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

A recent audit from Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has found that complex procedures and internal deficiencies in the Department of Human Services (DHS) could lead to problems in the facilitation of mental health services in the county.

“I think this audit shows that there are a number of breaks in the process and those breaks could result in residents in need falling through the cracks if they’re not receiving that help that they need in that most critical hour,” Wagner said.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Up to $20 million is up for grabs for Pennsylvania, under a new grant competition announced in Pittsburgh. The funds are to be used for expanding access to early-childhood learning programs.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto took part in a tour of the “Hug Me Tight Childlife Center” in the Hill District – along with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. While in Pittsburgh, Duncan announced that applications for grants are now being accepted.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Crime Lab is a full lab that performs a wealth crime-related tasks, such as DNA testing and crime scene analysis, but it’s funding has been cut by the state in recent years.

If the lab continues to receive no state funding, it’s in danger of closing. On Tuesday, a joint legislative hearing heard from a list of speakers about why the lab should be a funding priority. Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl Williams said, for starters, it’s a one-of-a-kind facility.

A team of researchers, including some from Carnegie Mellon University, have figured out a hard-to-understand pollutant called brown carbon.

A lot of attention is paid in the media to pollutants that contribute to climate change, especially to greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other sources. But, some sources are lesser-understood and don’t come from areas that can be regulated — namely brown carbon, which comes from smoke from wildfires.

The third in a series of roundtable discussions with Mayor Bill Peduto focused on better fostering business startups and helping incubators and co-working spaces thrive. With several universities and young companies, Peduto says it’s critical to ensure young graduates stay in the Steel City.

He said these businesses will want to locate within city limits, and in clusters.

Every four years, Allegheny County is required to analyze all departments and determine which, if any, departments need to be reorganized, done away with or left as they are.

“It’s a very worthwhile exercise,” said County Manager William McKain. “We go through and drill down and talk to the departments, pull a lot of data and information out, assess their mission, how they’re accomplishing that, and what their future needs would be.”

As state lawmakers continue to work with Philadelphia officials on getting school to start on time this year, Pittsburgh Public Schools are slated to start on time, and with no layoffs. Philadelphia's school system faces a $81 million budget gap, and officials there say it could delay the start of the year and lead to layoffs and larger class sizes.

Pittsburgh School Board President Thomas Sumpter said the schools are not in crisis mode, but the system does face challenges.

Last year, students from several Pittsburgh public schools came together with education advocacy group A+ Schools and the Education Law Center to craft the Student Bill of Rights. While the entire list was not adopted, parts of it were incorporated into a revised Student Code approved by the Pittsburgh Public Schools board.

As the death toll from the Ebola virus in African continues to climb, and with two Americans infected with the disease coming back to the states for treatment, health officials are trying to calm fears that an outbreak could happen here.

“There’s been concern that bringing these ill Americans home will cause spread of the disease in the U.S. This is not a reasonable concern,” said Carrie DeLone, MD, Pennsylvania’s Physician General. “These individuals are contained in a bubble environment during transport and remain so until they get to their isolation unit here”

The two-day EPA hearing on the proposed rules to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants wraps up Friday evening in Pittsburgh. This closes a series of hearings on the subject held in four U.S. cities.

“We collect all the comments that we received here. There’s also a process for us to take comments from folks who want to submit them between now and Oct. 16,” said Shawn Garvin, administrator for the EPA mid-Atlantic region. “Those will help inform us as we put together a final rule.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As two days of hearings on the proposed EPA rules to cut carbon emissions, protesters and supporters gathered for rallies and marches outside of the Federal Building. Before the hearings got underway Thursday, downtown streets were relatively quiet. One small group had set up a stand on the corner of Liberty Avenue and Tenth Street speaking out against the proposed rules and calling for the impeachment of President Obama.

The Marcellus Shale Industry continues to grow, though at a slower pace than years past. That’s according to the recently-released Annual Workforce Survey from the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Industry companies expect to hire 2,000 workers in 2014, a 50 percent drop from 2013 numbers.

“We’ve seen a reduction in rig count, primarily due to the drop in natural gas prices not only Pennsylvania, but across the country,” said Dave Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, “kind of victims of our own success.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Waiting for buses at stops can often mean standing in or near a bus shelter – typically it’s not a fancy or a very comfortable experience.

Enter the new Super Stop in the Ikea parking lot in Robinson.

The Airport Corridor Transportation Association (ACTA) held a grand opening for the stop Tuesday. It does have the bus shelters and benches, but outside of the shelters, there’s an area with tables and chairs, making it seem more like somebody’s patio than a bus stop. Though, as officials pointed out, the Super Stop is not meant just for bus commuters.

The overall crime rate in Pittsburgh for 2013 was reduced by 6.6 percent over 2012, according to the city’s Department of Public Safety. The drop is credited, primarily, to a decrease in property crimes.

Violent crime is down by 2.6 percent, but when broken down into categories, all violent crime categories, except for robbery, increased. Robbery dropped 15.8 percent over 2012.

The number of rapes is up, but a news release from the Department of Public Safety attributed the rise to the inclusion of male victims in the Uniform Crime Reporting definition of rape.  

The state Public Utility Commission has approved emergency permits for two ride-sharing companies that have been operating in the Pittsburgh area.
 
The companies have come under fire over concerns that drivers, their vehicles and their insurance don't meet regulations for taxi cabs and other similar services. The companies have argued their services are just as safe but have been targeted because they don't fit neatly into current public transportation regulations.
 

Barnaby Wasson / Flickr

As Pennsylvania continues a campaign to ensure access to PRE-K programs for all children, Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, a representative from Mayor Bill Peduto’s office, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and a group from the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC) traveled to New York City to see how that city is implementing universal Pre-K.

Rudiak said one thing is clear: It takes multiple players working together to pull it off.

Pittsburgh City Council has approved a measure for a professional service agreement between Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the city for the continuation of the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime (PIRC).

This comes with a $150,000 price tag, which Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith questioned.

“I don’t mind funding anything if we see results, but I don’t want to fund something if we don’t see results, and I have not seen results from this program,” she said.

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission continues to try stopping ridesharing services Uber and Lyft from operating in the Pittsburgh area, often citing that the drivers are not regulated by the state, which is a safety concern.

This prompted one Pittsburgh man to look into a major safety issue – driving under the influence.

“Under that safety argument I decided to look into DUIs, arguably one of biggest dangers on the road, this could have been having a profound change in that area,” said Nate Good.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Department of Energy is holding meetings across the country on infrastructure needs for the natural gas industry.

On Monday the, the seventh such meeting, the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) Public Meeting, was held in Pittsburgh. The day-long meeting focused on key infrastructure needed for transmission, storage and distribution of energy – especially natural gas, which continues boom, especially in this region.

After seeing no appreciable job growth in the Pittsburgh metro area more than a year ago, the region added 10,700 jobs between June 2013 and June 2014, according to a report from Pittsburgh Today.

“That’s a 0.9 percent increase, which doesn’t set the world on fire, but Pittsburgh has always been kind of a slow and steady grower,” said Doug Heuck, Pittsburgh Today director. “But it’s good news that we’re back growing jobs again.”

The Corbett administration has announced that no new natural gas leases will be issued under state parks and forest land while the case of PEDF v. Commonwealth progresses in court.

The decision is part of a settlement, which includes the continued funding of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The suit was brought by the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation.

Eleven patients from a unit at UPMC Presbyterian were moved to other parts of the hospital following the detection of legionella in several sinks in a recently-remodeled area.

There are no confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease, but UPMC spokeswoman Wendy Zellner said the patients were moved as a precautionary measure.

“We are following our normal Legionella monitoring and prevention protocols and expect the unit to reopen soon after proper remediation measures are taken,” Zellner said in a statement.

Customers of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority now have another payment option at their disposal – cash payments at 7-Eleven stores.

“It’s a convenience for our customers who don’t have a bank account, a credit card, a debit card, they may be out of town,” said Melissa Rubin, a PWSA spokeswoman. “Cash payments can be made at any 7-Eleven across the U.S.”

The Port Authority of Allegheny County approved shifting $1.56 million dollars from its capital budget to add to the amount needed to study a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line between downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland.

Port Authority Chairman Bob Hurley said an initial engineering and environmental study is a critical part of the process.

Gov. Tom Corbett has yet to sign the $29.1 billion budget passed by state lawmakers last week. He said he would not sign a budget that does not include a pension overhaul.

A five-year agreement between Allegheny Health Network and Johns Hopkins Medicine has been signed, finalizing a partnership between AHN and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Washington, DC.

“Cancer patients and their families benefit and their outcomes improve when we share knowledge and expertise because then we can accelerate knowledge transfer and treatment advances outside of communities where patients live,” said Dr. David Parda, system chair of the AHN Cancer Institute.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and other city officials announced the construction of three protected bike lanes in the city. The lanes will be built from Schenley Plaza to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park, along Saline Street between Greenfield Avenue and Swinburne Street (Panther Hollow Trail) in Greenfield, and on Penn Avenue from 11th Street to Stanwix Avenue Downtown.

As people set off fireworks, wave flags and eat their American flag-decorated cake this Fourth of July, a group of American Muslims is doing some of the same things — with an added message — that their religion is a peaceful one and they are also patriotic Americans.

“We want to spread the message of loyalty to the United States of America, and we want to debunk the myth that Muslims do not stand for peace and justice,” said Adnan Ahmed, Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Pittsburgh.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

The world’s largest furry convention is under way in downtown Pittsburgh. The convention for artists, animators, costumers, puppeteers and fans has called the Steel City home since 2006.

“By the time we’re finished with this particular convention, Anthrocon will have left $41 million of economic activity in the Pittsburgh region over the last nine years,” said Craig Davis, president and CEO of Visit Pittsburgh, the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau.

Last week, Allegheny County announced that all same-sex partners of county employees would have their domestic partner benefits cut off effective July 31.

Following an outcry from advocates and some receiving benefits that 30 days was not enough time to arrange for new coverage and/or legally marry, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has now extended the cut-off date to June 30, 2015.

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