Jessica Nath

News Fellow

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations.  She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.

Her career goal is to work as a foreign news correspondent "hopefully in radio."

Fun fact:  "Would love to travel internationally...starting in South Africa."

Ways To Connect

alamosbasement/ Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf releases his state budget proposal Tuesday, and the Campaign for Fair Education Funding has a few suggestions.

Several Education watchdog groups unveiled the plan Thursday.  

“The mission of the campaign is really to focus on this need for an equitable system of funding in Pennsylvania that has enough resources in it to be sure every child has an equal chance to meet our standards,” Joan Benso, PA Partnerships for Children president and CEO, said. Benso's group is just one of several organizations working on the campaign.


Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

  Pennsylvania schools are being forced to make cuts to programming and staff in order to keep up with mandated costs and lack of funding.

That’s according to the Pennsylvania Associations of School Administrators (PASA) and of School Business Officials (PASBO) which released their fourth annual Survey on School District Budgets.

The commonwealth needs more investment to ensure children have access to high-quality preschool and child care programs according to a report by the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC).

The PPC releases the School Readiness report each year analyzing the commonwealth’s access to high-quality early learning programs.

This Saturday, Carnegie Library in Oakland will be filled with groups of people hunched over tables “frowning” at their laptops and working to build web applications for the 2015 Steel City Codefest.

That’s according to Toby Greenwalt, director of digital strategy and technology integration at the library, who said the coders will be there all day and night.

State Senators Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) and Randy Vulakovich (R–Allegheny) are calling on Pennsylvania business owners to help house homeless veterans.

The senators are reintroducing legislation to amend the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program (NAP), which provides a tax credit to businesses in exchange for monetary contributions to neighborhood-based housing and community improvement initiatives.

The tax credit is worth between 55 and 80 percent of the business’s contribution.

In 2013, 72 percent of Internet users said they searched the web for health information within the past year according to a Pew Research Center survey.

But that information might not be what it seems according to Alex John London, a Carnegie Mellon University professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Ethics and Policy.

Instead, what could seem to be unbiased material could actually be an advertisement from the hospital.

When Huang Xiang came to Pittsburgh, he was so happy to be able to share his poems – which forced him to leave China – that he painted them onto his house on Sampsonia Way, marking the beginning of City of Asylum.

“In grass style … calligraphy, he painted a poetry anthology in Chinese,” Diane Samuels, artist and co-founder of City of Asylum said. “From the moment he was out there on the scaffolding, people in the neighborhood stopped by and asked what was going on.  We explained and then Huang Xiang would read, perform one of his poems – the neighborhood was fascinated.”

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner announced Tuesday she intends to subpoena the county administration and police department.

She said it’s the result of the “refusal to cooperate” with her performance audit of the police department, which includes 220 officers and operates on a $29.4 million budget.

The subpoena will call on County Manager William McCain, Chief of Staff Jennifer Liptak and police Superintendent Charles Moffat to report to her office on Feb. 23 to discuss the audit and next steps.

University of Pittsburgh researchers might have stumbled onto a cost-effective way to fight cancer – with cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins.

When it comes to cancer, Dr. Zoltán Oltvai, senior author of the study and associate professor of pathology, said most patients don’t die from their original tumor but rather from the cancer spreading throughout their bodies.

More people died from drug overdoses in 2013 than from either gunshot wounds or vehicle crashes.

In response, President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal includes $133 million in new funding across various agencies and departments to treat opioid disorders and prevent overdose deaths.

David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, called opioid overdose an “urgent public health crisis.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A month ago, Frank Smart made a phone call from the Allegheny County Jail declaring that he was not receiving his anti-seizure medication.  A few hours later – after one day of being in the jail’s custody – he was dead.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened in the Allegheny County Jail, according to Randa Ruge, an organizer for “United Steelworkers of America.”

That’s why area advocacy organizations have launch of the Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project.  The project aims to ensure that inmates receive comprehensive health care.

Could Pittsburgh make self-driving cars mainstream?

If it’s up to Carnegie Mellon University and Uber, the answer to that question is yes.

Carnegie Mellon University has partnered with the ride-sharing company to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center.

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

With more than 100 reported cases of measles throughout the country in January, Pennsylvania physicians came together Tuesday with a united message – get yourself and especially your children vaccinated.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says the outbreak has been traced to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and has spread to 14 states including Pennsylvania, where one case of measles has been reported in Cumberland County.

Google maps / Google.co

An estimated 19,000 vehicles cross the Greenfield Avenue Bridge each day, but commuters will have to find a new route later this year.

That’s because the bridge is being demolished and the replacement won’t be open until 2017. Prep work for the demolition is expected to begin in in mid-October.

The City’s Department of Public Works is hosting a public meeting Tuesday in which officials will reveal the new bridge’s official design.

The United States is one of two countries worldwide that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave to new mothers according to Vicki Shabo, Vice President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. This statistic is from the International Labor Organization who surveyed 185 countries.

That’s why Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak has introduced legislation calling for at least six weeks of full-paid family leave for City of Pittsburgh employees.

The legislation applies to parents of any gender as well as those who choose to adopt or foster children.

Faced with implementing a $2 billion sewer overflow project, ALCOSAN is turning to the community for help.  It is hosting a series of community discussions focusing on the issue that affects all 83 municipalities under ALCOSAN.

In 2008 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a consent decree which requires the agency to create a plan to fix sewer overflow in the region.

Conservationists hope to keep a well-used section of Stonycreek alive thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

In all, the DEP is awarding more than $23.2 million for various watershed projects.

The DEP awarded the grants to a total of 109 projects in the commonwealth through the Growing Greener Program, Acid Mine Drainage Set Aside Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program.

Pittsburgh’s city code requires that sidewalks are made out of concrete, but Councilwoman Deborah Gross is questioning whether that’s the best option.

During a post-agenda meeting Thursday, Gross heard from various organizations saying there are better alternatives to concrete, which often times is lifted or cracked from trees and their roots.

Gross said solving this problem could help with Pittsburgh’s issues managing water, which includes flooding and water pollution.

Allegheny County might not have seen a lot of snow so far this winter, but that’s not stopping Boyce Park from planning to host its inaugural “Snowfest” this weekend.

“It is the first-ever Snowfest in Boyce Park,” Kevin Evanto, chief marketing officer for Allegheny County, said of the January 23rd through 25th event. “The idea that we came up with last year was to put together three days of winter fun for the whole family, and that includes both skiers and non-skiers.”

Impact fees have been in place for counties with Marcellus Shale drilling sites, but if State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) gets his way, pipelines could be the key to spreading the wealth.

Dinniman plans to introduce legislation Monday that would establish a pipeline impact fee in Pennsylvania.

He said the burden needs to be taken off those who are directly affected by the pipelines carrying shale gas to the ports of Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore.

“I have this image in my mind of people walking in, and the music starts playing and people looking around at each other confused,” said Amy Kline, describing the bus shelter located near Chatham Square downtown.

As the Patron Services and Marketing Manager as Manchester Craftmen’s Guild Jazz, it was her idea to create “Pittsburgh’s Smallest Jazz Club” in the bus shelter – and Awesome Pittsburgh, which awards $1,000 grants for projects in the city, is helping that image move from her mind to reality.

Wilkinsburg is a community in transition, and now it’s getting help to implement change.

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) has announced that the borough has been accepted into the Main Street program.

The state operated Main Street program helps communities revitalize their central business districts and residential neighborhoods.

“It will give us more access to funding from the state for projects, such as façade grants or other planning grants that we need to continue working on,” said Tracey Evans, WCDC executive director.

Pittsburgh International Airport flickr

Pittsburgh International Airport has booked three short-eared owls a one-way ticket to their natural habitat.

The medium-sized owls, which measure 13 to 17 inches tall, were spotted on the edges of the airport’s property at the beginning of this month, and the airport’s wildlife management team, along with environmental regulatory agencies, have relocated them to a safer habitat — safer for them and potentially safer for the aircrafts.

While the short-eared owl is not considered endangered or threatened at the federal level, it is in Pennsylvania. 

Within the next three years, 558 bridges throughout Pennsylvania will be replaced.

PennDOT announced Monday that it had finalized the terms for its Rapid Bridge Replacement Project.

“The construction and some of the maintenance will cost roughly $899 million,” said PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt. “But we’re expecting to save a good bit for each bridge compared to if we were going through our typical process, and it’s happening much faster than it normally would.”

Several warming centers are opening to give Pittsburghers refuge from the bitter cold temperatures this week.

The City of Pittsburgh has opened the Greenfield, Homewood, Sheraden and South Side Market House Senior Centers to help Pittsburghers get out of the cold.  They will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice.

The Light of Life Rescue Mission is also opening its front doors – and offering snacks and hot chocolate – during the day.

Kate Wadsworth, public relations manager, said the shelter is open Thursday for anyone looking to escape the cold.

Editorial cartoonists around the world, including Pittsburgh, are creating cartoons in response to the attacks against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Masked gunmen stormed into the French magazine’s office Wednesday morning, killed 12 people, including the magazine’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, and wounded 11 others. The attackers have yet to be captured.

Pennsylvania is becoming a nationwide leader in the clean energy industry.

That’s according to a new report released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which highlights eight states that have demonstrated leadership in clean energy policies, installation and economies. The goal was to analyze states outside of those usually credited with clean energy advances such as California.

Jessica Lubetsky, Clean Energy Initiative officer, said the commonwealth has positioned itself to take advantage of what it already has – especially its manufacturing industry.

With a new year comes a new set of resolutions. 

If volunteering is one of yours, Riley Baker, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program at Pittsburgh Cares, suggests you ask for help.

“I think that a lot of times it can be really hard to navigate the world of volunteerism, especially if you don’t really know a ton about the nonprofits that are out there,” he said.

Organizations such as Pittsburgh Cares try to play matchmaker between potential volunteers and nonprofits that need help.

For as long as property taxes have been used to locally funded schools, there has been a debate over fairness and it might come to head this year in Pennsylvania.

State Senator Matt Smith (D – Allegheny) is hopeful the 2015-16 budget will incorporate a funding formula for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts.

He is a member of the Basic Education Funding Commission, which is tasked with crafting the formula.  Created in June, the 15-member commission has about six months to go until it must submit a proposal to the legislature.

With Christmas only two days away, the Salvation Army is calling on shoppers to help it reach its annual Red Kettle Campaign goal.

The Salvation Army needs an additional $394,000 to reach its goal of $2.49 million – it’s short $73,000 at its Allegheny County locations.

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