'Exciting' change: Merrill's Church Mutual provides six-week paid leave to new parentsSubmitted: 02/15/2019
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

'Exciting' change:  Merrill's Church Mutual provides six-week paid leave to new parents
MERRILL - IT, finance, and administration manager Koleman Brenner works just three days a week at Church Mutual Insurance in Merrill.

On Mondays and Fridays, he's getting paid to stay home with his wife, daughter, and newborn son, William, who was born Jan. 22.

Thanks to a new program, his father has up to 30 days of paid leave to spend with the family, which he and his wife love.

"We were talking last night, and she just said, 'This benefit is so great, I'm so glad that you're going to be able to be home,'" Brenner said.

In his State of the Union speech, President Trump called for a national paid family leave program. His daughter, Ivanka, went to Capitol Hill to pitch it to senators this week.

But the idea at Church Mutual started years ago, with someone who doesn't even have kids yet.

"I thought, I have to fight for myself and I have to fight for the other mothers and fathers at this organization," said marketing consultant Liz Ott, who went straight to the top.

She asked president and CEO Rich Poirier to implement a paid parental leave program.

"Candidly, I brushed her off the first year," Poirier said.

Then, Ott came back with statistics and arguments.

"I thought, wow, that takes a lot of guts for a new college hire to approach the president of the company," Poirier said.

Ott eventually convinced Poirier and the board.

Starting Jan. 1, Church Mutual provides the paid leave benefit to employees, both mothers and fathers.

"I was really excited to see parental leave part of that, because this affects not only all of the mothers in our organization, but the fathers, too," Ott said. "I feel very proud that I was able to have an impact on all of these people here."

Poirier sees paid leave as the right thing to do, but also as a recruiting tool for potential employees.

Brenner agrees.

"This is a huge benefit for those that are looking to start families or grow their families," he said. "It's really exciting to see a company like Church Mutual, that's located in central Wisconsin, start to offer benefits similar to some of these large companies."

Church Mutual needed to take action to recruit and retain young employees. Poirier said within five years, 40 percent of its workforce will be at retirement age.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com

What We're Working OnSubmitted: 03/22/2019

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry has been holding classes on nutrition, but now it will be going in a different direction. We'll tell you about the change and talk with food pantry workers about the new plan.

Plus, we'll show you the "Living History Museum" at Peace Lutheran School in Antigo where kids make historical characters come to life.

We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander alderwoman will not face criminal charges for an alleged incident at city hall.  Dawn Rog says the accusations were "grossly overblown" and a "blatant attempt" at character assassination.

Oneida County District Attorney Mike Schiek sent a letter Friday explaining why he did not plan to file charges or a citation against Rog.

A city-contracted IT worker named Peggy Schauer told police Rog yelled at her and pushed her in the City Hall basement on Feb. 21.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - Oneida County will close its snowmobile trails Sunday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m.

According to a press release from county recreation coordinator Joe Renik, the trails are rapidly deteriorating.

Most of the county's trails opened on Dec. 29, 2018, which means riders saw nearly three months of continuous riding.  Oneida County trails closed on March 20 in 2018.

+ Read More

MADISON - A judge has issued a temporary injunction blocking Wisconsin Republicans' contentious lame-duck laws limiting the powers of Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess issued the injunction Thursday. He refused the Legislature's request to put the order on hold.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - Instead of worrying about blizzards, soon you'll be watching out for thunderstorms. Severe weather season will soon be here.

Our Weatherwatch 12 Meteorologists went to MHLT Elementary in Minocqua Thursday to talk weather with the third grade class.

The students learned how forecasts are made and where the energy for thunderstorms comes from. They also heard about tornadoes, flooding, wind, and hurricanes. It's all part of a weather unit that's been taking place at the school.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Shelves stocked with ferret food, fish tank cartridges, and reptile basking bulbs would suggest Jennifer Marshall knows a thing or two about pets.

"We can say our zoo has grown, considerably," Marshall said.

With 21 pets of her own -- from snakes, to geckos, to a hedgehog -- Marshall certainly does, but that wasn't always the case.

"I didn't even own a reptile until last year," Marshall said.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The Northwoods will soon get the chance to experience what it's like to travel in Iceland. 

Nicolet College Art Gallery plans to exhibit one photographer's journey in pictures. 

Craig Pilecky of Antigo traveled to Iceland twice in the years of 2016 and 2017.

He traveled to well known sites, such as the nation's legendary Ring Road, to capture its beauty. 

Since then, he's spent much of his time choosing photos for his exhibit debut. 

"I've worked very hard on it. I've spent a long time in post processing and going through a lot of my images," said Pilecky. "When you are on these trips you take thousands of shots."

The exhibit will open March 25th at Nicolet College in Rhinelander. 

Pilecky hopes his gallery will help people learn more about the history of Iceland. 

+ Read More
+ More General News