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.

 

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A bill passed by the Pennsylvania House aims to help high school students with disabilities gain employment rather than “graduating to the couch.”

The “Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act” would develop official pathways between local education agencies, organizations and employers and establish a funding mechanism helmed by the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) in the Department of Labor and Industry.

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A transitional housing and services program for those left homeless by domestic violence is accusing Allegheny County of withholding more than half a million dollars in federal funding.

Shaler Township-based HEARTH has filed suit in federal court, seeking to force the county Department of Human Services to release the U.S. Housing and Urban Development funds. HEARTH Executive Director Judith Eakin said DHS is solely responsible for the hold up; HUD has agreed to support the organization’s designation as a victims’ service provider.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Director, Stephen Bucar, will leave his post next month, Mayor Bill Peduto’s office announced Thursday. 

Bucar accepted a position as Deputy Commissioner of Staff with the Pennsylvania State Police in Harrisburg. He was hired by Peduto in May 2014 following a national search.

Keith Srakocic / Associated Press

Since about 2013, the use of personal drones has been on the rise; they’ve become more widely available and affordable. But, with that rise comes concerns about safety and privacy, but Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said they could be of tremendous help to law enforcement.

Zappala’s office has purchased one drone for the chiefs of police in the North Hills and has a commitment to buy at least two more for other forces.

“What we’re going to use the drones for initially is to look for lost children, autistic children that elope, people with Alzheimer’s, people with dementia and they’ve been used for search and rescue along the rivers,” said Zappala.

Kiewic / Flickr

The postmaster threatened retribution, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said. 

"'You’re going to lose your job,' to one person. He said he was going to kill them, other people he’d tell, 'I'm gonna get you,'" he said.

Daniel P. Davis, regional postmaster for the U.S. Postal Service, was charged Tuesday with four counts each of intimidation of witnesses, official oppression, obstructing the administration of law or other governmental function and criminal coercion.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh and several organizations are teaming up to get a clearer picture of the region’s commuting habits.

The “Make My Trip Count” survey aims to get a comprehensive look at how people get to work or school or any destination – be it by bike, bus, rail, foot or car.

William Brawley / Flickr

A University of Pittsburgh researcher was recently a sleep expert on a study led by UC San Francisco to determine the connection between sleep and health; namely if the amount of sleep a person gets is related to their susceptibility of catching a cold.

Brennan Linsley / Associated Press

City organizers say a local collaborative designed to connect organizations, willing mentors and youth looking for guidance is off to a great start. 

Pittsburgh Keepers of the Community kicked off in late July as part of a nationwide My Brother’s Keeper initiative started by President Barack Obama. Mayor Bill Peduto sanctioned the partnership helmed by BMe Pittsburgh and the Mentoring Partnership.

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Breast Cancer Awareness month, in October, has become very visible and well-known in recent years. But, in September, the American Cancer Society aims to raise awareness on several other kinds of cancer as well. September is the awareness month for childhood, ovarian, thyroid and prostate cancers.

“It is the number one killer for men, about 1,500 a year here in Pennsylvania, it has the second-highest death rate of any cancer for men throughout the United States,” said state Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Chester).

One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. It occurs mainly in older men with about 6 in ten cases diagnosed at age 65 or older; diagnosis before age 40 is rare.

Dinniman is a survivor of prostate cancer and said the key is early detection.

“Prostate cancer is curable,” he said, “you don’t have to die from it if you go through early detection.”

But, Dinniman points out that prostate exams can be uncomfortable or a source of fear or reluctance for many men.

90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane has announced she will let her contract expire in June 2016 and will not seek an extension. Lane first served as deputy superintendent and spent the last five years in her current role.

Eric Molina/Flickr

Lawmakers and public health officials say local heroin use shows no signs of slowing.

“I’ve been in health care for over 30 years and it is the worst public health crisis I’ve ever seen,” said Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy. “That is what drives us, that is what gives us our passion, and I can assure you, we will not stop.”

Espensorvik/Flickr

Analysis of peoples’ television watching habits and other life factors over the last 15 years has shown those who watch more television are at a greater risk of injury, particularly among people who are considered to have a “high-hostility” personality, according to a study published online by University of Pittsburgh researchers.

Lead author of the study, Anthony Fabio, assistant professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health, said this could come down to messaging.

Summer Dreamers Academy

Pittsburgh Public Schools Summer Dreamers Academy is one of four programs in the U.S. to win the 2015 New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award. Given by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), the awards aim to highlight best practices in educational summer programs.

“Research suggests that high quality summer learning programs can really make an impact socially, emotionally and academically in the lives of low-income students,” said Dara Murray, manager of program quality with NSLA.

Ginny/Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying, once again, to change the state’s anti-discrimination law.

A pair of bills have been introduced that would update the Human Relations Act, making it illegal for someone to be fired from a job, turned away from a business and evicted from or denied housing because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act currently provides those protections for people on the basis of age, race, gender, disability, among others,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), “but we believe that it is a glaring omission to not include people from the LGBT community.”

Rebecca Pollard / Flickr

Allegheny County teens, on the whole, look fairly healthy in comparison to teens around the nation, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Allegheny County Health Department.

Of the 1,600 teens surveyed, 96 percent said they have health insurance and 62 percent reported getting one hour or more of moderate or vigorous exercise every day. Other areas raised red flags for health officials.

Hillary H / Flickr

As temperatures creep back into the 90s next week, one state lawmaker says he's looking ahead to protect dogs and other pets from being left in vehicles unattended.

The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act would “prohibit the confinement of a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger the health and wellbeing of the animal.” The violation would be a summary offense, which is the most minor criminal offense in the state and generally comes with a fine.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium officials said Tuesday the facility dropped its membership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums willingly and won’t lose its famed sea turtle rehabilitation program.

The zoo has participated in the Sea Turtle Second Chance program since 2009, taking in several turtles a year and, ideally, releasing them all back into the wild again, according to Zoo President and CEO Barbara Baker. Of the 17 treated in 2015, 13 have been returned, including two newly slated for the North Carolina shore.

Matt York / Associated Press

With the back-to-school season upon us, many are starting to mourn the end of summer, but there are at least a couple months of warm and mild weather ahead – which is perfect motorcycle weather.

“Summer riding season for motorcyclists runs roughly from April to October.” This is when we see the majority of motorcyclists on our roadways,” said Juliann Sheldon, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

UPMC

Each year between 1.7 and 3 million people end up with a sports- and recreation-related concussion in the U.S. That’s according to statistics gathered by the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, which see more than 17,000 patients a year.

This fall, concussion experts from around the country will come to Pittsburgh to discuss the treatment of the mild traumatic brain injury.

“Thirty to 35 of the greatest scientific minds around the country will be meeting as a group to hopefully achieve an understanding and consensus on outlining active approaches to treating this injury,” said Micky Collins, executive and clinical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

90.5 WESA

It’s back-to-school time in the region, and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, better known as ALCOSAN, is highlighting its role in the classroom.

The sewage and water treatment facility isn’t something automatically linked with schools, but for more than a decade, the authority has done educational outreach.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Once a futuristic pipe dream, video calls are now so commonplace they not only help family and friends feel more connected, but allow medical professionals reach patients that in the past either would not have been seen or would have had to travel hundreds of miles for treatment.

One of the largest users of telemedicine is the VA Pittsburgh Health System.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Now seven weeks late, state budget negotiations have prompted rallies and protests by community groups, non-profit organizations, service providers and citizens all imploring Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly to come to a consensus.

The Grandparents Support Group added their voice to the mix Tuesday at a gathering outside East Hills-based A Second Chance Inc., an agency that serves children being cared for by relatives or family friends.

“We cannot do anything, not unless the budget is passed. Our children are our future – no budget, no future,” said Shirley Pinnock, a grandmother from Wilkinsburg.

Prolonged seizures can happen to anyone, at any age and depending on the severity, can affect the ability to think and remember, function normally and live independently. A clinical trial at 39 medical centers across the U.S. aims to determine what the best emergency room treatment is.

Currently, there is no standardized protocol for emergency treatment of a seizure or recurrent seizure lasting longer than five minutes. There are three commonly used medications given in emergency departments to treat the seizures, but which one is given depends on a number of factors, including physician preference.

For the last several years, a nationwide effort to connect veterans with a multitude of services has been growing; in September Stand Down Pittsburgh is holding its 8th annual event.

“What Stand Down is is the community’s attempt to work with the homeless veteran population, in this case within Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and really try to provide respite services as well as connections to potential services that veterans who are homeless or near homeless may not be aware of,” said Jesse Rodriguez, chief development and finance officer with the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania.

State Sen. John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) is urging the Senate to take action before a program that provides a financial benefit to Gulf War veterans expires at the end of August.

State legislature isn’t scheduled to officially reconvene until Sept. 21. 

“[I’m] asking the Senate to come back prior to Aug. 31 and pass this no-brainer of a bill so that the veterans don’t have a lapse in benefits,” Sabatina said.

AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File

Kraft Heinz has announced it is cutting about 2,500 jobs in the U.S. and Canada. The move comes as the company seeks to cut costs following the Kraft and Heinz merger earlier this year. The impact on Pittsburgh will be minimal, according to Kraft Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen.

“As part of the integration, some employees will move from Pittsburgh to Chicago and likewise, some employees will move from Chicago to Pittsburgh,” said Mullen. “Heinz will continue to have a significant presence in the Pittsburgh area.”

Animal Friends Facebook page

A new litter of 32 rescued cats and kittens has put Pittsburgh's Animal Friends over its tipping point, spokeswoman Shannon Tremblay said Tuesday.

The Ohio Township-based shelter is hosting a “Twice as Nice” event through Sunday, offering a free second adoption if you pay for the first.

AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka

As Pennsylvania lawmakers continue a long-standing debate over legalizing medicinal marijuana, one University of Pittsburgh study shows officials shouldn't overlook the importance of where those future clinics could crop up.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

The struggle between Israelis and Palestinians continues to make daily headlines. But in one of Israel’s oldest cities, Arabs and Jews are coming together to start a project that has its origin in Pittsburgh — Manchester Bidwell Corporation arts and jobs training model.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council got an earful at a public hearing Thursday on paid sick days legislation. The measure was put on hold by council last week to allow for amendments and a public hearing. 

The most visible attendees were pro-sick days legislation, though several came to represent the other side.

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