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

The state is launching a website to help consumers through the impending termination of a contract between a Western Pennsylvania insurer and the region's dominant hospital and outpatient network.

Officials said they're posting information to stayInformed.pa.gov about changes taking effect Jan. 1 when most Highmark subscribers lose in-network access to UPMC doctors and hospitals. This change has raised many questions, and they have been fielded through the PA Department of Insurance.

The Allegheny County Health Department is urging testing, treatment and vaccination for pertussis as a growing number of cases are being reported.

From Jan. 1 through Nov. 30 this year there were 140 confirmed cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough. That’s compared to the average of 66 reported cases in the same time period over the last ten years.

A national campaign aimed at increasing access to early childhood learning programs is getting a boost from one of Pittsburgh’s biggest charities.

The Heinz Endowments announced $9 million in funding for Invest in US, a program unveiled by President Obama at Wednesday’s White House Summit on Early Childhood Education. According to the White House website, Invest in US challenges public and private partners, business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, elected officials, and individuals to expand high-quality early childhood education.

The city of Pittsburgh has reached a settlement with Dennis Henderson, a teacher who was arrested in June 2013 outside of a community meeting on police/community relations.

Henderson and the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit against the arresting police officer, Jonathan Gromek. The settlement was reached after mediation.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny Health Network has announced a new academic affiliation, allowing medical students to train at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville.

Students from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) will be able to do their clinical rotations at the hospital. AHN officials said this move is critical to the future of health care in the region.

For now, the 15-foot buffer zone outside of Pittsburgh’s downtown Planned Parenthood location will remain in place.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh has delayed ruling on a lawsuit challenging the city ordinance that requires protesters and other abortion opponents to stay outside a painted yellow line marking the zone. The lawsuit contends this violates the Constitution.

Not even a year old yet, Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance addressed 2015 budget requests at one in a series of City Council budget hearings Tuesday.

The department’s budget has a proposed increase of about $255,000, a 1.84 percent change. Salaries in the budget decrease by about 2 percent. Department Chief Debra Lam said in less than one year, Innovation and Performance has already done a lot – including updating the 311 system.

One of the items Mayor Bill Peduto ran on was making the Bureau of Building Inspection its own department, which would report directly to the mayor, rather than to the head of public safety. Such a move is intended to modernize the department, among other things.

An audit of the retail operations at the Pittsburgh International Airport found that, overall, the prices are similar to what you’d find in non-airport retailers. Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said the airport must adhere to a “street pricing” policy that dates back to when the facility opened and offered some of the only shopping in the area.

“Each year it’s typical that we find a number of items that are overpriced at the airport,” said Wagner, “this year’s included a Harley Davidson jacket, a pair of headphones and a few other items.”

As many families gear up for their Thanksgiving feasts, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is calling attention to those who are struggling to put food on their dinner tables.

Casey is pushing for passage of a bill that would expand and make permanent tax incentives for businesses that donate to food banks. Nearly 2 million Pennsylvania residents are food insecure.

More than half of American adults have a smartphone. With those smartphones come a variety of apps one can download — either free or purchased. As privacy concerns continue for many Americans, a new project out of Carnegie Mellon University seeks to shed light on how personal information is used by Android apps, namely the free ones.

There are 45.3 million Americans living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Poverty affects people from all walks of life, in all areas of the country, but according to several studies, people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender are hit by poverty more often than others.

“I struggle every day,” said Lynn, who lives just outside Pittsburgh. She didn’t want to use her last name. Lynn identifies as lesbian, and she doesn’t work because of a disability. Lynn is also diabetic and living on a very fixed income.

The Hilltop Alliance has announced a six-year, $1.5 million dollar economic development and community services grant aimed at bringing the struggling neighborhood back to life. Allentown, nestled between Mt. Washington and the South Side Slopes, has a high vacancy rate, nearly double that of the city's median rate and property values about half the city's median value.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is accusing County Executive Rich Fitzgerald of mishandling thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds by using his county-owned vehicle for personal purposes.

At a news conference Thursday, Wagner said she sent Fitzgerald a letter instructing him to send her staff accurate documentation so they can determine how much he must reimburse the county. She said his office would have to determine how they would reimburse the funds.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto said that for too long the city has had a "Kennywood approach" to pensions — with ups and downs and warnings and signals about their viability and effect on city budget.

In an effort to ensure the pension plans for police, firefighters and municipal employees do not become a financial liability, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has launched an audit of those plans. Peduto joined the auditor general for the announcement, saying it’s time to dig deep into Pittsburgh’s numbers.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Even after the governor’s race had been called for Tom Wolf by several major networks, Gov. Tom Corbett’s wife, Susan, addressed supporters, assuring them the night was young, and her husband would come back to win.

That didn’t happen – and shortly before 10 p.m. Tom Corbett addressed a crowd gathered at a downtown Pittsburgh hotel to concede the race.

“The privilege of serving as your governor for the last four years is quite an honor, it’s the honor of a lifetime,” Corbett said.

In June, an electrical fire forced the closure of the Homewood-Brushton YMCA facility. Initially, YMCA officials had expected to reopen the facility in late summer or early fall, but the whole building had to be cleaned because of smoke damage, and the entire electrical system had to be repaired. Even with the facility closed, many programs were able to continue.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Photographer Duane Michals grew up in McKeesport, but it was a trip to Russia that prompted his foray into photography.

"So going to Russia, I figured I should take pictures, so I borrowed a camera," said Michals. "Though I did take a course in photography, I didn't even own a camera. And I didn't take a light meter because I thought if I owned a light meter that meant I was officially a photographer, and that would have been intimidating ... if I had never gone to Russia, I never would have been a photographer, it literally changed my life."

The City of Pittsburgh’s Bureau of Emergency Services (EMS) has seen increased call volume in recent years, and responders have kept pace. That’s according to an audit released Wednesday by Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb.

“Back in 2006/2007 we were looking at almost 116,000 calls, now we’re up to almost 122,000 calls in that two-year period [2012-2013], and despite that increase in call volume, we found that average response times pretty much held steady,” said Lamb.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A new demonstration project in Sarver, about 30 miles outside Pittsburgh, is taking a decades-old problem and turning it into a possible solution for the natural gas industry. Winner Water Service has launched treatment facility that aims to clean up polluted water – and sell it to natural gas developers for use in fracking operations.

Starting now, law enforcement agencies across Pennsylvania will be targeting aggressive drivers. Each year, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation funds local efforts to crack down on behaviors such as speeding, tailgating and running red lights.

“Some people call it road rage, we call it aggressive driving,” said Juliann Sheldon, a PennDOT spokeswoman. “We see a vast number of accidents because of these road rage issues. By changing driver behavior, that will help to decrease the number of crashes and fatalities we see on our roadways.”

A one-year study on community engagement in public education found that empowering parents and the community to be more active in their children’s education could improve outcomes for students.

That's according to a one-year analysis done Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) on behalf of the Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments. As a result, Heinz Endowments is supporting a two-year effort to increase community engagement.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has gotten a lot of attention from Hollywood in recent years, with several high-profile films and television shows being shot here. With the help of a new film complex in McKees Rocks, the hope is that the industry will continue to expand.

“We announce the groundbreaking for the region’s first built, newly constructed, multi-stage complex for production of TV shows, commercials and feature films,” said Mike Dolan, president of Island Studios.

A commission charged with examining the state’s basic education funding formula heard from a number of education officials at an Allegheny County hearing this week.

“The message is clear that we need to come up, as a commission, with a fair, equitable and transparent way to distribute education investment throughout the commonwealth,” said Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny/Washington), one of 15 commission members.

A recent survey of 37 energy companies in southwestern Pennsylvania found some 7,000 jobs will need to be filled between now and 2020, jobs that are critical to ongoing operations.

That’s according to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, which conducted the survey. CEO Dennis Yablonsky said with more than 1,000 energy companies in the greater region, the job needs are likely much higher. The problem is finding enough skilled workers to fill those jobs.

Enter the Appalachia Partnership Initiative.

The Pittsburgh region is at the top of a list of similarly-sized metro regions when it comes to home ownership. That’s according to a report from Pittsburgh Today, a nonprofit research organization housed at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Among our 15 benchmark regions, the homeownership rate in Pittsburgh is the highest of all the regions,” said Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today, “and homeownership is a general sign of stability, investedness in the place that you live.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Sen. Bob Casey joined UPMC officials Friday to assure the Pittsburgh region that area facilities are equipped to deal with any possible Ebola cases.

This as Gov. Tom Corbett announced that three Pennsylvanians are being monitored for symptoms; they were on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas with the nurse who tested positive for the virus.

A ninth grade Pittsburgh-area student is the 2014 winner of the national 3M Discovery Young Scientist Challenge. He won this week for a prototype new generation battery called the PolluCell.

“My innovation is a battery that uses carbon dioxide and recycled materials such as aluminum and silver to generate electricity,” said Sahil Doshi.

The 16th annual competition has a goal of reaching a new generation of scientist at an age when interest in the subject largely begins to wane – middle school. Doshi entered the competition as an 8th grader.

Corporations large and small, along with service providers, local activists, leaders and education officials are gathered in Pittsburgh for the first Disability Employment Summit, sponsored by the PNC Financial Service Group.

“Knowing that there’s a high unemployment rate with people with disabilities in this region,” said Amanda Snow, with PNC, “there are a number of opportunities and current openings, so how do we match those up?”

As the Pittsburgh Police continue to work to mend relationships with the community, some officers are allegedly throwing the mayor under the bus. Director of Public Safety Stephen Bucar has sent an e-mail to the new police chief, asking that officers stop blaming Mayor Bill Peduto for tickets they issue.

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