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 freelance basis. He's filed stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda. He lives in Salem with his wife and children.

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Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Most public school students in the Northwest head back to class next week. And that has public health officials on alert. They're afraid that classrooms could be fertile ground for the spread of whooping cough, an infectious disease that's already being called an epidemic in some states.

tinatinatinatinatina / Flickr

With the Labor Day holiday weekend approaching, the average price of a gallon of unleaded gas has once again topped $4 in Oregon and Washington. AAA says that puts the cost of gas in the Northwest at more than 25 cents a gallon above the national average.

Oregon Drug Enforcement Administration

The state of Oregon is on the lookout for fraudulent fertilizer. State regulators say it’s a growing problem for indoor gardeners. The Oregon Department of Agriculture recently cracked down on a California company that it says was selling a potentially harmful product.

Rad Racer / en.wikipedia

This week, we’re taking a look at some of the claims made about marijuana. Voters in Oregon and Washington will decide this November whether to legalize pot. Ballot measures in both states would allow the drug to be sold in state-licensed stores. The Oregon initiative would allow people to grow their own. One of the claims made by opponents of the legalization measures is that the marijuana of today is much more potent than the pot smoked decades ago. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman looked into whether that’s true.

Chmee2 / Wikimedia Commons

This fall, voters in Oregon and Washington will decide whether to legalize marijuana. Washington’s Initiative 502 would allow pot to be sold in state-licensed stores. So would Oregon’s Measure 80. But it would go one step further: The Oregon ballot measure would allow people to grow their own marijuana.

Oregon State Police

The federal government will take the lead in prosecuting an Oregon couple accused in a killing spree that stretched down the U.S. west coast last fall. The U.S. Attorney's office in Portland announced indictments Friday against David "Joey" Pederson and Holly Grigsby.

More than 700 employees of Oregon's fifth largest county could vote later this month to go on strike. The Marion County Employee Association says it's scheduled a strike vote for August 30.

Daily Inter Lake / FWS

Oregon is moving ahead with a proposed phase-out of commercial gillnetting along the Columbia River. A state fish and wildlife panel Tuesday gave the initial go-ahead to the proposal made by Gov. John Kitzhaber. The action comes as the governor tries to head off a more restrictive ballot measure.

Photo courtesy the Oregon Legislature

Reaction has been muted to news that several high-ranking Oregon House Republicans visited a topless bar while on vacation. It does explain why one GOP leader stepped down mysteriously. But as Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports, additional implications are not yet clear.

Photo by Chris Lehman. / Northwest News Network

In Oregon, the number of Latino Episcopalians has increased more than five-fold over the past decade. Church leaders say the influx is, in part, because the denomination's worship services look and sound familiar to Hispanics raised in the Catholic Church. But as Correspondent Chris Lehman reports, Northwest Episcopal Churches are luring Latinos with a focused marketing campaign.

The 10 o'clock high mass at Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon probably sounds a lot like it did when the congregation was founded nearly a century ago.

Northwest News Network

A Vancouver, Wash., man has been arrested for allegedly threatening a state Senate candidate. The Clark County sheriff's office took Gary Owen into custody Thursday on charges of sending two threatening emails to Eileen Qutub , a Republican. She described the letters as "vile" and "sexually perverted" and said that Owen threatened to shoot her in the head.

Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Hundreds gathered in Salem Tuesday evening to remember victims of the recent mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Sikh and non-Sikh speakers at the candlelight vigil emphasized peace and unity. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman spoke with some of those who attended the vigil.

Shelly Pollock

The costs of cleaning up Japanese tsunami debris along Northwest coasts are adding up. Oregon says it's reached the half-million dollar mark. And officials say debris is now being spotted in unexpected places.

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber will likely appeal a decision made Friday that a death row inmate can reject a reprieve. Last fall Kitzhaber issued a temporary moratorium on executions in Oregon just two weeks before two-time murderer Gary Haugen was scheduled to die. Haugen challenged the reprieve in court, saying he wants to be put to death.

Oregon Department of Corrections

An Oregon judge says death row inmate Gary Haugen has the right to reject a reprieve from Gov. John Kitzhaber. Circuit Court Judge Timothy Alexander's ruling Friday paves the way for a possible new execution date for the two-time murderer.

Oregon Department of Transportation

Two passenger trains commissioned by the state of Oregon are months behind schedule. The trains were due to arrive nearly two months ago and enter service this fall at a cost of $36 million. But they haven't even left the factory in Wisconsin yet.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

The Oregon State Police broke ground on a memorial Wednesday to honor fallen Oregon state troopers. A crowd of dignitaries listened somberly as the officers’ names were read aloud.

Northwest News Network

Oregon has been the most aggressive state in distributing federal funds aimed at preventing foreclosures. The state has tapped into nearly half of the $220 million it received under the “Hardest Hit” program. That's a higher rate than any of the other 17 states and Washington, D.C., that were awarded the funds.

Mitchell Laurren-Ring / Flickr

Northwest voters now have a better sense of which ballot measures they'll need to decide this fall. The Oregon Secretary of State's office announced Friday which initiatives qualified for the ballot. Voters in Washington and Idaho also have several statewide questions to consider.

Bureau of Economic Analysis

New figures out Friday show the U.S. economy is growing at a slower pace than previously thought. That's due in part to weak consumer spending and a rise in imports.

Kevin Mooney

Natural gas customers in the Northwest will pay even less to heat their homes this winter. That was the message Thursday from Oregon's three largest natural gas utilities. They issued their prediction at a meeting of the state’s Public Utility Commission.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

The Oregon Department of Revenue has disciplined four employees over their role in approving a fraudulent $2.1 million tax refund. The announcement Wednesday comes a day after the Salem woman who claimed the cash was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison.

Kristofer Björkman / Flickr

A newly certified initiative to allow non-tribal casinos in Oregon sets the stage for a possible showdown over gambling centers in the state. The Oregon Secretary of State's office announced Monday that it has certified an initiative for the ballot that could eventually lead to the region’s first full-service casino not operated by a tribe.

Some African-American hair stylists are objecting to an Oregon licensing rule that means they can't braid hair without taking a two-year course. And they’re asking state lawmakers to take up the cause.

Courtesy StateImpact Florida NPR.

Oregon has joined Washington and 31 other states in getting a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that it's approved Oregon's request for more flexibility. Oregon education officials say part of the aim is to shift away from penalizing schools for failing to meet rigid benchmarks. Ben Cannon is Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s the education policy advisor. He says the green light from the feds ends a period of uncertainty for school districts.

ODOT / Flickr

A joint effort in Oregon and Washington to make sure truckers are following safety rules turned up a higher than expected number of weary drivers. More than a quarter of drivers inspected in Oregon were found to be on the road when they shouldn't have been.

M.O. Stevens / Wikimedia Commons

This fall, Oregon voters will debate the future of one of the state’s most unusual tax policies. Oregon elections officials will soon announce whether an initiative to repeal the state's one-of-a-kind corporate kicker rebate has made the ballot. Backers submitted well over the number of signatures needed. But unlike one recent corporate tax measure, this initiative isn't generating much opposition yet.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon's capital city is echoing with the sounds of impromptu piano concerts this week. About a dozen brightly decorated street pianos are scattered about town. It's part of a worldwide phenomenon inspired by a British artist.

Hendrike / Wikimedia Commons

Marijuana initiative activists say Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is being too aggressive in tossing out petition signatures. One group filed a lawsuit Wednesday saying the rate of invalidated signatures will likely snuff out an initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession.

Jeffery Turner / Flickr

Oregonians facing foreclosure will soon have another tool to stay in their house. A law that takes effect Wednesday allows struggling homeowners the chance to look their lender in the eye.