Deanna Garcia

Arts and Culture Senior 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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As the state budget impasse wears through its fifth month, service organizations and some of their funders are calling on state lawmakers to take action before services and programs statewide face more delays in funding.

The Pittsburgh Foundation partnered with the United Way of Allegheny County to launch a social media campaign using #PAPeopleCount. The groups are asking service providers, nonprofits and residents to let their digital voices be heard.

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A group representing 20,000 Pennsylvania doctors and medical students is hoping to shed light on continued disparities in health care access for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) is recommending expanded access, increased research and funding for research, and a better dissemination of research results.

Courtesy Brandon Blache-Cohen via the Heinz History Center

Next week marks the anniversary of a major event leading up to the Holocaust: Kristallnacht.

Brandon Blache-Cohen's grandfather, Werner Josef Cohen, lived through it. Blache-Cohen never met his grandfather, who died in 1977, but he became interested in the elder Cohen’s history – and now shares his family’s story with as many people as possible.

David Trawin / Flickr

  The Pennsylvania Medical Society won’t support medicinal marijuana legalization until further research better proves its viability as a treatment option. That position was one of several adopted at the group’s annual House of Delegates meeting late last month.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program is solvent until at least 2028, according to its seventh annual report to the community released Tuesday. Guests to the presentation at the Hill House were greeted by kindergarten students from Phillips and Weil elementary schools, donning shirts that read “I am the class of 2028” and giving out enthusiastic handshakes.

Eric Schmuttenmaer / flickr

The Penn Environment Research and Policy Center named Allegheny County's ten most toxic industrial pollutants on Monday. The list ranks power facilities by how much pollution they produce, emphasizing that even though the air looks clean in the region, it may not be.

Allegheny Health Network

Allegheny General Hospital is one of 65 in the nation testing a new treatment for people with heart failure that leads to a type of heart attack ominously called the “widow-maker.”

Traditional treatment is a heart pump or transplant, but AGH cardiologists are among those studying the efficacy of a parachute implant.

Keith Srakocic / Associated Press

The governors of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia announced they’d signed a three-year cooperation agreement to try to maximize the economic impact of Marcellus Shale natural gas development following the Tri-State Shale Summit in West Virginia earlier this week.

Economic groups in the three states are praising the deal.

Sham Hardy / Flickr

An AIDS education center housed at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health secured a $10.7 million federal grant that will fund the group for the next four years. 

Pennsylvania is 10th on the list of the states with the most diagnoses of HIV and AIDS in the U.S., according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though infection rates have declined since the disease’s peak in the late 80s and early 90s, data show rates are starting to creep upwards, especially in specific groups.

LM Otero / Associated Press

The leading cause of death among American teens isn’t an illness – it’s traffic crashes, largely due to distracted driving, according to the National Department of Transportation.

“It is a big problem in this country,” said Chris Vitale, manager for injury prevention and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. “For the past two years, we’ve lost about 3,000 to crashes that have been attributed to distracted driving.”

Michael Khor / Flickr

City Council members are expected to vote on a bill next week that would clarify where drones are allowed as they become more affordable and available in the Pittsburgh market.

“Historically, unmanned aircraft, including model airplanes, have been barred from our city parks,” said Jim Griffin, director of Parks and Recreation for the city. “That, we now extend to drones.”

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Pennsylvania’s wine industry accounts for some $5.5 million in sales at the state’s wine and spirit stores. To shine a light on the growing industry, state lawmakers have designated October as Pennsylvania Wine Month.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pirates will take on the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on Wednesday with the winner advancing to the best-of-five National League Division series against St. Louis. A large crowd of cheering fans gathered in Downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday to support the Bucs.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle was given a Clean Water Star Award from the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority on Monday for his continued efforts to help move infrastructure improvements forward. 

90.5 WESA

Protecting the youngest victims of human trafficking from further trauma is the goal of a bill making its way through Harrisburg. The “Safe Harbor” bill would identify child victims of human trafficking and protect those who’ve been forced to perform illegal acts from criminal prosecution.

Kate Hiscock / Flickr

The longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to find a job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board announced Thursday a program geared specifically to the long-term unemployed will soon be available in Pittsburgh. The Platform to Employment (P2E) program is more specialized in that it focuses solely on people who have been unemployed for at least 27 weeks.

“The needs that you have in order to get yourself back into the workforce are very different,” said Joe Carbone, president and CEO of The Workplace, which first launched P2E. “We think we assembled the right tools that are necessary so that folks who are long-term unemployed, many of which who have given up any future in terms of being a part of the workforce, can actually overcome that and come back in and be productive employees.”

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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.

http://www.hearth-bp.org/

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.

Flickr

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.”

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