By Rebecca Hertz

Killeen Daily Herald

Marty Rodriguez, president of the Cove Oasis Shriners, confirmed that the Shriners Hospitals for Children will remain open.

More than 1,100 delegates from around the globe attending the 135th Imperial Council in San Antonio voted almost unanimously to continue operations at all six of the hospitals in question open.

"The big news is that the Galveston hospital will reopen," Rodriguez said.

The Galveston facility is one of only two burn centers within the 22-hospital organization. The other is in Boston. The hospital was closed in 2008 because of damage incurred during Hurricane Ike.

The council passed a vote earlier in the week to begin accepting payments from insurance providers. This will in no way affect the quality of care or cost to patients, Rodriguez said. If a patient has insurance, the hospital will file with the carrier for payment.

"There is no cash register in the Shriners Hospital," said Paul E. Sawyer, past commander and Legion of Honor member of Karem Shrine.

Karem Shrine is the umbrella over all Central Texas groups with more than 900 members.

In association with Shriners from Gatesville, Copperas Cove and Killeen, about $10,000 has been raised in the past 90 days in the Killeen area. All money goes directly to support the hospitals.

"The public realizes the economic plight and are digging deeper than before," Sawyer said.

The next major event for the Central Texas Shriners is the circus scheduled for Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 9-11. They will present six shows at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.

Friday's kick-off performance will be Military Appreciation Night. Those on active-duty will receive reduced admission of $3 for adults and $2 for children on Friday only. Regular ticket prices are $16 for adults and $12 for children.

Attendees can receive $6 off the individual ticket price by bringing a food item for donation. At last year's event the organization collected almost 5 tons of food for local food banks.

The Cove Oasis Shriners will also participate in the Lampasas Spring Ho parade Saturday with the Ben Hur Temple from Austin.

For information about Shriners Hospitals for Children or to make a donation, go to

Contact Rebecca Hertz at or (254) 501-7475.

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