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

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.

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.

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