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'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
bmeyer@wjfw.com

'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.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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