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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A new political group will appear on the Oregon presidential ballot this fall. The Oregon Secretary of State's office announced Thursday that Americans Elect has submitted enough valid signatures to qualify. But voters will have to wait a little longer to find out who the party's candidate will be.

"Americans Elect" calls itself a non-partisan organization that's trying to give Americans a third option for president. The group says it will hold an internet primary to select a candidate next month.

Photo credit: Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

A group that's against logging on state owned forest lands drew a crowd of onlookers at the Oregon State Capitol Thursday morning. A member of Cascadia Forest Defenders climbed a flagpole and draped a large banner that read "Schools versus Trees? We want both!”

Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

There’s a lot of news lately about conservative challengers to Republican “establishment” candidates. This week, Indiana Senator Dick Lugar lost to a Tea Party backed opponent.

But it’s not just a Republican phenomenon. In next week’s Oregon primary election, a Democratic state representative is facing a serious challenge after frequently riling members of his own party. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Photo credit: Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

More people are dying from overdoses of prescription painkillers. Some Northwest hospitals say they're combating the problem by drastically reducing the amount of prescriptions they write for the medications. Salem Hospital is the latest.

Experts say many users become addicted after initially taking painkillers for legitimate medical reasons. That's what happened to Matt Harp. He hurt his back playing college baseball. His doctor realized Harp was becoming addicted, but the Oregon man told a Salem news conference he simply visited different doctors and hospitals.

Oregon, Washington and Idaho are among the 44 states splitting a $100 million settlement with pharmaceutical giant Abbott Labs. The agreement announced Monday resolves a dispute over the company's marketing of a drug called Depakote .

Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Fifteen Oregon schools may have to change their sports imagery soon. A state panel could vote later this month [May 17] on whether to ban Native American-themed mascots. The proposal faces resistance, as Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman found on a visit to the Willamette Valley town of Molalla.

This fall, Denise Everhart's son will become the fifth generation in his family to attend Molalla High School. He plans to play football.

Everhart: "He will be on the field as an Indian."

The federal government has agreed to pump nearly $2 billion into Oregon's experiment at changing the way it delivers health care to low income people. The news Thursday came after Governor John Kitzhaber and three other state officials flew to Washington to personally lobby for the cash.

Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber says he'll convene a workgroup to study possible changes to the state's driver's license laws for undocumented immigrants. That news prompted cheers at a May Day rally in front of the state capitol Tuesday evening. Thousands of people marked the day with demonstrations in Salem, along with other cities across the Northwest. Correspondent Chris Lehman has this report from the march in Salem.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is weighing his options for what comes next, now that Attorney General John Kroger has announced he'll step down from the job. It's the first time in 20 years that a sitting Attorney General has left the job early.

Photo courtesy of CRITFC

A coalition of tribal groups says sea lions are eating far more salmon along the Columbia River than previously thought. The claim comes in a legal fight over whether wildlife officials should be killing some of the hungry sea lions.

Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Democrats will once again be virtually assured of choosing the next state Attorney General during their primary next month. That's because for the second election cycle in a row, no Republicans entered the race.

Photo Credit: O'Dea / Wikimedia Commons

A candidate for Oregon state Attorney General faces an unusual new opposition campaign. Democrat Dwight Holton has become the target of medical marijuana activists. Holton faces retired judge Ellen Rosenblum in the May Democratic primary.

Photo credit: Oregon DOC / Oregon Department of Corrections

An Oregon death row inmate will make an unusual argument in court Wednesday. Gary Haugen says Governor John Kitzhaber overstepped his authority by halting all executions in the state.

Two time convicted murderer Gary Haugen was set to die by lethal injection last December. But two weeks before the scheduled execution, Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber put Oregon's death penalty on hold. The governor wants lawmakers and the public to reexamine the state's capital punishment system.

Photo credit: Postdlf / Wikimedia commons

SEATTLE, Wash. -- A group that opposes same-sex marriage is taking its boycott of Starbucks to the other side of the world. The National Organization For Marriage is upset that the Seattle-based coffee chain has come out in favor of legalizing gay marriage in Washington state as well as nationally.

Photo courtesy of Lebanon High School

An Oregon School District is digging in its heels against a proposed state ban on Native American mascots. The School Board in the Willamette Valley farm town of Lebanon will consider a resolution Thursday to reject the ban.

Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

PORTLAND - The Northwest has long been a draw for people moving here from other parts of the United States. That continues to be a key driver of the region’s economy. Despite high unemployment rates, Oregon and Washington still lure folks from the Midwest and elsewhere. And they bring in new money and job skills. In a collaboration with public radio's Changing Gears, Chris Lehman introduces us to some rust belt transplants to the Northwest.

Photo Credit: Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Environmental groups are mobilizing against proposals to export coal through Northwest terminals. Protesters rallied outside a land use meeting in Salem Monday. They're asking Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to block permits for several coal terminals.

Photo Credit: M.O. Stevens / Wikimedia commons

The state of Oregon is getting a robust response from health care providers to re-shape the way Oregon provides medical services to low income people. Before a deadline this week, state health administrators received more than 50 proposals to create regional collaborations. The strategy is part of Governor John Kitzhaber’s so-called health-care transformation. Salem correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Image source: U.S. Census Bureau

Americans are pouring over the newly released data from the 1940 Census. Demand was so high Monday that the National Archives website crashed. But as correspondent Chris Lehman reports, many people in the Northwest have an extra challenge in finding information about their relatives.

Photo credit: Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. - Corrections officials in Olympia and Salem are bracing for an expected increase in prisoners. The Washington Department of Corrections is predicting a need for 900 more beds in the next four years. And a new report issued Friday confirms an earlier forecast that Oregon will need housing for 2,000 more inmates by the end of the decade.

Photo credit: Flickr user vvvracer / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Sales are brisk across the Northwest for Friday's MegaMillions drawing. The $540 million lottery jackpot is being called the largest in world history. The high-profile jackpot also means state lotteries of Oregon, Washington and Idaho are anticipating a payday of their own.

Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – The governor's mansion in Oregon has tested positive for elevated levels of radon. Technicians found the readings Wednesday when they picked up monitors left in the basement of the stately, two-story home known as Mahonia Hall. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

PORTLAND - An Oregon health agency is recommending the use of doulas as a way to reduce infant mortality among low-income and ethnic minority households. Correspondent Chris Lehman explains what a doula actually is and whether there's any money in the health care bureaucracy to pay for them.

Photo credit: Timothy Ellis/Flickr / Northwest News Network

Home prices continue to fall in the Northwest. New figures released show yet another drop in both Seattle and Portland.

The S&P/Case-Schiller Index measures housing prices in 20 large metropolitan areas around the country. The newest figures are through January and in them, both Seattle and Portland hit new lows for the current economic downturn. Average home prices in both cities are down about four percent from a year ago. Steve Thoele is an agent with Keller-Williams Realty in Portland. He blogs about housing trends in Oregon.

Photo Credit: M.O. Stevens / Wikimedia commons

SALEM, Ore. – The state of Oregon says one of its largest cities discriminated against fire fighters because they were National Guard members. The Oregon Department of Justice announced a settlement Wednesday with the City of Salem that puts the city under close federal scrutiny for the next three years.

Photo by Wikipedia user: 350z33 / Wikipedia

SALEM, Ore. – The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday heard arguments about whether killers in their early teens can receive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Meanwhile, in Oregon, five teenage murderers are getting a chance at an earlier release date. The first of those young killers went before the Oregon Parole Board Tuesday. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman was there.

Image courtesy of pool video feed

SALEM, Ore. – Five Oregon murderers are getting a chance at an earlier parole date. They are inmates who are serving life sentences for crimes committed when they were teens. Two of the killers went before the Oregon Parole Board Tuesday. It’s the latest step in an ongoing controversy over how to treat these offenders.

Harvey McDaniel / Wikimedia

The west coast is poised for a dramatic uptick in so-called "clean economy" jobs. That's the prediction issued Wednesday by the leaders of Oregon, Washington, California and British Columbia. But as Correspondent Chris Lehman reports, it's not clear if the region can actually pull it off.

Photo Credit: Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

High winds knocked out power for tens of thousands of people in northwest Oregon and western Washington Monday. The National Weather Service reported gusts of more than 80 miles-per-hour on the Oregon coast.

Photo credit: USFWS / USFWS

Bald eagles are no longer considered threatened by the state of Oregon. The state's Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Friday to remove the iconic bird from the state list of endangered species.

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