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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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    Franklin County tornado victim is thankful to be alive; funds needed for repairs

    FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. – A family homestead in Franklin County is in shambles after a tornado swept through Tuesday night. Generations have been raised in the home, and now they are trying to get it repaired. “I woke up the next morning at 4 o’clock and my teeth were chattering and I just shook all over because it hit me as to what I had gone through,” stated storm victim Adeline Scott. Two days later, Scott still can’t believe what’s […]

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    UNA students still shocked after losing their apartment building Tuesday night

    FLORENCE, Ala. – More than a dozen University of North Alabama students likely lost everything after fire swept through a Florence apartment complex Tuesday night. “We are lucky we made it out alive and that it is not any worse than it already is,” stated Karly Kruse, a tenant in building F. Hours later, the sights of Tuesday night’s flames are still horrifying for some. Flames towered above the roof-line more than thirty feet. Florence firefighters were called to ivy […]

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    NWS confirms EF2 impacted Colbert County Tuesday night; injuring three

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – Daylight showed just how bad the damage was in Colbert County from Tuesday night’s storms. “As you can see, this was devastation. It was a sight to see. I have never seen anything like it,” stated Gary Mitchell of Crooked Oak. Tuesday night crews scrambled to free an elderly woman and two men from a decimated mobile home. Their neighbor Gary Mitchell found them trapped in debris shortly after the storm passed through. “It only lasted […]

  • Fire caused heavy damage at Ivy Green Apartments in Florence on Tuesday night. (Photo: Carter Watkins/WHNT News 19)

    Late-night fire destroys apartment building in Florence

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A large fire damaged an apartment building in Florence on Tuesday night. Ivy Green Apartments on Helton Drive caught fire about 10 p.m. One building was engulfed by fire. WHNT News 19 is working to get more information.  We’ll update WHNT.com as this develops. Ivy Green Apartment F fire in Florence, AL. They believe it was lightning that caused it. Prayers for these people! @spann pic.twitter.com/MyruYzn8PZ — Laiken Mann (@laiken_123) November 30, 2016

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    Homeless in northwest Alabama need assistance as winter approaches

    FLORENCE, Ala. – An immediate need for help has been announced in the Shoals. As temperatures begin to drop, there’s a population who may be left out in the cold. Room in the Inn began four years ago. Their goal is to provide shelter for the growing homeless population in northwest Alabama. But there are times they must turn people in need away. “We don’t like to just send them back out in the cold,” stated Krista Manchester with Room […]

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    Convicted murder suspect has hearing for new trial in Lauderdale County

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A convicted murderer is trying to get a new trial in Lauderdale County. On the fourth floor of the Lauderdale County Courthouse Monday, attorney’s representing Shawn Johnson got aggressive with a sheriff’s investigator who failed to turn-over information about a potential suspect, before his trial more than three years ago. Defense attorney Dustin McCown called sheriff’s deputy and former investigator Travis Clemmons to the stand right off the bat. McCown asked for a new trial after documents […]

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    Florence Police patrol Black Friday in a unique way

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Black Friday sales have officially kicked off the holiday season. Of utmost importance for law enforcement is security and safety for shoppers. Shoppers in Florence on Thursday night and Friday morning likely did a double-take while in the parking lots. There, across the way, Florence Police Department Mounted Unit. Four officers, all on horseback, were on patrol during Black Friday sales. “Being elevated above the other vehicles we are able to look down each aisle and make […]

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    Shoals Red Kettle Campaign underway; Organizers hope for increased donations

    FLORENCE, Ala. – With the holiday season here now, folks out shopping will likely hear that familiar sound of bells ringing. 125 years ago, the first red kettle was put out to feed San Francisco’s poor at Christmas. Now the ringing bell and pot are used to help support Salvation Army’s across the world. “They go to pay for supplies, they go to pay for food, sheets and blankets and pillows,” explained Capt. Benjamin Deuel. Captain Deuel leads The Salvation […]

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    Shoppers asked to use caution while shopping during the holiday season

    FLORENCE, Ala. – ‘Tis the season to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, it is also a season to take extra precautions. With lots of us preparing to hit shopping malls and stores, we need to keep a few things in mind. It is true, we all get distracted with so much stuff these days, and whether it is our phone peeping or kids, we lose focus in our surroundings. While we are out this holiday season, police urge us stay […]

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    Salvation Army of the Shoals needs help adopting Angels

    FLORENCE, Ala. – There’s a call for help being sent out across northwest Alabama. The Salvation Army of the Shoals has launched their annual Angel Tree program to help families in need. Just inside the main entrance to Dillard’s at the Florence Mall sits a tree of hope. Angels adorn the Christmas tree waiting to be adopted. This year they are closing in on the 1,500 mark for children needing help. “Every day we are doing emergency cases, families who […]

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    Millions to hit the roads over the holiday weekend; Troopers urge safety

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – Millions of people are expected to be on the highways across the nation over the next few days. Whether you’re traveling to see family or just the local shopping center, you will notice more law enforcement. State troopers are ramping up patrols, looking to keep drivers safe while behind the wheel. “It’s our busiest time of year for travelers and it’s something we see throughout the state,” stated ALEA spokesman Sr. Trooper Jonathan Appling. “We see […]

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    Shoals business owners to benefit from new hospital construction

    FLORENCE, Ala. – If there is a bright side to not getting any rain over the last several weeks, it can be found on Veterans Drive in Florence. The site of the new North Alabama Medical Center is being transformed. “We’re taking advantage of the dry weather. I know it’s not convenient to everyone, but to construction it is,” explained Jason Adams, Construction Manager for Layton Construction. “Production is high; we are getting a lot of earthwork moved. But there’s […]