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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
  • UPDATE: Florence man appears in court on 2,291 counts related to the Possession and Production of Child Pornography

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A Lauderdale County Grand Jury has returned an indictment against 48-year-old Jeffery Dale Hunt of Florence charging him with 1,996 counts of Unlawful Possession of Child Pornography and 295 counts of Unlawful Production of Child Pornography. Hunt appeared in court Friday, less than 24-hours after he turned himself in. Authorities conducted a three-month long investigation into allegations that Jeffery Hunt was exploiting children. Police received a cyber tip in December of 2016 about the circulation of child pornography.  Authorities said that […]

  • Florence Board of Education moves forward with the building of a new middle school

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The Florence School Board has awarded the contract for a new middle school in the city. In a vote of 4-to-1 and 1 abstention, the board voted to move forward on the project Thursday afternoon. The contract to build the $34 million dollar seventh and eighth grade school was awarded to Craig Construction of Florence. Craig was one of two construction companies who submitted bids. Two other companies pulled their bids due to rising tensions with the […]

  • Students at L.E. Willson School in Sheffield get early Spring Break due to broken water main

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – A water leak at a Sheffield Elementary School sent students home early for Spring Break. L.E. Willson Principal Tony Willis said when he arrived at school Thursday morning, water was cascading down the front steps.  Willis said both the first and second floors of the school were filled with water. According to Willis, the origin of the leak has not been found yet but the water has been turned off.  Work crews are at the school sucking […]

  • Florence Police need help solving murder of Andrea Forbes

    FLORENCE, Ala. – It’s been two months since a Florence woman was found dead in her Simpson Street apartment. Shortly after the discovery, investigators said Andrea Forbes’ death was a homicide. The crime remains unsolved. Since January 21st, Florence investigators have spent countless hours interviewing people who knew Forbes. She had moved to the Shoals in 2015 to work. Authorities have not released a cause of death. It’s a piece of information only a limited number of people know – […]

  • UNA Police investigating allegation of sexual abuse on campus

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The University of North Alabama police department is investigating a sexual abuse allegation. According to an incident report filed with the department, a 22-year-old female alleges she was the victim of abuse in September. The police report was filed on March 9 and lists an on-campus address, in the 700 block of North Pine Street, as the location. However, that appears to be a general location. A university spokesman says the case remains under investigation. So far, no […]

  • School board poised to award bid for new Florence Middle School

    FLORENCE, Ala. — It’s pretty much a done deal. Board members from the University of North Alabama and Florence City Schools have both approved a mediation settlement agreement, ending a land-use dispute. The UNA Board of Trustees discussed the mediation agreement for more than an hour Wednesday behind closed doors. After their executive session, board members voted unanimously to approve the agreement. The same agreement the Florence School Board accepted Tuesday night. “It was a compromise resolution, and as with […]

  • Shoals woman charged with exploitation of elderly family member

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A woman faces more than 100 felonies in Florence for taking advantage of a family member. Investigators say the charges range from credit card fraud to selling the victim’s car. Investigators call financial exploitation of the elderly a disturbing crime, and one they are seeing an increased number of cases in. The latest case in Florence had been going on for months before being discovered. Jennifer Hipps, 38, is the latest to be arrested.  Florence Police say […]

  • Colbert County Animal Shelter seeking owner of injured dog

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – The Colbert County Animal Shelter needs help locating the owner of a dog dropped off this past weekend. Shelter employees said the dog is suffering from some very bad injuries. NOTE: Some of the images you are about see may be disturbing. Among the dozens of dogs at the Colbert County Animal Shelter, one needs special care. In pen 119, a mixed pit bull is quarantined. It’s suffering from horrendous injuries to the mouth. “The vet is […]

  • City-wide cleanup set for Saturday in Florence

    FLORENCE, Ala. — It’s disturbing, but it happens none the less. Litter is scattered across the roadways no matter where you go. On Saturday, volunteers are hitting the streets in Florence to clean them up. Stop on the side of a highway. If you see one empty can, you might see a dozen. “Litter does happen and sometimes it blows out of the back of trucks or on purpose, both ways,” explained Rachel Mansell with Florence Recycling. “But we do need […]

  • Northwest Alabama tech students compete in trade skills competition

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — For the second year in a row, dozens of high school students competed in different skill sets in the Shoals Friday. The students were representing tech schools in the SkillsUSA district competition. Not many people know how to cut a 2-inch hole into a sheet of metal. Nor can they properly diagnose what’s wrong in their car’s electrical harness. “You get to show off what you learned in tech school. It’s just a cool deal,” explained […]

  • Russellville police need accused purse snatchers identified

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. — The Russellville Police Department needs the public’s help identifying a couple of theft suspects. It seems the alleged thieves got a little hungry, and that’s when they were caught on surveillance. As Tuscumbia police were investigating a stolen purse case in their jurisdiction, further south a stolen credit card from the purse was being used. Russellville police obtained this footage from KFC. According to police reports, the purse was stolen on March 8th. The next morning, these […]

  • Judge orders UNA and Florence City Schools into mediation

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A Lauderdale County Circuit Judge has granted a proposed order which will put the University of North Alabama and Florence City Schools in the same room on Thursday. Attorneys familiar with civil suits say this type of order is not unusual. In the order sent down by Circuit Judge Gil Self, both parties will meet to attempt an amicable resolution. Line number two of the order states, “All parties are directed to bring to the mediation, individuals […]