What's Being Made At Pittsburgh's Maker Faire

10 hours ago
Maker Faire Pgh / Facebook

From robots, to rockets to bicycles: this weekend, Maker Faire Pittsburgh will exhibit the work of many creative minds from all over the region.

Dale Dougherty, creator of Maker Faire, said ‘maker’ is an umbrella term that broadly defines anyone who builds, creates, or puts something together.

“I think one of the elements of Maker Faire is that we’re using technology often to transform materials and turn it into something that means something to us and to other people,” he said.

Joe McHugh

It was 2009 when journalist and writer Joe McHugh set out to find Helen, an African American woman who helped to keep his family together after tragedy threatened to tear them apart. His journey is detailed in his book “Coins in the Ashes: A Family Story of Grief, Gratitude, and Grace.” McHugh spoke with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer about the quest to find Helen, as well as what inspired him to search for her in the first place.

The century-old Kaufmann’s building closed at the end of this summer, but fortunately, many of its most iconic artifacts will be preserved. Those who remember the Kaufmann building will be able to enjoy its most famous features at a different location.

LM Otero / Associated Press

The leading cause of death among American teens isn’t an illness – it’s traffic crashes, largely due to distracted driving, according to the National Department of Transportation.

“It is a big problem in this country,” said Chris Vitale, manager for injury prevention and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. “For the past two years, we’ve lost about 3,000 to crashes that have been attributed to distracted driving.”

Courtesy American Friends Service Committee

Wesley Peters is a 17-year-old student at Pittsburgh Creative and Performance Arts School, and said he encounters racism on a regular basis.

“As a young, African-American male, I’ve experienced racism and other microaggressions throughout my daily life,” Peters said.

Peters will be one of around 100 youths to attend the Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) Weekend this Friday through Sunday at Bethel AME Church in the Hill District. Sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, the event will target issues such as the “School-to-Prison Pipeline” and the history of racial inequalities in the United States.

Jon Dawson / Flickr

An environmental advocacy group filed a class-action lawsuit on Thursday against a coke production plant in Monessen, Westmoreland County, for over 225 pollution violations.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Georgie Kovacosky leaned on the fence surrounding a sunny enclosure on her 230-acre farm in New Bethlehem, about 60 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.  

Michael Khor / Flickr

City Council members are expected to vote on a bill next week that would clarify where drones are allowed as they become more affordable and available in the Pittsburgh market.

“Historically, unmanned aircraft, including model airplanes, have been barred from our city parks,” said Jim Griffin, director of Parks and Recreation for the city. “That, we now extend to drones.”

    First off, Rachel has never seen the Big Lebowski. Let’s all just take a moment and let that sink in.

Also, Josh had a birthday recently. Happy Birthday! Let’s party with some great events brought to you by Social Club.

Carnegie Museum of Art is bringing you Hops and Hopper event celebrating the great American artist Edward Hopper! Lots of different breweries will be on tap, including Grist House Brewing, Hitchhiker Brewing and more! Come on down Saturday night!

The Color Of Sundays

Oct 8, 2015
Cardinal Publishers Group

Pittsburgh Tribune Review reporter and author Andrew Conte laces together a history of racism in sports and the creation of the 1970s Steelers dynasty with his latest book, The Color of Sundays.

The book tells the story of Pittsburgh Courier sports writer turned Steelers scout Bill Nunn Jr., who by 1970, was the first African American promoted to a front office position with the Pittsburgh Steelers as Assistant Director of Player Personnel. 

Though at first reluctant to have a book published about his life and work, Conte says Nunn warmed up to the idea when they agreed to make the story not just about one man and the Steelers, but rather as a story about black athletes finally getting recognized by the National Football League.

Grading Restaurants By Health Code Compliance

Oct 8, 2015
Omar Chatriwala / flickr

Facilities that serve food throughout Allegheny County must be inspected by a health official each year in order to continue serving customers.  Proof of this inspection can be found hanging in the restaurant in the form of an "approved-to-operate" green sticker.  Some officials don't believe this is enough evidence that the facility is truly abiding by the health code.  Public Source reporter Eric Holmberg and 90.5 WESA reporter and All Things Considered host Larkin Page-Jacobs have explored a proposed restaurant grading system that would categorize businesses with an A, B, or C, based on their health code compliance. They'll take us through what the system could mean for consumers, health officials and business owners.

Mary Wilson / 90.5 WESA

  Gov. Tom Wolf’s revised tax package failed a vote in the state House on Wednesday as nine members of his own party voted against it. 

Republicans and Democrats disagreed about what the vote proved, and shared no specific plans for finalizing a state budget that is now 100 days late. 

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Pennsylvania’s wine industry accounts for some $5.5 million in sales at the state’s wine and spirit stores. To shine a light on the growing industry, state lawmakers have designated October as Pennsylvania Wine Month.

Casey Chafin / 90.5 WESA

Security officers were joined Wednesday by union and community leaders  to announce their first union contract with several companies that provide security services for Pittsburgh buildings.

The deal with Allied Barton Security Services, G4S, Securitas, St. Moritz Security Services, I.S.S., S.O.S. and Chesley Brown provides health care benefits and a $1.95 hourly increase over three years to a minimum of $11.75.

Sheri Geyer, a security officer for 18 years, said the contract should encourage other workers in the area to organize.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Two parts of Councilman Ricky Burgess’s “City for All Agenda” received unanimous preliminary approval in Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday.

If the bills are formally approved next week, the city will establish a Wage Review Commission and the HELP Initiative, which would create a strategy for preserving and increasing affordable housing in the East End.

Francis Southwick

Frances Southwick wanted to be a doctor for as long as she could remember.

As a kid, she collected old popsicle sticks to use as tongue depressors, volunteered in medical facilities and eventually ended up in medical school in West Virginia. Southwick did her residency at UPMC Shadyside including stints at a number of Pittsburgh hospitals.


Most Penguins’ fans would be aware Sidney Crosby missed 46 games in 2013 due to a concussion, but a recent Harris poll conducted for UPMC found that the vast majority of American adults are unaware of the definition of a concussion and that it is a treatable injury.

Gov. Tom Wolf is scaling back his tax wish-list ahead of an expected vote in the House on Wednesday.

The revised proposal, released Tuesday afternoon, includes a smaller personal income tax increase and a natural gas drilling tax, but no sales tax hike or increases to cigarette and business taxes.

Ball 'Hawking' On The Allegheny River

Oct 7, 2015
Lou Blouin / The Allegheny Front

Ball "hawks"—the obsessed, not-afraid-to-run-you-or-your-mother-over fans that shag and collect baseballs from Major League ballparks—are a special breed. But Pittsburgh's Pete Schell is a unique gamer within that subculture. Typically, the competitive ball shagging is done inside the park during pre-game batting practice. But Pete Schell has found his own version of the hawks' life outside PNC Park on the banks of the Allegheny River.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

One burger joint in Pittsburgh has repeatedly kept raw hamburger meat, lettuce and coleslaw at temperatures that allow bacteria to flourish. A chain restaurant’s worst violations in the past three years were a missing floor tile and a dirty floor drain.

Both restaurants have maintained their approved-to-operate green stickers from the Allegheny County Health Department, but one would’ve earned a ‘C’ and the other an ‘A’ if the county’s attempts to institute a restaurant grading system had passed.

Mayor Peduto On The Police Bureau's Growing Diversity

Oct 7, 2015
Keith Srakocic / AP Images

As word that one of the cadets moving through the Pittsburgh Police academy would upon graduation be the first transgender officer hired by the city begins to spread throughout the ranks and being reported by local media, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is calling it a non issue.

“I’m not even sure if that is the case,” said Peduto while on WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh.  “It’s not a criteria that we have as part of a test to become a police officer, nor is it something that we can even ask.”

Peduto said the criteria for becoming an officer is very different than asking about sexual identity.

A new audit from the state's auditor general gives the Pennsylvania Department of Education poor marks for how it deals with academically struggling schools and special employees.

The report, covering mid-2010 to mid-2015, finds that the agency failed to provide special help to most poor-performing schools unless it was expressly required by federal law.

The new scores were adopted in 2012 to assess and compare schools. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said during a press conference Tuesday that merely labeling sub-par schools is of little service.

City of Pittsburgh Council District 9

Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess is rolling out a few more details on his plan to preserve and expand affordable housing in the city’s East End.

“You have to rebuild schools, make the community safe, rebuild housing and rebuild social service entities all at the same time in the parts of the community on the edge, next to strength,” Burgess said.

Lawrenceville's Transformation Continues

Oct 6, 2015
Lawrenceville Pittsburgh / Facebook page

Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood is truly a tale of urban redevelopment. From a historically industrial district to the city's "hippest" spot, Lawrenceville has seen it all.  Business contributor Rebecca Harris walks us through what's happening in the community, including the best spots to eat and shop.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pirates will take on the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on Wednesday with the winner advancing to the best-of-five National League Division series against St. Louis. A large crowd of cheering fans gathered in Downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday to support the Bucs.

Kara Holsopple / The Allegheny Front

Mary Beth Thakar is so passionate about getting the word out about Lyme disease, she wrote a song about it. Well, she re-wrote the lyrics to the tune “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.”

The first verse goes like this: I know an old lady who was bit by a tick...or some kind of bug...maybe a tick. She might get sick.

Thakar was just diagnosed with Lyme this year, but she thinks she might have become infected about five years ago.

daveynin / flickr

While he was in Bellagio, Italy last week, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signed on to a pledge to commit at least 10 percent of the city’s operating and capital budgets to making Pittsburgh a more resilient city, a move that Pittsburgh Chief Resilience officer Grant Ervin said is extremely timely.

“Look, for example, at some of the challenges that are being faced right now in South Carolina,” said Ervin, referring to the massive flooding that has displaced hundreds of residents.  “How do you clean up quickly and then how do you become a stronger city following the event?”

hobvias sudoneighm

Skin lesions are a heath concern that many will face in their lifetimes, with 76,000 Americans being diagnosed every year with skin cancer. New research, blending technology and medicine, hopes to make the detection process easier and more accurate.

In collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, scientists at Pitt and UPMC have created a computer program that can scan photos of skin lesions and assess whether or not they will require further treatment.

Jim Bowen / flickr

Governor Tom Wolf is attempting to reframe the state budget debate ahead of a tax vote planned for Wednesday in the House.

Calling it a “once in a generation vote,” Wolf said he continues to try to cobble together support for broad-based tax increases.

Bringing Mark Twain Tonight Alive Today

Oct 6, 2015
Jerry Mosey / AP Images

The longest continuously running stage show in American theater history, “Mark Twain Tonight,” is coming to Pittsburgh.  The one-man show was first performed in 1954 by Tony and Emmy Award winner and Academy Award nominee Hal Holbrook, who has staged it at least once every year since then.

After a run as an actor in a two person show with ex-wife Ruby, Holbrook was desperate for work.  Through his connections with the son of Twain’s manager, he was steered toward performing a one man stage show as Mark Twain.  Having never read any of Twain’s books, Holbrook headed straight to the bookstore to immerse himself in the classic works in order to familiarize himself with the “character.”