieces of equipment. With freshly applied decals, the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office has unveiled their latest tools. A brand new boat and two fresh off the showroom floor wave runners. Water vehicles the sheriff’s office has never had. “In the past we have had to rely on fishermen, whoever might be in the […]

  • Alabama to expand Pre-K program in school systems

    FLORENCE, Ala. – School systems across Alabama are awaiting a big announcement. They are competing for $13-million released by the state to expand Pre-K programs. Even reading time in Joe Guzman’s Pre-K classroom at Forest Hills School in Florence is exciting. The four-year-olds don’t likely realize they are building skills towards their future. Florence Superintendent Jimmy Shaw knows first hand the importance a Pre-K program has. His children went through it. “The foundational skills my kids learned with letter naming […]

  • Inspectors warn of hazards around swimming pools; urge precautions

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Since an incident in which three people were shocked at a swimming pool on Friday in Florence, viewers have reached out to the WHNT News 19 Newsroom. They would like to know more about what precautions to take with electricity around swimming pools. Whether it’s private or public, precautions should be taken while enjoying all swimming pools. Florence Fire and Rescue Inspector Lt. Ryan Orrick said the most immediate danger, electricity. “Any covers that are around the […]

  • One person dies of electrocution in residential pool

    FLORENCE, Ala. – One man has died and a second is in serious condition following an incident at a pool. Florence Fire and Rescue were called to a home on Augusta Street just before 1 P.M. Friday for a possible drowning. As they were in route, the call went out for a second victim. According to Florence police, a family member was checking on a 60-year-old man who was doing work in the pool area of the house. When they […]

  • Proposed Agricultural Center in Lauderdale County awaits governor’s signature

    FLORENCE, Ala. – It appears a new 10,000-seat arena is one step closer to becoming a reality in Lauderdale County. Funding bills are awaiting the governors signature, which includes a two-cent gas tax already in place. Despite opposition over the funding mechanism, the state legislature has approved three bills which provide funding for an Agricultural Center and workforce training facility. Projects which will likely land on 160-acres just off Florence Boulevard. State Senator Tim Melson has said he has been […]

  • Florence theft suspect sought for using cloned credit cards

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Police are trying to identify a theft suspect who may have been using cloned credit cards. Florence police have pulled surveillance pictures from late February. Investigators said on February 25 the pictured man did some shopping at Home Depot. When he went to pay he allegedly used a cloned credit card; a credit card re-programmed with someone else’s account information. According to investigators, this same suspect is thought to have done it several times. They would like to […]

  • Sunday alcohol sales changing in several northwest Alabama municipalities

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Alcohol sales in several northwest Alabama cities is changing. Requested by five municipalities, the state legislature changed when and where alcohol can be sold on Sunday. For as long as it has been around – beer, wine and liquor sales in stores have been off-limits on Sundays in Florence. More than eight years ago, alcohol sales began being permitted in restaurants. That will change in the coming months after Governor Kay Ivey signs a recently passed bill. “It […]

  • Students plant community garden to help Colbert County residents

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – What started out as a dream is now firmly planted in the ground. Tucked away next to the school buses, rows of vegetables are staked off. It’s the FFA Club’s community garden – a project by Colbert Heights High School students.  Sophomore Desiree McDaniel came up with a vision for the garden last fall. “Tragedy, natural tragedy, was striking all around us and my mom always told me charity starts at home,” McDaniel explained. So she […]

  • City leaders exploring how to lure major developments to Tuscumbia

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – It was a promise made on the campaign trail, and now city leaders in Tuscumbia are following through. They are exploring ways to develop an under-utilized corridor. U.S. Highway 72 is one of the busiest roadways in Colbert County. Tens of thousands of cars travel it every day. There are several small businesses along the highway in Tuscumbia, but Mayor Kerry Underwood would like to see some major developments. “We have our historic downtown; the walkability, the […]