Deanna Garcia

General Assignment Reporter

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.

 

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Allegheny County
2:49 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Debt a Major Issue in Allegheny County, Controller Says

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner outlines findings of the 2012 Comprehensive Financial Report for the county.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said Thursday one of the most concerning issues facing the county is the amount of money going toward debt services.

In 2012, the county’s debt load increased $90 million, according to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). Total annual debt service payments have increased to $62.6 million.

“Of this $62.6 million, we are now paying more on the interest than on the principal,” Wagner said.

The debt service for the county poses a challenge to providing services and investments for communities.

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Port Authority
3:37 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Port Authority Bus Rapid Transit System Receives National Honor from Global Transportation Group

Walter Hook, CEO of the Institute for Transportation Development Policy, discusses BRT systems. Interim Port Authority of Allegheny County CEO Ellen McLean and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald look on.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

The Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway in Pittsburgh has been designated as only one of five in the nation that meet Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) standards. It has been awarded the Bronze Standard by the Institute for Transportation Development Policy out of basic BRT, bronze, silver or gold designations.

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Veterans Affairs
3:00 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

More Lawmakers Call on VA to Address Infectious Disease Disclosures

Several members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation are calling on the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System to put in place new written guidelines outlining duties and responsibilities for infectious disease control.

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Arts
4:16 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

2013 Three Rivers Arts Festival Marks Return of Point State Park Fountain

The 2013 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival kicks off in early June with a splash.

On June 7, after years of reconstruction, the fountain at the Point will be turned back on permanently.

“Point State Park has been rebuilt from top to bottom over the last five years thanks to the efforts of one of the most extensive public-private partnerships in our history,” said Riverlife President and CEO Lisa Schroeder. “Planning for this massive project began in 2001 and is the largest park project ever undertaken in the commonwealth.”

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Education
3:30 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Pitt Professor Among National Team Leaders Granted Access to Education Research

Data collected from one of the largest studies ever conducted on teacher effectiveness will be made available to only 10 groups nationally. One of those teams will be led by a University of Pittsburgh professor.

“It’s a huge dataset and allows us to answer questions that we previously weren’t able to pose or answer because data simply wasn’t available to do so for average researchers like myself,” said Tanner LeBaron Wallace, a professor in Pitt’s Department of Education.

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Pittsburgh Marathon
2:04 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Officials Discuss New Security Measures, Cost Concerns for Pittsburgh Marathon

Runners participate in the 2012 Pittsburgh Marathon.
Credit delayedneutron / Flickr

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, cities across the U.S., including Pittsburgh, are taking a hard look at security for marathons.

City officials said Thursday that the security plan for the Pittsburgh Marathon, scheduled for May 5, is ever-evolving. One certainty is that spectators and runners will see more uniformed officers patrolling.

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Gas Prices
12:10 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Western PA Gas Prices Falling, Expected to Continue Downward Trend

Gasoline prices have fallen about 8 cents this week compared to last.

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.56 per gallon, while the national average is $3.52.

AAA East Central said there are several reasons for the price decline.

“One thing is they were very high coming into the winter season, and typically they’re lower during the winter,” said spokeswoman Bevi Powell. “We had a lot of refinery issues at that time that made the prices higher.”

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Pennsylvania General Assembly
3:49 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Bill Would Allow Municipalities to Create Stormwater Authorities

A bill approved in the Pennsylvania Senate would allow local governments to enter into stormwater authorities.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Ted Erickson (R-PA-26), said municipal leaders are looking for tools to help them respond to the rising costs of stormwater management.

“After the last round of flooding we had about a year ago, it became evident that we needed to plan on a watershed basis, which means you have to cross municipal boundaries," Erickson said. "So if you had an authority that did that, it would be extremely helpful."

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Public Safety
2:36 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Supreme Court Ruling May Shift How DUI Arrests Are Handled in PA

A recent Supreme Court decision stated that a search warrant must be obtained before officials draw blood from people suspected of driving under the influence.

Typically, when an officer pulls over a motorist and has probable cause for arrest, the officer takes the motorist directly to hospital for a blood draw. Now, police have to get a search warrant first.  

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Election 2013
1:01 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Pittsburgh Black Political Convention Throws Support Behind Wheatley

The Pittsburgh Black Political Convention has voted to endorse State Rep. Jake Wheatley in the city's upcoming mayoral election.

More than 200 people gathered over the weekend for the city's first-ever convention of black voters. The convention also aimed to create a clear agenda on issues including poverty, unemployment, police/community relations and violence, among other things.

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Earth Day
3:30 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Pittsburghers Celebrate Earth Day and Pledge Continued Action

Across the world, people are celebrating Earth Day in a variety of ways today, from trash clean ups to tree plantings.

Pittsburgh didn’t wait for the actual day, as Earth Day events started last week and will continue in the coming weeks and days.

On Friday ALCOSAN workers gathered at several spots in Allegheny County to pick up litter.

“All the litter we pick up has the tendency to blow into the rivers,” said ALCOSAN spokeswoman Nancy Barylak, “so that litter you see on the side of the road could easily end up in the rivers.”

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Religion & Faith
11:57 am
Fri April 19, 2013

In Times of Crisis, Where Do Faith Leaders Turn for Guidance?

In the midst of national tragedies this week, including the Boston Marathon bombing and the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, many people are heading to their houses of worship and their faith leaders for counsel and guidance.

With congregations of varying size, a pastor or priest may hear from numerous people. So where then do the faith leaders turn for comfort?

The answer varies from religion to religion, but is also somewhat similar. For the Pittsburgh Presbytery, pastors are offered several options.

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Labor
2:01 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Rivers Casino Workers File Federal Complaints, Allege Intimidation by Management

Last week, workers from Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino marched to the facility, calling on management to recognize their right to organize. They then gathered in an employee cafeteria where workers claim they  were targets of intimidation by management.

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Public Safety
3:58 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Pittsburgh Restaurant, Bar Owners Work to Make Nightlife Safer Across City

The Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) was contracted with the City of Pittsburgh almost a year ago to develop a so-called Sociable City Plan. That plan aims to improve the city’s nighttime economy while also ensuring public safety.

Several restaurant and bar owners from Pittsburgh’s South Side gathered on Wednesday to discuss progress and future steps.

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Beer!
5:57 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Tapping a National Trend, Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week Highlights Region's Brewers

Brewer Steve Crist works at Penn Brewery, which plays a large role in Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week. The craft beer movement has exploded nationwide, and there are now upwards of 14 craft breweries in the region, along with some other smaller brew operations.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

One year ago, a group of local brewers and craft beer enthusiasts gathered with an idea — a week-long celebration of the Pittsburgh region’s craft beers. The first year was deemed a success, and now, in its second year, organizers are hoping for an even bigger showing.

“We’ve got all of Pittsburgh’s craft beer heroes here pulling out all the stops putting together the best Craft Beer Week we can put together,” said Scott Smith, owner and founder of East End Brewing.

Growing Movement

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Taxes
3:21 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

On Tax Day, Protesters Demand Shift in National Priorities

The "Raging Grannies," including members Edith Beill (second from left) and Eva Havlicsek (third from left) sing a song in protest of military spending at their Tax Day protest outside of the Squirrel Hill Post Office.
Credit Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

As people trickled in and out of the U.S. Post Office in Squirrel Hill to mail in their taxes Monday, a small group of protesters stood outside to speak out against how the federal government spends tax dollars.

In particular, they said too much is spent on the military.

“We feel that by reducing the military budget, we could afford to put more money into healthcare, housing, mass transit, infrastructure, all those things,” said Eva Havlicsek, a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

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Local Economy
3:18 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Pittsburgh Sees Investment Growth As Other Areas Experience Declines

The number of venture capital dollars and deals across the U.S. has been generally declining over the last several years, but Pittsburgh is bucking that trend.

“Since 2009 we’ve had the credit crisis, and probably the most severe national recession we’ve ever had, and during that period Pittsburgh has seen an increase in early stage capital and the number of financings," said Lynette Horrell, managing partner with Ernst & Young Pittsburgh. "The number of financings has grown over 50 percent.”

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Labor
4:46 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Workers, Elected Officials Call on Rivers Casino to Let Employees Organize

Workers, community leaders and elected officials march to Rivers Casino, calling on the casino management to allow employees the ability to organize.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Several dozen Rivers Casino workers, elected officials, union representatives and clergy members gathered on the North Shore Thursday to call on the casino management to allow employees to organize.

“We’re worried about some of the backlash, but at the same time we feel protected – we have a lot of community support," said Lisa Washington, a server at the casino’s Grandview Buffet. "We have a lot of support from our congressmen. We know we’re in for a long fight, but we’re ready.”

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Election 2013
3:12 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

All Pittsburgh School Board Candidates Sign Equity and Excellence Pledge

Candidates for Pittsburgh School Board stand behind the signed Equity and Excellence Pledge. Candidate Thomas Sumpter (District 3) was not in attendance but had signed the pledge previously.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Nine people running for the Pittsburgh School Board have signed a pledge that outlines a “vision of excellence” for the district. The so-called Equity and Excellence Pledge was drafted by A+ Schools, a nonpartisan public education advocacy group.

“When we say equity, we mean providing every kid with the support necessary to reach and exceed a shared standard, which for us is graduating from high school and completing post-secondary education,” said Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools.

The pledge calls on the candidate to make policies that ensure:

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Public Art
2:37 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

South Side Public Art the Focus of Walking Tour for People and Their Dogs

James O’Toole’s Steelworkers Monument.
Credit Rachel Grozanick / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Office of Public Art has been publishing guides to public art in downtown and Oakland for several years.

Last year, interest in guided art walks increased, and now those are being offered as well. This Saturday, a free, hour-long walk will focus on the South Side.

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Gender Equality
4:23 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Pittsburghers Rally for Equal Pay for Women

Women and men held signs demanding equal pay at the Equal Payday rally in Market Square Tuesday.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

During the lunch hour Tuesday, a crowd gathered at Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh to mark Equal Payday. It’s a day on which rallies are held across the country to bring attention to the fact that women still make less money than men.

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National Aviary
3:00 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

National Aviary Welcomes Baby Eurasian Eagle Owl

A 28-day-old Eurasian Eagle Owl makes her debute at the National Aviary. They grow quickly — this girl will be full-grown by the end of May.
Deanna Garcia 90.5 WESA

A 28-day-old Eurasian Eagle Owl made her public debut at the National Aviary Tuesday, joining the three already there.

“This Eurasian Eagle Owl is the first baby owl that has been born in any AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited zoo in the last five years, so she is a very special Eurasian Eagle Owl,” said aviary veterinarian Pilar Fish.

The yet-to-be-named baby owl will be part of a unique program at the aviary in which the owls have multiple roles: education, breeding and being exhibited.

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Education
3:44 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

As Students Undergo PSSA Testing, Some Parents Advocate Opting Out

It’s April, and for many school children in Pennsylvania, that means it’s time for tests.

The Pennsylvania Systems of School Assessment (PSSA) is an annual standards-based test. Students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11 are assessed in reading and math. Grades 5, 8 and 11 are assessed in writing, and grades 4, 8 and 11 are assessed in science.

The tests have no bearing on students’ grades, and some parents are questioning the need for the PSSA.

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Pennsylvania General Assembly
3:30 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Bill Would Provide Paid Family Leave to New Parents in Pennsylvania

A bill to be introduced in Harrisburg would allow parents of newborn children to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave.

“This is a policy that’s in effect in almost the entire industrialized world and in a number of states in America as well," said sponsor Sen. Daylin Leach. "It’s a standard benefit of employment.”

The bill would only apply to companies with more than 20 employees and to employees who work more than 20 hours per week. The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but that is not an option for many low-income workers.

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Pittsburgh
3:29 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

PWSA, Veolia Water Partnership Finds $2 Million in Savings

PWSA Water Quality Manager Jay Kuchta gives a tour of the utility's water treatment plant.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Last summer, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority partnered with Veolia Water North America to find ways of improving services and operating more efficiently.

Nine months in, officials said the executive management services agreement between the two entities has been beneficial. Rob Nicholas, vice president for development with Veolia, said PWSA has been able to find ways to bring in more revenue without raising rates for customers.

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