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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
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    Muscle Shoals Fire Department and community rally around family during tragedy

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WHNT) – When tragedy strikes, they are the people who run toward it, no matter the risk. But firefighters band together and lift up their own when they experience personal tragedy. One Muscle Shoals firefighter is in the midst of an unfathomable tragedy. “None of us could go back to sleep, we’re devastated,” said Muscle Shoals firefighter Josh Jordan. “He’s our family, that’s our family.” Firefighter Ben Chester’s turn-outs lay right where he left them early Wednesday […]

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    Lauderdale deputies set to train due to mental health budget cuts

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Budget cuts on the state level are placing more and more burdens on local communities. Some of those cuts are forcing a sheriff’s department to train staff in how to deal with the mentally ill more frequently and for extended amounts of time. “It’s a problem which is not going away, and we just have to prepare for it and do the best we can to meet that challenge,” stated Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton. Recently Singleton […]

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    Man killed in accident with train in Colbert County

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – One person died in a wreck involving a pickup truck and train on Wednesday. Emergency responders say the incident happened just after 1:30 p.m. on Red Rock Road, near the Barton community in Colbert County. Alabama State Troopers say 46 year old Derris Lamone Cortner of Cherokee was killed in the crash. According to authorities, the Cortner  was traveling southbound on Red Rock Road and attempted to cross the railroad tracks when an eastbound train hit the […]

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    Brooks High parent claims daughter was denied lunch; school refutes claim

    KILLEN, Ala. (WHNT) – You’d likely be upset if your child came home saying they were denied food at school. Some Tennessee Valley parents say that’s exactly what happened this week at one school. A parent emailed WHNT News 19 saying, “96 students at Brooks High School had their lunches taken away and thrown in the trash.” Shane Tanner sends his daughter to Brooks High School each day.  It’s where he expects her to be educated, supervised and fed. But […]

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    Sheffield officer targeted by arsonist loses truck and boat to flames

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. (WHNT) – Crime has hit a little too close to home for a veteran police officer. When a police officer signs up to serve and protect his community, he accepts certain risks. “It’s uneasy; I don’t sleep as well as I did before this,” stated Sgt. Ray Terry with the Sheffield Police Department. Sgt. Terry accepted those risks and did his best to leave them at work; that changed last week. “I awoke to a sound outside my […]

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    Lauderdale County man electrocuted inside Wilson Dam

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – The Colbert County Coroner confirms a man died this morning inside Wilson Dam. First responders say the 52-year-old was electrocuted just after 8:00 a.m. The incident happened on the 11th floor of the dam when the man inadvertently touched a live electrical box. Authorities will not release the name of the man until his next of kin are notified. Tennessee Valley Authority inspectors are managing the investigation.    

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    Russellville motel owner and employee jailed after fire code violations found

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Moments after a routine inspection of Budget Inn earlier this week, the owner and inn keeper were both placed under arrest by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Both Sachindra Ram Jibhai Bhagat and Harivadanbhat Madhavbhai Patel are charged with reckless endangerment and violation of the duty of a hotel owner and operator. “Basically dealing with smoke detectors, having a plan in place of inspections, testing and changing batteries, things like that,” Russellville Fire Marshal Justin Green […]

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    Lauderdale County Deputies continue search for forgery suspect

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department needs the public to take a good hard look at this woman. Investigators featured her on Shoals Area Crime Stoppers in late February. Since then they have interviewed several women who resembled her but have yet to make an arrest. In these bank surveillance pictures, investigators said she is passing a forged check. The pictures were captured at a CB&S Bank branch in Muscle Shoals on February 11. As clear as […]

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    SB14 has law enforcement statewide concerned over concealed weapons

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Law enforcement officers are opposing a state bill which has passed the Senate and is now on its way to the House of Representatives for consideration. The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department has seen a sharp increase in the number of pistol permits being requested through their office. Right now, having a permit is the law if you want to carry a loaded weapon in a vehicle.  That could change, however, if the House goes along with […]

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    Rally goers push to have Helen Keller placed on the new $10 bill

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WHNT) – There’s been a national campaign launched to have one of Alabama’s most recognizable ladies placed on the new $10 bill. A group of school kids visiting Ivy Green Wednesday morning were given a front row seat to a big announcement. State and local leaders gathered at Helen Keller’s birthplace to unveil their vision for the treasury department’s new $10 bill. “With all of the adversity that Helen Keller went through and all of the obstacles that […]

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    Franklin County schools prepare for hundreds of additional students this fall

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Most school systems see a growth trend and have time to prepare for it. In Franklin County, school leaders found out last month they should expect hundreds of additional students on their campuses this fall. The influx of students comes on the heels of Russellville City Schools announcing it will begin charging tuition for out-of-district students. “We’re looking at gaining approximately 400 students, that’s almost another campus,” stated Franklin County Schools Superintendent Gary Williams. Williams admitted his head […]

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    ‘Center of Hope’ opens as new emergency shelter in the Shoals

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s a place where those who have fallen on hard times have the opportunity to get back on their feet. Words of encouragement hang through-out the Center of Hope in Florence. It’s an emergency shelter operated by The Salvation Army of the Shoals. “They not only are just giving them a sandwich and a bed, they’re to reach down deep into their lives and to make a transformation so that they won’t need a shelter for […]

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