Amanda has covered health, the town hall beat, education, general assignment stories and has blogged about wizards.


Amanda has kept Nerdvana Media’s readers updated about Harry Potter, Newt Scamander and other news coming out of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world since April 2016. See her posts here.

Health stories

6 things to know about Zika
Published Jan. 23, 2016, on
Alarm was rising as a handful of Zika cases were confirmed in the U.S. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was issuing travel bans for hard-hit countries in early 2016. Here are the essential things to know about the mosquito-borne illness.

Consumer Electronics Show 2016: Bluetooth pregnancy tests, UV patches and more
Published Jan. 8, 2016, on
The Consumer Electronics show always has useful and wacky new tech gear on display. Here’s a roundup of some of the noteworthy health items from the 2016 show.

First penis transplants in US planned for wounded veterans
Published Dec. 8, 2015, on
More than 1,300 servicemen suffered genital injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2013. These injuries may not be publicly visible or life-threatening, but experts describe them as “psychologically devastating” – and a new surgery could soon help ease that trauma.

Raise cigarette-buying age to 21 to reduce smoking 12%, report says
Published March 14, 2015, on
Hiking the tobacco-buying age to 21 across the country would reduce smoking rates 12 percent more than already predicted declines by 2100, a report predicts. The reason? Younger teens would find it harder to get their hands on cigarettes.

Painkillers, heroin help drive rise in drug overdose deaths
Published Dec. 14, 2015, on
Drug overdose deaths rose 7 percent between 2013 and 2014, with painkillers and heroin playing a role in nearly two-thirds of those overdoses.

Almost over? World goes first week without new Ebola cases
Published Oct. 9, 2015, on
There wasn’t a single new case of Ebola detected in the three countries hardest hit by Ebola – the first in early October 2015 – the first time that had happened in more than a year. That was good news, but it didn’t mean the Ebola outbreak had officially ended.

PresentNation ceased operations in March 2016. 

Town hall coverage

Queen Creek disputes foreclosure report
Published May 1, 2009, in the East Valley Tribune
Town officials take issue with a foreclosure report conducted by a national agency that lumped them into surrounding foreclosure-ridden areas.

Q.C., San Tan Valley covet hospital’s address
Published Jan. 14, 2010, in the East Valley Tribune
Two communities, one established but growing and the other brand new, try to make the case for a planned hospital at the border of the two communities adopting their address.

5 Queen Creek homes targeted for demolition
Published Aug. 13, 2009, in the East Valley Tribune
Five homes in the path of a flood control project to channelize a wash were expected to be purchased and demolished, a plan that surprised homeowners.


Conjoined twins face heart separation
Published Jan. 31, 2009, in the East Valley Tribune
Emma and Taylor Bailey, conjoined twins who shared a heart, were expected to die long before their second birthday. Their parents decided to have them undergo a risky operation to give them a chance at much longer lives.

US soldier fined for posting classified information
Published Aug. 2, 2005, through The Associated Press
An Arizona national guardsman was demoted for posting classified information on his blog while he was serving in Iraq.

Neighbors band together to get deals on solar systems
Published April 22, 2010, in the Ahwatukee Foothills News
Concern for the environment prompted two Ahwatukee Foothills men to convince their neighbors to buy solar energy in bulk.

Desert may not fully recover from wildfires, ecologists say
Published July 5, 2005, through The Associated Press
Rampant summer wildfires can have a big impact on the fragile desert environment.

Education coverage

Teens turning to medicine cabinets for drugs
Published Feb. 4, 2008, in the East Valley Tribune
A teen’s mom had no doubt he expected to come home the night he died of a prescription drug overdose at a friend’s house. Parents, schools and police alike were concerned about the ease teens have finding drugs to abuse in medicine cabinets.

Drug dogs keep schools clean, officials say
Published Aug. 3, 2008, in the East Valley Tribune
While drug-sniffing dogs brought to Scottsdale school campuses rarely found drugs, police and administrators defend the program as a good deterent.

Christopher Verde: A school district without schools
Scottsdale’s wealthy Troon area didn’t have enough kids to justify forming a new school district, but growth and a new law forced a change. Parents sick of fighting for open enrollment slots were pitted against retirees who didn’t want a property tax increase, resulting in the brief existence of a “transportation district.”
School area picks listed for Troon
Troon-area group split on school district issue
Troon school district woes prompt bill
Verde board member quits
The school district that wasn’t: New law ends Christopher Verde’s short-lived run

Scottsdale considers closing schools
Facing declining enrollment and funding challenges, the Scottsdale Unified School District examined different plans for closing schools – and parents at affected schools responded with their own plans.
Baracy details options for district school closings, shifting students
Scottsdale board: No school closure decisions yet
Pima parents propose alternate plan to closing
Parents turn to Scottsdale over Aztec’s future