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

PNC has donated the Lantern Building to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

The building at 600 Liberty Avenue currently houses the PNC Legacy Project exhibit, which highlights Pittsburgh’s history and PNC’s role in it. That will be moved to the Tower at PNC Plaza. As for the Lantern Building, the Trust said it will continue to use the gallery to showcase and enhance artistic programming, though exact plans are still unknown.

The United Way along with the Afterschool Alliance and two state lawmakers hosted a “crawl” to after-school programs in the city Wednesday.

The first stop was the Sarah Heinz House on the North Side. There they observed an after-school program for elementary school-aged children and heard from a panel of teens on their thoughts on after-school time.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The students in Zack Hull’s 8th grade English class are eager to share their “This I Believe” essays. For several years, he has had his students dig within themselves and write about something they believe in, and he said the end of their 8th grade year is the perfect time to do that.

Surgery can be more risky as one ages, and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have found that in the case of lumbar spinal stenosis, surgery may not always be the best option. Lumbar spinal stenosis is common with aging.

The University of Pittsburgh last year launched the “Year of Sustainability,” which features speakers, programs and initiatives to make the campus more energy efficient. Many of the efforts have been student-led, but as the year comes to a close a group of students say Pitt’s administration didn’t do enough.

“We’re just disappointed, in the area of sustainability there weren’t really many administrative sustainability proposals or initiative for projects, all the things done on campus were student-led,” said Andrew Woomer, Pitt student and organizer with Free the Planet.

Be it “code red” or “code blue,” hospitals across the country use codes to identify emergencies. In Pennsylvania these codes vary from facility to facility, according to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.

“You could go to one facility and they could call, say a ‘code 99,’ and at one hospital it could mean a fire, and then if you go to another institution, a ‘code 99’ might be a medical emergency for an adult,” said Susan Wallace, patient safety analyst at the authority.

Pennsylvania is facing a $2 billion budget deficit, so state revenue officials are hoping coffers stay strong until the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

March revenues, however, were lower than expected, according to Department of Revenue Spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell. In March, the state collected $4.3 billion in General Fund revenue, 0.2 percent less than anticipated.

“So that brings us, fiscal year to date, collections of about $21.7 billion; $368 million or 1.7 percent above estimate,” said Brassell.

Small- and mid-sized business owners nationwide are optimistic about their sales and profits for the coming months, according to the latest PNC Economic Survey Outlook.

The survey found that 83 percent of the business owners surveyed are optimistic about their company’s prospects and 70 percent are optimistic about the overall U.S. economy.

In Pennsylvania, things are a little different. While optimistic, small business owners are just a bit more cautious.

The Pennsylvania House Committee on Human Services heard from mental health workers and advocates Thursday about the challenges faced by those living with mental illness. The main topic was the stigma surrounding mental illness. That stigma, according to each speaker, is a major barrier to health care.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget increases spending for education, among other things, but with a looming deficit, that means finding new revenue sources.

Wolf has proposed reducing the types of industries who are currently tax-exempt, among them – the arts. Under the proposal, admissions to the performing arts, museums and historical sites would be taxed at 6.6 percent. While they haven’t taken an official stance on the proposal, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) said there are some questions.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Every Wednesday, at a former Catholic school building in Brookline, more than 100 children gather for “People are Always Learning Something” or PALS, enrichment – a weekly co-op. The families there homeschool their children, and pretty much everyone said they’d been asked by one or more people how their children socialize if they are homeschooled.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The city of Pittsburgh along with the Heinz Endowments has announced P4: People, Planet, Place and Performance — a framework for a model of redevelopment of city spaces.

It will consider the four “Ps” when looking at future development and will connect resources and initiatives already working in the city.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s visitors and tourism bureau, VisitPITTSBURGH said 2014 was a strong year, but that 2015 is shaping up to be busier.

The organization released its annual report Thursday, highlighting the economic impact tourism has on the region. Each year the industry brings about $5.6 billion to the region and supports some 40,000 jobs.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The Roberto Clemente Bridge will be closed starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday and will remain closed until April 10 to allow crews to do repairs and add a new feature.

“We are doing some deck repairs out there, we’re replacing some drainage on the bridge and we’re also installing bike lanes on the bridge that will go across the bridge and tie into the bike lanes that are currently on Penn Avenue,” said Michael Dillon, deputy director of Public Works for Allegheny County.

Veterans courts go above normal courts, offering veterans charged with non-violent crimes options for treatment for drugs and alcohol or other issues that could have led them to being charged with a crime. Legislation introduced in Harrisburg would increase the number of veterans treatment courts.

“Right now about 16 counties have those courts, but 50 do not. We would like to require it,” said Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin).

Kelly Strayhorn Theater

A delegation from The Pittsburgh Arts Council is in Washington, D.C. Monday and Tuesday to participate in National Arts Advocacy Day.

Monday will feature briefings and discussions, and on Tuesday arts advocates will meet with individual lawmakers. There are some long-standing issues facing the arts, such as funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, tax policy and arts education.

This year, there are a couple of new areas of focus including integrating the arts in veterans programs.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is often called a city of neighborhoods. Two of the most famous, perhaps, are Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Fred Rogers was born on March 20, 87 years ago. Some of his show’s largest and best-known sets are thrilling visitors to the Heinz History Center — as Mister Rogers’ legacy goes on.

The Pittsburgh Technology Council has launched FortyX80, a nonprofit group with the focus of accelerating the amount of capital investment coming into the region for innovation, startups and existing companies.

“We have incredible investors here in our region, we have a few strong venture funds, but they can only do so much” said Tech Council President and CEO Audrey Russo. “We can’t always count on them to do what needs to be done, and it wouldn’t be fair.”

In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown and, more recently the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Mo., a brochure is going out to the Pittsburgh community outlining rights, responsibilities and realities of police encounters.

“For instance, you have the right to curse at a police officer, but it’s not a good idea in most cases to do that,” said Tim Stevens, president and founder of the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), “so we’re talking about what your rights are, what your responsibilities are as a citizen and what the reality is.”

Joseph / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has clarified a container requirement rule – clearing the way for beer distributors to sell 12 packs.

This came after several requests for clarification by a beer distributor and brewery which asked if, under current PLCB regulations, they could “prepare a single large container of malt or brewed beverages consisting of twelve smaller containers, each holding approximately 12 ounces, designed to be sold as a single unit.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Minority workers hold 11 percent of the jobs in the greater Pittsburgh area, compared with about 25 percent of the jobs in 15 comparable regions. That’s according to “Behind the Times: The Limited Role of Minorities in the Greater Pittsburgh Workforce,” a report released by a group of community organizations. In addition to a lower-than-average number of black, Hispanic and Asian workers, the jobs they do have point to another trend.

Ken / Flickr

The City of Pittsburgh has been granted a stay in the National Rifle Association’s lawsuit against a firearm ordinance. That means, the city’s “lost or stolen” ordinance is allowed to stand as the lawsuit proceeds, though the NRA had requested it be halted during the case.

Chris Squire / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny River remains frozen, and there is still ice on the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, though barge traffic is getting through. Now, with rain forecast for the next couple of days the concern turns to flooding.

“There’s always a threat of flooding, particularly when you have ice and when it starts to move it can jam up in narrow valleys or behind bridges and cause water to rise behind the jam very quickly,” said Lewis Kwett, hydraulic engineer with the Pittsburgh division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

http://www.senatorschwank.com/

Pennsylvania’s multi-billion dollar public and municipal pension issues have long been cited by lawmakers as an obstacle to economic growth. To address pensions, Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) has introduced a bill that would create the Public Pensions Review Commission.

“To examine the current systems, and to recommend statutory or regulatory changes needed to achieve and maintain a sound, stable public pension structure for both the state and for local governments,” said Schwank.

The 25-member group would be authorized to conduct hearings and receive appropriate information and analysis. Some of the questions to be addressed, said Schwank, are what does Pennsylvania’s future workforce like? How can the state attract and retain talent, and how can the state achieve retirement security?

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

With Pittsburgh being plunged into arctic temperatures for much of February, the rivers have seen more ice than usual. Pittsburgh’s ports and waterways are among the largest inland ports in the country – so the slowdowns caused by the ice are causing some ripple effects. Locks on the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers are still operating – though the ice is slowing traffic.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As you drive from Oakland to Downtown via Fifth Avenue, you still see many older buildings, but adding to the landscape now are two newly-constructed apartment buildings offering low-cost housing. One of the Uptown buildings is solely for people who have aged out of the foster care system.

“We have 24 young adults who will be moving into those units, and on the other side of the street we have 23 units that will available for working people with modest incomes,” said Larry Swanson, executive director of Action Housing.

Chuck Balcik / Allegheny Health Network

Forbes Regional Hospital will open an expanded intensive care unit next week that will look more like a 21st century ICU than the current unit that was opened more than 40 years ago. The facility in Monroeville is an accredited Level II Trauma Center, and will be adding a 20-bed ICU.

“This is a mixed medical and surgical trauma intensive care unit,” said Michael Hansen, MD, medical director of the ICU, “we’ll be able to provide the highest level of critical care treatment to the patients that come not only locally, but also from the whole eastern corridor.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Guns for Opportunity program officially launched in Braddock Tuesday night with 26 guns turned over to Allegheny County Sheriff’s deputies. Before the official 4 p.m. start time, nearly a dozen guns had already been  surrendered.

pahouse.com

The largest purchaser of supplies and services in Pennsylvania is the state itself. But, for small businesses, particularly those owned by minorities and women, getting contracts to fulfill those needs can be difficult. Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) has introduced a bill to help address that.

“House Bill 85, which enables minority and women-owned and disadvantaged businesses to compete with larger businesses for state contracts,” said Wheatley.

Among other things, the bill would provide the state authority to waive employee limits; give alternative certification when needed; establish a surety bond guarantee program and the Surety Bond Guarantee Fund; and, in contracts for public works, further provide for contractors' and subcontractors' payment obligations.

Tim Lambert / WITF

As Governor Tom Wolf prepares to introduce his first budget as Pennsylvania’s governor, two state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would limit state spending – with the ultimate goal of leaving the issue up to the voters. The bill, introduced by Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-Greene) would tie the spending limit to the growth of the population and inflation.

“That percentage is all that the budget can grow,” said Bartolotta, “when there’s an excess in that, 25 percent of that will go back to the taxpayers, 25 percent will go to Rainy Day Fund and 50 percent of that excess will go to pay down the pension problem.”

The change is needed, according to Bartolotta, because general fund spending has more than tripled over the past 30 years.

“The population’s only grown by 7.7 percent and unfortunately the budget has grown to over 1,010 percent in that amount of time,” she said.

Pages