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

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.

Scaffolding covers much of the three-story brick house on Bedford Avenue in the Hill District.  Three men – an apprentice carpenter and two bricklayer apprentices – work on restoring the crumbling front façade, the roofing and the brickwork. 

But this isn’t your average restoration – the navy blue sign standing in front of the house reveals that it is the childhood home of famous Pittsburgh-born playwright August Wilson – and all three of the men working on it have either spent time on the streets or in jail.

The Allegheny County jail houses about 2,700 inmates, many of whom by one person's estimation are not being provided with efficient health care.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner Monday released the audit of Corizon Prison Health Management Inc., which she claims yielded some “damning” findings.

She said this not only impacts the health of the inmates and prison employees but also the larger community.

Niya Ingram, a tenth grader at Brashear High School, listed “killing, bullying and…gangs” among the issues she and her peers are facing.

That’s why she is helping facilitate the Coalition Against Violence’s (CAV) “Strategies for Change” Youth Summit Friday in coordination with the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP).

It’s being called the biggest piece of legislation to affect disabled Americans since the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was passed by the Senate Tuesday by a vote of 404-17.  It allows Americans with disabilities or their families to set up a tax-free savings account in order to prepare for long-term care.

While the population in Marcellus Shale drilling towns has not increased, crime, housing costs and other negative impacts have.

That’s according to the left-leaning Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s report "The Shale Tipping Point: The Relationship of Drilling to Crime, Truck Fatalities, STDs and Rents in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio."

If legislation up for debate Wednesday goes through, you could see parking meter prices in Pittsburgh fluctuate depending on the time of day.

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak has introduced a bill that would allow for dynamic prices for parking meters in certain neighborhoods starting in 2015.

“It adjusts the price of parking meters based on parking supply and demand,” Rudiak said. “So it will actually change the price based on how close one is parked say to the main street business district or how far.”

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

“Hands up – don’t shoot!”

That was the cry of dozens of Pittsburghers who gathered downtown Thursday to protest the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.

“The average person, the average citizen has to get involved in this. This involves all of us,” said organizer Julia Johnson. “Police brutality, systemic racism, the list goes on and on of the issues that our country is suffering from right now. Everyone must be a part of this movement. We must liberate ourselves from this oppressive system.”

If it’s too cold for you outside, then it’s too cold for your pet.

That’s the message Councilwoman Darlene Harris is sending Pittsburghers with the two pieces of legislation she introduced Tuesday.

The first piece of legislation would fine cat and dog owners a maximum of $500 dollars for leaving their pets outside for a long period of time when temperatures are below 32 degrees or higher than 90 degrees.

The Allegheny Health Network is the first health system in the Pittsburgh region to offer a new medication called Lutonix to help those suffering from peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Between 8 and 12 million people in the U.S. are affected by PAD - the hardening of the arteries from cholesterol and plaque buildup. It can obstruct blood flow, which could result in amputation or death if untreated.

Jessica Nath / 90.5

John Mann’s class project this semester will be sent to the moon next year.

The Carnegie Mellon University computer science student, along with about 30 other students, is taking part in a class called Mobile Robot Design that centers on constructing a moon rover named “Andy.”

Mann said the students are split into groups, each with a particular job.

“I primarily do software, particularly software related to driving Andy and getting and displaying information from Andy,” Mann said.

With the holiday season approaching, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority has voted to give the gift of free parking again.

During a board meeting Thursday, the Parking Authority board voted unanimously in favor to expand free parking to their surface lots on Saturday, November 29th. 

“We…are joining the city and their efforts to promote Small Business Saturday with free parking at all the meter(s) on both the street – the city has done – and the Parking Authority is going to do free parking at surface lots,” David Onorato, Executive Director, said.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

  Bill Ward served in the army from 1974-76 and went into construction afterwards, but recent health issues forced him out of his job and into the path of potential homelessness.

But Ward is not homeless thanks to the “Pittsburgh Rapid Results Veterans’ Homeless Boot Camp.”

The Boot Camp “is effectively like a spark to really galvanize the community to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015 and really kind of bring everyone together for a common goal and a common cause,” Jesse Rodriguez, operations director of the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, said.

  Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion, and that need doesn’t diminish over the holiday season.

But the number of blood donations does decrease this time of year, according to Marianne Spampinato, Red Cross spokeswoman.

“People get busy with holiday activities, and travel and we also have longer periods when schools are out of session,” Spampinato said. “Businesses may be shorter staffed, and unable to support local blood drives as much as they do other times of the year.”

College has come and gone for Pennsylvania spring graduates — and now it’s time to pay up. 

The six-month “grace period” is almost over, and the bills are going to start arriving.

Keith New, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency communications director, said the average Pennsylvania borrower graduates with $25,000 debt, and the six months are meant to help them get financially comfortable before beginning to repay it.

County Controller Chelsa Wagner is calling for more transparency in the distribution of Allegheny County’s gaming funds.

Wagner’s office audited the distribution of casino monies to the Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF) and the Gaming Economic Development Fund (GEDF) from 2010 to 2013 – totalling $28.2 million.

The Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County (RAAC), an independent board appointed by the County Executive, is responsible for choosing which applicants receive funds from gaming: ranging from municipalities to non-profits to hospitals.

Pennsylvania is home to nearly one million veterans, but that only tells half the story.

1,500 of them are homeless, which is a 46.2 percent increase since 2009.

About 2,400 Pennsylvania vets claimed Unemployment Compensation benefits last November according to the Center for Workforce Information & Analysis.

When the temperature dips below 26 degrees (F), most Pittsburghers have a warm place to stay – but imagine not having that option.  Homeless shelters that are open year round fill up quickly on cold night leaving  many without warmth.

That’s why Allegheny County and Operation Safety Net are opening the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter (SWES) from November 15, 2014, to March 15, 2015 again.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is accusing County Executive Rich Fitzgerald of mishandling thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds by using his county-owned vehicle for personal purposes.

At a news conference Thursday, Wagner said she sent Fitzgerald a letter instructing him to send her staff accurate documentation so they can determine how much he must reimburse the county. She said his office would have to determine how they would reimburse the funds.

The Allegheny Land Trust wants a 30-acre chunk of land in Sewickley, and a new grant might help obtain it.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has provided a $250,000 grant to acquire the green space along Waterworks Road.

“It’s primarily going to be used for wildlife habitat, water interception, absorption and the scenic character of the borough and surrounding boroughs around Sewickley,” said Chris Beichner, Land Trust CEO and president.

Pages