Best Western robber pleads guilty

   Christopher J. Jennings, 47, faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to four felonies Aug. 12 in 2nd District Court in Lewiston. Jennings was arrested earlier this year in connection with a Dec. 21 robbery of Orofino’s Best Western Plus Lodge at River’s Edge.

   Jennings was originally charged with several felonies. In court Aug. 12 he pled guilty to burglary, robbery, second-degree kidnapping, and methamphetamine possession. The other charges were dismissed as part of his plea agreement.

   Two other charges related to alleged robberies at an Orofino drug store last fall, and at a residence, will not be filed if Jennings admits his involvement and agrees to pay restitution.

   Police reports about the Best Western robbery said a masked man armed with a gun jumped over the hotel’s lobby counter and demanded money from the night shift employee. Reports said the masked man threatened to shoot the employee, and placed his gun to the back of her head, to her forehead, and under her chin.

   During the hearing Jennings admitted having a pistol in his hand, but denied that he threatened to shoot the victim or held the gun to her head.

   Jennings claimed he eventually tied up the victim and attempted to drag her to a hotel room. According to police reports, this act was inadvertently interrupted by another hotel employee. Jennings fled the hotel after that.

   Jennings was later arrested on charges unrelated to the Best Western robbery. A search warrant was issued to collect a DNA sample, which was sent in along with a cigarette butt and mask found on the Best Western property around the time of the robbery. Results came back a match, and Jennings was charged.

   Sentencing has been set for Oct. 14. Second District Judge Michael Griffin ordered a pre-sentencing investigation.

   Jennings remains incarcerated at the Clearwater County jail.

Tuesday’s thunderstorm sparks 11 new fires

   Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association responded to 11 new wildfires in their jurisdiction after Tuesday’s thunderstorm.

   Crews have been dispatched to all fires that were reported, and another helicopter was brought in to assist with water drops.

   Sunnyside Rural Fire District also responded to one of these fires, located on Old Peck Grade (in the Sunnyside/Lenore area). Dozers were used here, as well as on a fire at Angel Butte. Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office assisted with some of the fires.

   Aerial checks for more fires are ongoing.

   So far, no structures are threatened, and none have been lost.

   There is a chance of thunderstorms and heavy rain today (Wednesday, Aug. 13), according to the National Weather Service.