Short Stories

Cindy and Dave: U.S. Steel’s Irvin Works endangers Glassport Residents

I met Cindy and Dave Meckel in November. The two shared with me their experience living in Glassport next to US Steel’s Irvin Works and how the pollution affects their health. Dave showed me the soot which reaches the interior of their home. Cindy explained that on bad days, she wheezes walking to her car for work in the morning. The Peachtree Flare, close to the couple’s house, has been a major culprit as it burned untreated coke oven gas and spread pollution farther out to nearby residents. More on this story written by Oliver Morrison at

Patricia La Choppa: The Health Department levies a fine against La Choppa’s landlord after she lived without heat and water for several years

I only got to meet Patricia Briefly when I photographed her for PublicSource this semester but the interaction impacted me. McKeesport resident, Patricia La Choppa, fears another winter without heat in her rental which has been deemed unlivable. With limited income, however, she and her family nowhere else to go. Her landlord, who is now in a nursing home, has failed to make the necessary fixes or pay health department fines. I watched Patricia tear up as she talked about her children. She explained that due to her health issues and surgeries, she needs the care of her children, but cannot get compensation for them because of her living conditions. I pulled past her house again on my way out and saw her and her family laughing together on the porch. I was inspired. The resilience of her spirit and her family surrounding her was a beautiful picture that I didn’t take but remains in my mind. Read more on this story by Rich Lord and the Tenant City project at

Sabrina Bowers: Conservatorship Case Gone Wrong

I met Sarina Bowers on assignment with PublicSource this week. Bowers has been fighting legal battles for years on a home in Coraopolis due to a conservatorship case gone wrong. After someone broke into the house and changed the locks, Bower quickly moved back in and has been sleeping and working off of an air mattress in the living room and eating food out of a make shift refrigerator outside. Bowers story is one of many fishy conservatorship cases in Pittsburgh. Read more on Sarina’s story by Rich Lord at!!!