When the sun sets for the night, sleep is on the horizon for most people. But for some, the day is just beginning.
Some manage emergency dispatch phones, ensuring service to people who are hurt overnight. Others clean schools and office buildings, clearing away dirt and dust that accumulated during the day. And others deliver this very newspaper in the wee hours of the morning.
While the city sleeps, some people make night moves.
St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center kitchen
TWIN FALLS — When night falls, the lobby at the main entrance to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center is dark and silent. The only part of the hospital most people see after-hours is the emergency room.
But below that, the cafeteria and kitchen still hum, albeit at a slower place than during the day.
The kitchen opens at 6:30 a.m and stays open until 7 p.m., said Shawn Sickinger, who is the hospital’s food and nutrition supervisor. It reopens at 10 p.m. for night workers before closing again at 1:30 a.m.
Nights, Sickinger said, are more laid-back than days, when sometimes there isn’t a moment to get away from the cash register. Nights are when Sickinger gets to know her customers and co-workers.
“You get to know them on a first-name basis,” she said. “You get to joke around with them.”
When the sun sets for the night, sleep is on the horizon for most in the Magic Valley. But for some, the day is just beginning.
At St. Luke’s, Sickinger likes working with people from different countries — Bosnia, Nepal, the Middle East. She has even learned a bit of Turkish from one of her co-workers.
As she worked the register, night owl cook Franco Scamardella worked behind the counter, preparing the food. Sept. 8 was pizza night, one of their busiest of the week.
Monday through Friday, Scamardella follows the recipes and makes the dishes the hospital wants. Saturdays are his day to shine, when he prepares his own specials. Scamardella, who worked in Italian restaurants in California before moving to Twin Falls, likes to cook Italian food, and many of his specials have a Mediterranean twist — Malibu chicken, pasta with arrabbiata sauce, Italian and Mexican burgers, and a Mediterranean sandwich.
Scamardella is from Venezuela. He has lived in the U.S. since 1998.
“I love this Twin Falls,” he said. “I want to stay here forever, my friend. I love this country.”
The night shift allows him to memorize which meals his regulars prefer, since there are fewer patrons than during the day.
“I know my customers,” Scamardella said. “I know them, they get to know me.”
In the back, the night utility crew keeps the kitchen running while also getting it ready for the morning shift. They clean the area, wash the pots and pans, and make sure the dishes are done for the next day’s staff.
“These floors look like a mess, but after we’re done they’ll be nice and shiny,” said Josh Soto, as he gestured at the room.
Soto said he is a night owl and prefers third shift. He has worked at St. Luke’s since it was in what is now the county office building on Addison Avenue.
Preston Laing has been there for about 10 months and he, too, prefers the hours to a day shift.
“When you’re on night shift you have the time during the day to get things out of the way,” he said.
TWIN FALLS — “I can’t, Bryce.”
“You got it. Breathe.”
With each repetition, Jade Brown, 20, felt the burn in her forearms. Behind her, Bryce Powell, 25, offered support and advice to push her through the last cycle of her workout on the chest fly machine. This was only her second time at Gold’s Gym, and her first time on weightlifting.
By 11 p.m. on Sept. 7, the couple had been there for more than an hour. They came after their work shifts ended at Magic Valley Mall.
“I don’t work out at night, period,” Powell said. “But she likes working out at night. She’s the boss.”
“I’m not a morning person,” Brown added.
Powell started his own fitness journey when, as a teenager, he lost 175 pounds. He later became a personal trainer for a time. Tonight, he was helping his girlfriend work toward her own fitness goals.
In the minutes that followed, the more than 20 people who’d been inside Gold’s Gym at 10:25 p.m. started filtering out. But one bearded man, wearing a purple workout shirt with a hood over his eyes, was just getting started on an exercise bike.
“I like coming after work,” said Derek Lowery, who was also tackling his second workout at Gold’s Gym. “It relieves the stress and lets you get the tension out.”
Lowery, 28, works as a cook at Pizza Hut. He planned to do two-hour workouts, three nights a week, until he lost 100 pounds. The hood, he explained, helps to absorb sweat.
Downstairs, Gold’s Gym employee Michael Calhoun was preparing peanut butter protein shakes for a couple of jovial gym patrons. The activity would die down by around 12:30 p.m., Calhoun said.
“Then it’s dead until about 3,” he said. “Because that’s when all the sensible people are at home sleeping.”
Grace Assisted Living
TWIN FALLS — The swoosh of automatic sliding doors brought Lindsey Reed a midnight visitor on Sept. 6.
“Are you from hospice?” Reed asked, looking up from her computer screen to greet a woman dressed in navy scrubs.
Reed whisked the woman through the hallways of Grace Assisted Living to a room with the door slightly ajar.
Inside, a resident had fallen in front of the door. Reed and Jill Perkins, a fellow medication technician, had already helped him up after Reed jumped through the window to enter the room. Now, it was the hospice worker’s turn to attend to the man.
Falls are common at facilities like Grace. Responding to them is among the many nighttime tasks for Reed and Perkins at the Twin Falls assisted living facility.
When a resident pushes a call button, it rings to a phone at the front desk. Rather than answering, Reed and Perkins go directly to the room to see what the resident needs. They also do hourly rounds to check on residents.
Some need to be awakened to use the restroom. Others must take medication.
Between rounds, Reed and Perkins finish laundry, wash dishes and refill condiments in the dining room. Each has one side of the building that is her responsibility, but usually they help each other care for all 87 residents.
The two pushed carts through the dimly lit dining room, dispensing single-use peanut butter, sugar, crackers and updated versions of the daily activities sheet. Only the rustling of papers and the clatter of plastic plates broke the stillness.
Reed has worked at Grace Assisted Living for two months, and Perkins for two years.
Years ago, Perkins started working at night so she could watch her grandchildren during the day. Now she is accustomed to the quiet calm.
“Each shift goes by fast,” Perkins said. “Nights can be pretty slow, but it still goes by fast for us. We are pretty busy.”
O’Leary Middle School
TWIN FALLS — Florescent lights hummed and crickets chirped as Jeanette Graham wrapped up her night shift on Sept. 7.
Grass clippings lined the sidewalk leading to Vera C. O’Leary Middle School’s auditorium. There was only one red car in the parking lot, and no students or teachers could be found on the warm, dark night.
Graham has been a custodian for 14 years at the school. She and three other night custodians typically start their workday at 4:20 p.m., once most students and faculty have left for the day, and end at 11 p.m.
She and her coworkers are responsible for cleaning classrooms and bathrooms — including emptying trash cans, vacuuming or mopping — locking doors and providing security for the campus.
“Right now, it’s not too bad,” Graham said. “In the wintertime, we’re required to shovel the sidewalks.” During the summertime, while school is out, they do deep cleaning, such as shampooing carpets, washing walls and painting. But this time of year, it’s just daily cleaning tasks.
Inside the auditorium building, Graham removed a large dust mop hanging from a wall in the supply closet.
As she swept the foyer, she listed off her final tasks of the night: locking the exterior building and classroom doors, setting an alarm pad, and turning off the lights.
Graham hadn’t unearthed anything too exciting that night. Plastic water bottles left behind in the auditorium are pretty common, but that’s about as exciting as the lost items normally get. She did once find a stocking cap stuffed in a bathroom tampon dispenser, however.
“They don’t scare you after a while,” she said.
Graham picked up a large black vacuum cleaner with a yellow cord. She walked over to an auditorium door, inserted a key and wiggled it as she turned the doorknob.
The door didn’t budge. She rattled the doorknob, but still nothing.
“Ah shoot,” she said. “That door doesn’t want to open.”
After opening a different door, the vacuum squeaked as she pushed it back and forth between the rows of seats and the wide open middle aisle.
“You have to figure out a way for it to be your passion,” Graham said.
Cassia County emergency dispatcher
BURLEY — Seven computer screens illuminated Heather Ottley’s sprawling desk as the long hand on the clock crawled past midnight.
The 911 phone takes up prime real estate on her desk, along with a radio console that keeps her in contact with sheriff deputies and other emergency personnel.
As the phone trilled, conversation ceased, and she became all business. Ottley has worked as an emergency dispatcher for the Cassia County Sheriff’s Office since 1999.
“911, what’s the location of your emergency?” Ottley asked in a practiced tone.
“If that’s all they are able to give me I at least know where to send help,” Ottley said.
The caller reported a fight in progress with multiple people involved.
“Cassia, 16th and Miller, possible fight,” she informed patrol over the radio.
How many people are involved? Are there weapons? What were the victims hit with? Are the people still in the area? Which way did they go? What color is the truck? Ottley scribbles the answer to each question on a seafoam green steno pad.
She immediately uses the radio to inform officers that the location of the fight is closer to the next block south than first reported—and that two females were battered.
While Ottley talked to her caller, a second dispatcher, Mariah Trujillo, answered a call from someone who heard the fight from their bed.
As officers arrive on scene, both dispatchers run warrant reports as officers relay names and dates-of-birth from subjects at the scene.
When they are not handling a 911 call, the dispatchers take care of administrative paperwork and answer the non-emergency phone line.
Earlier in the evening they were bombarded by 911 calls about “explosions going off,” Ottley said, which in actuality were fireworks lit during Burley-Minico football game.
“You’d have thought the world was ending,” she said.
But as night wears on, she said, the calls tend to get more serious. Information on heart attacks, intruders and bad car crashes often fill the airwaves. Those calls can hold extra weight when they involve someone the dispatcher knows personally.
“In a small community, you know people,” Trujillo said.
Ottley was on shift the day her 15-year-old son was hit by a car.
“When I heard his name I lost it,” she said.
The 10-hour shifts can be filled with stress—and the bad calls can linger in the mind.
“I still remember my first baby that died,” Ottley said.
The family lived in a rural area and the sounds of the desperate mother performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation echoed long after the call was disconnected.
St. Luke’s Magic Valley night nurses
TWIN FALLS — Tom Burbie and Jamie Johnson started working together at St. Luke’s Magic Valley nine years ago. Back then, the hospital was in the building on Addison Avenue that now houses county offices.
Johnson is the nursing supervisor at the new hospital, and Burbie is a relief charge nurse. Both work the night shift.
Burbie has been working night shifts for more than 30 years, including his last 17 as a nurse. Working nights, he found, simply fit his lifestyle better. He would get home in the early mornings, get his kids off to school and sleep during the day, still never missing any of their activities.
“I’ve always liked the night shift,” he said. “I find it works best for my life.”
One thing Burbie likes about his job is that a night nurse deals with everything from minor to the most serious injuries.
“It’s like a crap shoot. That’s what I like about it,” he said. “It’s the unknown.”
Johnson said the night crew is “like a tight-knit family.” You always have to be prepared for the worst, she said. But having worked together so long, she and Burbie usually know what the other is going to do before they do it .
“We all have each other’s back and we know how each other work,” Johnson said.
As the major regional hospital, St. Luke’s gets the seriously injured or ill patients from throughout the Magic Valley and Mini-Cassia, plus patients from as far away as Wood River Valley and northern Nevada.
“Our community has grown so much and we serve such a huge area around us,” she said.
Things have changed since they started. Nine years ago, Johnson said, the period from midnight to 5 a.m. was not busy. Now, it’s busy all night.
“You have to be creative and still treat patients safely,” she said.
Buhl Police Department
BUHL — Sgt. Jeremy Engbaum was one of just two Buhl police officers on the Sept. 7 night shift.
After a busy string of calls, the pair was back out on patrol by 11:15 p.m.
Engbaum was working a 12-hour shift starting at 2 p.m., a slightly later start time than usual for him.
As he maneuvered his patrol vehicle, the driver’s side window was rolled down slightly and the air conditioner was on high, providing relief from the heat of his heavy uniform.
Just a few minutes after leaving the station, Engbaum saw a car driving without its headlights on. He turned on his patrol vehicle’s lights, but left the siren off to pull over the driver.
The headlightless man continued driving. He turned left onto Seventh Avenue North before pulling over in front of a house.
Engbaum stopped and watched the man maneuver his car, trying to parallel park along the curb.
“What is he doing?” he wondered aloud. He recognized the driver as a school custodian, but noted that he normally drives a van.
Engbaum exited his vehicle and talked with the driver, who was inside his car with the window rolled down.
Engbaum returned to his patrol vehicle with the man’s driver’s license and asked over the radio system for a dispatcher to check if the license was valid. It was, through 2018.
“Can you check to see if he has insurance?” he asked.
The dispatcher couldn’t find proof of insurance, but the man avoided a citation by retrieving it from inside his house. He headed back inside one last time, ticket-free and home safe.
As he drove out of the neighborhood, Engbaum said he usually doesn’t know the people he pulls over. Still, on this night he was a perfect two-for-two. About an hour after recognizing the school custodian, a man on a bike waved as Engbaum drove past. The Buhl officer waved back and knew the man by name.
Von Scheidt Brewing Company
TWIN FALLS — At 2:10 a.m. on Sept. 6, brewer and bartender Martin King arrived at Von Scheidt Brewing Company to start a new batch of Esto Perpetua Sage Ale. On a stereo, he put on “Stories Without Words,” a 1987 album by Jazz Fusion band Spyro Gyra.
“It’s my coffee,” he said of the funk-jazz-R&B music. “I haven’t had any coffee this morning.”
King enjoys the serene hours before dawn.
“There’s no cars. It’s a whole ‘nother world,” he said. “You can hear the town come alive.”
Bar owner Pat Von Scheidt came into the brewery at midnight to start heating the tanks. They were perfectly heated by 3 a.m.
Brewing beer is a fragile process, King said.
Water in the tank was heated to 166 degrees when King dumped buckets of grain in. He stirred until the temperature dropped a few degrees.
The back room of the brewery gets hot in the brewing process. It’s part of the reason King likes to work at night.
The other is timing.
“By the time I’m done, it’s like one or two o’clock, and I can go home and spend time with my kids,” he said.
One the grain steeps for about 90 minutes, much like a pot of tea, a washing process known as the “sparge” begins. From there, the water from the soaked grains is moved to another tank.
Spent grains are malty and sweet, he said.
“It’s like the best oatmeal you’e ever had in your life.”
At Von Scheidt, the grains are donated to a local man who feeds them to his chickens, pigs, ducks and geese.
King, who has been brewing for five years, makes a few rotating favorite beers at the brewery, but takes joy in experimenting with new flavors.
Some customers want the same thing over and over, he said, but many regulars ask him what’s new each time they come in.
At 3:51 a.m., King switched the music to the 1985 Mick Jagger album “She’s the Boss.”
“It keeps the vibes positive for the beer,” he said.
The mixture ticked up a degree to 152 and Martin stirred the grains until it fell back to 149 degrees.
The foamy grain sat bubbling with about an inch of water sitting on top.
At 4:50 a.m., both the beer and King needed something harder. He put on Animals as Leaders, a metal band with a jazzy twist.
“It’s fuzzy early-morning music,” he said.
When all the water is moved to the second tank, it’s one step closer to being beer. Yeast, hops and fermentation time will finish up the process.
At 5:55 a.m., the sparge was complete. King heats the liquid to a boil and lets it go for about an hour.
From there, the soon-to-be-beer is cooled to 67 degrees and moved to a fermentation tank, and then a bright tank. Come the middle of October, the final beer product will be ready to drink.
BURLEY – Jackie Anderson parked outside the Times-News’ press room a few minutes before midnight on Wednesday, Sept. 6. She and her 24-year-old son, Nick, loaded bundles of papers labeled “Burley” into her light green Kia Soul.
Molly, a Shih Tzu, sat in the passenger’s seat on a dog cushion. The dog sniffed around the seat intently when the driver’s side door opened, but did not leave the bed.
“She won’t mind you,” Jackie said. “She’s blind.”
About three years ago, Nick found Molly wandering across ID-24, mangy and disheveled. When Anderson received no takers on a lost dog advertisement in the Times-News, she decided to keep the dog as her own.
Once the final Burley-bound bundle of papers came off the press, Anderson, Nick and Molly piled into the Kia Soul and ventured into construction-riddled I-84 traffic.
At 1:30 a.m., they arrived at a storage unit in Burley. Several other cars were already waiting on Anderson’s arrival. Ten drivers divvied up papers and loaded them into their respective cars. The unit wasn’t particularly well-lit, but a full moon provided plenty of light for navigation.
Nick took over the driver’s seat of the Kia Soul and headed toward Rupert. Anderson and Molly hopped into a slightly darker green Chevy Spark and headed into the Burley night. First up: businesses, schools and newspaper boxes.
The first stop of the night was the Idaho Youth Ranch Thrift Store. Next, at 1:45 a.m., the Mini-Cassia Voice office.
“My car pretty much goes where it needs to go now,” Anderson said.
At 1:53 a.m., Anderson grabbed a handful of papers and dropped them off on the front doorstep of Burley High School. At 2 a.m., she did the same at Burley Junior High.
Molly was at first wary of having a new visitor on the nighttime route, but by the next stop, she was fast asleep.
“She’s pretty low maintenance. She sleeps most of the night,” Anderson said. “But, oh, does she ever snore. Sometimes I’ll think something is wrong with my car, so I’ll shut everything down, and it’s just her snoring.”
Anderson, 54, has insomnia. After a work-related accident at Amalgamated Sugar Company a few years ago, she sleeps for just two or three hours a night. Third shift work doesn’t bother her. Neither does first shift, when she occasionally fills in as a mail carrier.
She doesn’t necessarily need the work. Anderson and her husband retired from the cattle farming business when she was 33 years old. She tried living the life of a retiree for a while, but it wasn’t for her.
“My husband took to retirement. I didn’t, really,” Anderson said. “He loves to travel. I tried for a while, but I just love working.”
At 2:17 a.m., Rent-A-Center received the next day’s paper. 2:45 a.m. is PC’s Wash & Go Laundromat. At 2:51 a.m., Anderson made her final business stop of the night at a Phillips 66 gas station.
Next up for Anderson was home delivery, which she finishes around 6 a.m. She took a long gulp from a coffee mug and turned down the dial on her radio, which had been playing FOX News Radio.
“No matter what, we have to get the papers out somehow. If a driver doesn’t show up, people still need their papers,” Anderson said. “I hear from people that if their paper isn’t there at 5 a.m., their entire day is ruined. It means a lot to people.”
Canyon Ridge High School swim practice
TWIN FALLS — The first swimmers arrived at 5:35 a.m, and they were bundled up.
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, the temperature in Twin Falls is supposed to approach 100 degrees by the afternoon. But before the sun rises, it’s 58 degrees and the temperature is still dropping.
Emma Grocer and Tessa Willsey were dressed in sweatshirts and sweatpants as they walked through the doors of the Twin Falls City Pool. Canyon Ridge High School swim practice was about to begin.
Two other high school teams hold practice at the outdoor pool, as do various club teams and recreational swimmers. The pool only has so much time and space for everyone. That’s why the Riverhawks practice before 6 a.m.
Country music boomed through a poolside speaker. Five adults, unaffiliated with Canyon Ridge, swam laps. Two lifeguards were on duty, and one was at the front desk.
The moon was full and orange. Regional forest fires had clouded the Twin Falls sky with smoke, causing the air quality to reach unhealthy levels. Soccer games later that afternoon would be canceled as a result.
Grover and Willsey sat by the pool, chatting amongst themselves as their teammates and coaches arrived. Grover, a Canyon Ridge freshman, ate a slice of toast with jam before coming to practice. Willsey, a junior at Xavier Charter school, ate a Clif bar.
“I don’t feel hungry,” Willsey said, “but I know I should eat.”
Grover and Willsey felt the heat radiating from the temperature-controlled water. Later that afternoon, the pool would be a cool, refreshing escape from a hot day. But at 6 a.m., when the team started swimming warm-up laps, it was basically a Jacuzzi.
Most of the team was there, but there are a few notable absences.
Senior Caitlin Crist and freshman Jessica Merman both play soccer, and they were, at the time, preparing to play Twin Falls High School that afternoon. Any day a Canyon Ridge soccer game is scheduled, those two were excused from swim practice.
Otherwise, Crist and Merman begin their weekdays waking up before the sun rises.
“It gives the other swimmers no reason to complain,” said Katie Swallow, Canyon Ridge’s head swim coach. “They’re not doing two-a-days.”
Great Harvest Bread Company
TWIN FALLS — At 3:58 a.m., a large freight truck parallel parked in front of Great Harvest Bread Company.
A light pole in the empty parking lot buzzed as the driver unloaded 50-pound bags of brown sugar.
This ingredient is essential to the work that starts at 4 a.m. every day at the bakery.
In the warm glow of the back of the shop, two bakers make eight different breads.
They also bake dozens of cinnamon rolls, cookies, scones and muffins. In one morning, they use 60 pounds of flour.
On the morning of Sept. 7, Lisa Davison immediately started mixing her ingredients for sourdough bread upon arrival. It’s a recipe and routine she’s been doing for a year. It takes most breads about an hour to bake. Sourdough breads take the longest because they need to proof for a couple of hours before baking.
On the other side of the room, Kathern Mason poured canola oil into an eight-cup Pyrex glass. She crouched low to make sure the oil was even to the line.
“I’ve only been here for a month,” Mason said. “I’m still learning.”
Normally, just two bakers are at Great Harvest in the morning. But since Mason is a new employee, owner Derek Bates was close by to give guidance on the proper way to make coconut bread.
Mason poured coconut bread batter into a large gray metal mixer. The flat beater rotated in the bowl for a few minutes before the buzzer started beeping. She then arranged metal bread pans and muffin pans on a wooden table. She started scooping batter into the bread pans first, but Bates approached with some tips.
The song “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” played on the overhead speakers, drowning out his advice to everyone but Mason.
She switched to scooping batter into muffin liners first.
When some dough dribbled onto the pan, Bates offered another tip.
“Kind of do that flip in the air,” Bates suggested.
Mason smiled and nodded, filling the rest of the empty liners with a flip of her scoop.
Mason placed the bread pans in the oven on rotating levels that resembled a Ferris wheel. The metal gears squeaked softly as the loaves took a ride in a circle.
Though the sun had still yet to come up, the next day’s work was upon Great Harvest Bread Company. In a few short hours, customers would file in, as the rest of Magic Valley awoke from an overnight slumber.