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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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    Wildfires becoming more frequent across Lauderdale County

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Fire fighters across the valley are covered up right now, battling wildfires. Hardwood continues to smolder atop scorched ground in the Gravelly Springs community. Tuesday afternoon, volunteer fire fighters from nine departments responded to the call for help. When it was all said and done, more than 100-acres burned. “We just keep praying for rain, but it looks like it’s going to be another week or maybe up to two weeks before we get any more […]

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    Erica Fox capital murder case heading to Colbert County grand jury

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – In August Erica Fox was arrested in connection with her husband Jason’s murder. Tuesday morning, Fox appeared in Colbert County District Court for a preliminary hearing on her capital murder charge. Muscle Shoals Police Investigator Ken Vess is the lead detective in the murder case. He testified when he got to the Fox’s home, Jason was lying in the doorway of the carport entrance. According to Vess, an empty shell casing was located in the laundry room […]

  • Joshua Lynn Balentine (Photo: Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office)

    Lauderdale County man pleads guilty in murder case

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A Lauderdale County man accused of beating to death a crippled Anderson man has pleaded guilty. According to courthouse officials, Joshua Balentine pleaded guilty to manslaughter late last week. Balentine confessed to investigators to beating 62-year-old Royce Varnell with a hammer in April of 2014. Balentine had been indicted by a grand jury for murder. He could face up to 20-years in prison when sentenced in November.

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    Groundbreaking to happen next month for new Florence hospital

    FLORENCE, Ala. — It’s been five years in the making, and now a groundbreaking has been scheduled for a new hospital in Lauderdale County. RegionalCare Hospital Partners has sent out invitations for the event in early November. The land has remained vacant for several months now. Gone are the houses, school, and even most of the utilities have been ripped out. Five years ago RegionalCare Hospital Partners announced plans to build a 280-bed hospital in Florence. ECM Hospital officials said the […]

  • Marty Dwayne Beasley (Photo: Franklin County Jail)

    Phil Campbell man indicted on charge of sexual abuse of a child

    FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. – According to court documents, a Phil Campbell man has been indicted for sexually abusing a child. Marty Dwayne Beasley, 38, was recently indicted by a Franklin County grand jury for sexual abuse of a child younger than 12. Police say Beasley was arrested in May after investigators looked into the allegations.  Investigators say Beasley abused the girl while she was visiting his home. Beasley is scheduled for arraignment later this month.

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(Photo courtesy WHNT News 19 Carter Watkins)

    Authorities remain on the scene of man barricaded inside motel room

    KILLEN, Ala. -Just after 6:30am,  US Marshals and Lauderdale County deputies attempted to serve an arrest warrant at a room in the Super 8 motel. Officials say the man fired shots through the motel room door. As he tried to escape out the back, deputies and agents surprised him and gunshots were exchanged. Authorities have spent hours working to get the man in the room to surrender. Officials say he now faces two charges of attempted murder for opening fire on […]

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    Russellville Police say stolen guns and suspect still at large in pawn shop arson

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – Local and federal authorities continue their search for a burglary suspect who set fire to a pawn shop to cover his tracks. For more than a month, Russellville Police and the ATF have been working the case. Crime scene tape still hangs on the front of Mike’s Pawn Shop on Highway 43 in Russellville. An intentional fire pretty much gutted the building in the early morning hours of September 4th. Investigators said the fire was used to […]

  • Shawn Childers in July, 2016, after workers had emptied his house while serving an eviction notice destroying many of his possessions. (Photo: Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19)

    Frustrated, investigators press on in the search for Robert Shawn Childers

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. — More than two weeks have passed since anyone has seen or heard from 51-year-old Robert Shawn Childers. Morning, noon and night, Chief Investigator Brad Bolton scans through Childers’ case file. “It is frustrating,” Bolton said, “But there again we push past that and think of Mr. Childers and what could be his safety and his well-being.” Headed up by the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, authorities and volunteers have searched numerous locations in hopes of finding Childers. To […]

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    Victim identified; Franklin County investigators search for answers in body discovery

    PHIL CAMPBELL, Ala. – Authorities in Franklin County are working a death investigation. Sunday evening, a lady’s body was discovered along a busy Phil Campbell highway. Phil Campbell Police Chief Merrell Potter used daylight Monday morning to return to the scene of the tragic discovery. 39-year-old April Welch Hamm was found lying in a ditch on Alabama Highway 237 near Woodard road. “To begin with, we thought it could be a traffic fatality where maybe she had gotten hit by […]

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    Weekend run to support brain injury victims in northwest Alabama

    FLORENCE, Ala. – It’s difficult for parents to watch their children suffer any kind of illness. But it especially runs deep when it involves a traumatic brain injury. In northwest Alabama, communities have rallied behind three families who are dealing with those type scenarios. Almost a year ago, Rivers Starkey was injured during a shooting in Navarre Beach Florida. This past Memorial Day, Ragan Morris was injured in a wave-runner incident on Shoal Creek. And since 2014, Hamilton’s Kinley Galbreath […]

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    Meals on Wheels in northwest Alabama is in dire need of donations

    FLORENCE, Ala. — A group of residents-in-need across Colbert, Lauderdale and Franklin counties may have some of their food services cut by mid-October. Meals on Wheels of Northwest Alabama is having a budget crisis and are facing some tough decisions. With smiles on their face, volunteers deliver meals to home-bound residents each day of the week. Meals on Wheels provides meals for a portion of the population who may not otherwise have anything to eat. “It’s community taking care of […]

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    Tuscumbia Police are casting a net for a fish finder thief

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – Authorities in Colbert County are asking for help in identifying a theft suspect at a sporting goods store. Late last week, Tuscumbia Police said the man pictured in these surveillance pictures was looking at depth finders at Shoals Outdoor Sports. According to investigators, the man picked out a couple of really nice ones, worth a few thousand dollars. Instead of choosing one and paying for it, he took both and slipped them down his pants. Police said […]