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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
  • 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 […]

  • Investigators determine an electrical short caused the fire at a Florence law firm

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Firefighters say it was one of the most dangerous fires they have faced in recent history. More than 24-hours after the fire at the law firm of Potts and Young in Florence, hot spots were still being extinguished. From the air the destruction is jaw-dropping; the roof collapsed into the ground floor. Firefighters have remained on the scene since the fire was reported by a newspaper delivery driver early Thursday morning. Four separate times firefighters made entry […]

  • Firefighters battle fire at downtown Florence law firm

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Firefighters and police in Florence responded to an early morning fire at the Potts and Young Law Firm Thursday. Crews said the fire started around 3 a.m. When firefighters arrived, they said flames and smoke were visible on the second floor of the law firm. Robert Potts, his father, and his brother have all practiced law out of the building since the mid-70s. His dad’s keepsakes were still on display. “A lot of his memorabilia was inside. Paintings […]

  • The search for a Sheffield jail escapee continues

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – His picture has been plastered all across the Tennessee Valley, but Sheffield Police have not been able to get an escapee back behind bars. This is William Taylor Jr. On May 29th, he took off running from the Sheffield City Jail. According to Sheffield police, while an officer was moving another inmate Taylor pushed his way past him. Since his escape investigators have followed up on numerous leads, but he has remained one step ahead of them. […]

  • Florence SRO’s go “Force on Force” during summer training

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The need for school resource officers in many of the valley’s schools has been in the news a lot over the last several months. Wednesday morning in Florence, WHNT News 19 got the rare opportunity to witness how SRO’s train over the summer to protect our kids and teachers. “We are going to switch it up on the inside,” explained Curt Carpenter with Lighthorse Tactical to the trainees in attendance. School resource officers spend weeks during the […]

  • Colbert Board of Education vandalized, snacks stolen

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – Police are looking for the suspect involved in vandalism’s early Wednesday morning. Authorities are looking for 24-year-old Jacob Hutchens from Leighton. Investigators say he left a trail of destruction along U.S. Highway 72 West. It doesn’t take long for one to figure out that nothing good is happening when surveillance cameras catch someone at 2 a.m. This picture is from outside of the Colbert County Board of Education moments before a front window was busted out. “They […]

  • Motlow takes majority of votes in Lauderdale County Probate Judge race

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – One of the Republican primary races we have been watching closely in northwest Alabama was for Probate Judge in Lauderdale County. In his first campaign ever, appointed Probate Judge Will Motlow handily beat challenger William Smith. As the sun set over Florence, activity at the Lauderdale County Courthouse increased. Box by box, 32 voting precincts began bringing in the election ballots. As the results were displayed, appointed Probate Judge Will Motlow’s name started leading the race. Motlow […]

  • Lauderdale County judge lowers bond in alleged child porn case

    FLORENCE, Ala. – It was a surprising turn of events inside a Lauderdale County courtroom on Tuesday. Jeffrey Dale Hunt was given one of the largest bonds in Lauderdale County history. Tuesday morning, a judge dropped the bond back down to the level of his 2017 indictments for child pornography. Arrested on May 24, 2018, a judicial magistrate set Hunt’s bond at $10-million – cash only. Prosecutors have said the bond was reasonable for the number of charges Hunt faces. […]

  • Franklin County residents to decide fate of 1-cent sales tax on Tuesday

    RUSSELLVILLE, ALA. – Residents in Franklin County have a local referendum to vote on during Tuesday’s primary. Whether you select a Republican or a Democratic ballot, you will have a decision to make on a continued sales tax. A one-cent sales tax supporting schools and roads has been on the books since 2010. Every two years, it has to go before the people. Franklin County Commissioners say 25% of the proceeds from the tax equals about $600-thousand a year. Money […]

  • Tuesday’s ballot break-down for northwest Alabama

    Northwest Alabama has their fair share of primary elections to be thinking about. There are 8-local races WHNT News 19 is watching on the Republican primary ballots in northwest Alabama, and one Democratic primary race in Franklin County. One of the bigger races we’re watching across northwest Alabama is the State Senator District Number 6 primary on the Republican side. Incumbent Dr. Larry Stutts has two competitors, Muscle Shoals resident Eric Aycock and Guin resident Steve Lolley; both are political […]

  • Sheffield police are searching for an escapee and a theft suspect

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – Sheffield police have a lot going on and they need the public to help. They are searching for an escapee and a theft suspect. She must have been preparing to binge watch a bunch of movies over the holiday weekend. Sheffield police say she loaded up on DVD’s last week at Dollar General on Columbia Avenue. The trouble is, she didn’t pay for them. Investigators are hoping someone will recognize this shoplifting suspect. If not for […]

  • More coyotes being spotted, even near a school in Tuscumbia

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – Early last week WHNT News 19 first reported on numerous sightings of coyotes across several Shoals cities. Since then, there have been more sightings, even next to a Tuscumbia school playground. City schools are generally located in heavily populated areas. G.W. Trenholm Primary School in Tuscumbia is no different. As school wound down for the year kids playing outside reported some unusual sightings. “Everything I have seen locally has just been one random here and there. I […]