'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


BIRON, WIS. - A nearly $200 million paper mill project in Wood County will get state support while helping to create more than two dozen jobs.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announced $1.7 million in tax credits Wednesday for ND Paper in Biron, which is just north of Wisconsin Rapids.

ND Paper plans to convert a machine from making white paper into corrugated material for boxes.  The company will also build a recycled pulp, water treatment, and fiber recovery plants.  The total cost of the project is $189 million.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK, WAUSAU - Winds in Wausau hit 58 miles per hour early Wednesday morning, taking out trees and power lines.

All of Tomahawk was dark, as the city lost power.

But before the sun rose Wednesday morning, city crews were on the streets in both cities, cleaning up from the damage.

"Yeah, I'm still in my pajama top this morning," said Tomahawk Public Works Director John Cole with a laugh at about 10 a.m.

The call to Cole came at about 3 a.m. Outside, he found what he called a mini tornado.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - Getting your car fixed in Rhinelander this spring ended up helping feed families in the Northwoods.

Northwoods Auto Techs donated $1,017 to the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry this week.  The car repair shop donated $3 for every service invoice in March and April, which equates to 339 invoices.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander high school student walked into school Wednesday not knowing that during the school day he would win a car. 

Throughout the school year, students are rewarded for doing good deeds with green cards.

+ Read More

Play Video

LAC DU FLAMBEAU - People could walk into the Lake of the Torches Casino and Conference Center in Lac du Flambeau on Wednesday and potentially walk out with a job.

The LDF Business Development Corporation held its second community job fair from 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Simpson Electric, Peter Christensen Dental Clinic, and the Country Market made up some of the booths.

At 23 openings, there were about half the job possibilities through the LDFBDC this year compared to last, but Business Development HR director Turquoise Santiesteban thinks that's a positive sign.

+ Read More

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - Jeff Schweizer doesn't need electricity to camp, but he knows it's a great convenience.

"If it's raining out you got the TV, you got the microwave," said Schweizer.

He and his group of friends used their generators Tuesday night because Franklin Lake Campground in Forest Co. doesn't have direct electrical access.

"Generators make a lot of noise," said Schweizer. "It's nice to have it quiet. When you have electricity you don't have those generators. It's just really enjoyable to be at a campground with electricity."

+ Read More

MADISON - Wisconsin-based convenience store chain Kwik Trip has removed some vegetable trays from its stores after several reported illnesses in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Health officials say the Del Monte vegetable trays, which included broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and dill dip, have been linked to salmonella bacteria. So far, it has sickened three people in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota. Symptoms of salmonellosis are similar to the flu.

+ Read More
+ More General News