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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Innovation
7:48 am
Wed April 30, 2014

How These Pittsburgh-Area Students Are Turning Poetry Into Robotic Theater

Students work on their robotic poetry theater for "She Sweeps with Many-Colored Brooms" by Emily Dickinson. Robotic components make snow and leaves fall at programmed times.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

“A diorama on steroids.”

That's how Susan Mellon describes what she’s doing in her Springdale Junior and Senior High classroom, where students are combining poetry with computer technology and engineering.

“Kids tend to be a little intimidated by poetry, so I thought this would take something they’re intimidated by and don’t like and make it fun,” said Mellon, a gifted support coordinator at the school.

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Community
2:29 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Black Community Leaders Ask for Stronger Voice In The Future of August Wilson Center

On Tuesday morning, the receiver of the bankrupt August Wilson Center for African American Culture convened a meeting with several leaders in Pittsburgh’s black community.

Judith Fitzgerald, the receiver, got the names of those invited from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (no relation). The meeting was an effort to give the community a status update on the center, but several in attendance said communication needs to be better going forward.

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Public Safety
3:07 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Workers Who Lost their Lives On The Job Honored On Workers Memorial Day

Jack Shea, president of Allegheny County Labor Council, commemorates Workers Memorial Day, honoring those killed, injured or sickened on the job.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Eleven workers who died on the job in 2013 and 2014 were honored in a ceremony in Pittsburgh’s Market Square Monday.

The annual Workers Memorial Day commemoration aims to highlight something that still happens, even though worker safety laws have improved over the years.

“We need to make sure that people feel safe everyday on the worksite, and whether it’s losing their life or just not coming home in the same physical condition, that’s just not acceptable,” said Jason Fincke, with the Builder’s Guild of Western Pennsylvania.

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Life of Learning
3:00 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Flipping The Classroom Turns Classwork, Homework Model On Its Head

Students in Susan Marino's junior physics class at Chartiers Valley High School learn in a "flipped classroom." They get their lessons at home and do the work in class.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

When you think back to your school days, or even if you’re still in school, you likely sat through numerous lectures, then went home and worked on math or science problems on your own.  

Now, some teachers, such as Sue Marino at Chartiers Valley High School, are turning the traditional notion of schoolwork and homework on its head by “flipping the classroom.”

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Government & Politics
3:47 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

ABLE Act Would Allow Families To Save Money For Children With Disabilities

Courtney, Grant and Maddie Williams. The Williams family currently can't save for Maddie's future without losing Medicaid and Social Security benefits for her care. The ABLE Act would allow them to open a 529-style savings plan for the 4-year-old.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Maddie Williams is four-years-old and has Down syndrome. She has a 6-year-old brother and their parents can put away money in a tax-advantaged 529 plan for his education. They can’t do the same for Maddie.

“Shortly after she was born, we learned that Maddie would never be allowed to have more than $2,000 in her name or she would lose valuable benefits that she qualifies for through Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance,” said Courtney Williams.

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Education
1:59 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Thousands of Catholic Educators Gather in Pittsburgh

For years, Catholic schools across the country have been struggling with declining enrollment.

From the peak in the 1960s at 5.2 million students in Catholic schools, about 1.9 million now attend. But the National Catholic Educational Association, or NCEA, maintains that a Catholic education is as important in today’s world as it was in the 1960s.

“Catholic education addresses the whole person,” said NCEA President Brother Robert Bimonte. “We’re not only a school that’s teaching facts, but we’re forming the whole person: body, mind and spirit.”

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Environment & Energy
2:59 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Pittsburgh Gives Away Trees for Earth Day

The City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Shade Tree Commission will give away native Dogwood seedlings for Earth Day. The tree, pictured fully-grown, doesn't get too big.
Credit Pau Cooper / Flickr

For the sixth year, the city of Pittsburgh, along with the Pittsburgh Shade Tree Commission, is giving away free trees for Earth Day.

“We give away approximately 1,000 native seedlings,” said city forester Lisa Ceoffe. “This is a way to get folks in tune with spring, get a tree with their hand, and we have a lot of information going on this whole week as far as Earth Day, Arbor Day and the city celebrates Tree City USA.”

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Community
2:03 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

River Walk Aims To Help Ohio River On A Spiritual Level

An indigenous-led river walk along the Ohio River will take participants from Pittsburgh's Point State Park to where it meets the Mississippi River.
Credit Jim Grey / Flickr

The Ohio River appears on many lists as one of the nation’s most polluted waterways. In an effort to heal the river, a group of indigenous women and others will walk the span of the river starting from Point State Park on Earth Day.

“We’re going to gather some water at the confluence there, of the Ohio River, and we’re going to carry that water all the way down to where it joins the Mississippi River,” said Sharon Day, walk leader and executive director of the Indigenous People’s Task Force. “And while we’re carrying it we’ll be praying and singing to the water.”

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Community
2:56 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

New Housing Units For Women Veterans Open In Millvale

Khrystal Brown (right) and another veteran cut the ribbon on the newest housing units for women vets.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

There are about 1,200 veterans in Allegheny County who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Over the last year or so there has been an increase in the number of women and women with children who are in need of emergency housing.

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Public Safety
8:49 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Community Shows Support As Franklin Regional Students Return To School

Community members line a road near Franklin Regional High School Wednesday to show support as students return to classes.

One week after more than 20 people were injured in a stabbing spree at Franklin Regional High School, students returned to the classroom.

On a chilly spring morning Wednesday, students held a prayer service before school on the football field. Outside of the school, on a road in front of a nearby church, a line of community members stood holding signs with messages such as “FR Strong” and “courage.”

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Public Safety
2:50 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

As Wounds Heal, Students Return To Franklin Regional High School

Classes will resume Wednesday at Franklin Regional High School, one week after stabbing incident left more than 20 wounded.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A few of the most critically wounded in last Wednesday’s stabbing incident at Franklin Regional High School remain hospitalized. As they continue to heal, students, faculty and staff will return to a normal schedule Wednesday.

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Environment & Energy
11:50 am
Tue April 15, 2014

DCNR Natural Gas Advisory Committee to Discuss Development on State Forest Land

An advisory committee tasked with helping the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources manage natural gas drilling on state land will meet for the third time.

The Natural Gas Advisory Committee (NGAC) will cover two major issues in its April meeting.

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Philanthropy
2:31 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Heinz Endowments Names Grant Oliphant New President

Grant Oliphant has been named president of the Heinz Endowments. He currently heads the Pittsburgh Foundation.
Credit Heinz Endowments

The Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments has named Grant Oliphant as the charity's new president.

Oliphant previously spent more than 10 years with the Heinz Endowments in various senior management roles before spending the last six years as chief executive officer of another charity, the Pittsburgh Foundation.

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Ongoing Coverage
7:15 am
Thu April 10, 2014

A 'Blank Expression,' Then Bloodshed At Franklin Regional High School

A 16-year-old armed with two knives went on a stabbing and slashing spree at Franklin Regional High School Wednesday, leaving 22 people injured.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Flailing away with two kitchen knives, a 16-year-old boy with a "blank expression" stabbed and slashed 21 students and a security guard in the crowded halls of his suburban Pittsburgh high school Wednesday before an assistant principal tackled him. 

The suspect, Alex Hribal, was taken into custody and treated for a minor hand wound, then was brought into court Wednesday in shackles and a hospital gown and charged with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault. He was jailed without bail, and authorities said he would be prosecuted as an adult.

Thursday's Developments: Victim Undergoes Another Surgery; School May Reopen Monday

School Stabbing Suspect Was 'Nice Young Boy,' Attorney Says

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Energy
3:30 am
Mon April 7, 2014

PA Public Utility Commission Adopts Requirements For Clearer Disclosures From Suppliers

This winter was a harsh one, with days of bitter cold temperatures that caused many households to turn up the thermostat.

Because of the high demand, many consumers who’d signed up for variable rate pricing plans had a nasty shock when their bills increased dramatically. Now the Public Utility Commission is stepping in to try and ensure customers understand what they are signing up for.

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Environment & Energy
1:19 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Results Mixed In 2012 Natural Gas Drilling Emissions Data

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has released annual emissions data for Marcellus Shale natural gas production for 2012. Emissions are tracked each year in an effort to assess air quality in the state.  

“The data shows two decreases and four increases in pollutant categories from natural gas emissions,” said DEP spokeswoman Morgan Wagner. “However, overall, total air contaminate emissions across the state have continued to decline.”

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Economy & Business
3:16 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

New Branding Aims To Support Pittsburgh's Growing Tourism Industry

VisitPITTSBURGH reports tourism is healthy and growing in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, with an estimated $55 billion in spending tied to the industry.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

At its annual meeting Thursday, VisitPITTSBURGH highlighted some of the successes in tourism in the last couple of years.

The national group Tourism Economics releases data on the industry; 2012 numbers were recently released for Allegheny County.

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Transportation
2:58 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Paving Season Starts, But Without Enough Money To Address All Bad Roads

Mayor Bill Peduto is calling on city crews to address 311 pothole complaints within three business days. Peduto was joined by Department of Public Works Director Mike Gable (left), DPW Supervisor Bill Crean and City Operations Chief Guy Costa.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As warmer weather approaches, city crews are ready to start paving some of the most problematic streets in Pittsburgh.

Mayor Bill Peduto said following one of the worst winters in the last 20 years, roads have been left battered. But standing alongside the pothole-ridden Brookline Boulevard, he said road conditions can also be blamed on years of city budgets under-funding infrastructure.

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Transportation
3:08 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

East Liberty Transit Station Gets Additional Financial Boost from State

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Governor Tom Corbett, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Congressman Mike Doyle and Developer Steve Mosites break ground on another phase of the construction of the East Liberty Transit Center.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A groundbreaking ceremony in East Liberty Tuesday brought together federal, state and local elected officials, from both parties, to tout continued investment in the area.

Gov. Tom Corbett announced an additional $5 million investment in the next phase of improvements to the East Liberty transit station; the funding comes from the transportation bill passed last year.

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Education
4:08 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Dyslexia is Common but Resources Scarce in Pennsylvania; Conference Tackles the Issue

Research indicates that 15% to 20 % of the population has some form of dyslexia. Those with the disorder who are not diagnosed often struggle in school and are more likely to fall behind their peers and drop out.
Credit Judy Baxter / Flickr

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability which makes it hard for those who have it to learn to read and write. According the Pennsylvania branch of the International Dyslexia Association, it’s the most common learning disability.

“15 to 20 percent of the population have some level of dyslexia.” said Pittsburgh region of the Association Chairperson Christine Seppi. “That’s a really huge number. Autism, which gets a lot of press, has one in 50. This is one in five or six.”

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Public Safety
2:47 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Jury Reaches Mixed Decision in Jordan Miles Suit

Jordan Miles, with his family, addressed the media following the verdict. The jury found for Miles on the false arrest count and for the officers on the excessive force count.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Three Pittsburgh police officers were the target of a civil lawsuit brought by Jordan Miles charging that they falsely arrested the CAPA High School student and used excessive force during the incident.
 
The jury found for Miles on the charge of false arrest and for the officers on excessive force allegations. They awarded Miles compensatory damages of $101,016.75 and punitive damages of $6,000 from each of the three officers. Miles called the verdict a victory for him.
 

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Transportation
3:30 am
Mon March 31, 2014

No April Fool’s Joke: PennDOT Fee Increases To Take Effect Starting Tuesday

Starting Tuesday, an initial wave of fee increases for motor vehicle and driver services will go into effect.

The higher fees were part of the transportation law that passed last year, which allots $2.35 billion to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to roads, bridges and transit systems. That price tag is being paid for, in part, by an increase in gasoline taxes and higher vehicle service fees.

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Public Safety
4:06 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Closing Arguments Wrap Up In Jordan Miles Civil Trial Against 3 Pittsburgh Officers

The critical issue in the civil court trial pitting Jordan Miles against three police officers is credibility and comes down to who is to be believed.

That was argued by both sides in closing arguments in the case. An attorney for the defense asked the jury of four white men and four white women to use their common sense. Miles’ attorney, Joel Sansone, asked for the same.

The three officers were working in Homewood in January 2010. They are charged with wrongful arrest and use of excessive force in an incident that left then 18-year-old Miles battered.

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Arts & Culture
3:30 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Race Tackled in New Exhibit at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit examines the issue through science, history and contemporary experience.
Credit courtesy of American Anthropological Association and Science Museum of Minnesota

A new exhibit opening at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History takes on the vast subject of race. The “Race: Are We So Different” exhibit examines the subject from several different angles.

“From the scientific angle: What is the science? What is the science involved in race? What is race? Is race real? The history of the idea of race and finally the contemporary lived experience of race.” said Cecile Shellman with the Carnegie Museum. “How is race played out, particularly in the United States of America?”

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Transportation
2:56 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

PA Auditor General Finds Port Authority Improved Over Latest Audit

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has released an audit of the Port Authority of Allegheny County which covers the period of July 1, 2007 through December 31, 2012.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is in a “significantly better place” today than it was in the last audit, according to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

The most recent audit covers the period of July 1, 2007 through Dec. 31, 2012. The last audit was completed in 2007 by former Auditor General Jack Wagner. At that time, there were serious concerns with unsustainable pension and healthcare costs.

DePasquale said now, the picture has improved.

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