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!"

Ways To Connect

Most people are expected to stay at a job for about four and a half years, and yet millennials have been labeled as job hoppers, for leaving jobs much sooner. A new survey conducted by job placement company, Express Employment Professionals, found that recent college graduates stay in their first jobs on average for 7 months to a year.

AP Photo/Vincent Yu

Halloween is supposed to be full of treats and colorful costumes and a few harmless scares, but health and safety advocates are warning about potential dangers for trick-or-treaters.

More than twice as many children are killed in pedestrian/vehicle accidents on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Dave Phillips, spokesman for State Farm Insurance, said government data shows that 115 children nationwide have died from being struck by a vehicle on Halloween from 1990-2010.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Pages