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Times donates settlement from lawsuit

Twelve community programs in Hillsborough County will benefit from efforts by Tampa General Hospital's governing board to keep the search for a new hospital president secret.

St. Petersburg Times Executive Editor Paul Tash announced Friday that the 12 organizations will share a $12,000 settlement from the hospital board. Each will get $1,000.

The hospital board agreed in April to settle the Times lawsuit, filed two months earlier, after Hillsborough Circuit Judge Manuel Menendez Jr. ruled that the public was entitled to records of the search process. The Times received $12,152 in reimbursement for attorneys' fees.

The newspaper's policy in such cases is to collect the money and redistribute it to community groups in the same county so taxpayers are not penalized for the mistakes of public officials. "We feel it's important to donate that money back into the community," Tash said.

The following organizations were chosen for grants on the recommendation of Jane Peppard, publisher of The Times in Tampa:

The YMCA Bob Sierra Branch, 4029 Northdale Blvd., for scholarships.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Action Council, 14343 N Dale Mabry Highway, for teen outreach programs.

The Northwest Regional Library, 900 N Ashley Drive, for literacy programs.

The Lutz/Land O'Lakes Women's Club, for educational activities.

The Horses for the Handicapped program, sponsored by the Hillsborough Rough Riders, at Bakas Equestrian Center in Lutz.

The Hispanic Needs and Services Council, 2700 N MacDill Ave., Suite 108, for educational programs for Hispanic youths with limited English proficiency.

Project Link Inc., 1315 N Spruce St., for enrichment programs targeting African-American children.

The MacDonald Training Center, 4304 Boy Scout Blvd., for services to people with disabilities.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Tampa, for after-school programs.

Northside Mental Health Center, for PhoneFriend, an after-school telephone reassurance program for latchkey children.

The Judeo-Christian Health Clinic, 4120{ N MacDill Ave., for programs for medically indigent people.

Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida Inc., 4023 N Armenia Ave., for job-seeking programs for epilepsy patients.

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