Chris Lehman

Salem Correspondent

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.

Chris is a native of rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was born in the upstairs bedroom of his grandmother's house, and grew up in a 230 year old log cabin in the woods. Chris traces his interest in journalism to his childhood, when his parents threatened to take away his newspaper if he didn’t do his chores.

In addition to working full time in public radio for the past decade, Chris has also reported from overseas on a free–lance basis. He's filed stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda. He lives in Salem with his wife and child.

Read Chris's blog, "Capitol Currents: Dispatches From Salem."

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Animal Athletes
4:33 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

'Cow Olympics' Test Bovine-Handler Bond

Chris Lehman. "Some of the animals balked at crossing a "bridge" and a "stream" that were part of the obstacle course.

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 5:17 pm

As summer winds to an end, state fair season heats up. Each year, the competition is intense to win the award for best cake, cow or carrot. And in one unusual sporting event at the Oregon State Fair, the athletes could end up on your dinner table.

Right before the "Cow Olympics" start, the cattle are restless. Before them is a six-part obstacle course. As a crowd watches, these animals will have to negotiate hazards that are clearly out of their comfort zone.

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Gas Prices
3:48 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Labor Day Gas Prices Lower In Northwest

Kristen Steele. File photo.

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 3:17 pm

As drivers head out on Northwest highways this Labor Day weekend, gas prices are significantly lower than they were a year ago.

AAA says the price at the pump has fallen a nickel per gallon this past week alone in Oregon and Washington. That's the biggest one-week drop in the nation.

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Same-Sex Marriage
4:40 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Federal Tax Ruling Could Mean Upswing In Gay Marriages In Washington

Austin Jenkins

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 3:47 pm

County officials who issue marriage licenses in Washington are gearing up for a possible influx of new applicants.

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Legal Marijuana
4:37 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Feds Won't Sue To Block Washington Pot Legalization

Austin Jenkins. Washington Governor Jay Inslee with Attorney General Bob Ferguson react to the Obama administration's decision not to sue to block marijuana legalization

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 3:30 pm

The Obama administration will not sue to block Washington and Colorado from legalizing recreational marijuana.

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Northwest Economics
4:51 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Oregon Revenue Outlook: 'Slow And Steady'

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 2:43 pm

Oregon's economy is holding steady. That was the word from state economists as they delivered a quarterly update on the revenue picture to lawmakers.

Oregon lawmakers craft a spending plan and then keep their fingers crossed that all of the anticipated revenue materializes over the next two years. A legislative panel got its first update since the close of the session last month about whether or not that spending plan is in jeopardy.

The answer: For now, things are holding course.

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Wind Farm Tax Credits
4:46 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Legislative Committee To Examine Wind Farm Tax Credits

Steve Wilson, Wikimedia. Oregon's Shepherds Flat Wind Farm

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 4:35 pm

Oregon lawmakers plan to take another look at a series of tax credits issued to an eastern Oregon wind farm. Legislators will hold a hearing to examine the project.

The renewable energy tax credit program was already controversial because lawmakers hadn't expected such an enormous response when they revamped it in 2007. Now, one New York-based company is under extra scrutiny for getting a $30 million tax credit for a wind farm known as Shepherds Flat.

Some lawmakers and lobbyists say the deal was three times as lucrative for the company as it should have been.

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Northwest Fires
4:33 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Lightning In Forecast Makes Northwest Fire Crews Wary

Spc. Matthew Burnett, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. An Oregon Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter prepares to dump a "Bambi" bucket of water on a fire line near The Dalles, Ore.

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 3:06 pm

Weather forecasters are predicting more lightning throughout the Northwest over the next few days. That could make things tougher for fire fighters, who are already battling several large wildfires throughout the region.

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Northwest Fires
6:01 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Fire Managers Increasingly Turn To Private Fire Crews To Fight Blazes

Crews monitor burnout operations in the area of the Colockum Tarps Fire.
Credit Len DIaz / Washington Interagency Incident Management Team

With wildfires still raging across the Northwest, fire managers are turning to private fire-fighting crews in increasing numbers. One private industry group says private contractors are responsible for a surprising 40 percent of fire-fighters on the ground in the region.

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Oregon Senate Race
5:24 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Merkley Draws First Challenger In 2014 Senate Race

Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 5:17 pm

Oregon Democratic U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley has drawn his first challenger for the 2014 U.S. Senate race. Republican businesswoman Jo Rae Perkins announced Friday that she's seeking the GOP nomination in next year's election.

Perkins has never held elected office but has chaired the Linn County Republican Party.

In a press conference outside the Oregon capitol in Salem, Perkins described herself as socially and fiscally conservative. "I'm not an elitist. I'm not a wealthy woman," she said. "I'm a hard-working woman married to a carpet installation contractor."

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Native American Mascots
5:14 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Kitzhaber Vetoes Native American Mascot Bill

Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 5:04 pm

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has vetoed a bill that would ease a ban on Native American mascots. It was the last bill the Democrat needed to act on following this year's legislative session.

Fifteen Oregon schools use Native American mascots like Warriors, Indians and Braves. Last year, the state Board of Education voted to give those schools until 2017 to get rid of them.

But Oregon lawmakers voted last month to allow school districts to keep their mascots if the nearest American Indian tribe agrees. The governor's veto pen nullifies that move.

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