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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advanced placement
6:30 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Grant Aims to Expand Access to Advanced Placement Classes in Two Pittsburgh High Schools

Pittsburgh Brashear Co-Principal Kimberly Safron, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane and NMSI's Dale Fleury accept a grant from the Heinz Endowments.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A new-to-Pennsylvania program is hoping to increase enrollment in advanced placement classes in two Pittsburgh high schools, with the ultimate goal to ensure more kids, especially kids of color, are prepared for higher education – whatever form that may take.

More than 100 students at Pittsburgh Brashear High School are currently enrolled in advanced placement, or AP, classes. Through a partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative, or NMSI, and a grant from the Heinz Endowments, work will get underway to increase that number.

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Environment
11:33 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Firewood Quarantine in Effect to Stop Spread of Insects, Disease to Trees

The emerald ash borer beetle is now in 34 Pennsylvania counties.
Credit usda.gov / Creative Commons

Thanks to the presence of disease and tree-killing insects such as the emerald ash borer, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is reminding residents of the firewood quarantine in place.

People are asked to not move firewood more than 50 miles from its origin, and wood products cannot be moved out of Bucks County at all because of thousand cankers disease.

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Pennyslvania
11:58 am
Fri May 31, 2013

PA Offers Amnesty For Those Who Owe Money To Unemployment Fund

For the first time ever, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry will be offering amnesty for individuals or businesses who owe money to the unemployment compensation fund.

Department spokeswoman Sarah Goulet said currently about $613 million is owed to the fund.

“It works out to be 130,000 individual claimants who are eligible to participate in amnesty and the over payments that are due there are about $356 million,” she said, “and there’s about 50,000 employers who need to pay into the state’s UC trust fund through UC tax, and they owe $256 million.”

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Cities
2:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Pennsylvania Senate Panel Examines Futures of Cities Large and Small

Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee met in Pittsburgh to examine the challenges faced by cities of all sizes in the commonwealth.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Cities throughout Pennsylvania, regardless of size, are facing similar issues such as blight, aging infrastructure and unsustainable pension systems. To learn more about the future of municipalities, the state Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee held a hearing Wednesday to better assess needs.

The first person to address the committee was Pittsburgh’s 8th District City Councilman and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Peduto. He said there are four main issues facing the city: pensions, economic development, education, and infrastructure and transportation.

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Air Quality
11:34 am
Tue May 28, 2013

EPA School Flag Program Monitors Pittsburgh Region’s Air Quality

Credit airnow.gov

The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency are partnering on the so-called School Flag Program, which debuted last week at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park.

“The School Flag Program was developed by the EPA, and it’s an engaging, hands-on way for students to inform their entire school and community about the region’s air quality and then to take necessary steps to minimize their exposure to high levels of air pollution,” said Karrie Kressler, of GASP.

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Education
3:30 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Pittsburgh’s Third Youth Civic Leadership Academy Now Accepting Applicants

The third year of the Pittsburgh Youth Civic Leadership Academy (YCLA) is now accepting applications. The three-week program allows city high school students to get an immersion experience in city government.

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Community
2:10 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Community, Corporate Leaders Pledge Commitment to Racial Equity in Business Sector

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (left) and B-PEP's Tim Stevens said the corporate community needs to be more diverse, especially in management and board positions.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (left) and B-PEP's Tim Stevens said the corporate community needs to be more diverse, especially in management and board positions.

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The Pittsburgh region has been doing relatively well the last few years, with the region returning to pre-recession employment levels faster than the national average.

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Travel
10:55 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Hitting the Road this Memorial Day Weekend? You're Not Alone

The traditional kick-off to the summer driving season officially gets underway this weekend as millions of people travel for the Memorial Day weekend. According to AAA East Central, approximately 31.2 million motorists will hit the road starting Thursday.

“In the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Pennsylvania, there will be about 3.78 million drivers out on the roadways, so very busy if you’re heading out on a road trip,” said AAA spokeswoman Bevi Powell.

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Election 2013
9:59 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

It's Peduto: City Councilman Clinches Mayoral Primary Win

Pittsburgh City Council Bill Peduto speaks to supporters Tuesday night after winning the Democratic mayoral primary.
Deanna Garcia 90.5 WESA

City Councilman Bill Peduto beat out three other Democratic contenders Tuesday for a win in Pittsburgh's hotly contested mayoral primary.

Peduto is hoping to win the seat currently held by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who announced in March he was not seeking re-election. While this was a primary race, Peduto’s victory all but guarantees him the seat. Democrats outnumber Republicans in Pittsburgh by a wide margin, and the city hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1934.

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Transportation
1:51 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Click It or Ticket Seatbelt Blitz Starts in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Police officers conduct a safety inspection as part of the Click It or Ticket kick-off. The Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign runs through June 9.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

For the next few weeks, law enforcement officials throughout the commonwealth will be stepping up enforcement of the state’s seat belt law. It’s an effort to get more people to buckle up.

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Government & Politics
2:00 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Pennsylvania Business Leaders Seek Tax Changes from Lawmakers

On the heels of news that Pennsylvania ranks 42nd in the nation for best places to do business, the CompetePA Coalition is calling on lawmakers to change the corporate tax structure. In particular, the group is asking that the $3 million cap on net operating loss (NOL) carryforwards be eliminated.

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Biking
12:08 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Pittsburghers Celebrate Bike to Work Day, Kick Off 'Car Free Fridays'

As part of National Bike Month, hundreds of Pittsburghers and cyclists from outlying areas commuted to work on two wheels Friday. It was the fifth year for Bike to Work Day in Pittsburgh.

Last year’s event saw about 550 people participate, numbers for Friday won’t be available until a later date. Russell Duff is from the Baldwin area and was at a relief station on the South Side for this year’s Bike to Work Day.

“I’ve been biking since I was 5-years-old," Duff said. "I’ve done BMX, freestyle, and I just can’t stay off a bike.”

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Biking
3:04 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Construction on Ohio River Bike Trail Set for the Summer

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (left), McKees Rocks Mayor John Muhr (center) and Bike Pittsburgh's Scott Bricker applaud the completion of the Ohio River Trail plan.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

In an ongoing effort to connect multiple bicycle trails and communities with one another, the plan for the Ohio River Trail has been completed.

Community leaders from around Allegheny County gathered at a Rite Aid store in McKees Rocks Thursday to outline the plan.

“This project is going to connect the City of Pittsburgh to McKees Rocks, along Route 51, along the McKees Rocks Bottoms, and finally connecting to the Montour Trail, which now has a spur to the airport,” said Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker.

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Election 2013
6:33 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Candidates Talk City Finances, Transportation and Corruption in Mayoral Forum

Pittsburgh mayoral candidates Bill Peduto, Jack Wagner and Jake Wheatley (left to right) participate in a public forum at 90.5 WESA on Tuesday.
Credit Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

One week before Pittsburgh’s primary election, three of the city's mayoral candidates gathered at 90.5 WESA for an issues forum.

City Councilman Bill Peduto, former state Auditor General Jack Wagner and state Rep. Jake Wheatley participated in the Tuesday evening forum. The first question was what the candidates, if elected mayor, would do to keep Pittsburgh on strong economic footing if the city were to exit Act 47 fiscal oversight status. The city has petitioned to be removed.

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Community
6:26 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Homewood Cemetery Trees Get a Second Chance at Life

Homewood Cemetery arborist Ashley Allen stands alongside some newly-chopped down trees.
Deanna Garcia 90.5 WESA

On a recent Saturday morning, artists from around the region gathered at Homewood Cemetery to turn chopped-down trees into mushrooms.

State College artist Ed Crow and his wife Janise sculpted a small morel mushroom and transformed a large three-pronged piece of wood into three morel mushrooms. This was one of several public events surrounding the so-called reGenerations project.

“ReGenerations is really the cemetery engaging with the arts community here in Pittsburgh to make arts and crafts from the trees we’re salvaging,” said project director Kenn Thomas. 

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Pennyslvania Courts
1:17 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Report: PA Courts Plagued by Funding Shortfalls, Misperceptions

Pennsylvania's court system faces financial challenges and continued public confusion over its role.
Credit Joe Gratz / Flickr

The annual state Supreme Court’s State of the Commonwealth Courts report finds the two biggest issues facing Pennsylvania’s court system are financial shortfalls and misperceptions about the system.

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Pennyslvania
2:56 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

State Senate Hearing Focused on Changes to Voting Procedure, Registration

The state Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing on changes to voting procedures and voter registration.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday to hear from the public and other elected officials on proposed changes to voting in the commonwealth. State lawmakers are considering measures that would allow for online voter registration and expand early voting.

“Also same-day voter registration, so you can just go to the poll, register to vote, and then vote on that particular day,” said Sen. Matt Smith (D-37). “No fault absentee voting would allow people to get their absentee ballot and then send it back in to their local county division of elections.”

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Computer Science
3:01 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

CMU Researchers Develop Technology to Turn Any Surface into a Touch Screen

WorldKit allows users to turn any surface into a touch screen, so a couch arm can be used as a remote control.
Credit Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University’s WorldKit system allows a user to “paint” interfaces onto everyday objects and surfaces.

“Literally you can put a touch screen anywhere on your environment with WorldKit,” said CMU Ph.D. student Robert Xiao. “We believe this to be the future of computer interaction, where we bring interaction out from our screens and out onto the world around us.”

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Joan Orie Melvin Trial
11:41 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Ex-PA Justice Melvin Gets House Arrest and Probation

Joan Orie Melvin

Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has been sentenced to three years house arrest and two years of probation for misusing her Superior Court staff to aid in her campaign efforts.
 
Melvin, 57, was found guilty of using the staff in her failed campaign in 2003 and then again during her successful campaign in 2009.
 
Allegheny County Judge Lester Nauhaus said he does not believe Melvin is an evil person, but he said her "arrogance is stunning."

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Marcellus Shale
3:30 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Pitt Study Finds Perceptions of Fracking Linked with Higher Stress Levels

A small sampling of people living near Marcellus Shale development sites were found to have higher rates of perceived health problems and stress levels.

That’s according to a study done by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. This was not a clinical study, but researchers said it could provide insight into effects of stress.

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Government & Politics
6:53 am
Sat May 4, 2013

Aliquippa Officials call on State Lawmakers to Support Stricter Background Checks for Guns

The Beaver County Borough of Aliquippa of has grappled with violence for decades, though its mayor says things are getting better. In an effort to further reduce violence, Mayor Dwan Walker along with community and faith leaders called on state lawmakers Friday to support stronger background checks for gun sales.

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Business
5:03 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

State Treasurer Calls for More Diversity on Corporate Boards

A recent report from global research firm GMI Ratings found the percentage of female directors in S&P 500 companies rose only one-half of a percentage point since December 2011.

Smaller companies have even lower representation on boards by women, despite reports that a diverse board is good for business.

“We have very strong data showing a correlation to having women on boards improving investment performance,” said Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. “For large-cap companies it appears to improve investment performance by more than 25 percent.”

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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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