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

Richard Borean / Tax Foundation

In 2015, Americans as a whole will spend less on food, clothing and housing combined than they will on taxes.

That’s according to the Tax Foundation, which announced Saturday marks Pennsylvania’s Tax Freedom Day.

Economist Kyle Pomerleau said this day shows when Pennsylvania residents have earned enough money to pay their total tax bill for the year.  The nonpartisan organization collects this information for all of the states as well as the U.S. as a whole.

Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr

Pennsylvania is the 14th most eco-friendly state in the U.S., according to WalletHub.

Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub’s spokesperson, said the financial social network looked at 14 different metrics falling into the categories of either “Environmental Quality Rank” or “Eco-Friendly Behaviors Rank.”

Sweetie187 / Flickr

Good news: Aliens aren’t currently taking over the universe.

That’s according to Brendan Mullan, Carnegie Science Center’s resident astrophysics expert and Buhl Planetarium Director. He and a group of scientists created the Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies Survey, or G-HAT, which attempted to locate extraterrestrial life in 100,000 galaxies.

Jon Dawson / Flickr

Detroit is known as "Hockeytown USA," but could Johnstown claim the title of “Hockeyville USA?”

That depends on if it receives enough votes, according to Chad Mearns, director of marketing and communications for the Johnstown Tomahawks.

The State of Funding Equity in Pennsylvania / The Education Trust

Pennsylvania has the third largest education funding gap in the nation between districts with the highest and lowest poverty rates.

That’s according to a new report from the Education Trust, an education policy organization, which called this gap “devastatingly large.”

“It’s another piece of evidence to indicate that we have a real problem with the school funding system here in Pennsylvania,” Patrick Dowd, executive director of Allies for Children, said.  Allies for Children is one of more than 50 organizations that have united for the Campaign for Fair Education Funding.

Jaime Dillen-Seibel / Flickr

Groups of local activists concerned about climate change took to New York City’s streets last September for the Climate Action March, and now they’re launching Pittsburgh350.org, an affiliate of the national 350.org.

Warwick Powell, a member of the steering committee, said the group will work to raise awareness about the increase of carbon in the atmosphere.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

 The “Fight for $15” will take to the streets of Pittsburgh April 15th.

A small group of fast food workers and Pittsburgh organization heads gathered Tuesday in front of the Northside McDonalds to announce plans to strike for an increased minimum wage.

Lolene Germany, a worker at KFC, said the strike will call for fair treatment in the workplace as well as fair wages.

“We wanted to let people know that if you support what we’re doing and you feel like you’re being disrespected at work, wherever you work – at a healthcare, fast food, retail – just come out and fight with us,” Germany said. “And let them know that you’re going to get your respect and you’re going get what you deserve.”

Submitted

Beatrice Dias has asthma, and her three-year-old has had his own respiratory issues, so she installed a personal air monitoring device known as a Speck to see if the air in her home was contributing to their health problems.

“It was as simple as turning on the hood vent above the stove and realizing, ‘wait, the air quality is getting worse, what am I doing wrong? This was supposed to be good for it,’” she said. “But then I followed the trajectory of the air and realized the hood vent was just venting the air up as opposed out of the house.”

Revelations like this is why the Community Robotics Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab began selling Speck Monday.  The air quality monitor detects fine particulates in a room by using a fan to create a vacuum that sucks the matter into the sensor.

Turn out your lights.

That’s what several Pittsburgh organizations are doing Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during Earth Hour. The organizations are hoping to spark awareness about sustainability.

This year, much of Pittsburgh’s skyline will be dark.

Anna Siefken, of the Green Building Alliance, hopes to see the entire community come out to watch the lights go out.

When the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection asked for public comment in December regarding rules about conventional oil and gas development, the department received an “unprecedented amount” of submissions.

That’s according to Scott Perry, deputy secretary of the department’s Office of Oil and Gas Management, who said tens of thousands of people reached out to the DEP, showing intense interest.

Raising a child is expensive, and not surprisingly, that cost has only increased over the past few decades. But tax relief to help families with children hasn’t kept pace with the increased cost.

The average cost of raising a child born in 2013 through age 17 is $245,340, according to the Department of Agriculture. That’s a 23 percent increase from 1960.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey cited a study from Pew that said weekly expenses for children have increased from $87 in the '80s to $148 in 2013 — a 70 percent increase.

In the wake of a disaster, your next meal might not be the first thought that comes to mind – but when hunger strikes, the Salvation Army has that covered, too.

The organization will reveal a new custom $100,000 disaster response unit Saturday at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Pittsburgh.

Michael Riemer, director for Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services for Western Pennsylvania, said the unit basically looks like a food truck.

Women make up 74 percent of the workforce at nonprofits in southwestern Pennsylvania but they are only being paid 75 percent as much as men.

That’s according to a survey from the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management's most recent survey.

“There’s a whole collection of reasons why this pay gap persists, but it really is troubling because we are supposed to be about social justice,” Peggy Outon, executive director, said. “And nonprofit organizations mostly have a mission to advance social justice, and we have a bigger pay gap in nonprofits than we do in business.”

Eric E Castro / flickr

Public school watchdog group A+ Schools wanted to know what principals in the Pittsburgh Public Schools were doing to help support students, so they asked them.

Carey Harris, A+ Schools Executive Director, said they found that many of the schools – even those with a large number of low-income students – are getting “great results.”

Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration want to assure healthcare consumers that they intend to enforce the consent decrees signed by Highmark and UPMC in June 2014.

According to the administration, both of the healthcare providers have made statements that have led to confusion.

Teresa Miller, the Acting Insurance Commissioner, as well as Karen Murphy, the Acting Health Secretary, announced that they will make sure patients with Highmark plans are able to receive care from UPMC providers as outlined  in the decrees.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

  U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton announced the indictment of 14 individuals Thursday on charges related to a cross-country drug distribution pipeline.

“As of 9:15 (a.m.), 12 of the 14 defendants were in federal custody,” Hickton said. “They will appear today in federal court to be informed of the charges.”

Two of the 14 suspects, William Blair and James McCray, both from the Pittsburgh area, remain at large.

Despite putting revenue from parking and the Rivers Casino into the pension fund, Pittsburgh’s pension problems aren’t getting any better.

That’s according to a recent audit that showed as of January 2013, Pittsburgh’s pension fund had assets of $675 million, but the liabilities stood at $1.16 billion – meaning the city only has about 58 percent of what it needs in the pension fund in order to ensure current and future payments compared to 62 percent in 2011.

401(K) 2012/Flickr

  Employees working at small businesses within Pittsburgh could see a raise in their paychecks.

City Councilman Corey O’Connor introduced legislation Tuesday he hopes incentivizes small businesses (15 to 250 employees) to raise their wage for full-time employees – currently $7.25 – to $10.10 per hour.  For restaurants employees who receive tips, the legislation aims to increase their minimum wage from $2.83 to $3.93 per hour.

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.

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