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Times donates settlement

Rarely does the entire community benefit from corporate lawsuits.

However, 12 Tampa-area community groups will divide $12,000 the St. Petersburg Times received for incurred legal fees in a lawsuit against Tampa General Hospital, Times Executive Editor Paul Tash recently announced.

The Times sued the hospital in February, alleging that board members attempted to conceal their search for a new president.

In April the board agreed to settle the suit after Hillsborough Circuit Judge Manuel Menedez Jr. ruled that the public was entitled to records of the search process. The Times was awarded $12,152.

These organizations in north Hillsborough County and south Pasco County receive $1,000 grants:

YMCA Bob Sierra Branch at 4029 Northdale Blvd. The YMCA will use the grant to award scholarships to financially disadvantaged families and children, and to physically challenged individuals.

The Lutz-Land O'Lakes Women's Club tentatively plans to continue funding and possibly expand current projects. These include a scholarship program and U.S. Savings Bonds for winners of the club's writing contest. Club president Nancy Fisher said she will suggest also using the grant to reinstate the Rockin' Reader program, in which older adults read to elementary school-age children.

"This is a program for those who don't feel comfortable tutoring, yet who can read to a child one-on-one, who may not have been read to during the early years," Fisher said.

The Northwest Regional Library, 15610 Premiere Drive, will encourage reading in the community as a positive leisure activity. Specific programs include Poetry Alive, a touring group of former teachers who use interactive activities that involve reading and poetry; and First Friday for Teens, which transforms the library's auditorium into a coffeehouse where teens can read published poetry or their own works.

Horses for the Handicapped at Bakas Equestrian Center, 17304 N Dale Mabry Highway. Horses for the Handicapped, sponsored by the Hillsborough Rough Riders, provides rides and riding instruction to mentally and physically disabled children and adults. The money will be used to enhance a vaulting demonstration team project. The center will also upgrade its equipment and prepare for the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association National Conference in November.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's ACTION (Action Council To Improve Our Neighborhood), a group comprised of business and civic volunteers, will extend its community policing program with projects addressing public safety and quality-of-life issues, as well as focusing on youth.

Other grant recipients in Hillsborough include the Hispanic Needs and Services Council, Project Link Inc., MacDonald Training Center, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Tampa, Northside Mental Health Center, Judeo-Christian Health Clinic and Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida Inc.