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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
  • 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 […]

  • 080116 CO Sheffield School Academies 5pm PKG

    Sheffield High School adds academies to better prepare students and increase enrollment

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – After a hectic summer, school leaders in Sheffield are ready to welcome students back to campus on Thursday. Facing a steady decline in enrollment, system leaders have given academics in the high school an overhaul over the last several months. “They’re so excited to see us moving in a positive direction and doing some new things,” stated Sheffield High School Counselor Melissa Ryan. On Thursday, students will be introduced to Sheffield’s “Guided Pathways for Success”. Academies focused […]

  • 072216 LD Crimestoppers Outreach 5pm PKG

    Shoals Area Crime Stoppers turns to an untapped market to solve crimes

    FLORENCE, Ala. – There’s a new tool when it comes to fighting crime across northwest Alabama. You might find it kind of surprising that it’s not in the hands of law enforcement, but the people who have been behind bars. It was around a conference table where the Shoals Area Crime Stoppers Board of Directors spent time brainstorming. Seeing a decline in the number of tips coming in on the traditional phone line, they knew they needed to change strategies. […]

  • Nathan Boyd is escorted from the Lauderdale County Courthouse on Thursday after a Rule 32 hearing. (Carter Watkins / WHNT News 19)

    Boyd to get new sentence in Lauderdale County capital murder conviction

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A Lauderdale County judge has granted a motion asking for a new sentencing in a capital murder case. Transferred back to Lauderdale County from state prison, Nathan Boyd sat quietly while attorney’s discussed a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The high court stated it was unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole; there needed to be other options. Although he was of age at the time of trial and sentencing, Boyd […]

  • 072116 SACS 10pm PKG

    Russellville Police seek identity of theft suspect

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – Police are trying to identify a woman who forgot to pay for hundreds of dollars in merchandise from a store. We have one shot of her, but Russellville Police believe that will be enough to identify this woman. Investigators say on June 30, she walked into Walmart and loaded her cart full of items. When she felt she had enough, police said she skipped the check-out line and went straight to her silver mini-van. Investigators said she stole […]

  • Daniel and Jenise Spurgeon

    Fla. couple with ties to northwest Alabama charged with abuse of adopted & foster children

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A Cape Coral, Florida couple faces multiple counts of sexual and physical abuse against their adopted and foster children, and they have ties to the Shoals. The Alabama Department of Human Resources is limited on what they can tell us, but did confirm Daniel and Jenise Spurgeon were approved foster parents, living in Florence until August. A nine-page police report from Cape Coral, Florida is full of chilling statements by the foster children and adopted children of […]

  • Chase Holcombe signs qualifying papers in the Florence City Clerk's Office Tuesday afternoon. (Carter Watkins / WHNT News 19)

    It’s official: Teenage candidate is running for Florence City Council

    FLORENCE, Ala. – After a two-week battle to get his name on the August 23rd ballot in Florence, Chase Holcombe is now an official candidate. Accompanied by his mother and team of attorneys, Holcombe entered the Florence City Clerk’s Office on Tuesday afternoon. Holcombe paid his $50 qualifying fee and entered the city council race. Up until this point, Holcombe had been denied the ability to enter the race because he doesn’t turn 18 until Wednesday.  A circuit judge saw […]

  • Chase Holcombe is questioned during a court hearing on Monday. (Carter Watkins / WHNT News 19)

    Judge rules in favor of Florence teen’s bid for city council, despite age discrepancy

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A resident who wishes to seek the Florence City Council District Five seat has taken questions concerning his qualifications to court. According to the Code of Alabama, a candidate seeking municipal office must be a resident of the town or city for at least 90 days. It also states the candidate must be 18 years old.  Chase Holcombe turns 18 the day after qualifying ends. This is why attorneys for Holcombe and the city of Florence appeared […]

  • 071416 SACS 10pm PKG 1

    Lauderdale County theft suspects steal thousands in car parts

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. — The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office is searching for three theft suspects. It’s not often that thieves are bold enough to commit their crimes in the light of day. Investigators said a woman, a man, and an unidentified truck driver made themselves at home when they parked at a used car parts dealer on Highway 157 in Cloverdale on July 2nd. In total, they stole more than $4,000 in car parts during the hit, and came back a few nights later. We’re hoping someone […]

  • 071416 LD Rogersville Air Evac Partnership 630 PKG

    Rogersville Mayor: “If it saves one, it’s worth every penny…”

    ROGERSVILLE, Ala. — Residents of one Shoals town now have free air medical services as a perk of living there. Rogersville is the quintessential southern town. It’s got one red light and a beautiful main street. People here care about one another– which is what led town leaders to partner with Air Evac. “I think this is going to save some lives,” explained Rogersville Mayor Richard Herston. “If it saves one, it’s worth every penny we spend.” Mayor Herston was […]

  • Tim Staggs (Photo: WHNT News 19)

    Florence human trafficking defendants file motions for severance

    FLORENCE, Ala. – WHNT News 19 continues to follow developments in the case of two Florence men charged with human trafficking. New documents have been filed in Lauderdale County Circuit Court, asking for the cases to be separated. According to court documents filed by attorneys for Timothy Staggs, he is innocent of human trafficking and wants his own day in court, separate from Chip Dillard. The motion goes into detail, stating counts 8, 23, and 24 only pertain to Dillard. […]

  • 071116 CO Accidental Shooting 6pm PKG

    Three north Alabama counties rank highest in accidental shooting deaths

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – Colbert County has reached the top of a ranking that no one would ever want to be on. Over a 15-year period, police saw more accidental shooting deaths than anyone in the country. “It should probably be an eye opener,” said Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan. The numbers are not too staggering, but they’re still disturbing, Logan added. Between 1999 and 2014, the Centers for Disease Control shows 22 people in Colbert County died from accidental gun […]


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