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Denson pleads guilty to murder, sentenced to life in prison for wife's death

Steven Marcus Denson, 43, pleaded guilty on May 18, to felony murder in the Walker County Superior Court before Judge Don Thompson.

Denson killed his wife Christina Michelle Denson at their home on Kemp Road in November 2015. The victim was discovered on Nov. 22, 2015, after Denson told a friend that he had shot his wife.

Denson admitted shooting his wife and told detectives it was accidental, but his explanation was inconsistent with the physical evidence.

Denson was a convicted felon and should not have been in possession of a firearm under Georgia law.

Denson did not call for medical help for his wife and made efforts to conceal the crime. He hid the victim's vehicle in the woods so it appeared she was gone from the residence. Denson cleaned the floor and dressed the victim in clean clothes. He hid the handgun in a shop building on the property.

The shooting occurred several days prior to the discovery of the victim.

Christina Denson had told friends prior to her death that her husband would pull a gun on her during arguments. She also confided that he had hit her in the leg with a shotgun.

When her body was discovered there were multiple bruises on her arm and legs.

Denson was sentenced by Judge Thompson to serve the remainder of his natural life in prison. He will not be eligible for parole until November 2045.

Christopher A. Townley represented the defendant. Detective Allen Ellenburg of the Walker County Sheriff's Office was the primary investigator on the case. Assistant District Attorney Beth Evans handled the case for the State of Georgia.

Schools recognize local businesses with Partnership 2000 luncheon

Catoosa County Public Schools held its annual Partnership 2000 luncheon on Thursday, May 11, which recognized dozens of local businesses that contribute to the school system and its students each year.

Partnership 2000 coordinator Buffy Hemphill says this year's event was a great way of thanking the businesses that contributed their time and effort to better the county's education during the school year.

"We have some businesses who've been partners for a long time, and then we have some new ones that participated for the first time this year," Hemphill said. "We're thankful for all these businesses do for our school system."

The event not only praised businesses in various categories, but also gave students the opportunity to thank the businesses personally.

Notable winners from this year's luncheon

- Small Business Partner of the Year: Dr. Jason Webb and Webb Dentistry

- Medium Business Partner of the Year: Tiger Care Clinic/Primary Health Care

- Large Business Partner of the Year: Shaw Industries

- New Business Partner of the Year: Moe's Southwest Grill

- System Partner of the Year: First Volunteer Bank

- Robert Hitchcox Championship Award: Ed Rose Martial Arts Studio

- School Partnership Project of the Year: Ringgold's 'Be the Good" Initiative

- Church/Civic Partner of the Year: Parkway Baptist Church

Ringgold decides on new occupational tax ordinance

Larry Black

After a little more than six months of discussion, the city of Ringgold held the first reading of its newly designed occupational tax ordinance during its council meeting on May 8.

In December, Mayor Nick Millwood and the council began the process of changing the city's occupational tax ordinance as a way of recouping more revenue to cover evolving operating costs of the city. The proposal of switching from a flat-rate system to one based on gross receipts stalled when a number of business owners expressed concerns over the drastic numbers some businesses would have incurred, as well as the added accounting that would have been required.

Instead of passing something new in order to get it on the books for 2017, the council opted to create a committee to brainstorm a fair solution to the problem.

On Monday night, May 8, council member Larry Black, who chairs the committee, brought the new ordinance to the council meeting for its first reading.

"On our committee, we had a number of business owners that understood the situation we were in," Black said. "We were able to handle this in a very professional manner and hammered out some of the agreements."

Rather than a tax based on a scale or a small flat fee, the committee recommend a new ordinance that is essentially a hybrid of the two concepts.

Each year, businesses will have to pay a flat $100 administration fee that'll be standard for each business, and then an additional fee based on the number of employees the business has.

That scale breaks down as $20 for 1-25 employees, $18 for 26-50 employees, $16 for 51-100 employees, $14 for 101-200, $13 for 201-500, and then $12 for more than 500 employees.

That scale applies to each employee, meaning a small coffee shop that has five employees would have to pay the $100 flat fee, and then an additional $100 for its five total employees. On the flipside, a large business with 500 employees would have to the $100 admin fee and an additional $6,000 for it 500-person force.

There will also no longer be an exemption for manufacturing businesses in the city. Those businesses will fall under the same scale outlined in the new ordinance.

"I really appreciate all the work Larry has put into this, he's really done a great job, as has the committee we've put together. ... They did a great job and got a lot of great discussion going on up there," Mayor Millwood said.

The newly crafted ordinance can be found on the city's website at

The second reading of the ordinance is slated for the next regularly scheduled council meeting at 7 p.m. on May 22.