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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
  • Processing plant repurposing old Hillshire Farms facility in Florence

    FLORENCE, Ala. – It’s been three years since there was any activity at a Florence food processing facility. When Hillshire closed in late 2014, more than one thousand employees lost their jobs. The news began leaking out months ago. A company had purchased the old Hillshire facility in south Florence. It’s now official Gemstone Foods is scheduled to kick-off operations in early 2018. “I guess it started in December,” Florence Mayor Steve Holt explained. “They were looking at the utilities […]

  • Court records released in Florence nursing home sexual assault

    FLORENCE, Ala. – It’s been just over a week since a Florence nursing aid was arrested for sexually assaulting a nursing home patient. On Friday, WHNT News 19 got our first view of the complaint affidavit filed in court. The complaint affidavit filed by Florence police against Zachariah Reeves is four pages long, and filed by lead detective on the case Kevin Jackson. On November 2nd, Florence police were contacted by the staff at Mitchell-Hollingsworth Nursing Home. According to the […]

  • Lauderdale County forgery suspect needs identifying

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – In this week’s Shoals Area Crime Stoppers, banks are probably the worst place to commit a crime. The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office is releasing surveillance video of a man cashing a forged check. The video dates back to August 1st. Investigators say the man seen here in the white t-shirt and ball cap needs to be identified. This crystal clear video is from First Metro Bank in Greenhill. Investigators have already identified other suspects cashing checks […]

  • Multi-state stolen vehicle chase ends in Lauderdale County after more than an hour

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – A major theft suspect was taken into custody tonight in dramatic fashion. Law enforcement in northwest Alabama and southern Tennessee chased a stolen vehicle for more than an hour Wednesday night. Lauderdale County deputies say James Allen Burbank finally abandoned the vehicle just off County Road 6, north of Florence. Burbank and a female occupant were quickly apprehended. Deputies say they have been in numerous chases with him over the last week.  

  • After years of debate, ground is broken on new Animal Services facility in Florence

    FLORENCE, Ala. – There are many people in Lauderdale County who never thought they would see this day come. Wednesday morning ground was broken on a new Animal Services facility for Florence and the county. By the dump truck load, dirt is being brought in to prepare the site for construction. Florence and county leaders picked a site on Roberson Road in the industrial park to build an Animal Services building. It has taken at least four years to get […]

  • Man accused of human trafficking in Lauderdale County pleads guilty, will serve life in prison

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Corey Davis entered a guilty plea today moments before his human trafficking trial was set to begin. He did so just before the jury was called to hear opening statements. Prosecutors called the evidence in the case involving the kidnapping, rape and torture of three women horrific. “What`s more troubling is we know what he did to those three victims,” said Angie Hamilton, Lauderdale County Assistant District Attorney. “What we don’t know, is how many more victims […]

  • Florence PD K9 escapes; bites woman

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A canine with Florence police attacked a woman over the weekend. Tuesday afternoon, Florence police briefed the news media on the incident. According to department officials, there is an ongoing investigation involving a canine who has been with the department since 2012. Sergeant Wes Gargis said on the night of November 11th the canine escaped the kennel at its handler’s home. After the canine escaped, it bit a 60-year-old female neighbor. “The female is being treated at a […]

  • Franklin County capital murder suspect extradited from Mexico

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – It may have taken 12-years, but Franklin County authorities said they have a capital murder suspect behind bars. According to Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver, 41-year-old Vincente Soto is in Russellville. Deputies took custody of Soto at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport; he came from Mexico. “The wheels of justice turn slow sometimes, and this is just one case that it took everybody working together,” Oliver explained. Sheriff Oliver said U.S. Marshals and the FBI found Soto just outside […]

  • Florence police investigating multiple business burglaries

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Police are trying to identify a burglary suspect caught on camera this past weekend. Thieves hit numerous businesses stealing anything they could get their hands on. Florence police are trying to figure out who this guy is. A surveillance camera captured this image moments before the burglary suspect disabled it. Investigators say late Friday into early Saturday morning they hit several businesses. Some of those include Pizza Hut on Cox Creek, Cash Express on Darby Drive, and […]

  • Sheriff: Lauderdale County Deputy shoots suspected burglar who rammed a patrol car

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – A deputy with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office was involved early this morning in Elgin. It happened along Highway 72 after three deputies stopped a suspected burglar and passengers in the vehicle. Sheriff Rick Singleton says the deputies were alerted to a burglary in Florence early this morning. They noticed a car that matched the description around 3:00 a.m., and initiated a traffic stop. Singleton says three deputies in two patrol cars stopped the vehicle; one […]

  • Boyfriend arrested in connection to Florence woman’s murder

    FLORENCE, Ala. – WHNT News 19 is learning more details about the murder of a Florence woman. Judy Staten was found shot to death inside a South Magnolia Street home late Sunday. Florence police worked for almost 20-hours piecing together the events which led to Staten’s death before charging the man who initially told police about it. However, he wasn’t running free while police investigated the homicide. Sergeant Greg Cobb said Eric Bailey left his home shortly after the incident […]

  • Florence sales tax increase does not pass after tie vote

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A sales tax increase failed to pass Tuesday night.  Members of the city council tied 3-3.  A proposed lodging tax increase of 3% also failed to pass after a tie vote. Below is an earlier version of the story: City leaders say they are at a fork in the road. They are faced with raising sales tax, or having to dig deeper into their dwindling reserves to keep the city operating. “It’s difficult to keep up,” stated […]