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

Citing efforts aimed at increasing efficiencies and reducing recidivism, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced a 908-person drop in the inmate population within the state prison system.

“This is the largest one year drop in the population since 1971 and only the fourth time in the past 40 years that the DOC population has shown an annual decrease rather than an increase,” said DOC spokeswoman Sue Bensinger.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf has named director of Allegheny County Economic Development, Dennis Davin, as the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. One of the reasons, Wolf said, is the Pittsburgh region’s economic growth.

“Basically what I’m trying to do and what I want to do as governor is capture the magic that really we see out here in Western Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “In so many ways, the successes that everyone here as experienced in term so economic development is what I think we need to capture for the rest of Pennsylvania.”

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay has continued to get national attention following the tweeting and going viral of a photo of him holding a sign reading, “I resolve to challenge racism @ work #EndWhiteSilence.”

McLay spoke to Katie Couric for Yahoo! Global News.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Less than a month after they hatched, two baby African penguins will now be on display along with their parents and other penguins at the National Aviary. The hatching of chicks is a somewhat rare and much-celebrated event.

As part of the ongoing Live Well Allegheny Initiative, the county on Friday will encourage employees to take the stairs, rather than the elevators in the workplace.

“It’s a great way to get a little exercise," said Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Department of Health. "It’s very convenient and very efficient, and does have some real benefits.”

E-cigarettes are marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. The use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, is on the rise in popularity among adults and teens.

Since it’s a new technology, the health effects aren’t fully understood, but officials are warning that small children could be at risk from exposure to the liquid used in e-cigarettes.

With his first year as mayor of Pittsburgh coming to a close, Bill Peduto said the first term was exhausting, but satisfying. He said the job is everything he thought it would be and more, though said there are some surprising aspects, namely having to deal with personnel matters.

“You have 3,500 employees, a certain percent of them are going to have issues with the people they work with and those issues don’t get resolved as you’d think – well a lot of them do – through the directors of personnel, they actually work their way all the way up the food chain,” Peduto said.

Many gym regulars dread the first of the year – it’s often a time when gyms get overcrowded with newcomers, making good on the popular New Year’s resolution to exercise more.

But, come February and March the crowds die down. Why? Because, as with many New Year’s resolutions, people tend to give up on the exercise one fairly quickly. There could be a number of reasons, including goals that are too big and lack of planning.

As 2014 nears its end, investors are looking forward to 2015, and unfortunately, so are scammers.

The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities has listed the top four emerging threats facing investors in the New Year. They are binary options, marijuana industry investments, stream-of-income investments and virtual currencies and cyber security risks.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has some 22 million objects and specimens relating to the history of life on Earth.

Starting in 2015, Stephen Tonsor will take over as director of science and research. He will also head the museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems.

Visitors to this year’s farm show can play detective at various stations providing information and hands-on lessons.

“Investigating about the roles of bees in food production, measuring the height of horses or learning how sap becomes maple syrup,” said Logan Hall, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture spokesman.

Allegheny Health Network has announced a multi-year collaboration with Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine. This is in addition to a partnership announced earlier this year between the two institution’s cancer centers. This collaboration will, among other things, explore ways to be more economically efficient.

A recent national poll found that support is on the rise for banning youth from playing contact football before they reach high school.

Robert Morris University Polling Institute and the Center for Research and Public Policy conducted the same poll in 2013 and 2014, asking participants if they would support or oppose a ban on youth playing contact football.

Deanna Garcia

A counterfeit $100 bill used in Pittsburgh last year has led federal authorities to an international counterfeiting scheme and resulted in charges against a 27-year-old U.S. citizen living in Uganda.

“These Ugandan-manufactured counterfeit bills were being passed in our neighborhoods; specifically Oakland, Carnegie, McCandless Township and other places,” said David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “It quickly spread to other cities throughout the country.”

When it comes to protecting those most vulnerable to influenza, a high-dose flu vaccine may be most effective.

That’s according to the findings of a study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine which found that giving a high-dose vaccine to elderly people in long-term care facilities helped build immunity. Each year in the U.S. there are 3,000 to 49,000 influenza-related deaths.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Former Allegheny County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty has announced his candidacy for the post currently held by Democrat Chelsa Wagner. Flaherty, who held the post from 2004 to 2011, will seek the Democratic nomination.

“I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to getting back and helping people and meeting a lot of people out there on the campaign trail and seeing what ideas and what suggestions they might have to improve efficiencies of county and all governments in Allegheny County,” said Flaherty.

The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh has a collection of artifacts and documents that have been in storage since it moved to its current space in Oakland more than two years ago. There just isn’t enough room there to display everything.

“We’ve been looking for space that we could unpack our artifacts, we could unpack our library and showcase was we can do educationally for several years now, we finally found the space and we anticipate being fully open by late spring,” said Joy Braunstein, director of the Holocaust Center.

The largest food pantry in the region has added another way to donate in the hopes of reaching a wider group of would-be givers. A group of volunteers set up an Amazon Wish List for Northside Food Pantry and selections can be shipped directly to the facility. It’s been up for about a year and has been successful.

“Almost every day, there’s a UPS truck coming here with boxes full of groceries for our pantry that are off of the Amazon Wish List,” said Jay Poliziani, director of Northside Common Ministries and the Pantry.

A few dozen veterans gathered at the VA Pittsburgh Hospital in Oakland Friday to discuss any and all concerns they may have about the system.

“It’s a really wide variety of subjects that come up,” said VA Pittsburgh spokesman Mike Marcus, “anything from changes to benefits, healthcare – different pieces that come up around that – as well as questions that come up around some of the controversies that have plagued the VA over the last year or so.”

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 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.