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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 principal surprised by state award during student assembly

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – On Friday morning, Muscle Shoals High School held an unusual assembly for the student body. While academics sometimes takes a back-seat to athletics, on this day it was center stage in the auditorium – a school wide celebration for academic accomplishments. Of all the high school students who take the ACT every year, one percent score a perfect 36. Two seniors at Muscle Shoals are part of that elite club now. “The classroom is where the […]

  • Florence car burglar caught in the act

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The Florence Police Department is sharing pictures in hopes of catching a burglar. As home surveillance cameras improve, so too are the chances of apprehending those lurking outside of your home. It’s some of the clearest surveillance pictures shared on Shoals Area Crime Stoppers. Just after midnight on Tuesday morning a camera captures a man rustling through a car parked outside of a home on Ridgeway Street in Florence.  And no this wasn’t his own car, but […]

  • Now that Florence has increased its sales tax, where is the money going?

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Tuesday night the Florence City Council raised the sales tax rate by a full cent, bringing it to 9.5 percent. Some of the revenue generated will be used to increase salaries in public safety, but where else the money go? “We’ve been cautious; we’ve been careful,” stated Florence Mayor Steve Holt. “We’ve had enough growth to maintain us, but not enough to really keep us going forward.” $1.4 million a year will be used to increase the […]

  • Colbert County employer laying off large number of workers

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – A major employer in Northwest Alabama has considerably reduced their number of employees this week. Freightcar America says they have let dozens of workers go along their production line in Colbert County. FreightCar America is one of the Shoals largest employers. Company officials say they were forced to layoff almost 20 percent of their workforce this week. Freightcar America announced the layoffs to their employees on Monday. 145 production department workers, who are mostly welders, are now off […]

  • Study shows first responders in Florence are underpaid

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Emergency response employees for the city of Florence have been saying it for years – their pay has dropped out of line with other cities of similar size and they have been leaving their jobs here for higher paying jobs elsewhere. A recent study is backing up what first responders have been saying. They work 24-hour shifts and on their days off, most of them have a second job. Florence Fire and Rescue is seeing a lot […]

  • Florence restaurant burglarized; money taken

    FLORENCE, Ala. – One of Florence’s favorite restaurants was burglarized early Thursday morning and the incident was caught on camera. If you’re up at 4 A.M. you are either going to work or up to no good. Florence police say in this case it’s the latter. The man seen in the picture is thought to be behind a burglary at Lil Capone’s on Cloverdale Road. Once the front door was busted out, detectives say he rummaged through the restaurant until […]

  • Colbert County officials exploring all options including combining resources for a metro jail

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – Colbert County officials are in the midst of a major project right now. Faced with having to build a new jail, commissioners are exploring all options before a final decision is made. Even putting an old option back on the table. For over 20 years, replacing the Colbert County Jail has been on the agenda for each sitting sheriff. Over the past several months, the county commission has started taking the need for a new jail […]

  • School Resource Officer added to Muscle Shoals campuses

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – The Muscle Shoals Board of Education has expanded their school resource officer program. A summer meeting with administrators and police put the plan in motion. It’s his first week and he is already a crowd favorite. Muscle Shoals School Resource Officer Thomas Marshall has 19-years on the job. Until now his passion was in patrol. Officer Marshall’s new assignment has him keeping watch over elementary schools. “They develop those types of different relationships with the students” […]

  • Franklin County murder suspect has previous manslaughter conviction

    FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. – WHNT News 19 is learning more information on the man sheriff’s deputies say murdered his roommate over the weekend in Franklin County. Escorted by deputies, 63-year-old Jerry Mills was walked out of the Franklin County Courthouse Tuesday morning following a bond revocation hearing. Mills was arrested Sunday evening following a shooting at his home on Block Church Road. Detectives say Mills shot and killed 39-year-old Jason Baker who had been staying with Mills. “We still have […]

  • Russellville police seek identity of manufacturing plant burglar

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – In this week’s Shoals Area Crime Stoppers report Russellville police need the public’s assistance in solving a major burglary. They have released surveillance pictures in hopes of identifying the burglar. Detectives say he struck in the early morning hours of November 18. The man drove up to the Innovative Hearth Products Campus on Lawrence Street like he worked there. While at the plant, Russellville police say he took several thousand dollars in tools and equipment. Some of […]

  • Rescue crews say river waters are fast and dangerous right now

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – First responders said Wednesday that high water, and also fast waters, are a concern right now as the Tennessee Valley recovers from recent flooding with more rain on the way. The Tennessee River came up over ramps and up to roads at Ditto Landing, said Chad Tillman, Deputy Director of the Huntsville-Madison County Rescue Squad. There was even a water rescue last weekend. “We’re really concerned about how high the water has gotten,” he confessed, “but currently […]

  • Florence “Polar Plunge” much more than a start to the New Year

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday afternoon around a flooded boat ramp at McFarland Park. They were not going to be deterred from their mission of bringing awareness to mental health issues. Just after 1 p.m., 200 people got shivering cold in a water temperature of 51 degrees. “Plunge into the New Year” began three years ago with just a handful of people. Organizer Josh Miles and his wife started the yearly event after they lost a dear […]