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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
  • 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 […]

  • 080516 LD Florence Landfill 10pm PKG

    Florence Landfill applies for expansion, turns away demolition debris

    FLORENCE, Ala. – There are a couple of major demolition projects gearing up in the city of Florence. With those projects, there will be tons of brick and mortar with nowhere to go locally. Academy Sports and Outdoors has announced plans to tear-down the old K-Mart building on Cox Creek Parkway to make room for their new retail store. The Florence City School System is set to demo the former middle school building to construct a $25 million seventh and […]

  • Sunny Street fire in Florence

    Florence firefighters respond to house fire, ask people to avoid the area

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Florence firefighters are on the scene of a fire on Sunnyside Street in Florence. The fire is in the 1000-block. Florence Police have asked anyone who can, to avoid the area. WHNT News 19’s Carter Watkins is on the scene right now.  

  • 080416 LD New in School 5pm PKG

    Lauderdale County schools expand Pre-K program system-wide

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Students in Lauderdale County are set to head back to class on Friday. With the start of school, several dozen new students will be on campus starting their education a bit early. With students returning, teachers have spent several days getting their rooms ready.  There’s been a bit of extra work happening on campuses this summer. “It’s been a busy couple of months,” explained Lauderdale County Schools Superintendent Jennifer Gray. “Once we were assured of the money, […]

  • 080416 SACS 2

    Lauderdale deputies need help identifying multiple theft suspects

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office is trying to identify two women accused of using a stolen debit card. In mid-July, two women walked out of Walmart in Florence with a brand new television. Deputies would like to know who the one in the white t-shirt is. They used the debit card of a 75-year-old man to help the purchase the TV. Investigators are also trying to identify this woman in the turquoise tank top. On the same […]

  • 080316 FR 911 Center Off Line 6pm PKG

    Franklin County 911 back up and running after lightning strike

    FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. – As storm clouds loomed over the Franklin County 911 Center on Tuesday, lightning found a pathway into the buildings network room. “We lost our phone system, lost our internet, lost several work-stations, several servers,” explained Brandon James, Director of Franklin County 911. Once their equipment started coming back online, James knew they needed to quickly implement their back-up plans. Immediately, he said 911 lines were routed to Colbert and Marion counties. From there, operators were able […]

  • 080316 LD Hospital Rezoning 5pm PKG

    Florence hospital group gets approval for rezoning of new hospital site

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The RegionalCare Hospital Group is one step closer to building a new 280-bed facility in Florence. The City Council has moved forward with rezoning the proposed property on Veterans Drive. Council members approved a zoning request on behalf of RegionalCare. The council rezoned the 29-acres from residential and residential/business to a Planned Unit Development. PUD status will give the hospital the ability to grow as the community needs change. Planning Department officials said the last step in […]

  • Maria Isabel Martinez Tomas (Photo: Russellville Police Department)

    Russellville woman arrested after police break through van window to free small child

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. –  Russellville Police say a 24-year-old woman left a young child in a car on Monday.  Police used a hammer to break through the van’s window to get the toddler out. Maria Isabel Martinez Tomas, 24, is charged with felony child abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, which is a misdemeanor. Police were called to Walmart on Highway 43 on Monday.  A shopper had spotted a small child in a passenger van with no air running and […]


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