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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Northwest farmers and orchardists are among the potential beneficiaries if the U.S. and Cuba normalize their relationship and the trade embargo ends.

They're among many still trying to sort out what President Obama's announcement Wednesday of changes in Cuba policy could mean for them.

Northwest lawmakers voted along party lines as the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to reject a plan to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Fourteen Democrats voted with all 45 Republicans in the Senate to approve it, but the plan was one vote shy of the minimum needed to send the measure to the president. 

Gosia Wozniacka / AP Photo

Oregon’s first lady said she committed a federal crime 17 years ago. Cylvia Hayes told reporters Thursday that she married a man for the sole purpose of helping him get a green card.

She said the confession came as a surprise even to the man who, this summer, became her fiancé: the governor of Oregon.

Chris Lehman

The town of Gold Hill, Oregon is in turmoil. Two-thirds of its city council is the subject of a recall election come Monday.

What has some of the 1,200 residents of Gold Hill so riled up? The targeted city leaders had voted to approve a medical marijuana dispensary.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Changes are coming to the federal government's no-fly list, but it’s not yet clear what those changes will be.

It all stems from a ruling this summer by a federal judge in Portland. One of the plaintiffs was turned away from a flight after an airline agent said he was on the no-fly list. The man sued after he couldn't even get the government to confirm whether he was on the list, much less why.

The campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon kicked off a multi-million dollar advertising effort Monday.

New Approach Oregon appears to be following the same tactic used by the successful legalization effort in Washington state. The strategy seems to be that if you want to legalize pot, find someone like Richard Harris to make your case. He's the former director of Addictions and Mental Health Services for the state of Oregon.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

It's August, which means state fair season is underway in the Northwest. From new names to lower ticket prices, fair organizers are trying hard to get people through the gates.

AP Photo

Federal funds are being used to help fight the wildfires that have raged across the Northwest this summer. But so far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency isn't handing out money directly to owners of the nearly 200 homes lost in the blazes.


Whether it’s due to negligence or arson, thousands of wildfires each year are caused by humans. And the person or business who starts a fire can expect a bill.

Jeff Bonebrake is with the Oregon Department of Forestry. It's his job to investigate how a fire started. Once that’s pinned down, he figures out who pays and how much. He says the bulk of the charges are for firefighter salaries and equipment use.

Ed Andrieski / AP Photo

An Oregon political campaign wants your digital donations. The group behind the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana says it's now accepting bitcoin contributions.

Chris Lehman

Farmers across the country are riled up over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to revise the 1972 Clean Water Act.

Depending on who you talk to, these revisions are either a “land grab” under the “brute force” of the federal government or a simple clarification of rules that ensure all Americans have clean water to drink.

Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Oregon voters may get the chance to require food companies to label products that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Sponsors of an initiative to require labels turned in more than 150,000 signatures — nearly double the required minimum — Wednesday in an effort to make the ballot this November. Opponents have already denounced the measure.

Douglas Forest Protective Association

Hot and dry conditions are expected to create above-normal wildfire conditions in parts of the Northwest this summer. While relatively few people will have to flee the flames, many more will experience a side effect of the fires: thick, acrid smoke.

AP Photo/Redwood National and State Parks, Laura Denn

Redwood burl poaching has long been an issue in the Redwood National Park in California. But now a conservation group says it has spotted evidence of this type of tree damage in a national forest in Oregon.

Burls are the knobby growths sometimes found at the base of the towering trees. They're highly valued for their intricate designs; cross-sections are used to make furniture or artwork.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

The surprising upset for House Majority leader Eric Cantor has the GOP looking for a possible successor.

Pundits are already throwing a few names around as possible replacements, including two Northwest lawmakers who have prominent roles in the House Republican leadership. But neither is likely to seek a promotion.

Fewer prisoners serve their entire prison sentence behind bars in Oregon than in any other state according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Oregon also supervises its newly released inmates more than any other state. 

Just a handful of prison inmates in Oregon serve their entire sentence behind bars. The vast majority are released under some form of post-prison supervision.

Steve Dykes / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court won't block same-sex marriages in Oregon. The high court on Wednesday turned down a request to halt gay marriages in the state. 

Steve Dykes / AP Photo

Same-sex couples are getting married in Oregon now that a federal judge has overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.

Shortly after noon on Monday, the news broke to crowds gathered in Portland that U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled the law violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.

Chris Lehman

Same-sex couples can now marry legally in Oregon after a federal judge Monday overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.

Weddings began almost immediately. County clerks started issuing marriage licenses minutes after U.S. District Judge Michael McShane issued his opinion. Same-sex couples lined up outside marriage license offices in Portland and Eugene in anticipation of a ruling in their favor.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

New housing starts are a key economic indicator, but not all new houses are created the same. A new report issued Friday shows Washington and Oregon are following a national shift away from single-family homes toward more apartment complexes.

Multi-family buildings, defined as those with five housing units or more, make up more than one-third of new residential construction in both states. The number has nearly doubled over the past decade.

Chris Lehman

A federal judge in Eugene, Oregon has denied a national group's attempt to defend Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said the National Organization of Marriage failed to prove why it should be allowed to intervene in the case.

Seth Wenig / AP Photo

The number of preschoolers enrolled in state-funded early childhood education programs is dropping nationally. A national study released Tuesday shows that Northwest states are holding steady in terms of overall enrollment but continue to rank near the bottom in some key areas.

Wednesday could be a big day in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Oregon. A federal judge in Eugene will hear arguments from a group that wants to defend a voter-approved ban on gay marriage. 

Four same-sex couples sued the state to overturn the 2004 ballot measure that defined marriage as only between one man and one woman. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum declined to defend the law. As a result, a national group filed a last-minute motion to be allowed to defend the measure on the state's behalf.

Chris Lehman

Twentysomethings get a bad rap these days. You know the stereotypes: heads buried in their smartphone, sleeping in their parents' basement, too apathetic to care about anything — especially getting involved in politics.

Chantal Andrea

A national group that opposes same-sex marriage is trying to intervene in a case scheduled to go before a federal judge in Oregon this week.

Oregon voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage a decade ago and on Wednesday in Eugene, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane is set to hear oral arguments to overturn the law.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.