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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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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Environment & Energy
9:20 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Bill to Do Away With 'Summer Gas' in Pittsburgh Passes Senate

A bill pending in the state Senate would do away with requirements for "summer gas" in several southwestern PA counties.
Credit Jenn Durfey / Flickr

The Pennsylvania state Senate has passed a bill that would amend the Air Pollution Control Act to eliminate the requirements for summer blend gasoline in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington Counties.

The gas blend is used in the warmer months to cut down on vehicle emissions, but Sen. Tim Solobay said since the use of “summer gas” was mandated in 1998, cars have become more fuel efficient. The Pittsburgh-based Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) said that is true, but doesn’t mean the gas blend is unnecessary.

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Life of Learning
8:55 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

Life of Learning Forum: Investment in Pre-K Critical to Future Educational Success

Linda Hippert, executive director for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, speaks during a recent Life of Learning forum on the future of education in Pittsburgh.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Last week, a panel of experts gathered at the Community Broadcast Center to discuss what the future of the learning/education system should look like to be as effective as possible for the region’s children. The public forum tackled a range of questions from the audience, including the state of early childhood education.

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Public Safety
4:37 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Police, At-Risk Youth Talk Respect and Perceptions in Forum

Police officers and at-risk youth, some of whom have been in trouble with the law, met in Homestead Friday to discuss ways of improving police and community relations. A panel of both law enforcement officers and youth spoke and engaged with the crowd.

“We talk about how we can impact those arrests by changing police way of thinking, changing youth way of thinking when they’re out on the street so that they know when they interact it doesn’t have to be negative,” said Kimberly Booth, assistant chief probation officer with Allegheny County Juvenile Court.  

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Education
7:59 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Change in GED Exam Requirement Helps Those Already in Process of Obtaining GED

Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq is finalizing the process that will allow some Pennsylvanians to get their GED without having to start the exam process from scratch.

Starting this year, the National GED Testing Service replaced its 2002 exam with the 2014 GED. Thousands of people in the commonwealth had completed one or more parts of the 2002 exam, but the change meant that rather than using the score of the already-completed portion, they’d have to start the process over.

Now, that has been changed.

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Community
4:23 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Three Rivers Heritage Trail Set to Expand from Aspinwall through O’Hara Township

Plans have been approved to expand the Three Rivers Heritage Trail along a mile of the riverfront.

The expansion will run from Aspinwall Riverfront Park to Blawnox Community Park. The corridor has been eyed for years as an ideal location for a trail, but it runs in front of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority plant, and conversations with previous city administrations left planners thinking they’d have to route the trail along Freeport Road.  

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Sports
4:38 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Carlow University Introduces Its First Men’s Basketball Team

The new Carlow University Celtics team will begin playing in fall 2014. Head coach is Tim Keefer (at lecturn).
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Getting into the excitement of March Madness, Carlow University has announced that starting in the fall of 2014, the once-all-girl’s school’s first men’s basketball team will take the court. The Carlow University Celtics will compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

“This has been a few years in the making,” said Carlow University President Suzanne Mellon. “The original recommendation for a men’s basketball team originated from an athletics task force, a group comprised of students, faculty and staff that began meeting four years ago.”

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Public Safety
3:29 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

St. Patrick’s Day DUI Enforcement Going Full Force

State and local police will be conducing DUI checkpoints and roving patrols Saturday, following Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day Parade. The PA DUI Association reminds revelers that the amount of alcohol consumed can vary vastly by drinking, they said a Long Island iced tea can count as five alcoholic beverages.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

St. Patrick’s Day is Monday,, but the Steel City’s celebration will take place Saturday, starting with a parade and continuing with partying and revelry throughout the city.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced a joint DUI enforcement effort with the Pennsylvania DUI Association, the PA Liquor Control Board and local law enforcement.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Five Years After A Major Change, How Open Is Pennsylvania's Open Records Law?

It's been five years since a major shift in the way the commonwealth makes public documents available. But how much of a difference has the change made?
Credit Flickr user All Those Details

Five years ago, Pennsylvania’s open records law was changed with the promise of ensuring more information would be more easily available to the public.

Records requests have gone up, and the new law is seen, overall, as a positive for the commonwealth, but open records officials and some people who use the law see room for improvement. 

Before the change in the open records law, all records were presumed closed unless the requester could prove why they should be open. Now, with the new law, all records are presumed open unless the requestee can prove otherwise. This has resulted in a spike in requests from across the commonwealth.

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Courts
5:38 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Opening Statements Heard in Jordan Miles Case

Opening arguments were heard and testimony got underway in the civil retrial of three police officers accused of using excessive force and false arrest in a 2010 incident involving a Homewood teen.

Jordan Miles was 18 when he was stopped by the three officers on his way from his mother’s house to his grandmother’s around 11 p.m. Jan. 12. What happened next? There are two stories: Miles’s and the officers'.

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Public Safety
3:07 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Bail Set for Man in Firefighter Death Retrial

After a two-week delay in which prosecutors and attorneys for Greg Brown had to convince a judge he either does not or does have the authority to set bail, Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph Williams decided that he could do so. He set bail at $750,000 straight cash for Brown, who is facing a retrial in the 1995 death of three Pittsburgh firefighters.

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Environment & Energy
10:19 am
Sun March 9, 2014

Final Phase of Deer Creek Mine Drainage Project Slated to Start

The last phase of an effort to treat water discharge from the Indianola mine pool is slated to start March 17.

The project is expected to improve the water quality of Little Deer Creek. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation and the Clean Streams Foundation is designing a settling pond to handle the discharge that currently flows into Little Deer Creek.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:00 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Wagner: Campaign Finance Reform, Education Funding Top Priorities

Gubernatorial candidate Jack Wagner
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

After an unsuccessful run for mayor of Pittsburgh, former Pennsylvania auditor general Jack Wagner has thrown his hat into the gubernatorial ring.

Currently, he is the only candidate from Western Pennsylvania seeking the Democratic nomination, but he said he plans to focus his campaign on the entire state.

He’s late to the race and behind in fundraising. He acknowledged he’s up against candidates with much more personal wealth than he has, but said he intends to work hard on fundraising. He went on to say that if elected, one of his priorities would be campaign finance reform.

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Government & Politics
4:38 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

New Restaurant Grading System Moves Forward in Allegheny County

The Allegheny County Board of Health voted to move forward on crafting a new restaurant grading system that would give eating establishments a letter grade from "A" to "C."

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Economy & Business
7:45 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Study Shows Pittsburgh Region Strong on Arts and Culture Spending

Allegheny County was one of 182 regions examined in the Americans for the Arts’ Arts and Economic Prosperity IV project.

When looking at cities of comparable size that were also in the study including Columbus, Ohio, San Diego  and Indianapolis, Pittsburgh came out on top with expenditures topping $686 million in 2010. But, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council said the impact is even greater and stretches beyond just arts and culture.

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Transportation
4:21 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Port Authority Connect Card Fraud Being Investigated, No Personal Data Stolen

Riders are asked to purchase ConnectCards only from official retail kiosks and other official locations, such as Giant Eagle.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County says several arrests are pending tied to the fraudulent reproduction of ConnectCards. ConnectCard is a smart card fare system now used by the Port Authority in an effort to phase out older paper and cardboard passes.  Multiple copies were made of four legitimate ConnectCards  and then sold outside of Port Authority approved channels; investigators did not say how many reproductions were made.

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Economy & Business
3:42 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Pitt Entrepreneur Institute Celebrates 2013 Successes, Looks to Future

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence unveiled its 2013 report at Turner Dairy Farms, President Chuck Turner said the institute has helped his family's business transition and continue to grow.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh has been working with businesses in the region for 20 years. Its annual report was released Wednesday at Turner Dairy Farms, one of the members of the institute.

Founder and Executive Director Ann Dugan said in 2013 the institute helped about 900 entrepreneurs.

“We had 47 startup businesses,” Dugan said. “That was where they came through the door with an idea, today their door is open, the lights are on, music is on, they have sales.”

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Courts
10:25 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Ex-Pittsburgh Police Chief Harper Sentenced To 18 Months

Nate Harper, seen here at a November 2012 news conference, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Tuesday for conspiracy to steal police funds deposited into unauthorized credit union accounts and for failing to file income tax returns for several years.
Credit File Photo / 90.5 WESA

Former Pittsburgh police chief Nathan Harper has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiring to create an unauthorized slush fund, diverting public money and failing to pay income taxes.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon also ordered 61-year-old Harper on Tuesday to repay $31,986 from the fund that he spent on himself.

An emotional Nate Harper addressed the court before hearing his sentence.

“I’m a broken man,” he said, adding that he’ll carry with him to his grave the embarrassment he said he caused his family and friends.

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Public Safety
3:16 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Bond Hearing Delayed for Man Being Re-Tried in Firefighter Deaths

Attorneys for Greg Brown have one week to put together their argument for why their client is eligible for bail.

Prosecutors have one week to prove why he is, as they contend, not eligible. Brown was scheduled for a bond hearing in a re-trial for a 1997 conviction. Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams gave both sides until March 3 to file their briefs, and himself another week to decide whether he can set bail.

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Government & Politics
7:47 am
Mon February 24, 2014

New Website Design Aims to Make Campaign Finance Reports Easier to Find

The Pennsylvania Department of State has redesigned the portion of its website that contains campaign finance reports. Spokesman Ron Ruman said the old site design was confusing.

“It was set up in a way that perhaps made sense to candidates or people that file campaign finance reports and that sort of thing,” said Ruman, “but to the average citizen that doesn’t deal with those things a lot it was kind of confusing, it wasn’t necessarily intuitive in the way it did the searches.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:23 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Opera Based on Willa Cather Story Highlights Struggle of Early 1900s Pittsburgh 'Dandy'

Teachers assess Paul, portrayed by Daniel Curran, in the Pittsburgh Opera production of Paul's Case.
Credit David Bachman / Pittsburgh Opera

The Pittsburgh Opera this weekend will travel back in time starting this weekend to bring you the story of Paul in the English-language opera “Paul’s Case.”

It’s based on the story of the same name by Willa Cather, who wrote it while living in Pittsburgh. The story starts out in Pittsburgh where young Paul, described as a “dandy,” yearns for a more exciting life away from dark and industrial Pittsburgh.  

“It really gets at how difficult it is to be a teenager whether it’s 1905 or today,” said composer Gregory Spears. “It’s a difficult time for all of us whether we’re teachers or teenagers ourselves or parents.”

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Education
12:48 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

New Education Task Force Adds City Voices to School System

Mayor Bill Peduto has appointed a 21-member task force which will take a look at public education in Pittsburgh.

The group includes elected officials, education leaders and others.

“We’re bringing together everybody,” said Peduto spokesman Tim McNulty, “unions, foundations, city council people, school board members and probably the coolest thing, three high school students who are going to be full voting members in this task force’s recommendations.”

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Pennsylvania
2:31 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

PA Court Reporters Partner with Flight 93 Memorial on Oral Histories Project

The Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association has agreed to help transcribe interviews of family, friends, first responders and investigators as part of an oral history project at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

More than 800 oral histories have been collected so far in an effort to cover every aspect of the Flight 93 story.

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Transportation
4:19 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Second Pothole Blitz Underway in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Public Works crews will be out for the next few days patching potholes. To report a problem area call 311.
Credit Flickr user Brandy/dieselbug2007

Thanks to the break in wintry weather this week, Pittsburgh Public Works crews will conduct another pothole blitz.

Thirty crews will be out each day filling some of the city’s worst craters.

“Negley Run will be closed on Monday,” said Mayor Bill Peduto. “It’s past the point of being able to be patched. It’s going to be milled down to the concrete and will remain that way throughout the rest of the winter. We’re also looking at a couple of other areas that have been hit hard like Brookline Boulevard and Second Avenue.”

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