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

  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.

Capitalism isn’t working, and another world is necessary.

Those are the mantras of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), which is inviting Pittsburghers to go to “school” this Saturday to learn why.

Paul LeBlanc, an ISO member and event organizer, said the most fundamental definition of socialism is what he calls “economic democracy,” or a system where the “majority” of people would own and control the economy.

The Pittsburgh Technical Institute (PTI) is promoting social change in the world by awarding five high school students a $7,000 scholarship.

The Promote Change scholarship requires students to do just that by creating a campaign using three projects.

Nick Talotta, senior director of admissions, said students can create posters, design websites or even sponsor a fundraising activity.

When six people died from Legionella bacteria in Pittsburgh’s Veterans Affairs hospitals in 2011-12, the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI) and Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) set out to find a better way to combat future outbreaks.

The organizations have now released updated guidelines to control Legionella bacteria in western Pennsylvania.

The Pittsburgh sky has a busy schedule this week, with a meteor shower tonight and a partial solar eclipse Thursday.

That’s according to Dan Malerbo, Buhl Planetarium and Observatory program development coordinator, who said the best time to watch the Orionid meteor shower is between midnight and dawn Tuesday and away from the city lights.

“Under some clear skies you could probably see up to 20 meteors per hour,” Malerbo said. “These meteors radiate, they come out of direction from Orion the Hunter, up by his bright star, Betelgeuse, from that area of the sky.”

The Allegheny County Health Department's effort to update its restaurant grading system is getting a boost from the 2015 budget presented this month to county council.  The $839.2 million budget drafted by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald includes an increase in funding for the department's food inspection effort.

Jim Thompson, deputy director of environmental health, says the Health Department will increase its number of full-time food inspectors from 20 to 22 if council approves the spending plan.

Another year, another Allegheny County budget proposal attempting to patch together funds for the Department of Emergency Services but the years of complaining by the County Executive might be about to bear fruit.

The 911 center operated last year at a loss of $6 million, according to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and though underfunding isn’t a new issue, he fears what lower than needed state funding could mean for the future.  Fitzgerald’s proposed $839.2 million budget for 2015 includes an increased cash match to plug the gap.

A new piece of legislation aims to take a bite out of the burden placed on the “sandwich generation” – a group of adults usually in their 40s or 50s who are wedged between caring for their parents as well as their own children.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Ty’wann Martin, a 7th grader, gripped the microphone, popped up from his seat and sauntered up to the front of the room filled with CEOs and executives from the United Way and First Niagara Bank Thursday.

“Hi, my name is Ty’wann, and I go to Pittsburgh Schiller,” he declared. “And when I get older, I would like to be an NBA player.”

He and a group of students from Schiller and Pittsburgh Classical Academy Middle Schools are part of the United Way of Allegheny County mentoring program.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

“I’ve done a little bit of research: the old, old pirates back in the old days, whenever they made somebody walk the plank, it was on a Wednesday night – so welcome to Pittsburgh you San Francisco Giants!”

The crowd that had flooded Market Square at noontime Tuesday erupted into cheers as Steve Blass, former Pirates pitcher, made his threat and then walked off the stage.

Such was the tone of the rally, which was declared “Pittsburgh Pirates Pride Day,” as the city prepared for the wild-card game against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday.

Two Public Utility Commission Administrative Law judges may have recommended that the full Commission deny Uber’s application for a permanent license, but the ride sharing company doesn’t need to slam on the brakes quite yet.

“After weighing the evidence in the cases of the Uber applications that were before the Commission, our administrative law judges wrote recommended decisions addressing each of the issues in the case,” Denise McCracken, PUC Deputy Press Secretary, said. “These recommended decisions are denying the applications by Uber.”

400 PPG workers from throughout the country have packed up their bags to begin work at the company's new regional headquarters in Cranberry Township.  The architectural coatings office celebrated its grand opening Thursday.

Scott Sinetar, Vice President of Architectural Coatings for the U.S. and Canada, said the creation of the new headquarters is the result of PPG Industry’s 2013 acquisition of AkzoNobel’s North American decorative paints business.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is celebrating ten years of gallery crawls with an Afropean R&B music performance, numerous art exhibits ranging from a billboard display to a cell phone disco and even salsa dancing.

Darcy Kucenic, Manager of Education and Operations for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, said the first gallery crawl was in 2004 and only featured four venues.

“Justice delayed is justice denied” is a refrain that U.S Senator Bob Casey (D- PA) has been repeating as he fights to get black lung benefits into the hands of coal miners in a more timely manner.

After working for several months to break up the backlog in black lung benefits claims, Casey announced plans Thursday to introduce legislation aiming to reduce fraud in miners’ cases.

According to Casey, the case backlog is in the thousands now and grows by substantial numbers each year.

A new report finds that Pennsylvania emits the third most carbon dioxide in the country.

PennEnvironment released the report, “America’s Dirtiest Power Plants,” Thursday – which found that Pennsylvania tails only Texas and California.

The report took 2012 data – the most recent available - from the Environmental Protection Agency and ranked power plants in the United States according to their CO2 emissions.  It then compared each state to total carbon emissions of entire countries.

Pennsylvania’s general fund is empty – so it’s borrowing money from itself.

With operating funds at a 10-year low, Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has asked Treasurer Rob McCord to loan money to the commonwealth’s main bank account.

“The good news is that we have a credit line, the credit line is working, the credit line is allowing people to get paid, schools to get their revenue, etc., and government is functioning, and we have an elegant financial solution and financial instrument,” McCord said.

Monday marks the end of summer’s legislative recess – but with elections in less than two months, can much be accomplished?

State Representative Dan Frankel (D – Allegheny) is not optimistic, saying he finds it “doubtful” they will be successful with getting any significant bill passed.

“I don’t think you’ll see any legislation that is ‘big idea’ legislation,” he said. “I think you’ll see mostly legislation that is not controversial – I’m hoping most of it won’t be controversial.”

The legislative calendar only shows 12 voting days remaining this session.

Thousands of bike enthusiasts from around the country have pedaled their way into Pittsburgh – or most likely travelled by other means – for the 18th annual Pro Bike Pro Walk Pro Place Conference.

Tuesday’s discussion focused on Bike Share programs, which provide public bicycles for people to rent and have been implemented in cities all over the world.

Jacob Mason, the transport research and evaluation manager from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, presented data he gathered while researching what he considers “successful” systems.

Forty years ago tomorrow, President Gerald Ford appeared on national television declaring he had granted former President Richard Nixon a full pardon for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.

While the infamous investigation has been extensively publicized and analyzed, Ford’s reasoning behind the pardon mostly remains an untold story.

That’s according to Ken Gormley, Duquesne University’s Dean of Law, who is coordinating Monday’s event along with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, at which major players in Ford’s decision recount their involvement.

Ten years ago, Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks staged its first production honoring the famous bard.

The premiere show, “As You Like It,” spanned two weekends in November at Frick Park, and Jennifer Tober served as director, choreographer and even costume designer.

“It was a kind of simple production, I pulled costumes from my own closet, or people wore really kind of utilitarian things that they had, and it was kind of a low-fi, low budget production,” Tober said. “And now the company has grown so much, now we have not-for-profit status and our cast has grown.”

There are 1,500 homeless veterans in Pennsylvania at any given time, according to Senator Vince Hughes (D – Philadelphia).

That’s why he and other Democratic members of the Pennsylvania  Senate Appropriations Committee and representatives of various veterans groups are planning to meet Friday in Pittsburgh to discuss a bill that could help.

The legislation calls for a preference for homeless veterans, then to disabled veterans and then to families of deceased veterans for public housing.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

The process of arresting a child predator could take up to eight months with investigators taking computers from the suspect's home or business and transporting them to a crime lab for further study.

But the Attorney General’s office is trying to streamline that by rolling out two new trucks that act as computer forensic laboratories on wheels. 

As a new academic year begins today for many universities, a lot of students are attending their first ever college classes.

Various Pittsburgh universities reported either an increase in the number of freshmen this year or the number of applications they received - a continuation of a trend that began years ago.

Marc Harding, chief enrollment officer, said the University of Pittsburgh has about 3,900 freshmen starting this fall - about the same as last year - but that’s not because the same amount of people applied.

When it comes to public education funding in Pennsylvania, one size does not fit all, especially when it’s $5.5 billion this fiscal year being divided among 500 school districts.

That’s according to state Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester), who is part of a 15-member commission that was created in June with the goal of finding a formula for distributing state funding to schools in a fair and efficient manner.

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