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.

 

Ways To Connect

Pittsburgh’s annual Labor Day parade is considered the second largest in the U.S., behind New York City.

Thousands of union members and officials will converge on downtown Monday morning to celebrate the history of the labor movement, American workers and to call attention to specific issues.

“We’ll be discussing a number of issues, one of them is transportation funding, another one is the right to organize as it relates to UPMC, and most of the issues that labor feels are important,” said Jim Kunz, business manager of Operating Engineers Local 66.

A new coalition of Pittsburgh faith leaders is adding their voice to the issue of education.

Through the nationwide Shepherding the Next Generation program, the group aims to support teachers and ensure all educators are effective and encourage Pittsburgh Public Schools to continue its push to hire and retain highly effective teachers. The group also released a report that highlights the importance of skilled educators.

Naturegirl78 / Flickr

As if regular old mosquitoes weren’t bad enough, the Allegheny County Health Department is reporting that the Asian tiger mosquito has been found throughout Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.

More common mosquitoes generally bother birds, and people as well, but they're usually most active at dawn and dusk. That’s not the case with this insect.

“The Asian tiger mosquito loves people,” said Health Department entomologist Bill Todaro. “It bites in the morning, it bites in the afternoon and it bites in the evening.”

In an effort to ensure steady and predictable revenue from property taxes, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is planning to establish the 2012 property reassessment as a base-year for coming tax years.

He said the recent re-assessment was very costly for county residents.

Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana, and Rep. Dave Camp, a Republican from Michigan, have teamed up and taken a message of tax reform on the road.

The pair spoke in Philadelphia Monday as part of their “Tax Reform Tour,” an effort to eliminate loopholes in the federal tax code. Former governors Tom Ridge, a Republican, and Ed Rendell, a Democrat, are adding their support to the movement.

Teachers from across the United States have spent the last five weeks in Pittsburgh for the “Voices Across Time” program.

They've been learning how to incorporate music into their lessons, and the goal is to help students not only learn, but also connect with various subjects.

On the final Wednesday of the program, the group of teachers sat listening to a song called “The Blue Juniata.” Its lyrics are featured in the book "Little House on the Prairie." For the past month the teachers have been learning how to use such songs in their classes.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

When people hear the term “dangerous jobs,” the top occupations that come to mind may be fireman or police officer, but one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States is that of a refuse worker.

Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, several recent articles list refuse and recyclable materials collector as the fourth most dangerous job in the country.  

The city of Pittsburgh’s Cool Roof program is a newer initiative aimed at reducing energy costs in buildings. So far, five city buildings have gotten cool roofs, and on Saturday, weather permitting, Engine 37 on the North Side will also get the cool roof treatment.

A recent policy brief from conservative think tank Allegheny Institute for Public Policy states that the Pittsburgh Promise is falling well short of its goals, and that its mission should be completely re-focused. But this isn’t the first time the Allegheny Institute has taken on the Pittsburgh Promise.

Leading up to Gov. Tom Corbett’s expected re-election announcement, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party is launching a “Promises Made, Promises Broken” campaign aimed at highlighting what they called the Republican governor’s failures.

“From taxes to state parks, the governor has broken campaign promises, we intend to hold him accountable,” said state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn.

The campaign is in anticipation of Corbett’s re-election campaign which is expected to have a “Promises Made, Promises Kept” theme.  

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Last week, teachers from Allegheny County gathered in Homestead to learn how to integrate games and play into their classrooms. This week those same teachers tested out what they learned on real kids.

Max O’Malley was one of 35 middle school kids at a camp at Carnegie Mellon University. One of their tasks was to create a new game using ping pong balls and plastic cups. Max and his group created a game based on the concept of air hockey.

The city of Pittsburgh is on track to finish 2013 with a budget surplus, according to the Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) released by Controller Michael Lamb.

The earlier, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), showed the city ended 2012 with a surplus in excess of $20 million. Lamb also gave an update on how the city is doing so far this year.

Citing a national report out this week, Lamb said this year the Pittsburgh region is experiencing moderate growth, while many other parts of the nation are experiencing slower, modest growth.

In an effort to better understand brain aneurysms, researchers in Pittsburgh will examine aneurysm tissue to try and learn what determines whether an aneurysm ruptures or doesn’t.

Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a bill that is aimed at filling a hole in the unemployment compensation fund left by a cut in federal dollars.

House Bill 26 will provide the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry funding from the employee UC tax.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Billed as the world's largest furry convention, Anthrocon is returning to Pittsburgh Thursday through Sunday. The much-anticipated Pittsburgh tradition is expected to attract more than 5,500 participants, some in costume, some not.

“We’re all furries,” said Anthrocon Inc. CEO Samuel Conway. “That’s the catch-all term for the fandom. We are furries. The people in the costume – we refer to the costumes, our own little lingo, they are fursuits. So they are fursuiters, the people who are wearing them.”

Officials with the VA Pittsburgh Health System have revealed that about 10 veterans may have been sickened by Legionella bacteria several years before a larger outbreak that began in 2011.

That has been blamed for five deaths, and at least 16 people were infected in 2011 and 2012. Since that time investigations have found lax reporting of Legionella bacteria in the system and other issues. Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) said trust has been a major issue between the VA system and its veterans.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb has released an audit of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority — and found a bit of a mixed bag.

First, the good news: Lamb said the Parking Authority is mostly in compliance on their contracts and have good policies and procedures which are largely followed. Plus, revenues are up from 2012 amounts.

About a month after its re-opening, the fountain at Point State Park is being tested by the Allegheny County Department of Health for Legionella.

The move follows a report of one person coming down with Legionnaires' disease after a visit to the fountain. County health officials say it’s unlikely the infection came from the fountain, but they are testing it as a precaution.

In the spring, Gov. Tom Corbett postponed implementation of the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards, citing concerns from lawmakers and public. Corbett asked the State Board of Education and lawmakers to review the standards and make any modifications they deem necessary.

A vote is looming in a state Senate committee on legislation to potentially expand Medicaid eligibility to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians under the 2010 federal health care law.

“I cannot say enough about the importance for those individuals who don’t have health insurance, who are working every day, about a half a million people in Pennsylvania, how significant it could be for their lives, and for all of us,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-PA-7.)

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has announced a plan he says would spur growth of alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure.

The so-called Clean Vehicles Corridors Act would result in more fueling stations across interstate highways, thereby making it easier for alternative fuel vehicles to travel longer distances.

“The way it will work is the U.S. Transportation Department, in consultation with the Energy Department as well as other federal agencies, will designate highway routes where the development of an alternative fuel support system will succeed,” Casey said.

J. Todd Poling / Flickr

It was 150 years ago that the battle considered to be the turning point of the Civil War took place in a field in Pennsylvania.

Each year, thousands of people re-enact the Battle of Gettysburg, and thousands turn out to watch. This year, for the 150th anniversary, the events will be even larger than normal.

“There’ll be two major re-enactments probably attracting 12,000 to 15,000 re-enactors each, and then hundreds of thousands of spectators,” said Andy Masich, president and CEO of the Heinz History Center.  

As of earlier Tuesday afternoon, more than 300 people on Facebook said they are heading downtown Wednesday morning to catch live coverage of the Supreme Court’s rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 — two cases involving same-sex marriage.

Delta Foundation organizers are expecting an even larger crowd downtown.

“Liberty Avenue will be shut down to vehicle traffic between 9th and 10th because we’re expecting so many people,” said Christine Bryan with the Delta Foundation. “We’ll have a large television set up, and a stage and various speakers.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Several years ago, a Family Dollar store was set to open on Frankstown Avenue in Homewood. The building was built, but the chain pulled out, deciding not to locate a store there.

The building has stood vacant since. The Homewood Renaissance Association (HRA) is hoping to breathe new life into it and the community by converting the space into a new community center.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a way to track the locations of individuals in complex, indoor settings such as nursing homes.

Developers liken it to the Marauder’s Map featured in the Harry Potter books and movies, which allows Harry Potter to see anyone’s location at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

But instead of magic, this system uses a network of cameras and algorithms to track movement. Researchers said this could be important in keeping track of residents of nursing homes.

As part of a national mandate from President Obama to hire 1,600 new mental health professionals in the veterans’ health system, the VA Pittsburgh Health System has hired 30 new mental health professionals plus an additional 14 to fill existing vacancies.

“I think it’s obvious that if we have more people offering service, then more people could obtain services and obtain them quicker,” said Jeffrey Peters, associate chief of staff for behavior health at the VA Pittsburgh.

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

The population of the youngest Allegheny County residents is growing, while nationally the number is dropping.

Between 2010 and 2012, the number of people five years of age and younger increased county-wide by 0.9 percent, while it decreased nationally by the same percentage.

“I think the Pittsburgh region’s been attracting people for the last few years, and most people moving into the region are going to be younger folks mostly coming for work, so I think that’s made us younger as we go ahead,” said Christopher Briem, regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Cool Roofs program has officially launched in Pittsburgh. Through the servePGH initiative, the roofs of 10 city-owned buildings will be coated with reflective paint.

“In the coming months, volunteers will help paint approximately 50,000 square feet of city-owned roofs with a special, eco-friendly white coating,” said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

The reflective surface will help reduce carbon emissions and decrease energy costs for the buildings, and eventually that energy savings could extend to wider areas.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said his office has been fully cooperative with an ongoing federal investigation into city financial dealings, and that there have been no subpoenas from investigators in more than a month.

Ravenstahl maintained that he’s done nothing wrong and said he wished the truth could come out now, as opposed to a long investigation.

At an event in Mt. Washington Wednesday morning to launch a program to increase energy efficiency at city-owned buildings, he took issue with questions from the media about his lack of public appearances of late.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

For so many kids, the beginning of summer holds promise of weeks and weeks of doing absolutely nothing, or of sitting around and watching TV or playing video games all day.

Many kids will have such plans thwarted by parents who will send them to one or several summer programs. That’s probably not a bad thing — there is a growing body of research that suggests letting kids do nothing but watch TV and play video games all summer could set back their academic growth.

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