Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik extends Community Hero charity 5 years

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny, announced Sunday that they would pledge $10 million more over the next five seasons to continue the community heroes program that provides aid to area charities.

Started in the 2011-12 hockey season, the program is a partnership between the Vinik Family Foundation and the Lightning Foundation that recognizes a community hero at every home game during the season and provides a $50,000 donation to that person's favorite nonprofit.

Vinik said the program was the brainchild of former Bolts CEO Tod Leiweke, who is now the chief operating officer of the National Football League. About $11.15 million has been donated to 300 different groups in the past five years.

"There so much more need out there," Vinik said during a brief interview before an event at the TPepin's Hospitality Centre in Tampa, where he made the announcement. "We knew as leaders of the sports team, frankly, it's our responsibility to make an impact in the community. (Creating the program) was one of our proudest moments."

The people who have been selected as community heroes are those judged to have made a difference in the community and are often active with Tampa Bay charities working on a wide range of issues.

Most of the heroes selected in the past five years gathered for a dinner at the center Sunday wearing the Lightning jerseys they received when they were selected.

Vinik said the program would be adding a category of hero on weekend games honoring young people in local high schools, universities or colleges who are leaders driving social change and helping those in need. The tradition heroes will be honored during weeknight games.

Margarita Romo, founder and executive director of Farmworkers Self Help Inc. of Dade City, was honored in November and said the donation came not long after the group lost a significant grant. Without the money, she said, the charity would have been forced to let go of two critical staff members.

"They saved our staff," said Romo, who noted that her group, among other things, provides help for undocumented farmworkers. "That turns some people off. But it's part of what we were called to do. They are the least helped, the worst treated. And somebody has to do something there to help them."

Anna Rodriguez, founder and CEO of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, was honored as a community hero in 2014 and shared the $50,000 grant with two other charities, including the Joshua House, which provides safe haven for abused and neglected children.

"It re-energized us so we could continue the work that we're doing," Rodriguez said. "I appreciate what the Lightning does for the people who are involved in the community, the invisible people who are trying to make a difference."

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn spoke at the event, saying in an interview beforehand that the program puts the public spotlight on people who don't seek it and often do the work out of sight of most Tampa Bay residents.

"They are the unsung heroes of our community," Buckhorn said. "They don't expect to be interviewed. They don't expect to see themselves on TV. But they get out there every day and do amazing work."

Comments
For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

UPDATE, 6:45: Cash said Smith will continue to play a lot, getting time in LF and RF, meaning something of a rotation system for rookie Johnny Field and veteran Carlos Gomez.UPDATE, 4:49: Kiermaier is batting leadoff and playing center as expected, w...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Just to preface this, the NFL Network's annual countdown of the league's top 100 players is a made-for-TV deal, good for summer offseason conversation but not carrying any huge amount of real significance.Having said that, it's worth noting that for ...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
St. Petersburg power outage affects thousands

St. Petersburg power outage affects thousands

More than 2,000 Duke Energy customers are without power after a cluster of storms rolled through earlier this afternoon, according to Duke Energy.The area without power stretches along 62nd Avenue N from 12th Street N to 30th Way N, according to the ...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Ice cream man granted bail after lawyer notes weaknesses in 2010 Ruskin murder case

Ice cream man granted bail after lawyer notes weaknesses in 2010 Ruskin murder case

TAMPA — Michael Edward Keetley has spent the last 2,756 days in the Falkenburg Road Jail awaiting trial — and a possible death sentence if convicted — for a Ruskin shooting spree that killed two men.Now he might go home.A judge this week approved Kee...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is talking from a hotel room in Las Vegas and admits he's a little jet-lagged."Actually, very jet-lagged," Hedman says.That's what happens when you take a flight from Sweden to the party capital of the world.But he knows exactly what he...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police release video of car that killed woman, 58, in Tampa hit and run

Police release video of car that killed woman, 58, in Tampa hit and run

Times staffTAMPA — Police have identified Sally Ann McClellan Webb, 58, as the pedestrian killed when a vehicle ran into her Sunday night as she was crossing N Nebraska Ave at Linebaugh Ave.The collision occurred about 9:15 a.m. as the victim stepped...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump threatens more China tariffs

Trump threatens more China tariffs

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. Trade Representative to prepare new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports as the two nations move closer to a trade war.In response, China threatened what it called "comprehensive measure...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tech Data sending a record 700 employees to march in Pride Parade

Tech Data sending a record 700 employees to march in Pride Parade

Among the marching bands and twirlers at Saturday’s St. Pete Pride Parade, one major sponsor, Tech Data, is sending by far a record number of employees — more than 700 at last count — to march in Florida’s largest gay pride parade.The parade, which d...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Port Richey council moves closer to minimum housing standards ordinance

PORT RICHEY — In a narrow vote, Port Richey took another step toward enacting an ordinance that will create minimum housing standards in the city. Port Richey City Council members approved in a split vote last week the first reading of an ordinance d...
Updated: 2 hours ago