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

It’s 1950 in the city of Pittsburgh — the population is more than 600,000, and Pittsburgh is the Steel City.

Fast forward 60 years — the population is half as large, and Pittsburgh is working to become a “green” city.

The shrunken population has left once crowded neighborhoods with empty plots and less money from tax revenue to maintain those spaces and local parks.

“Given the times, there’s not enough resources to go around, so we’re trying to look at our parks and how we could manage it better,” said Director of City Planning Noor Ismail.

Poems, visual art, stories and music are much more than forms of entertainment to two Pittsburghers, they are ways to promote social reform.

Co-founders Leslie Anne Mcilroy and Daniel Morrow will launch Human Equity through Art (HEArt) Online on Aug. 15.

The online journal will publish various forms of art submitted to them that challenge the status quo and fight discrimination.

Talking on a cellphone and driving a car have never been deemed a good combination, but researchers have found that it might not be as bad as everyone thinks.

A study conducted by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics and Political Science shows that talking on a cellphone while driving does not significantly increase the risk of crashing.

The hot July temperatures this year reflected the sizzling housing market in Western Pennsylvania — with increases across the board.

According to the West Penn Multi-List Inc. residential real estate report, the number of homes under agreement during July this year was 4,104 compared to 3,392 homes in July 2012, an increase of over 20 percent.

George Hackett, President of the West Penn Multi-List Inc., said this is partly because of the improved economy.

Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook — these schools have become the targets of shootings, provoking conversation about mental health and gun safety.

Now an “active shooter” training event will be held at the Homer Center School District in Indiana County Wednesday for all educators.

Psychologist Ralph May, one of the speakers, said there will be nine presentations walking the educators through an “active shooter” event.

When the 1.8 million Pennsylvanians on food stamps wake up on November 1, they will have less money for their breakfast.

A nationwide cut will reduce the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, by $183 million in Pennsylvania and $5 billion nationwide.

Ken Regal, executive director of Just Harvest, said the reduction will average $29 a month for a family of three.

Flickr user Jason Pratt

A new study shows Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh specifically, might be the model for the American dream.

A team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of California-Berkley found that Pennsylvania has considerably more upward mobility than other parts of the country.

According to Stephen Herzenberg, economist and executive director of the liberal-leaning Keystone Research Center, upward mobility is the ability of someone in the economic lower class to move up the economic scale.

Herzenberg said upward mobility is at the heart of the American dream.

Some heroes can fly and some heroes have superhuman strength, but thousands of children in Pennsylvania need a hero with the power to give them the supplies they need to learn.

The Education Partnership’s Homeroom Heroes program is working to provide students with simple supplies like pencils, paper and glue.

“Our focus here is to get school supplies into the hands of kids that need them, and we serve Allegheny and the five surrounding counties,” program spokeswoman Katherine Harrell said.

Two organizations want uninsured and underinsured households to stop skipping prescriptions due to cost.

For a third year, the United Way of Allegheny County and FamilyWize Community Service Partnership are providing free prescription discount cards to help struggling families and individuals.

Cardholders can save 44 to 75 percent off their prescriptions at all chain pharmacies and grocery stores nationwide.

Angela Reynolds, United Way Director of Programs for Financially Struggling Adults and Families, said people going without prescriptions is a large issue.

Why can starfish regenerate when they lose arms and humans can’t?

The Pittsburgh Foundation has awarded eight scientific research grants from the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation to find answers to questions like these.

Almost $1.6 million will be split among research projects at five Pennsylvania schools: the University of Pittsburgh, Penn Sate, Carnegie Mellon, Drexel and Temple.

The grants are split between two categories: New Investigator and New Initiative.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed the Public Private Partnerships (P3) for Transportation Act in 2012, which gives PennDOT and other transportation agencies a chance to partner with the private sector to improve services or create new projects. Now two proposals are ready for approval from the P3 board.

“We recently had a period where we solicited ideas from the private sector, and we received six ideas and two of them will be admitted to the P3 board this fall,” PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trassatt said.

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed legislation Tuesday that requires contractors who enter into a contract of $250,000 or more with the city to offer same-sex domestic partnership benefits to its employees.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s latest Pop Up project began Monday with rain splashing off vacant patio furniture, but the nonprofit believes the seats will soon be filled during lunch hours.

With its brightly colored bistro tables and chairs, the Pop Up Patio fills downtown's Strawberry Way from Smithfield Street to Montour Way.

Jeremy Waldrup, partnership president and CEO, said he hopes the month-long pilot program will encourage people to not only hang out downtown but also frequent nearby businesses.

If the Pennsylvania American Water Company receives approval by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), the water you use could cost you an extra $6.12 a month.

The company is in the process of increasing its rates for 2014.

Company spokeswoman Josephine Posti said the average customer uses 3,900 gallons of water a month.

Posti said the rate increase is to recover the cost of system upgrades since 2011.

A dozen speakers came out today to express their opinions about whether city police should be required to live inside the City of Pittsburgh - with a unanimous “yes.”

The public hearing was held on Councilman Ricky Burgess’s proposal to put the police residency issue on the November 5 ballot.

Those who testified all argued the same point - how could the police properly protect them when they don’t even know them.

With the heat reaching 90 degrees all this week, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have been opening and extending the hours of cooling centers for the elderly — but what about the homeless?

Dr. Jim Withers, medical director and founder of Operation Safety Net, said the homeless, especially those who are elderly, are at risk during the heat.

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

Protesters responding to the acquittal of George Zimmerman filled the courtyard of the Allegheny County  Courthouse Wednesday at noon.

Their shirts read “White Supremacy Acquitted Zimmerman,” and they held signs that said “Pittsburgh for Trayvon.”

Neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was acquitted Saturday of murder and manslaughter of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.

One in 3 American children is overweight or obese. That’s according to the Children’s Defense Fund, which also says 45 percent of those kids come from low-income families.

Pittsburgh is launching a new program called “Green Up to Grow Up” to try to reduce that figure.

The program is an expansion of GreenUp and Edible Gardens, which turns vacant lots into areas where produce is grown for low-income neighborhoods.

While locally appointed arbitrators will make their final decision in September as to whether the requirement for Pittsburgh police to live in the city should be lifted, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl already has his answer: No.

Ravenstahl said he believes the city police should stay where they are.

“I think it’s important for them to be in the neighborhoods in which they patrol," Ravenstahl said. "The residents feel safer when they have a police officer living in their community. It seems to me that it’s working now, and there’s no need to change it.”

It’s hot out — really hot — and several organizations in Pittsburgh are taking action to prevent fatalities as temperatures are expected to reach into the 90s this week.

Meals on Wheels workers have been advised to not only deliver the meals, but also to make sure the seniors they serve are holding up well in the heat.

More than 190 million vehicles travel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike each year — about 520,000 a day.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission have worked to make that drive as easy as possible, and now they are asking for your help.

PennDOT and the commission have released a survey looking for travelers’ opinions on the services the agencies provide.

Sixteen hundred miles of fiber optics is connecting the commonwealth after the completion of a three-year project called the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network (PennREN).

The $120 million project was launched by a non-profit membership organization called the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education (KINBER).

Currently, the Pennsylvania State Police is 12 percent below full complement, but the increased funds from the new budget might close that gap.

The 2013-14 budget includes an additional $15 million for state police - bringing the department’s total budget to $210 million.

Public Information Officer Adam Reed said this money will help the department fill some vacancies.

“For us, that means that we can avoid some very critical decision that may have been looming without proper funding like hiring and closing additional stations” Reed said.

One day before flash flooding inundated southwestern Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation permitting municipalities to create stormwater authorities.

According to the environmental group PennFuture, runoff that is not managed properly can cause flooding and carry pollutants — heavy metals, sediment and nutrients — into waterways, but municipalities now have the option to create authorities to address these issues.

George Jugovic, chair of PennFuture’s law staff, said this is a big issue that people don’t usually consider.

While other 11-year-olds were outside playing with their friends, Lilli Curry was fighting a bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma in the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas.

Ewing’s Sarcoma is found mainly in children and is treated with chemotherapy, surgery or radiation.

Lilli’s family bought her an iPad to help time pass more easily during her chemo and surgical treatments.

Starting July 1, 2014, UPMC is stubbing out the cigarettes of its employees, physicians, students and volunteers during their shifts.

UPMC has introduced a policy in which employees are not permitted to smoke at any point during their shift — even during scheduled breaks.

Tim Cline, senior director of clinical training and development, said exposure to tobacco smoke and the residual products of tobacco use is not safe on any level.

A Pennsylvania legislator hopes he has found the solution to a cat and mouse game in which the makers of synthesized drugs, including bath salts, would change the composition of the drugs to keep them legal.  State Representative Jerry Stern (R-Blair County) is adding his own changes-- to the law.

After hallucinogenic chemicals known as bath salts became popular with drug users, Pennsylvania lawmakers in 2010 added them to the list of prohibited substances in the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act of 1972.

In the 2012-13 fiscal year, Pennsylvania brought in $338.7 million in realty tax revenue, but one Pittsburgh-area lawmaker thinks that number should be higher.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) said he thinks he has finally outsmarted what he calls “sophisticated” lawyers and accountants in his second attempt to close a realty transfer tax loophole.

While Pennsylvanians celebrate the Fourth of July this week, they might also want to celebrate the growing population of America’s national symbol — the bald eagle.

According to the Game Commission, there are currently 252 bald eagle nests in the state, 46 more than last year.

“I think it says a lot about the state’s efforts not only to see the number of bald eagles increase as it has, but also to see that population spread out into new areas and follow those watercourses they traditionally inhabited,” said commission spokesman Travis Lau.

A spokesman for the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh says 33 unfair labor claims made by union organizers have been withdrawn following a review by the National Labor Relations Board, and the casino hopes to resolve 17 remaining claims.