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End of an era

It's sad to see United go, but what's left is better than we had before

The pullout of United Airlines ends a long association between the airline and Medford dating back to 1925, when Pacific Air Transport, one of United's predecessors, was founded here. But the announcement that the airline will end direct service to Medford in January is not entirely bad news.

United has struggled financially since Sept. 11, 2001, and the cost savings from ending service here and elsewhere may help it avoid collapse.

In addition, local passengers will gain some options as United Express, a separate company that connects with United at major airports, adds flights to Denver. United Express also will take over flights now offered by United, although with smaller planes.

While some passengers may mourn the loss of 138-seat Boeing 737s, and fewer seats may be available to key destinations such as San Francisco, we agree with Airport Director Bern Case, who says Medford's air service has never been better. We lose larger jets, but gain the first flights to Denver since 1988.

And with the addition of America West offering flights to Phoenix, Medford-area passengers have more jet flights to more places than ever before.

Help available

In the wake of the deaths of two 4-year-olds in a structure fire in Medford Oct. 16, many parents are worried about protecting their children from a similar tragedy.

The two cousins died in a shed at their grandparents' home. Fire officials found remnants of a disposable lighter and a book of matches, leading them to believe that the children had been playing with the items.

If you're worried that your kids might get in involved in a similar dangerous situation, there is a local organization that attempts to teach children about the dangers of playing with fire and about other fire-related issues.

The Jackson County Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Network, a program developed by Community Justice, offers four levels of age-appropriate classes to teach children about the consequences of fire.

The program for children 6 and under is held the first Wednesday of each month in the Juvenile Correction Facility conference room. The one-hour class teaches that matches and lighters are tools, not toys. Classes are also offered to kids in older age groups.

This program is free to local residents. It's a good deal, and it might help prevent a tragedy like the one that occurred Oct. 16.