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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Other News
4:48 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Rail line to Oregon coast set to re-open

Soon, trains will once again roll down the rail line to the Oregon coast port of Coos Bay. A key rail link that was abandoned four years ago is set to re-open this month.

The previous private owners of the 110-mile rail link abruptly shut it down in September of 2007 citing deteriorating tunnels and track conditions. The Port of Coos Bay bought the tracks and used about $25 million in state and federal money to rehab the line. The Port's Martin Callery says it means sawmills and other shippers in the region won't be dependant on trucks alone to get their products to market.

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Other News
3:47 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

Kitzhaber talks up unions, then tours non-union factory

EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber assured a gathering of blue-collar union workers Wednesday that he is still on their side, despite anti-union sentiment in states like Ohio and Wisconsin.

The Democrat spoke at the annual convention of the AFL-CIO in Eugene. He told the crowd unions helped him get elected to an unprecedented third term. The labor coalition endorsed Kitzhaber in last year’s elections.

The governor pledged to work with unions to create so-called “family-wage jobs.”

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Business
11:19 am
Mon September 26, 2011

Oregon plans to charge for the convenience of online commerce

SALEM, Ore. – When you renew a professional license or pay a government fee, you’re more likely these days to do it online. Now, the state of Oregon is banking on your willingness to pay extra for that convenience.

The state is getting ready to shift to a new model of funding many of its online services. But it's not clear yet who will pay the new fees, or how much they'll cost.

Oregon pays a high-tech company more than $2.5 million a year to run the state's website. But Oregon is switching to a different company, and the state won't pay it one dime.

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Environment
5:35 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

First responders get electric vehicle training

SALEM, Ore. - A car wreck that involves an electric vehicle or a hybrid can pose grave risks to emergency personnel. A group of first responders in Oregon got a training session Thursday on how to handle a high wattage accident.

It's no surprise that an electric car might have more electricity pulsating through it than a regular car. So, how much power does it take?

Matt Paiss of the National Fire Protection Association says an electric car can pack quite the punch.

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Dam removal
4:56 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Demolition of four dams on Klamath clears major hurdle

The J.C. Boyle Dam is one of four on the Klamath River that would be removed if the plan goes ahead.
Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

The effort to remove four dams along the Klamath River has come one step closer to reality.

The U.S. Department of the Interior released a series of long-awaited environmental impact studies today which conclude that removing the dams would boost salmon runs and improve water quality.

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Business
10:26 am
Fri September 16, 2011

Oregon eyes insurance rate increase

SALEM, Ore. - Customers of one of Oregon's largest health insurance companies may see a large rate increase soon. State insurance regulators held a rare public hearing Wednesday on the request by ODS Health Plan to hike its rates an average of 10 percent. A decision on the requested rate hike could come next month.

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Union unrest
9:49 am
Fri September 16, 2011

Oregon university workers relieved to avoid strike

MONMOUTH, Ore. - Public university employees in Oregon say they're glad they won't be going on strike. But that doesn't mean they're all happy with the tentative contract deal. Negotiators reached that settlement early Thursday morning after an all-night bargaining session.

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Education
1:24 pm
Thu September 15, 2011

Oregon universities avert SEIU strike

SALEM, Ore. – Negotiators have averted a potential strike at Oregon's seven public universities, at least for now. The Oregon University System and the union representing nearly 4,000 front-line employees agreed on a tentative two-year settlement early Thursday morning.

As the clock ticked past midnight, SEIU lead negotiator Marc Nisenfeld says it was clear the momentum was there for an agreement. So the bargaining team did everything they could to stay awake.

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Education
4:57 pm
Mon September 12, 2011

Strike vote nears at Oregon universities

SALEM, Ore. - Workers at Oregon’s seven state universities are nearing a possible strike authorization vote on Thursday. The union representing nearly four thousand higher ed workers issued a report Monday blasting the state's university system.

The SEIU accuses the Oregon University System of being top-heavy with administrators. The union also says the schools have gone on a building spree that means money that could fund services is now going to pay off construction debt.

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Education
8:13 pm
Mon September 5, 2011

Mentor programs reach fraction of young teachers

Eric Phillips welcomes mentor Karen Herinckx into his classroom at Judson Middle School in Salem.
Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. - An old proverb goes like this: "Each one, teach one." It means that everyone is responsible for passing along knowledge to the next generation. That's true in many professions. A senior surgeon will demonstrate a high-stakes operation to a young medical student. A veteran fire-fighter will show the ropes to a fresh-faced rookie.

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9/11 Anniversary
10:00 am
Fri September 2, 2011

Imam says 9/11 led to interfaith dialogue

Mikal Shabazz is an imam in Portland.
Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Reflections of a Muslim leader in Portland:

"As-Salamu Alaykum. That's 'Peace be unto you.' I'm Imam Mikal Shabazz, the director of the Oregon Islamic Chaplains Organization.

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Other News
5:44 pm
Thu September 1, 2011

Crash At memorial ceremony highlights dangers of distracted driving

JEFFERSON, Ore. - Two Oregon police officers killed along Interstate 5 by a drowsy driver ten years ago were honored with a memorial sign along the highway where they died. But in an ironic twist, people attending the ceremony got a vivid demonstration of the dangers of distracted driving.

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Protests
4:48 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Oregon rallies tell Congress to end corporate tax breaks

Demonstrators prepare to march to the Salem office of Democratic Congressman Kurt Schrader.
Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Members of Congress are getting an earful from their constituents during their summer recess. This week, a coalition of left-leaning groups is holding a series of rallies across Oregon.

The demonstrations are targeting members of Congress from both parties.

In Salem, a group marched toward the office of Democrat Kurt Schrader. The march was sponsored by an alliance of public employee unions and liberal activist groups.

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Elections 2012
1:15 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Gay marriage supporters court Latino community

SALEM, Ore. - Gay marriage supporters in Oregon are trying to win over support from the Latino community. They’re targeting Spanish speakers in a new radio ad campaign.

The ads mark the first concentrated effort to build support for gay marriage among the Hispanic community in Oregon.

Jeana Frazzini is executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. She says the effort comes as the organization considers whether to take a same-sex marriage initiative to the ballot next year.

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Budget crisis
12:16 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

Oregon economists predict $200 million revenue hit

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon economists say the recent turmoil on Wall Street is having an effect on the state’s finances. But it’s a small one so far. An economic forecast issued Friday shows a projected 200 million dollar drop in revenue.

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