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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
  • Muscle Shoals police on the hunt for theft suspect

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – Police officers across the valley warn residents to protect your belongings by locking your vehicle. Several residents in Muscle Shoals learned the hard way why that warning is given out. It’s a single picture, but hopefully, it is good enough to identify this woman.  Muscle Shoals police say she recently made her way through a neighborhood checking for unlocked vehicles. This is a surveillance picture from outside one of the homes. Investigators say she found several […]

  • Adoptions up on the eve of Florence shelter temporarily stopping animal drop-offs

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The plan seems to be working at the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter. Over-crowded and overwhelmed, adoption fees have been waived for pets. Starting Friday, the second part of the shelters plan begins. As recent as last week there were 250 animals inside the four walls of the shelter, double its capacity. City leaders said something had to give. So, Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter Director Leah Fox and city leaders developed a plan. They first dropped adoption fees totally. “This […]

  • Florence dog attack leads to first “Emily’s Law” investigation

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A tragic 2017 dog attack in Jackson County changed the way the Alabama court system punishes owners of vicious animals. “Emily’s Law” was passed by the state legislature this past session and went into effect on June 1st. The first investigation under this new law is happening right now in Florence. Late last week, police say Rose Holt was in her yard when two pit bulls attacked her. Investigators say they escaped their enclosure just two houses […]

  • Florence law firm announces future plans after devastating fire

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Fire ripped through his Florence law firm twelve days ago. Tuesday morning, we got our first chance to speak with Frank Potts about the fire, and how he expects to move forward after such a devastating blow. A mound of rubble now lays between three standing walls. On June 7th, fire gutted the downtown law firm of Frank Potts. He was 1,600-miles away on vacation when he got the call from an office employee. “I was devastated,” […]

  • Tuscumbia warehouses packed full of tires to be torn down

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – A massive demolition project is underway in Tuscumbia. The largest part of the contract is getting rid of five warehouses packed full of old tires. Jimmy Roden spends his retired years tinkering on most anything with a motor. He had rather do this in his backyard, then look at the dilapidated warehouse on Hook Street in the front. “I’ve seen a lot of improvements, and a lot of disprovements,” Roden said. Roden has lived across the street […]

  • Leaders suspending animal drop-off at Florence shelter

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Desperate times call for desperate measures; the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter has reached that point. City leaders say they are temporarily suspending intake because of extreme animal numbers. “We are just going to have to take a time-out. We can’t live with 250 animals like this. We’ve got to slow it down,” stated Florence Mayor Steve Holt. Friday morning, Mayor Holt and Shelter Director Leah Fox announced they are averaging 250 animals a day; twice it’s capacity. “We […]

  • Investigators need help identifying Sheffield theft suspect

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – Police are searching for the man responsible for a vehicle theft in Sheffield, and his alleged crime was captured on surveillance cameras. Authorities say it takes a brave soul to steal a vehicle in broad daylight. According to Sheffield police, this man stole a Jeep Wrangler in May. His crime happened in the parking lot of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Investigators say the Jeep was located in Florence, but he is still out there somewhere. […]

  • Florence Animal Shelter draws fire for euthanasia increase; director responds

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The city of Florence Animal Shelter has been taking a beating on social media in recent weeks. Numerous complaints led to a called meeting with the director Thursday afternoon and some members of the Florence City Council. Leah Fox is in her second year as the Animal Control Director in Florence. Complaints have surfaced about Fox and her staff not maintaining a low-kill status. She addressed the concerns with the Florence Public Safety Committee. “When we have […]

  • Florence police seek witnesses in fatal weekend shooting

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The Florence Police Department is asking for help from its residents. A shooting at a popular Florence hang-out over the weekend turned fatal and police need witnesses to come forward. Crime tape covered half a city block Sunday morning. Numbered plaques marked the relevant pieces of evidence left behind from the shooting. 42-year-old Patton Shipley died from his injuries, and a second man was able to be saved. “Knowing the truth into what happened versus rumors of […]

  • ADEM proposes enforcement against Lauderdale County excavation company

    FLORENCE, Ala. – In August of 2017, three complaints were filed with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management about the illegal dumping of debris from a UNA demolition site. The case is drawing closer to a resolution.ADEM just released a Proposed Administrative Order which spells out the civil penalty Ronnie Gist faces for illegally dumping demolition material at three separate sites. The complaints filed state the debris from the University of North Alabama Science building was not being taken to […]

  • Man enters plea in connection with two Lauderdale County murders

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – As jury selection began Monday morning, Lauderdale County prosecutors offered Steven Stanfield life with the possibility of parole for the shooting deaths of Michael Linville and Victoria Garcia. By the end of the day, Stanfield was sentenced to 25-years in prison on two counts of murder. The courtroom was packed full of potential jurors for most of the day. After they were dismissed, attorney’s and prosecutors stayed behind with Judge Gil Self to go over motions. […]

  • Former Franklin County Administrator sentenced to serve 20 years, pay restitution

    FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. – A former Administrator for Franklin County has been sentenced to two 20-year terms related to missing county funds. The judge handed down her sentence this morning. Crista Madden pleaded guilty in March to two felony charges: the use of position or office for personal gain, and use of official equipment for personal gain. Court officials say she took more than $750,000 from the county between the years of 2007 and 2017. Today, a judge sentenced Madden […]