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

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.

BikeFest is approaching the finish line this Sunday with thousands of riders pedaling their way through the city with one last bicycle-themed event.

“PedalPGH is BikePGH’s biggest fundraiser of the year as well as Western Pennsylvania’s largest bike ride,” said event coordinator Mike Carroll. “It’s in its 21st year, and we expect record attendance of around 3,000 riders.”

He said cyclists can choose among three trails that BikePGH tries to scale for different skill levels.

The Breathe Project Family Ride is 12-miles long on car-free trails on the Southside.

The largest retail state liquor store in Pennsylvania opened Thursday – but not everyone is excited.

The expanded store, located on Penn Circle South in East Liberty, is a remodeled and refurbished version of the previous Fine Wines & Good Spirits Store.

At 17,674 square feet, it’s 35 percent larger than its predecessor.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) aimed to make the store environmentally responsible by using LED lighting and offering to sell reusable shopping bags made from 60 percent recycled materials.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Instead of overflowing sewer systems and creating flooding, a new project will take rain water and use it to maintain a newly planted meadow in Schenley Park.

Officials from the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, ALCOSAN and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) announced Thursday the construction of two green rain water management projects in the park in Oakland.

In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a consent decree to the Pittsburgh region to eliminate sewage contamination entering local rivers and streams.

Incoming students to the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health can ‘plunge’ into their areas of study by participating in various forms of community service.

Cindy Bryce, associate dean for student affairs, said about 140 of the 220 incoming students to the program have signed up to take part in “Plunge into Public Health and Pittsburgh” Thursday.

Forty-nine states in the nation permit their local police departments to use radar to monitor traffic speed, but Pennsylvania is not one of them.

State police are allowed to use the devices in the commonwealth, and a new bill could enable local departments to do so, too.

Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) said local police departments are stretched in terms of their resources and manpower and this could help.

Matt Niemi / Flickr

Pittsburgh Police negotiations are underway, and Mayor Bill Peduto said he’s willing to bargain as long as he sees reform.

In March, a labor arbitrator ruled that Pittsburgh Police are not required to live within the city. Instead, they are permitted to live within a 25 mile radius of the City County Building. But soon after, Peduto appealed the decision.

Peduto said Wednesday he would be willing to bargain if he could see three improvements to the police system in Pittsburgh.

He said he wants to reform how officers are recruited and wants a police force that reflects the city, with more diversity. He also wants to see a change in how police are promoted, saying that it should be based on merit instead of a test.

The city skyline will be the backdrop for an ‘80s cult film favorite, when the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and Pittsburgh Filmmakers host the first “Rooftop Shindig” Wednesday.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

UPDATE (4:26 p.m. Wednesday): PennDOT Says McKnight Road Not at Risk

Work to repair a sinkhole nearly 40 feet long and 10 feet wide is underway in Ross Township.

The sinkhole opened in front of Hollywood Tans salon right off of McKnight Road Tuesday, swallowing a car – and almost its passenger, Natalie Huddleston of Shaler Township. She was not injured.

According to Steve Cowan, PennDOT district press officer, the sinkhole does not pose any danger to the state-maintained McKnight Road, which is about 15 feet from the edge of the sinkhole.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has been described as “hip,” “organic” and “authentic” by a slew of travel publications over the past few years, but what does all this recognition mean for the city and its residents?

It means money and a boost in the economy, according to Craig Davis, CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH, Susan Corbett, the First Lady of Pennsylvania, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

They gathered Tuesday at PNC Park, voted one of the best views in the country, in recognition of Pittsburgh being named as a “Top 10 All-American Travel Destinations” by the Travel Channel.

Before the implementation of the Clean Water Act, Pittsburgh’s rivers were so polluted, they barely even had fish, according to Brady Porter, Duquesne University associate professor of biology.

“Not any for commercial fishing or recreational fishing,” Porter said. “They were dead, they [the rivers] were basically sewers where our abandoned mine water would flow orange.”

Pennsylvania women have the opportunity to take part in the commonwealth’s first Business Plan Competition for women, where they will make pitches in front of a panel of judges for a cash prize.

Women own about 7.8 million businesses in the United States, according to the National Women’s Business council.

“They play a really integral role in our economy at the local, state and national level,” Ashley Mostek, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women, said. “They’re job creators; they’re an important part of our economy on all levels.”

One in four people live with some form of mental illness in the United States, according to the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania.

But Health and Human Services announced recently that seven health centers in the commonwealth will receive a total of $1,750,000 in Affordable Care Act funding.

This will be used to establish or expand behavioral health services for more than 20,900 people in the commonwealth.

The Squirrel Hill Health Center was one of the seven clinics that received $250,000.

From tales about an elderly woman who decides to go to medical school, to fairy tales and historical accounts told by local students, the 14th annual Three Rivers Storytelling Festival held this Friday and Saturday at Winchester Thurston’s North Campus will be chock full of interesting yarns.

15-year old Shaler Area High School student Sara Walker says her favorite part of storytelling is connecting with listeners and seeing them captivated by her tales.

  About 15,100 people die each year from hepatitis C, making it the leading cause of chronic liver disease and liver transplantation.

The disease can be contracted through injection drug use, unprotected sex or through contact with the blood of someone who is infected. It can be minor, lasting only a few weeks, or a lifelong battle.

But a study from the University of Pittsburgh shows that hepatitis C could become a “rare” disease by 2036.

Nationally, AAA forecasts this August’s gas prices to be lower than in previous years – but in Pennsylvania, not so much.

The average price for regular unleaded gasoline in western Pennsylvania is $3.72 per gallon - compared to $3.52 nationally.

Teresa Thomas, AAA East Central director of public affairs, said there are two reasons for higher gas prices in the commonwealth.

“One is the gas tax, and we also use a special summer blend of fuel in seven counties in western Pennsylvania, and that makes the price a little higher than the national average,” Thomas said.

Aaron Gibson said one of his favorite memories of Thelma Lovette was when she decided to test out the workout equipment the day before the grand opening of the YMCA that bares her name.

“She actually walked up to the machine and said, ‘Hey, watch this, watch my smoke,’ and she started doing the arm machine, you know, going back and forth, and just with a smile on her face,” Gibson described. “That’s the type of lady she was, she was about 96 years old at that time.”

Gibson is the executive director of the Thelma Lovette and Centre Avenue YMCAs.

Shawn Garvin said there’s a misconception that people must be either pro-environment or pro-economical development. 

He is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator for the Mid-Atlantic region and believes that they are not mutually exclusive and can, in fact, go hand-in-hand.

That’s why Mayor Bill Peduto hosted a roundtable discussion Thursday centered around how the city can support the growing “clean technology” movement.

With races, fireworks and live performances “powered” by the audience, the 16th Annual Regatta at Lake Arthur is being held at Moraine State Park Saturday and Sunday.

Holly Muchnok, the event director, described the regatta as a “celebration of playtime.”

She said the events will be held at the park’s South Shore, which isn’t as windy, so visitors have the opportunity to paddle board, dragon boat, kayak or canoe.

Dr. Alan Lockwood said he has seen way too many children in emergency rooms struggling to breathe while their parents look on confused and helpless.

That is why he and other health professionals from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which aims to limit carbon emissions from power plants and the effects of climate change.

Since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been taken into custody by U.S. border agents according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Holy Family Institute’s announcement that it will take in about three dozen of these children has been met mostly with backlash from the Pittsburgh region.

According to Holy Family, the children are under the age of 12, which the institute stated makes up about 20 percent of the migrating children.

Maria Antonio came to the United States 11 years ago with her husband and her son, who is now 13 years old.

She has since had two more children, but they all face the threat of losing their father because he has been involved in a deportation case with immigration for two years.

“My children say to me regularly: ‘Mommy, are we going to be separated, are they going to send daddy away?’” Antonio said. “This is what we most fear – not just my family, but all families.”

She, her husband and her oldest child are part of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Incidents of derailments in 2014 have prompted questions about safety standards for trains transporting chemicals.

But how safe is the transferring of these chemicals from the trains to other vehicles?

TRANSFLO Terminal Services, Inc. transfers bulk commodities – often high-risk chemicals – between railcars and trucks. But the company does not have a risk management plan in case of an emergency.

Controlling blood-loss is key when emergency responders on helicopters rush patients with traumatic injuries to the hospital.

That’s why University of Pittsburgh trauma experts are launching a trial to see if the blood-clotting drug,  tranexamic acid (TXA) could save lives by helping medics gain control of internal bleeding.