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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
  • Rachel Tarkington (Photo: Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office)

    UPDATE: Lauderdale County woman found safe after disappearance in early August

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – We have good news about a woman reported missing earlier this month in the Shoals. Rachel Tarkington, 27, was found safe last week.  Prior to this, her family had not seen her since August 4 in the Cloverdale community, in the northern part of Lauderdale County. The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office said Tarkington is safe, and back with her family again.

  • Officers on the scene of a death investigation on Grand Ave

    UPDATE: Muscle Shoals police identify victim, treating investigation as homicide

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – Muscle Shoals police are actively investigating the death of Jason Lee Fox, 40, after he was found with gunshot wounds in his home on Grand Avenue. The investigation is being treated as a homicide. Police say it is too early in the investigation to pursue the idea of a suspect at large. Investigators say they were called to the home around noon Friday after a woman found her husband with what police are describing as a “traumatic […]

  • Detective Michael Price, left, and Chris Kilpatrick, right (Photos: Florence Police Department)

    Florence Police: Man shot by officer in Wilson community has been in prison 20 of his 42 years

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Florence Police have released more information about an officer-involved shooting that happened Thursday near Chisholm Road in the Wilson area.  A detective shot a man who was caught driving a stolen truck. Chief Ron Tyler said Detective Michael Price, a five-year veteran of the Florence Police Department, has been investigating a series of vehicle thefts in the community, from Florence to Wayne County. Detective Sgt. Brad Holmes spotted what he believed was a stolen white Ford […]

  • Surviellance picture of bank robber beside mug shot from crimes in Missouri.

    Tuscumbia Police: Charged bank robber now in custody in Colbert County on $100,000 bond

                        Update: The following message is from Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan: “Robber delivered to Colbert county jail around 8 p.m. tonight. Our personnel went and picked him up after he waived extradition. Under a $100,000 bond.” Ratcliff has been charged with robbery. — — — Tuscumbia Police say officers are heading to northeast Mississippi to talk with the man they believe robbed a credit union on Wednesday. Investigators say Justin Nathaniel […]

  • 081016 LD Hospital Utility Grant 6pm PKG

    City receives federal grant to prepare for new Florence Hospital

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Infrastructure to the planned hospital development in east Florence must be upgraded by the city before construction can begin. RegionalCare Hospital Partners plan to break ground on the 29-acre plot of land in early December. But first, the Florence Utility Department must upgrade sewer and water lines in the area to accommodate an increase in demand. To help off-set the costs, the city applied for grants to help with the work. This week, they were awarded $632,000 […]

  • Police say the man in this surveillance photo robbed TVA Community Credit Union in Tuscumbia on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: Colbert County Sheriff's Office)

    Police release surveillance picture of suspect in Tuscumbia credit union robbery

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – Police confirm someone robbed the TVA Community Credit Union on 6th Street in Tuscumbia on Wednesday. The incident happened just before 2 p.m. The Colbert County Sheriff’s Office released a surveillance photo of the suspect on its Facebook page.  Investigators are looking for a white male, tall and slim with short blonde hair, wearing an old worn out blue long sleeve shirt, old blue jeans and white ball cap.  The suspect has tattoos on his face and hands. […]

  • 081016 LD Florence Middle Temp Campus 5pm PKG

    Florence students begin school in modular building units

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Students in the Florence City School system headed back to class Wednesday morning. After a ton of preparation, seventh and eighth grade students occupied a modular campus. “We’re in a new place, new procedures, new rules, new start times,” explained Florence Middle School Principal Aimee Rainey. For six weeks this past summer, crews worked tirelessly to get this campus ready for the start of school. The Florence Board of Education forked over more than $1.5-million for this […]

  • 080916 LD St Florian Traffic Light 630pm PKG

    Long-awaited traffic signal just weeks away in St. Florian

    ST. FLORIAN, Ala. – There’s a celebration going on in the Lauderdale County town of St. Florian. After years and years of begging and pleading, state crews have started installing a traffic light at the town’s busiest intersections. Between 12,000 and 15,000 cars travel through the intersection every day. Vehicles entering County Road 47 from Church Road can sit at the stop sign for several minutes. Frustration has been building for years to get something done. “We’ve been looking at […]

  • 080916 LD New School Resource Officers 5pm PKG

    Lauderdale County adds officers to all school campuses

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Students and parents will see a noticeable change in security measures on school campuses starting Wednesday. The county commission, school board and sheriff’s office have developed a plan to put a school resource officer on every campus in Lauderdale County. They don’t just walk the halls on school campuses — school resource officers are educators, mentors and friends when children have problems. “Just a few years ago we had one, and then it expanded to two, […]

  • 080816 LD Middle School Demo 630pm PKG

    Former Florence Middle School set to be demolished this week

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Students with Florence City Schools are set to return to class on Wednesday, but one school won’t be opening their doors because it’s in the process of being torn down. In the past two months, maintenance workers with the Florence City Schools have gutted the inside of the former Florence Middle School. The school system made the choice to demo and rebuild a new seventh and eighth grade facility. System leaders say they saved all of the […]

  • 080816 LD US 43 Widening Project

    Construction underway on a major highway project in Lauderdale County

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Governor Bentley was in the Shoals Monday afternoon to ceremonially break ground on a long-awaited highway project. It was an afternoon which many in northern Lauderdale County thought they would never see. The flipping of a half-dozen shovels has been in the making for nearly 50-years. “The edges of the state get left out. Governors since 1968 have promised to four lane just this 5.25-miles and no one has ever done it,” stated Alabama Governor Robert […]

  • 080516 LD Shanty Boat 630pm PKG

    California man lives on a ‘Shanty Boat’ documenting Florence residents

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Mark Twain has captured the imagination of kids through-out the years with “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn.” Those books struck one California man maybe the hardest. He’s living out Huck Finn’s fictional life on the Tennessee River this summer. It’s one of the oddest sights you might see on the river this summer. Making its way through the Florence Harbor on Friday, Wes Modes captains his hand-made vessel. “We were spending a lot of […]


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