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

One out of every three people in the United States feels the painful inflammation of periodontal disease, or gum disease.

That’s according to University of Pittsburgh researchers who believe they have discovered a way to treat the disease by mimicking a tumor.

Steve Little, associate professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, said tumors have a way of hacking into the body’s immune system and convincing the system to accept it.

The Senator John Heinz History Center is giving people a glimpse into Pennsylvanians’ lives during the Civil War by looking at our lineage.

Visitors this month will have special opportunities to track their ancestors and view tintype photos taken 150 years ago.  They will also see how the entire Civil War exhibit currently on display was created.

Andy Masich, History Center President and CEO, said the center receives thousands of calls every year from people interested in tracking their ancestors - but none are as interesting as Civil War ancestors.

The Porch restaurant in Oakland closed Wednesday in response to several E. coli cases among employees and customers.

The restaurant voluntarily closed for the day, but has been approved by the Health Department to re-open Thursday.

Karen Hacker, Director of Allegheny Health Department, said the restaurant is undergoing extensive cleaning.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society wants to light a flame under e-cigarette regulations.

More than 200 physicians called on the state legislature to pass electronic cigarette legislation similar to existing tobacco laws. 

The physicians met at the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s annual meeting over the weekend and expressed concerns about the devices.

E-cigarettes are marketed as a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes, but the battery-powered devices give smokers doses of nicotine and other additives in an aerosol.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The state-appointed body charged with overseeing Pittsburgh's finances has given the green light to a $479 million dollar city budget.

Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) approved the amended 2014 spending plan and its accompanying five-year fiscal plan.

According to the Mayor’s office, the budget and fiscal plan calls for the continued investment in public safety, public works, technology upgrades and quality-of-life improvements for residents.

It will not increase taxes, cut services or lead to lay-offs.

County Controller Chelsa Wagner has issued a letter to Allegheny County authorities asking them to increase their transparency.

Brad Korinski, county controller chief of staff, said the public needs and wants more transparency and supervision over authorities and how they spend taxpayer money.

“Authorities affect any number of aspects of our daily life as citizens,” Korinski said. “But I think that even the most engaged of our citizens would be hard-pressed to describe exactly how authorities do what it is that they do.”

Carnegie Mellon University science students want you to know that they’re just like the rest of us.

That is why they are hosting The Story Collider, a national storytelling project that produces live shows and podcasts, Monday night at the Rex Theater.

Graduate and undergraduate CMU students with majors ranging from computer science to physics and biology will share stories about how science has impacted their lives. 

The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) thinks the best way to celebrate Pittsburgh’s air is by “gasping” for it after a 5K.

GASP will be hosting its first-ever Clean Air Dash and Festival Saturday.

The Air Dash - a certified 5K - will take runners through the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in South Side Riverfront Park.

Rachel Filippini, Executive Director of GASP, said the goal is to celebrate Pittsburgh’s progress towards reducing air pollution and re-energize people to continue working towards cleaner air.

Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) nurses have ratified a new two-year contract Wednesday after their previous contract expired Sunday.

Eighty-seven percent of the 1,238 nurses voted in favor of ratifying the contract.

Transplant nurse Cathy Stoddart, president of the SEIU unit that represents AGH’s nurses, said they gained a combined 4.25 percent raise over the life of the contract.

The 114-year-old Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s West End branch is turning a new page with a series of renovations.

Spokeswoman Suzanne Thinnes said the renovations will include the branch’s first air conditioning system and elevator.

“By having air conditioning throughout the entire library, it really will bring people in during all aspects of the year to come in and be able to enjoy library services,” Thinnes said.

About 400 nurses will descend on Market Square downtown Thursday afternoon to educate people about the Affordable Care Act - each with their own story.

Michelle Boyle, a nurse at Allegheny General, believes her mother-in-law would still be alive if the Affordable Care Act had been enacted sooner.

“My mother-in-law, she was 58, and she lost her job, she lost her health insurance, and a year later, she lost her life because she kept on being denied because she had pre-existing conditions,” Boyle said.

Multiple pieces of legislation have been introduced to take on the burden of school property taxes.

The Senate Finance Committee is holding a public hearing on Tuesday regarding one of the bills, Senate and House Bill 76, which would eliminate school property taxes and replace them with a combination of personal income and sales taxes.

Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), said the Independent Fiscal Office plans to address a number of very serious complications with the defeated bill at the hearing.

PennDOT’s Office of Public Private Partnerships (P3) has taken a different “route” in its search for proposals for transportation projects — it is asking the private sector for ideas.

P3 is accepting its second round of proposals for transportation projects.

Good news for Pittsburghers: more people are joining the workforce and they’re getting paid more.

At a 1.3 percent growth, Pittsburgh had the second highest increase of weekly wages compared to the same quarter last year, only behind Cincinnati, which had a 1.4 percent growth.

This is according to Pittsburgh Today, a regional analytical organization that compares the city to 14 benchmark areas around the country with categories ranging from arts and environment to government and economy.

Goodwill unveiled its latest job training “classroom” Thursday, but it doesn’t have desks.

It has plants.

That’s because it’s a greenhouse — Goodwill’s “Good-to-Grow” Greenhouse — and it will be a part of the organization’s job training program.

David Tobiczyk, vice president of marketing and development for Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania (SWPA), said the greenhouse is a “one of a kind thing” for the organization.

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins Tuesday, and the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) wants to make sure people understand what that means to them.

PHAN is hosting a community awareness event Tuesday at the Hill House in Pittsburgh with the goal of educating Pennsylvanians on the new health care law.

Erin Ninehouser, PHAN education and outreach director, said they plan to talk about the new choices, protections and benefits that come with the law.

Bike Pittsburgh is pedaling toward a vision of Pittsburgh where cyclists have their own space to ride safely.

This can be done with bikeways, or passages made specifically for bicyclists to ride.

Scott Bricker, BikePGH executive director, said the lack of bikeways in Pittsburgh present many challenges to bicyclists.

Sorry, Cleveland. It appears Pittsburgh will likely be victorious in yet another facet of the intra-city rivalry that has existed since before the Cuyahoga River caught fire.

This year, Bike Cleveland challenged Bike Pittsburgh (BikePGH) to see which city could log the most points in the National Bike Challenge, and with four days to go, BikePGH is in the lead.

Pittsburgh, which was the largest city to finish among the top 40 nationwide in 2012, is now ranked 169.

The friendly competition began May 1 and will finish Sept. 30.

A room full of politicians, entrepreneurs and robots - this was the scene Thursday at the Innovation Works AlphaLab as Governor Tom Corbett announced the launch of Innovate in PA.

With the program, the commonwealth will auction $100 million in deferred tax credits to insurance companies.

These companies will then use the credits to raise funds that will go towards start up technology-related businesses - the Ben Franklin Technology Development Partners, three Life Sciences Greenhouses and the Venture Capital Investment program.

Both the Pirates and the Steelers packed fans into sold-out stadiums Sunday night, but the Port Authority of Allegheny County was the true winner, according to Rich Fitzgerald.

At a news conference Monday, the county executive praised the Port Authority for how it handled Sunday night’s massive crowds and provided a report card for its progress.

The League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh want you to spend your Tuesday exercising “one of our most basic rights” and register to vote.

Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, and the group will hold registration drives at the North and Allegheny Community College campuses.

To register, Mark Wolosik, Allegheny County elections division manager, said you need to be a resident of the election district for at least 30 days before the Nov. 5 election.

The Village Theater Company did not have enough money to break ground on the new cinema in Sewickley by its goal of June, but a new date can be set thanks to gaming revenues.

The state will award nearly $6.6 million in gaming revenues to 19 community and economic development projects in Allegheny County.

According to the Corbett administration, the projects will provide new opportunities for quality housing, business growth and job creation.

The $350,000 allotted to Brian Dugan, president of Village Theater Company, will go toward building a nonprofit movie theater.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has found what she believes to be a discrepancy in tax reassessment breaks between commercial and residential properties.

The controller’s office released information Monday showing commercial properties are receiving significantly bigger tax reassessment breaks than homeowners.

Wagner said there seems to be an inconsistency between how commercial properties were reduced and how residential properties were reduced at the assessment hearings.

Horses are an American symbol that epitomizes the rugged west, freedom and strength.

But the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is looking for people to adopt 40 wild horses and burros to protect them from the dangers of overpopulation.

The wild horses and burros come from Herd Management Areas out west where the vegetation and water supply could become scarce in the presence of too many animals.

Martha Malik, public affairs specialist for the Northeastern States Field Office, said the wild horses don’t have natural predators so the herd sizes double every four years.

State Sen. Tim Solobay (D-Washington) wants the commonwealth to become the 21st state to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

E-cigarettes have been marketed as a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes, but a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests they could be a gateway to regular cigarette use.

The study showed 160,000 teens nationwide who never smoked cigarettes before used electronic cigarettes in 2012.

The devices are battery-powered and provide users with doses of nicotine and other additives in an aerosol.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) wants more consumers to choose their natural gas supplier.

The PUC voted unanimously to launch an investigation into the state’s retail natural gas market.

Pamela Witmer, PUC commissioner, said they want to assess whether effective competition exists within the market and search for places where improvements can be made.

She noted that Pennsylvania now has a “tremendous” resource of Shale Gas leading to an influx in the market.

Pennsylvania has 5,543 structurally deficient bridges; 86 percent are owned by the state.

Now U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has unveiled a bipartisan proposal to increase funding by 10 percent for “off-system” bridges — bridges that are owned by a county or municipality and are not part of the federal highway system.

Casey said all bridges in the commonwealth average 54 years old, and only 10 percent of them receive federal funds.

Nearly 20,000 people can pack the Consol Energy Center for events today, but more than 60 years ago, thousands jammed the Hunt Armory in Shadyside to listen to President Harry Truman.

“There was so many events, this was basically the public large gathering place for so many historic events and recreational and cultural events with the city, not unlike the Syria Mosque and the arena itself,” said state Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny County).

September is “National Preparedness Month” in Pennsylvania – but how prepared are you?

Glenn Cannon, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), said there are many potential emergencies the commonwealth faces: flooding, winter storms, tornadoes and the threat of issues with one of the nine nuclear reactors.

Pennsylvanians who received a Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) crisis grant last year might warm up at the news that they are receiving an additional $200.

“It turns out at the end of the LIHEAP season last year, we had enough money that we felt the need to kind of return it to those people who had the greatest need,” said Anne Bale, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Welfare.

Bale said the extra $200 will be sent directly to the crisis-clients’ utility companies.

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