Chris Lehman

Salem Correspondent

Chris stays on top of political developments in Salem. But that's not all he does. Breaking news from central Oregon to the Pacific Coast is fair game for this versatile reporter.

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Legal Marijuana
11:39 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Does Legalized Marijuana Put Washington Drivers At Risk Out Of State?

AP Photo

Some drivers from Washington and Colorado say they're being targeted by police when they cross into Idaho.

They claim it’s because their license plate shows they live two states that have legal marijuana, but that’s a hard thing to prove.

At least two Washington drivers say they were pulled over in Idaho on suspicion of using marijuana. In both cases, pot was not found and they were let go.

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Natural Disaster
9:10 pm
Sat March 29, 2014

Oso Landslide Death Toll Rises, Number Of Missing Drops

A dog works with searchers at the scene of a deadly mudslide Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Oso, Wash.
Elaine Thomopson AP Photo

The death toll has risen to 18 following the devastating landslide near Oso. One bright spot: The number of people missing has fallen dramatically, down to 30.

Searchers are still pulling bodies from the debris, sometimes in pieces. Steve Schertzinger, a chaplain with the nearby Marysville Police Department, described what it was like to deliver bad news to a grieving family member.

"We sat down and I just said, 'Well, the waiting is over.' And then I cried. I cried," he said.

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Liquor Privatization
5:00 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Study: Liquor Privatization Has Shaped Youth Perception Of Alcohol

In this Thursday, June 18, 2009 photo, assistant manager Bill Oldenburg stacks liquor on shelves at a north Seattle state liquor store Thursday, June 18, 2009.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Fewer teenagers in Washington say drinking alcohol is wrong, according to a survey taken after the state privatized liquor sales by two Northwest public health researchers.

The finding comes as Oregon voters are being asked to sign petitions for a similar liquor sales privatization.

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Same-Sex Marriage
1:54 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Oregon's Attorney General Won't Defend Same-Sex Marriage Ban

File - Mark Phariss, left, clutches the hand of partner Victor Holmes, right, as they talk to the media outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in San Antonio.
Eric Gay AP Photo

Oregon's Attorney General says she won't defend the state against federal lawsuits challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban. A ruling in the case could come this spring. 

Ten years ago Oregon voters changed the state's constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

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Avalanche Danger
1:38 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

What To Do If You're Caught In An Avalanche, And How To Avoid The Danger

In this Jan. 4, 2013 photo, evidence of sliding snow is seen in steep terrain near a ski area at Snoqualmie Pass in Washington state.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

 

As snow continues to pound the region's ski resorts, plenty of skiers are expected to hit the slopes. But with the increased snowpack comes the risk of avalanches.

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Columbia River Crossing
9:30 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Oregon Lawmakers Try To Resurrect Columbia River Crossing Plan

File image
AP Photo

 

Oregon lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday on the latest version of a plan to fund a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River.

The hearing even drew testimony from lawmakers on the Washington side of the river.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber says if the Legislature doesn't act by mid-March, he'll pull the plug on the project for the foreseeable future.

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Whale Watching
11:01 am
Fri December 27, 2013

3 Tips On Spotting A Migrating Gray Whale Along The Oregon Coast This Week

Mike Baird Flickr

The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is one of the best times of the year to watch grey whales migrating along the Oregon coast. It's the height of their annual southbound trek from Alaska to Baja, California.

Here are three tips to help better your chances of spotting a grey whale.

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Big Screen
5:01 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Move Over, Keanu: Oregon Trees, Shrubs Get Role In New Action Flick

Oregon-grown plants were used to re-create 18th Century Japan in scenes like this one from the movie "47 Ronin."

The makers of the new action flick "47 Ronin" didn't want to film their movie in Oregon. But that doesn't mean the state won't have a starring role. Oregon has a connection to a big-budget movie that hits theaters this week.

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Unemployment
4:01 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Long-Term Unemployed Face End Of Benefits

FILE - A job seeker grabs a flyer advertising a job at Orange County One Stop Center in Westminster, Calif., Friday, Jan. 4, 2013.
Jae C. Hong Associated Press

Unemployment benefits are about to run out for tens of thousands of Northwesterners. Without a Congressional extension, payments will stop later this month to people who've been without a job for more than six months.

The holiday season will mean an end to unemployment checks for about 1.3 million Americans, including about 45,000 jobless in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. State benefits are still intact, but those last no more than six months. These cuts affect people who, in some cases, have been looking for work for more than a year.

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higher education
11:21 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Improving Economy Means Lower Community College Enrollment

javacolleen Flickr

The improving employment picture in the Northwest isn't good news if you teach at a community college. Enrollment is dropping as more people head back to work. And that means there are fewer classes to teach.

Frank Goulard has taught math at Portland Community College for more than 30 years, so he knew what would happen when the economy started to tank five years ago.

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northwest farmers
2:01 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Cranberry Growers Wish Berries Weren't Just a Seasonal Delight

A worker at Cranguyma Farms in Long Beach, Washington, uses a wooden paddle to keep floating cranberries moving.
Bill Wagner Washington State University

One out of every five cranberries grown in the U.S. is eaten Thanksgiving week, according to industry giant Ocean Spray. Here in the Northwest, some cranberry farmers hope to convince Americans to eat more berries year-round.

You probably aren't a real cranberry farmer unless you eat a fair share yourself.

"We make them into our own sauce. We use them in salads, cranberry bread. We eat a lot of cranberries,” said Scott McKenzie, who has been harvesting the berries for nearly 20 years on his coastal farm near Port Orford, Oregon.

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small-town politics
1:00 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Meet the Homegrown Politicians Who Run a Tiny Northwest Town

Most of the streets in Prescott converge here.
Chris Lehman

Every morning, Jim Larson takes a walk around town. Down to the railroad tracks. Up the hill behind City Hall. There's hardly a sound.

The silence is not unusual for a weekday morning in Larson’s small town of Prescott, Oregon. There’s not even a morning rush hour.  

“No, because there isn't that many people even that work anymore, either,” Larson said. “Everybody up this hill that I live on, from my house up. Nobody works here; they're all retired."

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border to border
11:01 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Drug Cartels Thrive on Ultimate Consumers: Addicts

Recovering addict Kevin Lehl says he found it easier to find heroin in Portland, Ore. than coffee shops.
Chris Lehman

Editor's Note: Drug traffickers are doing big business up and down the West Coast. When you go by freeway, you’re driving a Silk Road of sorts for heroin, meth, and cocaine. This export industry is evolving. Drug experts say heroin is back on the rise, fueled in part by prescription drug abuse.

This week, in a series we call Border to Border Drugs, we’re reporting on drug-trafficking rings that rely on every freeway in the West. In part two of the series, correspondent Chris Lehman reports on how the supply side of this business may change, but the demand remains strong.

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Heavy-duty prescription painkillers have something in common with heroin. They're both opiates, and the effect they have on people who get hooked is similar. One difference? Heroin is usually cheaper and easier to get. That was true for Portlander Kevin Lehl. He says he got hooked as a teen when he was prescribed opiates to treat chronic pain.

"I was in love with it from the very beginning,” Lehl said.

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fun at the fair
7:01 am
Sat August 31, 2013

'Cow Olympics' at Oregon State Fair Test Bovine-Handler Bond

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

There’s an unusual sporting event at the Oregon State Fair that involves athletes that could end up on your dinner table.

With just moments left until the “Cow Olympics,” the cattle were clearly restless. Before them was a six-part obstacle course.

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same-sex couple's rights
2:59 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

IRS Ruling Could Mean Upswing in Same-Sex Marriages in Wash.

Retired U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Nancy Monahan, right, wears her dress uniform as she holds her marriage license and stands with her soon-to-be bride Deb Needham as they wait at Seattle City Hall, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

County officials who issue marriage licenses in Washington state are gearing up for a possible influx of new applicants following the Internal Revenue Services’ ruling that states gay marriage will be recognized across state lines for federal tax purposes.

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