Jess Lasky

News Fellow

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014.  The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science.  Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.

Fun fact:  "I own all the Pokemon GameBoy games...and still play them!"

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Health
2:13 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Lack of Donations to Ebola Crisis Could be for Emotional Reasons

Ebola has killed thousands of people in West Africa — yet the absence of victims’ names and faces could be just one reason why large numbers of people have not been donating money to the fight the outbreak.

“Unlike many natural disasters that we have seen in the past with massive outpouring of donations support, we’re not seeing people making donations … it’s something that everybody’s talking about, but it’s not driving us to donate,” said Nicole Coleman, assistant professor of business and marketing at University of Pittsburgh.

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Education Innovation
1:03 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

'Unconference' Promotes Unconventional Approaches to Learning

The Ellis School in Shadyside focuses on unconventional approaches to learning, not only in the classroom, but also for its upcoming “Unconference” where techniques already implemented in their classrooms will be used to address education challenges.

The school will host the “unconference”  Saturday to attempt to solve problems such as how to decrease the fear of failure, and how to show, not tell students.

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Ebola Outbreak
3:09 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Pittsburgh Charity Ships Supplies to Fight Ebola

A Pittsburgh-based charity is continuing its efforts to help fight the spread of Ebola in Africa. Brother’s Brother Foundation (BBF), which provides medical supplies, food and other humanitarian goods to countries around the world, will load another container of donated medical supplies and equipment  Tuesday for hospitals and clinics in Freetown, Sierra Leone. 

“If they know that more [medical supplies are] coming they will just use it faster and they’ll use it better, which means more protection for both the patient and the caregiver,” said BBF President Luke Hingson.

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Mobile Medical
1:31 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

New Mobile Medical Unit to Take to the Streets

The new 39-foot $310,000 RV sits outside of PMHS

A doctor’s office on wheels, which looks just like an RV on the outside, is taking to the streets Monday.

Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s (PMHS) new mobile medical unit features: three private examine rooms, one for therapy and psychiatric evaluation, and the other two are physical exam rooms, one of which can double as a dental clinic.

“For all practical purposes, the luxury on the inside is as good as any physician’s office in town, but it offers that level of care to people who don’t normally get it,” said PMHS CEO Ray Wolfe.

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Unions
2:25 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Security Officers Seek Unionization

When an emergency strikes a skyscraper the pressure is on for the in-house safety workers to act quickly, but if the building’s security officers don’t even know where the elevator keys are, first responders could remain stuck on the first floor looking for keys.

On Wednesday, security officers from several downtown Pittsburgh buildings rallied outside of the PPG building with paramedics, elected officials, clergy, and firefighters to encourage unionization.

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Big Read
12:05 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Reading Day In Pittsburgh

Reading will be celebrated at the Carnegie Library in Oakland Tuesday October 7th as the Community College of Allegheny County joins forces with local libraries, high schools and correctional institutions to promote literacy in our county through its program The Big Read in Pittsburgh.

“Literature is transformative by its very nature, but to have different people and races connect with a novel, it allows them to ignite a love of reading through engaging activities,” said Barbara Evans, Big Read Project Director at CCAC. 

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DCNR Public Meet
12:02 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

4-Year Plan From DCNR Looks for Public Feedback

Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is working on a 4-year Recreation Plan, and Pittsburghers have a chance to comment on the ideas before it is implemented.

The DCNR with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy will host an event to take public comments on Thursday October 9th at the Schenley Park Skating Rink.

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Environment
2:11 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Fall Foliage in PA to Take Off Soon

The leaves on the trees have taken on their fall colors as seen over a stream Oct. 14, 2011 near Kingston, Pa.
Credit AP Photo/Alex Brandon

It’s October, and that means it’s time for cider, sweaters, pumpkins and colorful leaves, but for the Pittsburgh area it might be a couple more weeks before the yellows, oranges and reds really emerge.

Rachael Christie, Environmental Education Specialist at the 58,000 acre Forbes State Forest in Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland Counties, predicts this year will be great for fall colors, “we’ve had the cooler nights, and we’ve had the nice sunny days as well. So [this is] very ideal fall weather patterns to have some really beautiful fall foliage.”

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PSP Award
4:05 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Point State Park in Top 10 for Design

After a 12-year $35 million renovation effort, Point State Park has been named nationally as one of the “10 Great Public Spaces of 2014” by the American Planning Association.

Lisa Schroeder, President and CEO of Riverlife, says the restoration was much needed.

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Government & Politics
3:34 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

State Rep. Costa Advocates for Raising the Minimum Wage in PA

To earn a living wage for a family of four while only making minimum wage, the two adults in that family would each have to work 68 hours a week. Another option, according to state Rep. Dom Costa (D-Allegheny), is to raise the current $7.25 minimum wage so that families in Pennsylvania could buy groceries and live comfortably while earning minimum wage.

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Community
3:30 am
Mon September 29, 2014

County Promotes Child Development Through 'Use Your Words' Campaign

Talking to your baby could be one of the best things a parent can do developmentally, and to help get that idea across Allegheny County the Department of Human Services has launched what it is calling the “Use Your Words” campaign.

The campaign encourages parents to talk to their infant about things that they are doing. For instance “I am cutting up orange carrots” in an expressive manner is the best way to help children develop.

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Arts & Culture
1:41 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

PA Helps Heinz Hall Makover

All the great "character" that comes with Heinz Hall being an 87-year-old building originally built as a cinema, has also led to some problems functioning as a modern-day theater, but Tuesday the state awarded $1.5 million to help with some renovations.

“You cannot walk from the backstage area to the front of the house if you are in anyway at all incapacitated, and so if you cannot go up and down steps you really literally have to go out through the parking garage, and come into the lobby area,” said James Wilkinson, CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

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Community
6:10 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Black Political Empowerment Project Wants August Wilson Center To Go To Foundations

B-PEP CEO Tim Stevens talks about B-PEP's stance in not making the August Wilson Center into a hotel.
Credit Jess Lasky

Facing more than $9 million in debt, a possible foreclosure and two proposals for solutions, the August Wilson Center for African American Culture’s fate rests in the hands of the legal system, and the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) is urging that the center be left for it's original purposes.  

On Sept. 29 a trial will determine if the AWC has to uphold covenants that were set in place to protect the center when it was built just five years ago.

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Science
3:30 am
Mon September 22, 2014

CMU Professor Awarded $2.4M Grant For Artificial Lung Research

Fewer than 2,000 people receive a lung transplant yearly, yet 200,000 people die every year from lung disease, and to lessen this number, a Carnegie Mellon University researcher has received a $2.4 million grant to research artificial lungs.

CMU associate professor Keith Cook received the grant after demonstrating the device lasted longer than two weeks, compared to most other artificial lungs that normally only last a few days, which will allow patients to use the device at home.

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Deer Crashes
1:27 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Deer Crashes Expected to Increase in PA

Driving in Pittsburgh is notoriously difficult, and increased deer collisions are only going to make it more difficult for people to avoid crashes, especially as deer activity starts to rise during the fall.

Pennsylvania has climbed the chart for highest projected deer crashes, rising from number five, now to number two, according to the 2014 State Farm Deer Collision Report which predicts the number of crashes that will happen during the fall season.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon September 15, 2014

UPMC, Pitt Team Up To Study Concussion Screening Tool

New helmets, devices and regulations are coming out increasingly as people learn more about the severity of concussions, and as part of the trend UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh have been working together to study the effectiveness of a new concussion screening tool. 

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Community
3:30 am
Mon September 15, 2014

United Way Mentoring Program Has Expanded, and It Needs Volunteers

To keep Pittsburgh kids on track as yet another school year picks up speed, United Way’s middle school mentoring program has expanded to two more Pittsburgh Public Schools, Brookline and Colfax.

As part of the expansion the program is looking for more mentors to visit their mentees at 1 of the 14 participating schools at least once a week from October-May.

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Economy & Business
3:30 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Accelerator Program At Duquesne University To Focus On Minority Entrepreneurs

From 1990 to 2012, the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in America tripled from 577,000 to more than 2.0 million, and to address the growing population a new accelerator program at Duquesne University will focus on minority entrepreneurs.  

“Really what an accelerator means is that, you’re going to intervene and offer services that are really going to… accelerate the growth of that business, beyond what they might be able to do alone,” said SBDC Director Mary McKinney.

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Health
2:17 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

As Flu Season Approaches, ACHD Says Get a Shot

As the cooler weather moves in so do the heavier jackets and sniffles, and the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD)  is gearing up for the coming flu season by offering vaccinations.

Starting Monday (9/15) the ACHD’s vaccine clinic in Oakland will provide flu shots for $25.

“The single best way to protect against the flu is to vaccinate people, and it’s recommended for everyone six months of age and older,” said Sharon Silvestri, the Chief of Infectious Disease at Allegheny Health Department.

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Hill Cap
1:59 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Grant For Park Over 579 Smaller Than Expected

In 1961 the Hill District was cut off from downtown with the building of the Civic Area, and with the demolition of the arena developers have been drawing up plans to hopefully reconnect the two.

The city has been granted $1.5 million to hire engineers to start drawing up plans to being bidding for the construction of a cap that will be installed over 579 between downtown and the old Civic Area.

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Welcome Pitt
2:24 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Welcome Exhibit in City County Building

Women from the Turkish Cultural Center painted on water and then transferred the images to pieces of paper to celebrate their heritage
Jess Lasky

  Mayor William Peduto has officially named this week “National Welcoming Week” in Pittsburgh, and as part of the week the City County Building is hosting an exhibit showcasing some immigrants to Allegheny County for the next month.

“What better way than to open up city hall and promote that message of immigrant integration, so that passersby, just regular people who are coming in and out of our building are getting to see the faces of our growing immigrant community,” said Betty Cruz, nonprofit and faith-based manager for the mayor’s office.

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Children's Mental Health
12:59 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

$4 Million Dollar Program for Children's Health Comes to Allegheny County

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare has chosen Allegheny County as the pilot site for Project LAUNCH, a new program focused on the mental and behavioral health of children. The effort will be seeded by a $4 million federal grant and will be augmented by an estimated $50,000 "in-kind" contribution from the county.

The project will focus on children ages 0-8, and will combine at home nursing care, screenings, and various promotions about metal health.

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Education
2:47 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

New Program for PA Schools Aims to Prevent Dropouts

According to the state Department of Education, a high school dropout earns $1 million less than a college graduate over a lifetime, so to aid students in the long run Pennsylvania school districts were invited to participate in a new voluntary program aimed at preventing middle schoolers from developing habits that could eventually lead to them dropping out.  

35 school districts and charter schools in 23 counties will participate in the Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog for this school year.

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Higher Education
3:30 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Best Colleges List Puts PA in the Top

A Pittsburgh based company known for its reviews of colleges and universities has released its list of the 100 Best Overall Colleges and it includes a pair from Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Niche.com, also known as College Prowler, looked at more than 2,000 4-year non-profit colleges.

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Election 2014
3:53 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Wolf Talks Taxes, Job Training and Medicaid Expansion in Pittsburgh Stop

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf made a campaign trip to Pittsburgh Friday, and the topics of discussion were as diverse as the site of his stop.

Wolf toured the Bidwell Training Center in Manchester which offers students career-learning opportunities in fields ranging from chemical laboratory technician to the culinary arts, from horticultural to jazz.

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Pitt Clothes
2:01 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Students Activists Change Clothing Standards at Pitt

Sporting a pair of Toms will sometimes make you feel like you’re helping out those who are less fortunate, and the clothing sold by the University of Pittsburgh could be headed in that same wholesome clothing direction. Pitt has given its apparel licensees an ultimatum that many hope will make safety a priority in factories where the clothing is made.

Since the fall of 2012 students with the Pitt chapter of Americans for Informed Democracy have been advocating for the University to make changes to its licensee agreement through the #NoSweat Coalition.

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Pittsburgh
5:56 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Bike Racks (With a Twist) To Be Installed In The Cultural District

Bike design to be placed in Cultural District-- design by Will Schlough

The Cultural District is adding to the “culture” with locally designed bike racks. The racks come in all shapes and sizes, including one that looks like the Fort Duquesne Bridge and another standing 6ft tall.  

The first of the bike racks will be installed on Tuesday, while the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust begins the search for more racks to be placed downtown.

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Transportation
3:30 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Pennsylvania Railways to Receive Millions in Funding

Nearly $35.9 million in state funding has been approved for rail freight improvements. The grants will help support about 34,000 jobs in Pennsylvania.

“Freight rail is actually very important in Pennsylvania, because we have the highest number of short-line railroads in the entire country, and we’re in the top five as far as the number of miles we have of track,” said Penndot spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt, “so we need to keep investing in those resources, because they support good paying jobs and they keep goods moving through our state.”

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Community
3:30 am
Mon August 25, 2014

New Pittsburgh Welcoming Council Formed

In an effort to make Pittsburgh more welcoming, a 40-member-council has been formed to listen to ideas, implement changes and make new residents feel at home. 

“It’s part of what’s called ‘Welcoming America,’ which is a national movement to bring on cities and counties across the country to get them to commit to become more welcoming in their practices to their foreign born residents and really to encourage immigrant integration,” said Betty Cruz, nonprofit and faith-based manager for the mayor’s office.

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Community
9:30 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Coming to Pittsburgh This Fall: Zombies, Craft Beer and Much More

There are still five weeks left before summer is over, but Pittsburgh is already gearing up for the holiday season and many more events throughout 2015 with zombies, quartets and craft beers.  

With Halloween not far off, nationally-recognized Scarehouse is amping up the Zombies.  Scarehouse is using their 100-year-old building, former "Elks Lodge No. 932" which is alleged haunted and taking the building back to the 30’s with props from the era.

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