Deanna Garcia

Interim News Director and Chief Assignment Editor

Deanna fell in love with public radio in 2001, when she landed her first job at an NPR station: KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, NM, where she also attended college. After graduating with a degree in journalism and mass communications, she spent a summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern at NPR's Morning Edition. Following that, she was a reporter/All Things Considered Host at WXXI in Rochester, NY. Before coming to Pittsburgh, Deanna was the local All Things Considered host for KUNC in northern Colorado. In her spare time, Deanna enjoys watching movies and TV shows on DVD (the Golden Girls and Little House on the Prairie are among her favorites), bicycling, yard work, and reading.

 

Ways to Connect

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to a measure that would establish the Office of Early Childhood within the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and Equal Opportunity, and hire an early childhood manager.

The ultimate goal is to ensure every child in the City of Pittsburgh has access to quality pre-K programs. During about an hour of public testimony, speakers voiced overwhelming support for an office dedicated to the education of some of the city’s youngest residents.

James Lee / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s participation in a nationwide effort to find homes for homeless veterans is seeing results, according to the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

In the summer months, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles migrate closer to the New England shore where the water is warm, then back to the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream as seawater cools.

Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

As drug and law enforcement agencies find a growing link between prescription pain killers and heroin use, they’re trying to attack the problem of abuse and overdose from multiple sides.

Among their allies are those doling out prescription medication: pharmacists. A little more than 200 southwestern Pennsylvania pharmacists are in Pittsburgh through Friday for a conference hosted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Dickelbers / Wikipedia

Bringing down Pittsburgh's homicide rate was a major public safety priority this year for the city's bureau of police.

According to data provided by police, there were 71 homicides in 2014, nearly one-third more than the previous year and the city's highest volume since officers investigated 74 homicides in 2008.

But things might be improving, police Chief Cameron McLay said. 

Wikimedia Commons

A new report shows that heroin abuse in Pennsylvania continues to grow and recommends that treatment be a priority.   

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania just released its second report titled, “Heroin: Combating this Growing Epidemic in PA.” It includes testimony from public hearings held over the summer and focuses on the growing problem of heroin abuse, pointing out that the drug affects a diverse demographic.

Cali4beach / Flickr

Education advocacy group A+ Schools is seeking members for its volunteer review board tasked with overseeing new board members representing Pittsburgh Public Schools.

With three new members sworn in, the Pittsburgh Public School Board has only two members who have served for more than two years. The other four were elected in 2013.

A+ Executive Director Carey Harris said volunteers are city residents prepped by the organization's staffers about current state and national policy.

NASA / nasa.gov

For nearly a decade, astronomers have been puzzled by brief, but bright eruptions of radio waves coming from space called Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). A team of astronomers, including two from Carnegie Mellon University, uncovered the most detailed record ever of an FRB.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Following a call to prayer at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh Saturday, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police outlined a five-point plan to help protect the city’s Muslim community.

“With increasing Islamophobia in America, it is very important that community leaders and local authorities both collaborate to be as proactive as possible in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the Muslim Community,” said Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

Variety the Children's Charity / varietypittsburgh.org

Overabundance is an issue most charitable organizations would like to have.  It’s an unusual predicament, but Variety the Children’s Charity finds itself in just that position. 

The group, which gives adaptive bikes, strollers and communication devices to children with disabilities, has 200 devices to give out – but as of Thursday, only 50 had been claimed.

“These are very fundamental to daily living for kids with disabilities,” said Variety CEO Charlie LaVallee.

Auntie P. / Flickr

The City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and area health and services organizations are collaborating on AIDS Free Pittsburgh, a three-pronged public health initiative.

“We’re going to normalize HIV testing," said Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department. "We’re going to make improvements in standardizing our linkages to care for those that are diagnosed, and we’re going to improve access to a variety of prevention tools.” 

U.S. Department Of Agriculture / Flickr

Four years ago, one group of people from a YMCA in New York City had an idea: to turn what had been days of consumer-driven attention to nonprofits and charities. #GivingTuesday was born in 2012 with the aim of engaging communities and getting people to “give back.”

“Whether that’s donations or volunteerism or raising your voice online or offline in support of whatever cause you’re passionate about,” said Asha Curran, director of innovation and social impact with the 92nd Street Y in New York City, which started the Giving Tuesday movement.

Freedom House / Flickr

A religious group representing Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches in southwestern Pennsylvania urged lawmakers to accept Syrian refugees on Monday, offering their own congregations as way points for resettlement.

The Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania echoed recent sentiments by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto in their support of foreign aid.

“It’s our responsibility as people of faith to respond,” CASP Executive Minister Liddy Barlow said.

ereyesleblanc / Flickr

Joining cities such as Amsterdam, Shanghai and Barcelona, Pittsburgh has signed onto the “Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.” It’s a worldwide effort to examine the system of how food is produced and distributed as demographics change.

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Screening and treating prison inmates for Hepatitis C would help reduce the number of infections in the general population according to projections made by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Pittsburgh City Council is one step closer to prohibiting large trucks from parking on residential streets overnight.

“In a residential community you shouldn’t be able to leave you large trucks. A – it’s a public safety concern on many of our narrow streets, B – residential community is meant for residential parking,” said Councilman Dan Gilman. 

Courtney Rhodes / Flickr

  A bill enacting harsher penalties for breaking traffic laws in work zones is awaiting Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature. Senate Bill 887 unanimously passed the Senate last week.

“This legislation provides for additional penalties depending upon the nature of the injury to a worker, a municipal worker or a police officer or emergency responder; it’s geared toward trying to change the culture of drivers on our roadways,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Veteran homelessness in Southwest Pennsylvania is among the lowest in the nation, according to a new assessment by the Center for a New American Security and funded by the Heinz Endowments.

Lionel Cironneau / AP

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks and several American states saying they will not accept Syrian refugees, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto remained steadfast in keeping the city open to those fleeing their homeland. 

Screengrab / Twitter

As the state budget impasse continues, organizations that provide assistance to those in need across Pennsylvania are going into debt to cover costs.

Victim Outreach Intervention Center (VOICe) is one of those. The Butler County organization provides services to individuals and families who are survivors of sexual, domestic and other types of violence. Executive Director Heidi Artman said the organization relies heavily on state funding and she sums up the last few months as such.

Twitter

As the state budget impasse wears through its fifth month, service organizations and some of their funders are calling on state lawmakers to take action before services and programs statewide face more delays in funding.

The Pittsburgh Foundation partnered with the United Way of Allegheny County to launch a social media campaign using #PAPeopleCount. The groups are asking service providers, nonprofits and residents to let their digital voices be heard.

WikiMedia Commons

A group representing 20,000 Pennsylvania doctors and medical students is hoping to shed light on continued disparities in health care access for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) is recommending expanded access, increased research and funding for research, and a better dissemination of research results.

Courtesy Brandon Blache-Cohen via the Heinz History Center

Next week marks the anniversary of a major event leading up to the Holocaust: Kristallnacht.

Brandon Blache-Cohen's grandfather, Werner Josef Cohen, lived through it. Blache-Cohen never met his grandfather, who died in 1977, but he became interested in the elder Cohen’s history – and now shares his family’s story with as many people as possible.

David Trawin / Flickr

  The Pennsylvania Medical Society won’t support medicinal marijuana legalization until further research better proves its viability as a treatment option. That position was one of several adopted at the group’s annual House of Delegates meeting late last month.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program is solvent until at least 2028, according to its seventh annual report to the community released Tuesday. Guests to the presentation at the Hill House were greeted by kindergarten students from Phillips and Weil elementary schools, donning shirts that read “I am the class of 2028” and giving out enthusiastic handshakes.

Eric Schmuttenmaer / flickr

The Penn Environment Research and Policy Center named Allegheny County's ten most toxic industrial pollutants on Monday. The list ranks power facilities by how much pollution they produce, emphasizing that even though the air looks clean in the region, it may not be.

Allegheny Health Network

Allegheny General Hospital is one of 65 in the nation testing a new treatment for people with heart failure that leads to a type of heart attack ominously called the “widow-maker.”

Traditional treatment is a heart pump or transplant, but AGH cardiologists are among those studying the efficacy of a parachute implant.

Keith Srakocic / Associated Press

The governors of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia announced they’d signed a three-year cooperation agreement to try to maximize the economic impact of Marcellus Shale natural gas development following the Tri-State Shale Summit in West Virginia earlier this week.

Economic groups in the three states are praising the deal.

Sham Hardy / Flickr

An AIDS education center housed at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health secured a $10.7 million federal grant that will fund the group for the next four years. 

Pennsylvania is 10th on the list of the states with the most diagnoses of HIV and AIDS in the U.S., according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though infection rates have declined since the disease’s peak in the late 80s and early 90s, data show rates are starting to creep upwards, especially in specific groups.

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.”

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