Deanna Garcia

Assistant 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

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

The Indoor Tanning Regulation Act turned one year old this month, but compliance has been slow. There are an estimated 150,000 tanning facilities in the state, and so far about 178 have registered under the act.

But advocates aren’t too worried at this point.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

The world’s largest convention for furries, those fascinated with anthropomorphics, returns to Pittsburgh this weekend joining thousands of attendees Downtown in custom fursuits, ears, tails and everything in between.

“We’re expecting a little over 6,000 this year,” said Samuel Conway, convention chair and chief executive of Anthrocon Inc. “It’s had fairly steady and fairly sharp growth ever since we started.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh is on target to meet revenue expectations and possibly end with a surplus, according to City Controller Michael Lamb.

Lamb, who gave a mid-year update at the City County Building on Tuesday, said Pittsburgh made progress on its long-term debt through December despite having borrowed money in 2014. But, he said, city officials could do more.

Flickr user Carlos

As many Americans ready their grills and fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July, others are celebrating another American tradition: the barbershop quartet. Pittsburgh is the site of the week-long Barbershop Harmony Society International Convention running through Saturday.

It’s no longer four guys in boater hats and stripes, though those groups are still around – barbershop is a whole movement, encompassing many different kinds of groups from one or two men or women to 150 and more. Dallas-Based Vocal Majority is one of the big ones with 150 volunteer members.

Following the release of recommendations from Gov. Tom Wolf’s Task Force on Municipal Pensions, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said that while the recommendations do not contain every pension change he’d like to see, it’s an important start.

“We wanted to see some movement on a hybrid model, defined benefit plan, and perhaps reform state Act 205 which gives funding to cities with distressed pension plans like Pittsburgh,” said Peduto’s spokesman Tim McNulty, “but, it was an important first step.”

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Designing roads in an area that comes to a point, rather than a square grid, is an infrastructure challenge unique to the Golden Triangle that burdens city planners with a bustling intersection joining Stanwix Street, Liberty Avenue, Penn Avenue and Forbes Avenue.

Environmental permits issued to Royal Dutch Shell could pave the way for construction of the proposed Appalachia ethane cracker in Beaver County, the Department of Environmental Protection said Monday. 

While the American West grapples with drought, lack of water isn’t much of a concern in Pennsylvania.

Still, it’s a natural resource that is finite. A bill in Harrisburg aims to promote the use of treated coal mine water rather than fresh water for natural gas development.

“It’s going to recycle the treated water that comes from a coal mine, which would typically be pumped right back into a mine to hold it,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington/Greene). “It would also really reduce the use of fresh water in the fracking process.”

When Gov. Tom Wolf took office earlier this year, one of his first items of business was implementing a gift ban. That set a ban on gifts to all political appointees and state workers. But lawmakers didn’t fall under that umbrella.

A bill (HB43) has been introduced in Harrisburg that would ban large gifts to elected officials in part to help restore public trust.

Allegheny County has announced a new medical collaboration for jail medical services, following the announcement of a parting of ways with former provider Corizon.

The private health care provider had come under fire after the death of four inmates in custody and complaints about working conditions from employees. Allegheny County announced it would not renew the contract with Corizon when it expires in August.

Starting in September, Allegheny Health Network will be the provider of health care services at Allegheny County Jail.

State Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-Philadelphia) has introduced two separate bills to ban the sale of powdered alcohol in Pennsylvania.

“It’s odorless and it’s a powder so it can be manipulated and even the best-trained lawmen would not be able to detect this,” said Kitchen, who held a roundtable discussion about the product at Temple University in Philadelphia.

"Palcohol" can be dissolved into water and other liquid. Lawmakers, education officials, community members and others expressed concern over potential retail in Pennsylvania at Kitchen's meeting last week.

After nearly a year of study and work from water suppliers, state officials, environmental groups and others, a plan has been announced to protect drinking water from its source – the rivers.

The River Alert Information Network (RAIN) announced the Lower Allegheny Regional Partnership and the Lower Monongahela Regional Partnership. It’s a consortium of water suppliers which, in addition to protection, will employ an early-warning spill detection system.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Iggy Azalea canceled her headlining act at Pittsburgh Pride on Sunday.

The rapper wrote on Twitter, "This has been a difficult decision... however I feel my participation at this point would only serve to further distract from the true purpose of the event."

The Pennsylvania House will take up a bill that makes some changes to the Child Protective Services Law. That is the law crafted after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

“This is the bill that clarifies the existing statute requiring employees and adult volunteers who work directly with children to obtain criminal background check clearances and child abuse clearances,” said Rep. Katharine Watson (R-Bucks), the bill’s sponsor. “The legislation further delineates who is and who is not subject to those requirements.”

City Council members gave preliminary approval to updated cooperative police services agreement between city officers and University of Pittsburgh Police.

“Departments that overlap have to have agreements in place so they can share information and act in their partner’s jurisdictions,” said Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar. “The University of Pittsburgh sits in the city and quite often there are issues where our police officers are responding to an incident in the city but within the campus.”

Pittsburgh City Council approved an agreement with the city and Department of Public Safety aimed at mentoring parents of young children. “Promised Beginnings” is part of the larger Safer Together Pittsburgh initiative to improve public safety.

“It helps facilitate existing resources that are already out there by the county or private providers, bringing those resources together (and) targeting the parents of preschool children,” said Public Safety Director Stephan Bucar.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Up until Tuesday, Uber drivers were only allowed to drop off passengers at the airport, but they were not allowed to do pickups. As of late Tuesday afternoon, that will no longer be the case.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority announced a new policy which allows transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber, Lyft and Yellow Z to legally operate on airport property. TNCs connect passengers and drivers through apps.

School districts in seven western Pennsylvania counties are getting a share of $530,000 in Allegheny Intermediate Unit grants for programs that blend science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM.

OpenStreetsPGH.org

Sunday morning, 3.5 miles of roadway will be closed to vehicular traffic in Downtown and beyond for OpenStreetsPGH. The pedestrian festival is meant to get people outside and into the city.

The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce has announced that current state Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) will be its next president. Before being elected to the Senate, Smith served three terms in the state House of Representatives.

He said the work before him as head of the Chamber won’t be much different than what he’s used to.

“Workforce development, education issues, economic development and community-based issues as well as transportation infrastructure issues that we’ve worked on over the last couple of years at the state level,” said Smith.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A conservationist dedicated to saving African elephants one healthy birth at a time was chosen to receive the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s first-ever Legacy Conservation Award.

Zoo officials will honor Thomas Hildebrandt, head of the reproduction management department at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, in a local ceremony on Thursday.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Following more than a year of planning, research and community meetings, Allegheny County has released the Plan for a Healthier Allegheny (PHA), which sets priorities for health officials and partners to work on going forward.

“It’s a five-year plan that sets forth health priorities, measurable goals and strategies to reach those goals,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The plan identifies five key areas to focus on, including access, the environment, maternal and child health, mental health and substance abuse.

Via Tsuji / Flickr

In a continuing effort to improve police and community relations, the Zone 5 station will open its doors to the community for an open house – open to everyone in Zone 5 and beyond.

“Citizens, officers, their families, lawmakers, anyone who wants to come,” Zone 5 Commander Jason Lando said. “We just want to give the community a chance to come down, meet our officers, see our station, see our equipment and help bring the community and the police closer together.”

Pennsyvlania Department of Agriculture

Invasive insects can have devastating impacts on native plants and trees, as evidenced by the Emerald Ash Borer’s effect on the state’s ash trees.

That insect was first found in Michigan in 2002; it continued to spread and has wiped out tens of millions of ash trees nationwide, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Now there’s another bug to worry about – the Spotted Lanterfly. The pest was first spotted last fall in Berks County.

“We believe it’s been here a season or two, so it can live here, it can survive here, it’s been tested,” said Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary. “What we want to do is send it packing.”

Keith Ewing / Flickr

This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer – which means, among other things, swimming! 

Sen. Rop Teplitz (D-Dauphin) has introduced a bill that would return lifeguards to state park public beaches.

“In 2008, the lifeguards were eliminated at all but two parks due to budgetary reasons, but I think the public safety requires that the lifeguards be restored,” Teplitz said.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources estimates the state saved roughly $800,000 a year by not having lifeguards on duty at all parks. Teplitz said those savings aren't worth risking public safety.

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania has been working to expand the Pennsylvania Housing Trust Fund statewide; the organization will continue that work following the release of a report that shows a person would have to make $15.12 an hour in wages to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rate in Allegheny County.

The problem, according to Alliance Executive Director, Liz Hersh, is that many people don’t make that much money.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

There are approximately 8,500 people waiting for an organ transplant in Pennsylvania, and about 123,000 across the U.S. The problem, according to the UPMC transplant program, is that demand far outweighs the number of available organs.

To try and increase awareness, “crossing guards” from UPMC and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) stopped pedestrians in several downtown areas Wednesday. The goal was to get more people to sign up as organ donors.

In anticipation of a wet weather plan from ALCOSAN, Pittsburgh City Council members Corey O’Connor and Deb Gross have introduced legislation aimed at helping some of the city’s most vulnerable areas develop green infrastructure.

Under a consent decree, the city, Allegheny County and the federal Environmental Protection Agency must develop a plan to keep raw sewage from overflowing and spilling into area rivers during wet weather. Some areas are harder hit than others, including part of Gross’s district.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA News

Teens from around the world were in Pittsburgh this week presenting projects at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair hosted Downtown at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Forget electromagnets and mouse trap cars. Many of these high-level high-schoolers are published authors and hold patents. Last year’s winner created a test for pancreatic cancer now headed toward clinical trial. 

ISEF, a program of Society for Science & the Public, is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Approximately 1,700 high school students from over 75 countries, regions and territories compete to attend the fair. Showcases of independent research result in nearly $4 million in prizes.

Indiana freshman Noor Abdullah examined how a sweet-smelling shrub affects nearby soil.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Under the Liberty Bridge was the setting as former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell called on federal lawmakers to increase funding for the nation’s roads and bridges.

Rendell joined Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania in the request, which is part of a new campaign from the Associated General Contractors of America. It’s an advertising, community outreach and social media campaign.

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