TWIN FALLS — It’s only fitting Kayla and Trent Bingham’s miracle baby made her debut on Thanksgiving.
The Jerome couple tried for five years to get pregnant. On Thursday, they welcomed their first baby — Abigail — one day early at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls.
Five hours after her birth, Abigail was swaddled and sleeping in her mother’s arms. Abigail was born at 7:06 a.m., weighing in at 6 lbs., 13 oz., and measuring 19 ½ inches long.
From now on, Thanksgiving will have a whole new meaning because of her, Kayla said. “We just have full hearts. We’re super thankful.”
At south-central Idaho’s hospitals, medical emergencies — and big life events such as births — didn’t stop Thursday just because it was a holiday. Employees were hard at work caring for those in the emergency room and patients who’d been admitted to the hospital. Magic Valley Paramedics and Air St. Luke’s were also busy responding to calls.
On the hospital’s third floor, a family waiting area was full of people waiting for loved ones’ babies to make their debut. In the postpartum wing, it was quiet except for the sound of nurses opening and closing doors to rooms, and the faint sound of a baby crying.
Abigail was among two babies born at St. Luke’s Magic Valley on Thanksgiving, as of 2:30 p.m.
With the birth of their baby expected right around Thanksgiving, the Bingham family’s holiday plans were up in the air. Originally, Kayla was planning to work this week at her job as a hair stylist, but she said she’s glad she didn’t.
As she held Abigail, Kayla said: “She’s been super sweet.” Abigail had been making quiet sounds but not crying, even when she got her shots.
Kayla unwrapped a blanket swaddling her daughter to reveal a white onesie with a phrase based on a Bible verse from 1 Samuel 1:27 displayed in black letters: “For this child, we have prayed.” Nearby, Trent was sporting a “Daddy Shark” t-shirt.
Less than a five-minute drive away, it was a typical work day for employees at Magic Valley Paramedics’ station one on Martin Street.
“It’s not any different than any normal day,” said Jeff Webster, field supervisor for Magic Valley Paramedics. “In professions such as ours, you don’t typically get holidays.”
In his nearly 40 years as an emergency responder, he has worked about half of the Thanksgivings.
Magic Valley Paramedics — which is owned and operated by St. Luke’s — had 13 employees working a 24-hour shift Thursday, which started at 7 a.m. Six two-person crews, plus Webster, were disbursed among four locations in Twin Falls, Kimberly and Jerome.
By 11 a.m., they’d responded to 10 calls. “It was a little hectic this morning,” Webster said. Typically, they respond to 25-30 calls per day — oftentimes, in quick succession.
The calls ranged from car crashes — “nothing really serious,” Webster said — to medical issues. Some people were weak and sick, and some were depressed and “really despondent about the holiday.”
Around the holidays, the number of calls about people who are depressed or having suicidal ideations tends to increase, Webster said, and it can be a difficult time of year.
As Magic Valley Paramedic crews worked Thursday morning, they had something to look forward to: gathering at 2 p.m. at the main station for a Thanksgiving meal, which their managers were preparing.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to eat it while it’s warm,” Webster said.
Back at the Twin Falls hospital campus, food service employees were serving a Thanksgiving meal. Unlike other days when there are offerings from a salad bar, deli and grill, “it’s pure Thanksgiving today,” cook Gina DeValera said.
Menus are put together a week in advance and employees did meal preparation for Thanksgiving the day beforehand.
With 152 patients in the hospital as of Thursday morning, food service employees were expecting to serve up to 300 Thanksgiving meals — including for patients, their family members and employees.
It was still a less hectic day than normal in the cafeteria — particularly, with clinics closed for the holiday and fewer menu options. “It’s actually a lot easier and smoother,” DeValera said.
About 20 people were eating in the cafeteria’s seating area around 11:30 a.m. Cafeteria countertops were decorated with fall and pumpkin-themed décor.
As for the food, it’s definitely not what you’d expect when you think of a hospital cafeteria, café lead Dayna Biorn said, adding it’s more like restaurant quality.
DeValera said she takes pride in serving excellent food and she wants those at the hospital to get a Thanksgiving meal. “It’s kind of sad they can’t be at home.”
TWIN FALLS — By 2020, the College of Southern Idaho Foundation wants to provide financial assistance to 50 percent of CSI’s full-time and part-time students.
The nonprofit organization — which supports CSI students, and college programs and projects — gave a yearly report Monday to the CSI board of trustees.
Last fiscal year — which ended June 30 — the foundation awarded $2.11 million in scholarships to 1,463 students, excluding high school dual credit students. It helped nearly 44 percent of CSI’s full and part-time students.
“The reason we’re here is to support the students at CSI,” executive director Debra Wilson told the Times-News on Nov. 21. The main way the foundation does that is through endowments — investing money and using the earnings to help students pay for their education.
As of June 30, the CSI Foundation had about $40.9 million in assets, according to its report to the CSI board. Since the organization’s inception in 1984, it has awarded $20.6 million in scholarships, and $16.9 million for CSI program and project support.
The foundation’s four employees are on CSI’s payroll and the college donates office space.
Despite a growing amount of money available to help students pay for their education, getting students to apply isn’t easy. Some students take themselves out of the running, Wilson said, because they think their grades aren’t good enough or that it’s too hard to fill out a scholarship application.
Last year, the foundation talked with CSI instructors and encouraged them to push students to apply for scholarships.
“We were noticing that we had more money to give than we had students who were applying for it,” Wilson said.
Foundation scholarships aren’t just for the students with a 4.0 GPA, she said, adding there are scholarships available for students of all GPAs and areas of study. “It’s really getting the students over the fear of applying for it.”
To seek a scholarship, there’s a short online application. “Honestly, it’s easy,” Wilson said. “It takes about 10 minutes to fill out our scholarship application.”
The priority application deadline is March 1 for next school year, but students can apply anytime. “We continually award all year long,” Wilson said.
She said she wants to encourage every student who’s considering CSI to fill out the scholarship application. They may be surprised, she said, by what’s available.
If you do one thing: A community dance will feature music by the Shadows Band from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Snake River Elks Lodge, 412 E. 200 S., Jerome. Admission is $5.
FILER — A decision to allow an international Christian organization to distribute Bibles last week after school hours at Filer Intermediate School has sparked concerns among some parents and community members.
An announcement was made over the school intercom early last week about Gideons International having Bibles available if students were interested, Filer School District Superintendent John Graham said Tuesday.
The distribution happened either Nov. 12 or 13, Graham said, and it was voluntary for students to participate. The Gideons typically come to Filer schools every other year.
In the days that followed, Graham heard concerns from parents and community members, including comments circulating on Facebook.
The Times-News left a message Nov. 20 at Gideons International’s headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., but didn’t receive a response.
The Bibles were available in the cafeteria at Filer Intermediate School, which serves fourth- through sixth-graders. Graham said having the distribution off campus would have been a safety concern because students would have to cross busy streets to get there.
Now, the school district may not allow the Gideons back at Filer schools — “definitely, not on school property,” Graham said. “We’re not trying to shut them down completely,” he added, but said they won’t be allowed “if we can’t come up with a reasonable plan that’s safe for all students.”
Gideons International is a group of “business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through associating together for service, sharing personal testimony, and by providing Bibles and New Testaments,” according to the organization’s website. “While we are often recognized for our work with hotels, we also place and distribute Scriptures in strategic locations so they are available to those who want them, as well as to those who may not know they need them.”
The Times-News reached out to the Idaho State Department of Education for insight about whether third-party groups are allowed to distribute Bibles or other religious materials on school campuses. The bottom line: It’s a complex legal issue.
There aren’t references in Idaho Code about this topic specific to public kindergarten through 12th-grade campuses. And schools often let outside groups use their facilities after hours.
Idaho Code, though, does state: “no sectarian or religious tenets or doctrines shall ever be taught in the public schools” and “no books, papers, tracts or documents of a political, sectarian or denominational character shall be used or introduced in any schools.”
During the 2016 state legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill that would allow religious texts — including the Bible — to be used in public schools for reference purposes, but students wouldn’t be required to use them. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter vetoed the bill over concerns it would violate the Idaho Constitution.
Some courts across the United States have ruled on distributing Bibles at public schools. On its website, the Anti-Defamation League — a national civil rights nonprofit — writes: “Courts have uniformly decided that Bibles from third parties cannot be distributed in public elementary schools. And the vast majority of courts have decided that Bibles cannot be distributed in public middle or high schools, as well.”
That wouldn’t necessarily stop a group, though, from distributing Bibles near a school campus, such as from a public sidewalk.
Having Gideons pass out Bibles to school children isn’t anything new. “It’s something that’s gone on since the dawn of time,” Graham said.
He said he recalls when he was a teacher in Boise about 40 years ago, the Gideons went directly into classrooms.
“That obviously has changed since then.”