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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Veterans
3:30 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Veterans to Receive Priority with Public Housing

Homelessness among veterans has increased in Pennsylvania by 46.2 percent since 2009 according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. To combat this growing number, a bill was just passed unanimously by the state Senate which would give veterans preferential treatment for public housing.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Sun July 13, 2014

New Law Raises Minimum Sentences For Hit-And-Run Drivers

Drivers who flee the scene of a vehicular homicide now face a stiffer sentence after Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation last Monday that raised the sentence to a minimum of three years in jail.

“Kevin’s Law” is to honor a 5-year-old boy, from Wilkes-Barre, who was killed 18 months ago by a driver who drove away after the accident. Authorities finally caught the man who killed the boy, but he was sentenced to less than a year because of a loophole. Kevin Miller’s parents advocated for change.

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Government & Politics
9:49 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Legislation Addresses Affordable Housing Needs

As the housing market continues to rebound after the 2008 recession, some Pennsylvanian residents are still in need of affordable housing.

Currently in Pennsylvania there is a shortage of about 268,000 affordable housing units, according to Liz Hersh, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.

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Overshadowed by the Budget
9:14 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Bill Would Give Counties More Help With Blight

Special series: This week we're exploring legislative action taken recently in Harrisburg on important bills that were overshadowed by the passage of the state budget.

Most cities are plagued by blighted and abandoned properties, but who is responsible to demolish them after the owner is nowhere to be found? Senate bill 1442 could solve these issues with a fee on foreclosed properties.

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Transportation
2:34 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Parkway West Construction Gets Underway

As PennDOT nears completion on the two-year long, $49 million rehabilitation of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels next month, it’s beginning work Wednesday evening on the first of three Parkway West (I-376) projects.

One outbound lane will be closed as workers install traffic control signs Wednesday and Thursday from midnight until 5 a.m.

This first project involves construction of a fourth outbound lane, about a mile long, from Rosslyn Farms to I-79. PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said he expects this part of the $3.72 million project to be completed by the spring.

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Community
7:54 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Camp Offers Military Kids Week To Ease Stress

Pennsylvania is home to 32,000 military kids who move around, don’t see their parents for months at a time, and are plagued with worry of a parent dying while in service of their country. That’s why YMCA Camp Soles in Somerset County offers a discounted week to kids in military families.

This week 65 kids ages 7-15 who are part of a military family get to enjoy zip lining, rock climbing, a nature center, arts and crafts and many more camp activities. Executive Director of the camp, Ryan Hove, says it gives them a chance to be normal kids.

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Overshadowed by the Budget
3:30 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Medical Marijuana Bill Closer to Floor Vote

Special series: This week we're exploring legislative action taken recently in Harrisburg on important bills that were overshadowed by the passage of the state budget.

For the first time bill to legalize medical marijuana has made it out of committee, and some state Senate members are confident that they can get it passed soon.

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Health
9:29 am
Sun July 6, 2014

CMU Start-Up Aims For Healthier Kids

The Allegheny Health Department reported that 30% of school age kids in the county are obese or overweight, and a new Pittsburgh start-up aims to address this issue with animated characters shaped like food and 6 years of research at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).  

Fitwits combines stories, games, and instructions for parents and professionals on how to deal with the sensitive subject of obesity.

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Haze Plan
8:44 am
Sat July 5, 2014

Environmental Groups File Second Lawsuit Against EPA

Haze reduction plans are meant to protect class one nature areas, such as Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia.
Credit Flickr user smilin7h

Since 1990, the Clean Air Act has reduced emissions of six common pollutants by 41%, but according to a handful of environmental groups, Pennsylvania is not doing its job when it comes to haze.

Earthjustice, on behalf of the Clean Air Council, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Sierra Club, has filed a second lawsuit against the EPA for its approval of a haze plan that they say does not meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

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Keystones
3:28 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Legislation to Change Keystone Exam Requirements

Passing the Keystone Exams might never become a requirement to graduate from high school in Pennsylvania. The State Senate Education Committee has approved legislation that would leave it up to school districts to determine the effects of not passing the exam.

Currently Pennsylvania has started to implement the exams, but if Senate Bill 1450 is not passed the tests will determine if a student can graduate starting in 2017.

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Truancy Bill
3:27 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Truancy Penalties Reconsidered After Death of Reading Woman

The death of a 55-year-old mother of seven has led to the proposal of new legislation in the PA Senate, which would eliminate sending parents of frequently truant children to jail.

Some school districts in Pennsylvania have a policy where a child who is absent without an excuse for an excessive number of days must appear before a magisterial district judge, and the parents of the child could be fined.

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Business
2:39 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Last Steel Beam Placed Atop PNC's New Headquarters

A construction worker signs the last steel beam to be placed atop the Tower at PNC Plaza on Tuesday.
Chris Squier 90.5 WESA

Hard hats and neon vests filled the Fifth and Wood intersection in downtown Pittsburgh Tuesday morning as construction workers placed the last beam on the Tower at PNC Plaza.

The project is far from complete. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on the inside before 2,200 PNC corporate workers can fill the 33-story building, which will serve as the new headquarters. The project will be finished by mid-2015, according to Bill Demchak, PNC chairman, president and CEO.

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Religion & Faith
5:01 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Holds Third Annual Fortnight For Freedom

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is holding its third annual Fortnight for Freedom, which promotes religious freedoms for all according to the church. This year the theme is freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable, in accordance with the Catholic teachings.

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Housing
3:30 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Millions in Tax Credits Will Build New Homes

Construction will begin on three housing projects in Allegheny County by the end of the year thanks to $2.7 million in tax credits from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority (PHFA).

“There will be a significant number of construction jobs and then obviously the jobs that will be necessary in order to run the projects. In total it’s about $33 million dollars’ worth of development so, it will be fairly significant in terms of job creation,” said Dennis Davin, Allegheny County Economic Development Director.

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Airport Develop
3:30 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Land Near Pittsburgh International Airport To Be Developed

Expect to see more development, but no additional delays, out by the Pittsburgh International Airport, as ground will soon be broken on new office space across the Airport Expressway.

The building will take up 16.2 acres and will be up to 100,000 square feet of flex office space. It will be built next to the Thermo Fisher facility, on Industry Drive.

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USPS Protest
3:29 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

USPS Workers Protest Privatization

Shelly Tempalski who has worked for the USPS for 25 years yells to passing cars with a crowd of her fellow protestors.
Credit Jess Lasky / 90.5 WESA

The McKnight Road Staples store in Ross Township was covered in blue and red today as United States Postal Service (USPS) workers yelled “Whose post office? The people’s post office,” in protest of what they call a “sweetheart deal” to privatize the mail system through Staples.

The USPS has set up shop in 82 Staples stores across the country offering most postal counter services such as selling stamps, processing mail and sending packages. The USPS plans to expand the pilot program to 1,500 stores, but the “Stop Staples” movement is looking to put an end to the program.

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Community
2:38 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Heinz To Assemble 100,000 Meals To Fight World Hunger

More than 300 Heinz employees in Pittsburgh will spend three hours Friday assembling meals to stop hunger in developing countries.

The multi-billion dollar company is partnered with Stop Hunger Now, a nonprofit food distribution company. Last year Stop Hunger Now distributed 41.9 million meals in 27 counties, and this year the Heinz Company plans to help the organization double that number; Heinz will provide 42 million meals on top of those from Stop Hunger Now.

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River of Words
12:30 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

A River of Words Will Flow Through The North Side

A North Side-based group known most for its support of exiled writers is spreading the word, literally. 

The City of Asylum has partnered with the Pittsburgh Office of Public Art to connect its Alphabet City, a literary center, to its Alphabet Reading Garden, the residential part of the neighborhood, by creating what it is calling a River of Words. The “River” will consist of area neighbors hosting words made out of  plastic placed on the outside of their homes.

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Economy & Business
3:44 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

US Labor Secretary Has Praise For Allegheny General Hospital and Union

The partnership built between Allegheny General Hospital and the largest healthcare union in North America, SEIU Healthcare was praised Wednesday by United States Labor Secretary, Thomas Perez.

“This hospital, this health system, has rejected that false choice that you either take care of your bottom line or you take care of your workers or you take care of your patients,” said Perez as he visited AGH, “You can do all of those, and you have demonstrated it here.”

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Community
5:11 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Seniors Get Financial Assistance For Farmers Markets

Qualifying seniors can head off to farmers markets in the Pittsburgh area starting June 17 with $20 worth of checks in hand provided by the Allegheny County Department of Health Services Area Agency on Aging (AAA).

“The goal of the program is to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to the eligible seniors in our area and to support the farmers,” said Marian Matik, administrative officer for AAA.

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Community
2:39 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

With Main Street Program Application, Wilkinsburg Plans To Make Improvements

Wilkinsburg could turn into the new South Side, according to the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC), after they re-apply for the Main Street Program.

WCDC Executive Director Tracey Evans said Wilkinsburg has been compared to South Side back in 1975 before they partnered with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, and now that Wilkinsburg has partnered with the same foundation, the community is hoping for the same success, especially by being recognized for the Main Street Program.

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Health
2:36 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Cancer Society Proposes $1 Increase In Cigarette Tax

A $1 tax increase could cause 77,000 adults to quit smoking and prevent 85,000 kids from ever starting smoking in Pennsylvania, according to the American Cancer Society.

The organization and its affiliate the Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) are partnering with the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association to convince Pennsylvania lawmakers to consider adding a dollar to the $1.60 per pack tax.

The groups are saying that the increase could save almost 50,000 lives in Pennsylvania.

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Steel Industry
3:18 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

US Steel McKeesport Tubular Plant To Close Indefinitely

U.S. Steel announced Monday it is idling its tubular manufacturing plant in McKeesport in early August, affecting 157 union employees.

The Pittsburgh-based company says it is also halting operations at a similar facility in Bellville, Texas, impacting 45 management and 215 rank-and-file workers combined at the two plants.

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Ride of Silence
1:47 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Bike Event Remembers Cyclists Injured, Killed While Riding

Two children were hospitalized in Pittsburgh this past Sunday after separate bicycle collisions with cars. To honor them, and the many others who have been injured while riding, Bike Pittsburgh organized a local Ride of Silence for Wed May 28th. 

“The Ride of Silence is a national event to honor and remember people who’ve been killed or seriously injured while riding bikes on our streets. So we help put this on locally,” said Scott Bricker, Executive Director for Bike Pittsburgh.

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Election 2014
11:40 am
Wed May 28, 2014

RMU Poll Shows Corbett Losing Favor With Key Demographic

Gov. Tom Corbett is losing favor with a key demographic, those 50 and older, that helped him get elected in 2010.

An online survey conducted by Robert Morris University shows 30.8 percent of the 508 registered PA voters who were questioned said that they favored the governor. The poll was conducted from May 6th-13th—before the May 20th primary election.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Report: Pennsylvania’s Hospitals Are Financially Unhealthy

Credit Flickr user proimos

A new report is providing a “check-up” on the financial state of the commonwealth’s hospitals - and the diagnosis is not looking promising.

The Financial Analysis 2013: General Acute Care Hospitals, a report written by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), shows that the commonwealth’s hospitals are being under-funded by Medicare and Medicaid.

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Energy
4:01 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Energy Bills to Rise, But You Could Save Money

Shopping around could save customers from a 20-50 percent increase on energy bills stating June 1st according to the Public Utility Commission (PUC).

Every quarter energy suppliers are allowed to adjust prices according to how much they are spending.

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Transportation
12:32 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Despite Price Increases, Expect More Memorial Day Travelers This Weekend

With barbeques and picnics scheduled all throughout the Memorial Day weekend, the number of people traveling for the holiday is expected to increase, as are prices.

According to AAA, this year 36.1 million people are predicted to go at least 50 miles from their homes to celebrate the weekend. That is up 1.5 percent despite some travel costs rising: Average hotel prices have increased $3, rental car prices have risen 1 percent to $44, gas prices are expected to rise and airfare is up 6 percent.

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Bike to Work
5:50 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Grab a Bike and Head to Work Friday

On Friday May 16th don’t be too surprised if you see a decrease in the amount of wheels on the road as people leave their cars at home for the day and bust out of their garages on two wheels.

It’s the 11th annual Bike to Work Day, which is part of National Bike Month. As part of the day, Bike Pittsburgh will be giving away breakfast and coffee to riders.

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Community
1:00 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

MAP: Pittsburgh's Farmers Market Season Is Back In Swing

Bust out the reusable shopping bags and prepare to buy some organic goat cheese, because Farmers Market season is back in swing.

This year Pittsburgh will be home to at least 14 different farmers markets from downtown to Lawrenceville.

This Thursday marks the start of the Market Square Farmers Market, which is one of the biggest in Pittsburgh with more than 30 vendors and live music every week.

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