Rhode Island couple keep marriage going by living separately in single loft

If they were going to split up they were at least going to share the same house. A Rhode Island couple who felt they couldn't live together anymore without bickering - decided on an unusual compromise. They would continue to share the same house, but split the home into two and live separately. Allison Paschke and John Danskin detailed the unique way they keep space from their spouse of more than three decades to the Wall Street Journal. After more than 20 years of marriage and raising two children they decided in 2006 to sell their home in Cranston R.I. and bought a $600,000 loft in downtown Providence that is 4,300 square-feet big. Then like King Solomon they divided the home in half, spending another $600,000 in renovations so each person had their own bedroom, kitchen, dining area and workspace. They are still very much a couple sleeping in the same bedroom and having meals together but a moment of solitude is a quick trip down the hall. "This living arrangement has really helped us solve our issues," says Paschke, 53, an artist, told the newspaper. Her computer engineer husband agrees. "Marriage was hard work. Now it's not," Danskin, 54, said. "We feel like we found a system." It's a compromise that has enabled each spouse to get what they want and avoid the things they do not. It's like being teenagers but without all the horribleness of being teenagers. We're more secure and we know what to do. Paschke, has her own studio and her living space is filled with plants. But Danskin said he was free to design a more "masculine" living space, complete with an industrial-style kitchen and leather furniture. His wife, who makes little meals, has a smaller kitchen, but she no longer has to clean up after him anymore. "If I clean something up it's because I want it clean not because someone else wants it cleaned," Danskin told the Journal. "I'm more likely to do something if it's for me and Continue Reading

Brooklyn gets a taste of Rhode Island: Del’s Frozen Lemonade is here to stay

Forget the Bruins — this icy treat is the real toast of New England. A food truck dishing Del’s — the renowned Rhode Island lemon slushee that is as summer as suntan lotion — recently finished up its first summer in the city. Cam Crockford found New Yorkers have such an appetite for the frosty frozen lemonade, the Ocean State native is working to raise money to buy a second truck for next summer. The original truck, a 1949 Chevy Step Van, took 60 days for Crockford to overhaul. He’s found a second, almost identical truck — but it’s in Las Vegas and he needs some cash. Lucky for him, the brand sells itself, he says. But Crockford also started a Kickstarter campaign to see if he could rustle up $15,000 to help along the process. “The majority of people who love it know Del’s from growing up on it,” said Crockford, 25, who based the business in DUMBO. “New Yorkers associate it with an ICEE, but it’s not an ICEE,” he said. “It’s something similar, but better. The stuff’s irresistible.” Based out of Cranston, R.I., the family-run business was started in 1948. The tasty treat quickly became a New England mainstay. Only six states, including New York, have permanent Del’s locations. From beaches to fairs and food truck rallies, Del’s NYC has become an instant hit in the Big Apple. Just don’t use a spoon when you dig in — real Del’s drinkers know to sip it straight out of the cup. “Just like I remember from trips to RI as a kid,” one Twitter user wrote. “Love the lemon chunks.” For more, click here Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Clay Pell, husband of Michelle Kwan, to run for Rhode Island governor

Clay Pell is entering the race for Rhode Island governor — and bringing along his family legacy and the star power of his wife, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan. The grandson of late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell will formally announce his candidacy Tuesday. He made his intentions clear Monday with an invitation to the event bearing the logo “Clay Pell for Governor.” The 32-year-old Democrat served in the U.S. Coast Guard and worked on the White House National Security staff and at the U.S. Education Department. Pell says he’s prepared for the job and would bring the state together to address its economic challenges. He faces Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Treasurer Gina Raimondo in the Democratic primary. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and businessman Ken Block are running as Republicans. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Rhode Island governor candidate reveals he caused crash that killed man 25 years ago

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A leading candidate for governor disclosed on Monday that he was responsible for a crash that killed a man 25 years ago. Allan Fung, the Republican mayor of Cranston, said he was an 18-year-old college student in 1989 when he lost consciousness behind the wheel and hit a man who was changing a tire on Interstate 95. He said drugs and alcohol weren't involved and a grand jury declined to indict him. He had his arrest record sealed in the 1990s. "I wanted to get the truth out there, get all the facts out there to the voters of the state of Rhode Island," Fung said at a news conference. "They need to know the truth about me." Fung was teary-eyed for much of the news conference and had to leave the room for a few moments to gather himself after he was overcome by emotion when speaking about the victim's family. The crash was first reported by The Providence Journal on Monday. Fung said he hasn't brought it up over the years but always acknowledged it when asked. That included during his entry to the bar and in 2002, when he was running for city council and was asked in a candidate questionnaire by the Journal whether he had ever been arrested. He disclosed it at that time, but the newspaper didn't write about it. Fung said he wasn't asked about it during his subsequent political campaigns, including during his four runs for mayor of the state's third-largest city. Fung lost during his first campaign in 2006 but won in 2008 and was re-elected in 2010 and 2012. Among the jobs he held before becoming mayor was as a prosecutor in the state attorney general's office. Fung described the crash as the most painful experience of his life and said it was "a part of me, a part of who I am. "God knows why my life was spared that day and someone else's was taken," he said. The crash happened on a Friday morning in February 1989. The victim was James W. Skipper Jr., a 41-year-old Pawtucket resident who had stopped in the breakdown lane Continue Reading

Rhode Island school district bans father-daughter, mother-son events

A school district in Rhode Island has ended its traditional father-daughter and mother-son sanctioned events, saying they violate a state gender discrimination law. The move came after a single mother complained that her daughter had not been able to attend her father-daughter dance. The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to school officials on behalf of the mother, the Providence Journal reported. School attorneys looked into the matter and found that national Title IX legislation exempts activities like father-daughter dances and mother-son ballgames. However, Rhode Island state law does not, the lawyers said. The school then moved to ban such events. “I truly believe that no one intended to hurt anyone’s feelings with this. That they wanted to be inclusive, but that they also like the traditional type of activities,” said Superintendent Judith Lundsten. But some local leaders feel the ban neither protects students who might face discrimination, nor students who would want to attend such events. "In the zeal to protect people who feel they are being disenfranchised, this policy has completely denied our children of one of the most cherished traditions in their school experience,” said Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. The Rhode Island ACLU told WPRI that Cranston school officials made the right move. “The school district recognized that in the 21st Century, public schools have no business fostering the notion that girls prefer to go to formal dances while boys prefer baseball games. This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of “girl” and “boy” activities and is contrary to federal law,” Executive Director Steven Brown said. [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Gay marriage vote in Rhode Island House expected to easily pass

The Rhode Island House is poised to debate and vote on legislation that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry — the first time the issue has gone to a legislative vote in the only New England state without same-sex marriage. Supporters and opponents of the legislation expect it to easily pass the House on Thursday, led by House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is gay. Both sides say the true test of the legislation lies in the Senate, where Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed opposes the legislation. Gay marriage legislation has been introduced every year in the General Assembly since 1997, but Thursday's vote will mark the first time the issue has received a vote in either the House or Senate. The bill has 42 sponsors in the 75-member House — an indication of just how easily it could pass. The bill's longtime sponsor, Rep. Art Handy, D-Cranston, said he's seen a widespread change of opinion on gay marriage and that even some previously staunch opponents in the legislature may give the bill a second thought when the roll is called. "It's a harder 'no' vote than people may have thought," he said. Supporters are hoping to build on national momentum following the votes in Maine, Maryland and Washington. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, voters rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have prohibited gay marriage, the first time such a ballot question has failed in the United States. Opponents are hoping this heavily Catholic state maintains its current marriage laws. "Rhode Islanders care about marriage and they don't want to see it redefined," said Christopher Plante, director of the state chapter of the National Institute for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage. Should the bill pass the House it could be weeks or months before it receives a vote in the Senate. Paiva Weed, a Newport Democrat, said last week she couldn't support the legislation as written. But she has said she will allow the Senate Judiciary Committee to Continue Reading

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s ‘holiday’ tree remark angers thousands — and the Roman Catholic Church

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Carolers singing "O Christmas Tree" crashed Rhode Island's Statehouse tree lighting on Tuesday after Gov. Lincoln Chafee unwrapped a holiday hubbub by calling the 17-foot spruce a "holiday" tree. Chafee insisted his word choice was inclusive and in keeping with Rhode Island's founding as a sanctuary for religious diversity. But his seasonal semantics incensed some lawmakers, the Roman Catholic Church and thousands of people who called his office to complain that the independent governor was trying to secularize Christmas. "He's trying to put our religion down," said Ken Schiano of Cranston, who came to the tree lighting after hearing about the controversy. "It's a Christmas tree. It always has been and it always will be, no matter what that buffoon says it is." Chafee did not address the several hundred people who filled the Statehouse to watch the tree lighting. Afterward, he said he was surprised by the heated reaction to his word choice. Chafee argues that he is simply honoring Rhode Island's origins as a sanctuary for religious diversity. Religious dissident Roger Williams founded Rhode Island in 1636 as a haven for tolerance, where government and religion would forever be kept separate. Chafee's immediate predecessor also referred to Statehouse trees as "holiday" trees. "If it's in my house it's a Christmas tree, but when I'm representing all of Rhode Island I have to be respectful of everyone," Chafee said after the tree lighting. "Now we can get back to next year's budget ... with pleasure." After Chafee lit the "holiday" tree, a few dozen carolers interrupted a performance by a children's chorus to sing "O Christmas Tree." The dispute also prompted the Providence diocese to schedule a competing Christmas tree lighting a block from the Statehouse. A Republican state lawmaker erected a tree in a Statehouse hallway to give Rhode Island residents an alternative to the official state "holiday" tree. After the flap made Continue Reading

Third Boston terror suspect tied to ‘boys in blue’ plot arrested by FBI in Rhode Island

The FBI has arrested a Rhode Island man with ties to the radicalized, knife-wielding Boston terror suspect shot dead outside a pharmacy earlier this month. Nicholas Rovinski, 24, of Warwick, is the second person taken into custody in connection with Usaamah Rahim, who was gunned down June 2 when he lunged with a Marine Corps knife at police who intercepted him after saying he planned to target "boys in blue." Rahim, 26, had been inspired by ISIS and hatched a plot with two others to attack police officers and also behead anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller, authorities have alleged. David Wright, 25, of Everett, Mass., was arrested the same day. Charges will be unsealed when Rovinski is arraigned Friday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston, the Boston Herald reported. Usaama Rahim (l.) was shot and killed in Boston by police on June 2 and co-conspirator David Wright (r.) was arrested the same day.  Rahim, Wright and Rovinski reportedly met on a Rhode Island beach to map out their terror plan last month. The FBI said Rovinski surrendered without incident Thursday. Neighbors said Rovinski change dramatically when he converted to Islam two years ago, Cranston Patch reported. Rahim, who had been under surveillance, was confronted after an alleged phone conversation with Wright, his nephew. "I'm just going to, ah, go after them, those boys in blue," Rahim said in the call. Follow on [email protected] Continue Reading

Rhode Island man weighing 1,200 pounds placed in cargo container, removed from facility by crane, shipped to hospital via flatbed truck in massive operation

A 1,200-pound Rhode Island man was hoisted by crane from his Providence nursing home, packed into a modified cargo container and shipped to a hospital on the back of a flatbed truck after the nursing facility, $2 million in debt, was forced to shutter. It took nearly seven hours Sunday to move Robert Butler just eight miles in a massive operation that began at the Bannister House in Providence and ended at his new home in Cranston. “This is a patient with very complicated medical needs and it’s required a coordinated approach across state government,” Michael Raia, of the state office of health and human services, told WJAR-TV. “His (Butler's) care and safety has been our top priority throughout this transport.” Butler spent nearly a decade at the beleaguered nursing home, during which time he gained approximately 300 pounds. The loneliness of his deadly situation put the morbidly obese man into a deep funk. “When I'm depressed I'll eat chips or order myself a large pizza and pretty much kill it myself,” Butler told the NBC affiliate in 2006. At the time, he’d been moved to the nursing home as he tried to lose weight before he could have gastric bypass surgery. But he never lost the required pounds, instead packing on 300 more. And no doctor would agree to the surgery on such a heavy man, he said. Medicaid refused to pay for the operation. “It’s odd because the government will give me money to survive every month. But they won’t help me to get off disability,” Butler told WPRI-TV in 2006. “I want to work. I want to start a career again. I’m willing to chance dying on that operating table instead of dying in this bed.” Butler’s journey Sunday was an operation that took weeks to plan - and likely thousands of dollars. Officials would not disclose the cost, but it took a crowd Continue Reading

Rhode Island teachers allowed to observe Good Friday under court order after suing school department

A Rhode Island court ruled that teachers are allowed to take Good Friday off after a bitter battle with their school department. Teachers in Cranston may take the day off as long as they submit a request by Wednesday, according to a court order issued Friday. Earlier this month, the teachers union sued the district when about 200 teachers reported their schools denied their requests to take the holiday off because worshipers are not religiously obligated to attend church service during the work day, school officials said. Nearly 45% of Rhode Island’s population is Roman Catholic. Activists said the denied days off violated the teachers’ civil rights — especially because Jewish teachers who requested to take Rosh Hashanah off in the fall were give the time off with no questions, explained Liz Larkin, president of the Cranston Teachers' Alliance. "That's my big concern here, is equity," Larkin told the Associated Press. Under the court order, the Cranston school department cannot discipline the teachers or deduct their pay for taking the day off. Teachers are allowed to take two days off a year for religious observation, but the requests must be approved by the school department. Union officials toldthe Los Angeles Times that they were moving forward with the lawsuit despite the court victory in hopes that the suit will prevent the same situation from happening again.  Last week, school superintendent Judith Lundsten said teachers' contracts specify they may take a holiday if they are religiously obligated to attend service during the work day. Good Friday, the Friday before Easter marking the crucifixion of Jesus, has "no required services," Lundsten said. Catholics are “encouraged” to pray quietly on Good Friday, but church service is not required. Rosh Hashanah, on the other hand, does not allow work on the holiday, so the teachers’ requests were approved, Lundsten said. But the Continue Reading