Deanna Garcia

Assistant 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.


Ways to Connect

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Under the Liberty Bridge was the setting as former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell called on federal lawmakers to increase funding for the nation’s roads and bridges.

Rendell joined Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania in the request, which is part of a new campaign from the Associated General Contractors of America. It’s an advertising, community outreach and social media campaign.

With warmer weather, Pittsburgh farmers’ markets are blossoming citywide.

“East Liberty opens Monday, South Side Tuesday, Carrick Wednesday, Beechview Thursday; Friday we have the City-County Building in the morning and the North Side in the afternoon, and then Squirrel Hill on Sunday,” said Mirella Ranallo, Farmers’ Market supervisor.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

It’s become a familiar and iconic sight– the dinosaur stationed outside the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland.

The life-size cast of a Diplodocus carnegii, so-named for its discovery by a team of Carnegie scientists in 1899, was the first major dinosaur fossil in the museum. An accompanying statue, “Dippy,” took shape at its centennial, and so he's stood with no major maintenance since.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Its name is Claudico, and it’s the first artificial intelligence (AI) program of its kind to take on humans in poker matches: 80,000 hands to be exact.

Four of the world’s top poker players spent two weeks at Rivers Casino. Three of the four pros had higher winnings than Claudico, but their $732,713 collective lead wasn’t large enough to be considered scientifically reliable.

Intel Free Press / Flickr

About 1,700 high school students from around the world will be in Pittsburgh starting Sunday for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the largest pre-college science competition in the world.

Twenty percent of the competitors hold patents or have published papers — this fair features high-level science.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Hoping to dispel a rumor that the closure of Wilkinsburg Middle and High School is imminent, district officials announced the school will be open for the 2015-2016 school year.

Beyond that, the district is still examining options. The struggling district is dealing with declining enrollment and has had funding issues as more students enroll in charter schools.

The VA Backlog Working Group has released a new report that shows wait times for care in the VA system are decreasing.

But chairs of the group, Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Dean Heller (R-NV) said more needs to be done. To that end, they have introduced the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act, legislation aimed at ensuring the VA can handle disability claims in slow and busy times, and provide accountability. One provision would require the controller general to audit the regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

Airwolfhound / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 171st Refueling Wing will now be home to a KC-135 flight simulator.

That is the type of craft flown by pilots at the Moon Township facility. Previously, crew members would have to travel to the Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire to use a flight simulator, now they can stay in Pittsburgh and others will likely come into the region as well.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb said the city is doing well financially, but it could still improve spending.

Lamb released the 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report which showed Pittsburgh ended the year with a total fund balance of $183 million, an increase of $22.6 million from 2013.

A report released this week by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program examined how well alumni of four- and two-year higher education institutions fare after school.

The study looks at predicted outcomes for students and compares actual outcomes. It’s an area not often looked at, according to researchers at Brookings. This report compiled its data looking at three main areas: mid-career salary of alumni, repayment rate on student loans and common careers among alumni.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Since the 1970s, the AFL-CIO labor union has set April 28 as National Worker’s Memorial Day — a day to honor those who’ve lost their lives while on the job. There were nine work-related deaths in Allegheny County last year, but many more in the U.S.

“In the United States, there’s about 150 people that die every day on count of work-related injuries and illnesses,” said Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Updated at 4 p.m.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has stepped away from its threat to file a First Amendment lawsuit against the Plum Borough School District for trying to restrict students' comments on social media about the investigation into sexual misconduct by at least two teachers. Plum Superintendent Timothy Glasspool clarified the district's position on its website late Monday morning following the threatened suit, as well as a student protest.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Started in the 1870s, Arbor Day is the nation’s oldest environmental holiday, and it’s now celebrated around the world. In Pittsburgh, groups of volunteers gathered at West Penn Park in Polish Hill Friday to plant new trees in honor of Arbor Day.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

In the wake of several incidents of violence in Monroeville, including a shooting and 100-plus person fight, municipal leaders and local law enforcement have announced they are working together to stop the violence.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said part of the problem is drugs. When law enforcement cracked down on drug sales in Homewood, he said operations began to move out of the city into areas such as Monroeville.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Trade Institute of Pittsburgh (TIP) has been operated out of Hosanna House in Wilkinsburg since it started in 2009. Now, the program has moved to a new space: the former Westinghouse Electric Building in Homewood.

Mark Knobil / Flickr

North Braddock has more than 300 vacant homes, many of which are beyond repair. About 100 of those are not secured, meaning they have doors or windows that are broken or missing.

On Saturday, about 40 volunteers plan to fan out in the neighborhood to clean and secure several of the properties.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner announced that her office will fully examine the property assessment appeals process. A previous audit has already looked at the actual property assessment processes.

“And now, since most of the appeals are wrapped up, we’ll be looking at the appeals process,” said Wagner. “We’ll be analyzing at lots of data, but with this, we also want the involvement of the public.”

What her office is looking for are the personal experiences of those who went through the appeals process.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

To mark National Equal Pay Day, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner called on the county to ensure women are paid equally to men for the same jobs.

“Nationally we know that women are compensated 77 cents on the dollar for every dollar a man makes, and that’s for the same work” said Wagner. “In the Pittsburgh area, it’s even worse where you have women compensated 74 cents for every dollar a man makes.”

As the Penn Hills School District seeks an $18 million bond to cover operational costs, state Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny) is asking state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to get the bottom of the district’s fiscal woes.

DeLuca is calling for a full audit of the district’s budget after last week’s announcement that the district would seek court approval for the bond in order to meet debt service, payroll and retirement fund obligations.

In an effort to bring down energy usage and cost, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is planning to upgrade the lighting at five of its parking garages: one at the Pittsburgh Technology Center and four at Southside Works.

The URA and Green Building alliance will allocate $1 million for an upgrade to LED lights. That's after an engineering study showed it would be beneficial.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is threatening to terminate its Medicare contract with rival Highmark, which could cause about 180,000 seniors in western Pennsylvania to lose in-network access to UPMC hospitals and doctors next year.

UPMC says Highmark has refused to pay contracted rates for cancer treatment at the Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside.

Spokesman Paul Wood said Highmark owes UPMC about $143 million.

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.