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

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).

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.

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.

In the wake of Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper’s indictment on counts of conspiracy and theft of public funds, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner wants to increase transparency in county funds.

She and County Manager William McKain are auditing “off-book” accounts with the goal of bringing them under the county’s centralized accounting and banking system.

She called the accounts “historic relics” from the county’s former row office structure.

You never quite outgrow the excitement of dropping a Mentos in a liter of Coke to create a “geyser” or watching objects explode in a microwave, or at least that’s what the staff at the Carnegie Science Center thinks.

This is why the Science Center is opening its doors Sept. 6 to those who are kids at heart, but actually age 21 and older. The Science Center is inviting adults to its monthly 21+ Night, September’s theme being “Viral Videos.”

Nearly 400 Shaler Area School District teachers went on strike Tuesday after the district and faculty union failed to come to an agreement.

Superintendent Wesley Shipley said the district and union met for seven hours last week with a mediator and made progress, but that was not the case Monday.

“We met again yesterday hoping to move further and came to an impasse and that we are now at a point where there is no more give on either side,” Shipley said.

The main issues still being disputed are salary scale and contribution to health care benefits.

Elizabeth Forward may be located in a suburban and rural area, but it might hold the future of teaching and learning through technology.

The school district is the first in Pennsylvania accepted as a member of the League of Innovative Schools.

The district is one of eight new members of the league, which is a coalition of education agencies with the goal of enhancing teaching and learning.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are one of the only vaccinations that can prevent cancer, but most women, especially black women, are still unlikely to get the shots. This is according to Sonya Borrero, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

A study from Borrero and researchers at the School of Medicine found black women are significantly less likely to receive human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines than white women.

A group of municipal officials thinks prevailing wage is unnecessarily taking money away from taxpayers.

The officials called for prevailing wage reform at a recent House Labor and Industry Committee hearing.

Under the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, the pay rate is required for construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration or repair work that costs at least $25,000.

After 40 years of planning and securing funding, work will begin August 27 on a new stretch on Route 219 in Somerset County.

The 11-mile, four-lane roadway will connect the existing Route 219 south of Somerset with the existing four-lane Meyersdale bypass.

The project will include new interchanges north of Meyersdale and at a crossing of the Mud Pike roadway.

Wilkinsburg once had a popular business district with a large, upwardly mobile population, according to the Borough of Wilkinsburg website.

But the borough has struggled ever since the steel mill closures in the 1970s and '80s resulted in layoffs and a depleted tax base.

But Wilkinsburg students are looking towards the future.

The students, as part of an after-school program called FUSE, produced a short documentary called "Wilkinsburg: The Way We See It," which highlights efforts made by the community to redevelop.

Summer may be coming to a close, but the threat of West Nile Virus continues.

The Department of Health has detected Pennsylvania’s first confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus this year.

A Montgomery County man tested positive for West Nile Aug. 7 and was hospitalized, and the infection was confirmed in a York County man July 20, who did not require hospitalization.

Health department spokeswoman Kait Gillis said both men are recovering.

Sixty human cases of West Nile Virus were recorded in 2012.

Travel and tourism generates $28.6 billion a year in Pennsylvania, but Allegheny County’s official promotion agency thinks Pittsburgh is not living up to its potential because of its smoky history.

VisitPITTSBURGH hosted a photo contest with the goal of attracting tourists to Pittsburgh by showing it as a “vibrant” city.

Spokeswoman Connie George said the agency wanted to break the stereotype associated with the city.

The Fort Pitt Block House is almost 250 years old, yet archeologists discovered something “new” on its grounds last weekend.

The Fort Pitt Block House was built in 1764, making it the oldest building in Pittsburgh, and it's survived the Revolutionary War and the Industrial Period. It has been a Block House, a trading post, a residence and is a national historic landmark.

A Block House is basically a guardhouse, where soldiers would go to fend off attacks on the fort.

How to fund transportation improvements hit a traffic jam this summer.

House Republican leaders wanted to spend less than the $2.5 billion the Senate passed, and neither can agree on where to get the money.

To try to break the gridlock, the House Appropriations Committee hosted a hearing in Pittsburgh Wednesday to explore how investments in infrastructure can generate economic growth.

Ninety percent of success in school is showing up — that’s what the United Way and its partners believe.

The United Way launched its “Be There” campaign Monday aimed at making attendance a priority at schools across Allegheny County.

“The concept is very simple, it’s how do you get the people outside of the schools, the community agencies, the faith-based organizations, the youth workers who have a great relationship with young people, to encourage 100 percent attendance,” said Bob Nelkin, United Way of Allegheny County President.

Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County want you to stop and smell the roses (or garlic and basil).

They will be hosting their annual “Garden in the Parks Field Day” Saturday at the gardens in North and South Parks.

“We get to show the garden to guests as well as talk to them about native pollinators and proper composting, and we also have garlic tasting, tomato tasting and basil pesto tasting, and really just get to educate the public,” said Philip Bauerle, Interim Master Gardener Coordinator in Pittsburgh.

Small brewers across the U.S. will have reason to hoist their mugs if legislation giving them a tax cut passes.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is pushing to pass the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act, which would cut excise taxes for small breweries — those that produce fewer than 2 million barrels of beer per year.

Small breweries currently pay an excise tax of $7 per barrel for the first 60,000 barrels of beer they brew each year, and $18 per barrel above that.

The Allegheny Land Trust has protected more than 1,500 acres of land in Allegheny and Washington counties, but it’s not cheap. That’s why it was awarded a $110,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Chris Beichner, ALT executive director, said the money from the grant will go toward general operations.

Pennsylvania State Police are looking for a donation of a different sort this summer — one that gallops and neighs.

State police spokesman Adam Reed said the mounted patrol receives its horses differently than how the K-9 unit obtains its dogs.

“Whenever we have a new dog, we receive them out of training," he said, "but with horses, we rely on donations just as a cost effective means."

This school year, students at Pittsburgh Public Schools will not be the only ones rigorously evaluated.

Teachers will be evaluated using a new system unlike any other in the state.

Act 82 was signed last summer requiring school districts across the state to use a system where principal observation only consists of half of teacher evaluations, with the other half coming from student outcomes, including assessment tests.

PPS applied, and was granted, permission to use a different teacher evaluation system for the 2013-14 school year.

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.

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