No simple fix for county#8217;s jail overcrowding

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

John Baker is hoping to celebrate a relaxing Father’s Day today with his two children, 17-year-old Sydney and 10-year-old John David. But, he knows at any minute he could be called out to help a family who has lost a loved one.

Baker, owner of O’Keefe-Baker Funeral Home, said his role as funeral director can sometimes conflict with his role as father.

“It’s hard when you have to miss things, but you are just trying to do your job,” Baker said.

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In fact, when his wife, Judy, went into labor with Sydney, Baker said he was already at the hospital on a call. Luckily, he already had the funeral arrangements settled by the time his daughter made her appearance and he didn’t miss any of the action.

His children may not always like the hours he works, but he said they “hang on” and are “pretty flexible.”

“It’s not unusual for us to try take trips out of town and then have to turn around and come back home because I get a call,” Baker said.

He described his wife as a “super mom” who helps keep the business and the household running smoothly.

An increasing number of dads are struggling to find more time with their families. In fact, according to a survey released Thursday by, about 24 percent of dads feel their work negatively impacts their relationship with their children.

The survey showed that 48 percent of dads have missed a significant event in their child’s life due to work at least once in the last year and 18 percent have missed four or more events.

According to the survey, which did not give statistics for working moms, 27 percent of dads spend more than 50 hours a week at work and 8 percent work more than 60 hours.

Joe Stevens has two jobs that keep him busy and compromise his time with his family. He is a lieutenant with the Ironton Fire Department and also works part-time with the Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services.

Most of the time he works 24-hour shifts, then has 48 hours off. But, there are occasions when he is on-duty 36 hours at a time, Stevens said.

Stevens and his wife, Mollie, have two daughters, 14-year-old Marissa and 11-year-old Allie.

“A lot of time I just can’t get away from work to go to their activities,” he said. “The hardest thing is missing volleyball games, plays and even birthdays.”

Stevens said being away from his daughters has gotten harder as they have gotten older. Now, they are involved in more extracurricular activities than they used to be, he said, so he is forced to miss more because of his work.

He said his family is very supportive. His wife has a flexible job, he said, that allows her to attend many of the events he misses.

“They don’t get too upset because they understand. It’s all I’ve ever done,” said Stevens, who has been a firefighter nine years and with SEOMS for 18 years.

According to the survey, 37 percent of working dads would quit if their spouse made enough money to support the family and another 38 percent said they would take a pay cut to spend more time with their kids.