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

In Pennsylvania, newborns are screened for more than 40 conditions, but only six of these screenings are mandatory according to Dr. Robert Cicco, the associate director of the neonatal intensive care unit at West Penn Hospital.

However, a new law will add a seventh condition to that list, requiring hospitals to screen babies for severe heart disease using a pulse oximetry test.

Flickr user josepha

More young people are moving to Pittsburgh while fewer are leaving, and Doug Heuck, the director of Pittsburgh TODAY, thinks this could be because of the region’s cost of living.

The nonprofit research organization found that in the first quarter of 2014, Pittsburgh’s cost of living was the third lowest among 14 peer cities – St. Louis and Charlotte had the lowest cost of living figures.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

From a 1967 “Playboy Pink” Mustang to a 1957 red BMW Isetta so small that it doesn’t even have side doors, cars of all different shapes and sizes, years and make rumbled their way through the city Wednesday.

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix hosted a parade and a car show, one of the various activities leading to the largest vintage race event in the nation this weekend in Schenley Park.

During the parade, the cars started at Station Square and made four stops: the US Steel Plaza, PPG Place, Market Square and Point State Park.

From pension plans to Act 47 and dog parks to bike lanes – many Pittsburghers have questions about the future of the city and Mayor Bill Peduto and his staff hope to have the answers.

That’s why he is taking to popular social media forum Reddit Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for the city’s first “Mayor’s Night On(line).”

Peduto has used Reddit in the past to connect to the community – especially while campaigning – but this is the first time he’s done so as mayor, and this time he’s doing it differently.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto lifted his cell phone up, showing the Lyft and Uber apps on his screen.

“I don’t drive them, but I use them,” Peduto said. “I’ve used them both in the city of Pittsburgh and also in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. It’s very easy to use.”

Though Gov. Tom Corbett signed the 2014-15 state budget, he line-item vetoed $65 million in General Assembly spending and an additional $7.2 million in legislative designated spending.

He said he did this because the lawmakers sent him a budget that was filled with discretionary spending but refused to deal with the unsustainable public pension system.

Instead, he said the Assembly increased its $320 million budget by two percent – which he said would cost taxpayers an additional $5 million.

Andrew Bardwell / Flickr

When it comes to selecting Pittsburgh’s new chief of police, Mayor Bill Peduto believes: “Haste in this situation would be at the greater loss of true reform.”

Peduto spoke to Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer Wednesday about the process of hiring a new police chief.

Former police chief Nate Harper resigned his position February 2013 while under investigation for creating an unauthorized slush fund, diverting public money and failing to pay income taxes – charges that ultimately led him to a sentence of 18 months in prison.

Assistant Chief Regina McDonald has been serving as interim chief.

However, the application process for a new chief only began a month ago. Peduto said that while Talent City works to find the best candidate in terms of professional qualifications, he is looking to residents to help with the hiring process.

Throughout the summer, the Public Safety councils in Pittsburgh’s six policing zones have been holding forums to hear input from residents about what they want in a chief of police.

When most Pennsylvanians are incarcerated, the Department of Corrections must foot the bill for their health care costs.

That’s according to Susan Bensinger, Deputy Press Secretary, who said the department works to pay that bill in a way that provides community-standard care for the inmates while utilizing taxpayer money in the most efficient way possible.

A study released Tuesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation suggests that the department has been successful in that mission.

Marine Sgt. Doug Vitale was leading his squad through Afghanistan in 2011 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both his legs above the knee.  Because he lost so much blood, he also suffered strokes on both sides of his brain.

“He’s still in a rehab program, for almost three years now, to continue to get better and improve,” Alexis Vitale, Doug’s wife, said. “And he is, he does continue to get better, but we work for a long time for small things at this point, but he’s determined and he’s hard working and keeps going.”

With the Fourth of July this Friday, you might be seeing firework tents scattered throughout the state -- however, much of what is for sale in those large tents cannot be purchased by most Pennsylvania residents.

Pennsylvania state law allows residents to buy and use items defined as “ground and hand-held sparkling devices,” “novelties” and “toy caps” by the American Pyrotechnics Association.

However, according to Adam Reed, Pennsylvania State Police Public Information Officer, the law is strict when it comes to more-explosive items.


The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has slammed the brakes on ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber in Pittsburgh effective immediately.

PUC Administrative Law judges have granted the emergency petition by the PUC Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement to issue cease-and-desist orders for the companies.

The two-judge panel wrote that they were not “blind or deaf to the public opinion,” but that the commission’s duty to ensure public safety is more important than the convenience of the companies.

A Norfolk Southern train carrying empty ethanol tank cars rear-ended a westbound intermodal train Wednesday afternoon in Sewickley, causing a fire and prompting the precautionary evacuation of nearby residents.

Two crew members were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, according to Alvin Henderson, Allegheny County chief of emergency services. Two firefighters were also treated at the scene for heat exhaustion.

Western Africa is currently experiencing the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, and the Brother’s Brother Foundation (BBF) in Pittsburgh is asking for donations to help protect the medical staff trying to contain it.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola virus disease has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent.  Nearly 400 people throughout Western Africa have died from the virus since March - including patients and the medical staff taking care of them.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

After years of competing, Larimer has finally won a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to move forward with redevelopment plans.

The announcement was made Monday by Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner and Assistant HUD Secretary Carol Galante at the Kingsley Center.

“This is really big,” U.S. Representative Michael Doyle (D - PA - 14) said. “We were up against 43 other communities all across the United States of America, this was a serious competition.”

Google Maps / 90.5 WESA

Little scraps of land and traffic islands are scattered throughout East Liberty, but for a long time nobody knew who owned many of them.

This is the problem East Liberty Development Inc. (ELDI) ran into while trying to acquire a parcel of land for redevelopment.

“This is the challenge of rebuilding our city is that we have lots of narrow, little pieces of land,” Kendall Pelling, ELDI Director of Land Recycling, said. “And so to do a new development often times it requires acquiring property from multiple different owners.”

Edgar Degas is perhaps most famous for his brightly colored paintings of ballerinas in 19th century Paris – but you won’t find any of those works in the exhibition at the Frick Art & Historical Center that premiered Saturday.

That’s according to Sarah Hall, Director of Curatorial Affairs, who said this exhibit will instead give visitors a glimpse into Degas’s other works that she described as “subtler.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there could be a shortfall in the highway trust fund (HTF) as soon as mid-July.

For much of the country, that could mean a halt to construction on bridges and roads.

“What we’re facing in transportation is the transportation equivalent of a government shutdown, it is that simple, but it is that stark and disturbing if folks don’t start (to) surrender some of their predispositions on what should happen next,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) said.

About 15 to 20 percent of Americans has dyslexia, a disorder that results in slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling and writing or confusing similar words.

But many cases go undetected, making schooling difficult for those who have it.

A new bill that aims to address this issue just passed the House and Senate this week and awaits Gov. Tom Corbett’s signature.

According to Senator Sean Wiley (D-Erie), the bill enables the Pennsylvania Department of Education to establish a Dyslexia Screening Pilot Program.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Bishnu Timsina and Puspa Nepal are from Bhutan, but they spent much of their lives in refugee camps in Nepal.

This is because the Bhutanese government found those with Nepali origin a threat to political order and decided to act on that “risk” in the late 1980s.

“(The) government started putting them into jail, raping the young girls and women, beating family members,” Bishnu said. “And they were also asked to sign volunteer migration forms by the government of Bhutan and they were told that you have to leave the country.”

More than 60 percent of the 25,000 jobs available in the Pittsburgh region require specialized technical training - but only 40 percent of them require a four-year degree, according to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board.

That’s why the Pittsburgh Promise and Pittsburgh Public Schools are offering a new trade education program for 10th, 11th and 12th grade students starting this September.

A lot more information about Pennsylvania’s state-related universities could be revealed soon.

The Senate State Government Committee unanimously approved legislation to expand Pennsylvania’s Open Records Law to the state-owned universities.

Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University are mostly exempt from the Open Records Law, which calls for transparency of finances and other information to the public.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

  More than twenty children lined the stage at the CLO Academy of Musical Theater today to rehearse songs from their Cinderella production - and now even more children can take part in future productions.

That’s because the PNC Foundation has awarded the academy a four-year, $800,000 grant.

Only 17 percent of parents believe reading is a top summer priority for their children.

That’s according to Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s, which released a survey regarding parents’ attitude’s towards reading Wednesday.

The survey also showed that children spend almost three times as many hours weekly watching TV or playing video games as they do reading during the summer.

Kathryn Heffernan, Pittsburgh’s RIF assistant director of communications and development, said accessibility to books is one of the issues.

About 750 miles of sewer laterals, or the pipes that connect private homes to the publicly-owned main sewer lines, run underneath Pittsburgh – many of which are damaged.

That’s according to Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny), who said repairing and replacing these pipes can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $35,000, and that burden falls on the homeowners.

But he said his legislation aims to solve that problem.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there were as many as 20,000 concentration camps during from 1933 to 1945 — used for forced labor, transit camps and even killing centers for 11 million victims.

But many don’t believe this actually happened, and others just simply never learned about it.

That’s what House Bill 1424 — which just passed the Senate this week — aims to fix.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh might not have its own beach, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a giant sandcastle.

Sculptors Rusty Croft and Kirk Rademaker from the Travel Channel’s show Sand Masters transformed a five-ton pile of sand into a work of art in Market Square Thursday.

The artists co-own the business Sand Guys and have been professionally sculpting sand since 1997.

VisitErie, Erie County’s tourism promotion agency, hired the “masters” to create the sculpture for its “Hello Summer, Hello Erie!” advertising campaign.

President Barack Obama wants some advice from Pittsburgh’s “maker” community.

That’s why Mayor Bill Peduto hosted a roundtable Monday afternoon to discuss the achievements and future of the city's “Maker Movement,” which refers to using tools such as 3D printers and computer-aided designs to build everything from circuitry to jewelry.

“After extensive analysis and prayer,” the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik has decided to move forward with the closure of four facilities.

He announced Sunday plans to close the Holy Child Catholic Elementary School along with the St. Ignatius, Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Barnabas church buildings.

According to Michael Latusek, superintendent of Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese schools, enrollment for the K-8 school has dwindled over the years.

Toy lasers might seem harmless enough, but that cheap gadget could momentarily blind a pilot of a plane with hundreds of passengers – even if it’s thousands of feet overhead.

That’s according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is launching a campaign to prevent such disasters from happening.

Pointing a laser into an airplane is a federal offense with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Those attending the 55th annual Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival will find portraits of air, a 4 story figure named Lady Pneumatica and a tribute to the Fort Pitt Block House.

The festival that runs today through June 15 has a theme of aesthetic creativity and environmental sustainability.

“Many of our art installations explore either the built environment and architecture or the natural environment and how our actions can impact and affect the natural world around us,” Veronica Corpuz, Director of Festival Management, said.