MINOCQUA - ObamaCare will dig into the pocketbooks of part-time workers at one of the Northwoods' biggest employers.
If Trig's Supermarkets hadn't cut part-time work hours, it would have been out of business within a year.
That's what a consultant told the company.
About two-thirds of the 1,100 Trig's employees are part-time workers.
But if they work more than 30 hours a week, the president's health care legislation technically considers them full time.
That means Trig's would be forced to provide health insurance to those workers.
The report said keeping the work schedules as they were AND providing that health coverage would have been disastrous to the company's bottom line.
"Doing nothing was not an option. It would have put us out of business. Within a year, it would have put us out of business. There's no doubt about that. So obviously we've had to make some changes," says Angie Dreifuerst, Trig's' Vice President of HR, Benefits, and MIS.
Those changes include promoting a few workers to full time.
But the biggest impact comes to the 65 percent of employees working part-time.
They're not allowed to work more than 30 hours per week.
That way, Trig's can avoid considering them full time workers.
"Yeah, they were frustrated, but I believe they also understood why we had to make the decisions that we did. I said, 'this isn't good for you, this isn't good for us, it's not what we want to do either.' Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of options. We have to do what we have to do to comply and stay viable," she says.
Companies like Trig's aren't the only ones facing employment challenges from the Affordable Care Act.
Even school districts like Minocqua-Hazelhurst-Lake Tomahawk have taken steps to make sure their part-time workers stay under the 30 hour threshold.
RHINELANDER - For decades, homelessness has been a problem that defies easy solutions.
The number of homeless veterans in Wisconsin increased by 8.1% over the past year.
Assistant Oneida County Veterans Service officer Jason Dailey said that may be due to certain that issues effects of military service.
"There's a lot of the big issues for veteran's homelessness, there's a lot of post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues than cause issues maintaining employment," said Dailey. 'But we don't have the economy to support all those people necessarily as far as jobs go.'
Dailey believes the lack of triggers from a larger city that draw veterans to the Northwoods.
MINOCQUA - Something as easy as telling time or spelling a five-letter word backward can get more difficult as we age. People in the Northwoods can test their ability to complete those simple tasks with a memory screening at the Pastime Club Adult Day Center in Minocqua. Individuals or their caregivers can then present that information to a medical provider for further evaluation.
RHINELANDER - Lead ammunition remains the most popular option for hunters in Wisconsin. That's because it's cheap and gets the job done. However, experts encourage hunters to switch to a copper-based ammunition in order to protect other treasured species.
Wild Instincts Rehabilitation Center has seen nearly 30 cases of lead poisoning in bald eagles this year. Rehabilitators say the higher cost of copper ammo is a small price to pay for wildlife safety.
"It's not a gun control issue. It's not about trying to take anybody's rights away, it's to make it safer," said wildlife rehabilitator Mark Naniot. "We took lead out of our paint, out of gasoline because it was affecting us as humans. And of course we're affecting tons of animals out there."
ANTIGO - Like many cities, Antigo puts a room tax on it hotels and motels. The revenue generated is then used by a "tourism entity" to promote more overnight visitors in Antigo. For thirteen years that tourism entity has been the Antigo / Langlade County Chamber of Commerce, but another option is being explored.
Drew Lundt, board president of the chamber, never wanted this to come to a lawsuit.
"Unfortunately if this has to go to a legal battle, nobody's going to win that," said Lundt.
But recent disagreements have put that partnership in jeopardy.
Public meeting documents show Mayor Bill Brandt thought the combined chamber / visitor center was promoting its members, rather than the entire community.
Mayor Brandt pointed to the Visitor's Guide as an example. In the February 27th meeting, he expressed disappointment that only one Antigo hotel was shown in it.
RHINELANDER - The middle of November is usually a lull period between musky and ice fishing season. This year, that period was shortened.
Lakes began freezing a few weeks ago thanks to cold temperatures. Now that ice has formed on the lakes, people are venturing out to ice fish.
Some lakes look quiet at the moment, but as temperatures continue to get cold, that will be changing.
"Usually ice fishing season starts around here, end of November, right after deer season people start," said The Fishing Hole owner Gary Mangerson. "This year we're super early, which I enjoy because I don't have much down time."
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