Featured Stories

INSIDERS (Sponsored Content)

Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraSummer's imminent arrival means your vehicle's air conditioning system will soon be under serious strain.

If your A/C isn't as frosty as it used to be, but it's still blowing cold, the system may need to be recharged.

Manufacturers used to use a type of refrigerant known as R-12, or Freon, until researchers found it caused ozone depletion. As such, it's illegal to use Freon in vehicles built after 1994. Now, manufacturers use R-134a to keep things cold in the cabin.

Working on an air conditioning system is about as much fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

Unless you are skilled in vehicle maintenance, it’s safest to take the job to a professional.

An AC compressor is usually driven by your vehicle's serpentine belt, and as it spins, it pressurizes the system's refrigerant. It's this change in pressure that cools the air coming into your cabin. The best way to keep your compressor from failing is to have your A/C system serviced once a year.

If your compressor needs replacement, most responsible shops will recommend swapping out a number of periphery components at the same time.

Why? The easy answer is working on an air conditioning system is about as fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

To avoid draining your refrigerant, removing your compressor, installing a new unit and refilling the system with new cool stuff — only to have you come back in a week and say it's still not cold enough — it makes sense to replace the necessary components.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen of Snap Fitness - FITNESS INSIDER -

SNAP FITNESS - Mike NielsenAs the inspirational saying goes, “Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”

While it’s true that starting a fitness routine can be difficult, I offer the following tips to get you in the gym door and on the road to good health.

Assessment — New SNAP Fitness clients receive a free jump-start session, including consultation with a trainer. The assessment determines the client’s baseline, helps us guide their first steps, and is an opportunity to discuss adding personal training.

Cardio — The national recommendation for exercise for all ages and fitness levels is to get to the gym at least three days per week, and to do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio per visit. Working out with a friend will make it more fun, help you feel more accountable, help you stay at the gym for more months and achieve a higher level of success.

Strength training is key to replacing fat with muscle, becoming leaner, stronger and improving balance. Do two to three sessions of strength training per week.

Nutritional guidelines — Instead of eating three large meals per day, eat five to six small meals. This will fuel your energy throughout the day and avoid post-meal sluggishness. Also drink 96 ounces of water daily.

Online help — SNAP has a complete online nutritional program and training center. Free with membership, it provides a personalized workout plan, sample menus and a complete library of instruction videos.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

Mike Nielsen, Snap FitnessStrength training is an essential part of an exercise program, even for someone who hasn’t been active in a while.

Lifting weights, using weight machines and doing core work increases muscle mass and bone density.

As we age, our muscles deteriorate (called sarcopenia) and bone density decreases.

Research shows that seniors are more susceptible to bone breakage that younger adults. As people age, their metabolism slows down. We are seeing more and more seniors joining gyms.

If we take the average adult between the ages of 40 and 50 and do basic strength-training three to four times per week for 90 days, the outcome can be life-changing.

Here’s a myth-buster: Muscle does NOT weigh more than fat! A pound is a pound. 

Muscle is, however, more dense than body fat and takes up less area than fat. If you were to start an exercise program complete with strength training, you would increase your lean body mass and decrease body fat.

The body takes up less space and metabolism speeds up, resulting in a higher BMR (base metabolic rate, the amount of daily caloric intake needed to maintain LBM and weight.) This reverses sarcopenia and increases bone density.   

Not everyone walks into a gym and knows exactly what to do. Snap gives new members an opportunity to meet with a Certified Personal Trainer, who assesses their body and their goals. 

Let’s get started.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTO MAINTENANCE INSIDER

John Sciarra, Bernard's GarageRegular maintenance on your car is, quite simply, a good investment.

For example, when you bring your car in for a timing belt — typically needed at 90,000 to 100,000 miles— it costs in the range of $400 to $500. But if it breaks, it might be $1,800 to $2,000.

At our shop, when we do it, we do it right. With the timing belt, we also replace the timing belt tensioner, idler pulleys, camshaft seals, water pump and coolant.

Mileage interval maintenance, which is only done by shops, should be done at 30,000, 60,000 and 90,000 miles.

The ideal scenario is to get the car into the shop about three times per year for inspections, which will find things like rodent damage, which is more common than you might think. It’s mainly squirrels in this area.

An inspection will also uncover leaking coolant or oil, as well as plugged-up air filters. Once a year, you should get a brake inspection.

We do complete automotive repair, including pre-purchase inspections for $150. That’s a comprehensive inspection, which can detect unforeseen problems and save you from buying a compromised vehicle.

Our average cost for an oil change is $38; $58 for a brake inspection.

It’s a small investment. We do it properly and can save you a lot of trouble and expense down the road.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

SNAP FITNESS - Mike Nielsen“We are a friendly, success-oriented fitness center,” says Mike Nielsen, vice president and co-owner of Snap Fitness locations in Oregon City, Milwaukie and Canby. “We’re like the ‘Cheers’ of the gym world, where everybody knows your name.”

Nielsen has been a certified fitness coach for 13 years and has been with Snap for eight years. He says being a fitness coach is all about helping individuals achieve the best version of themselves.

“It’s not just something that’s done at the gym, but it’s a lifestyle change,” he said of Snap. “We focus on not only the physical but also the mental and emotional aspects of everyday life, to make sure we are able to achieve long-term success.”

He says Snap gyms have a family feel and a personal touch.

The gyms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with monitored access for safety. Snap has more than 1,500 locations nationwide.

The fitness centers offer cardio, personal training, weight-loss programs, a health center, strength training and Olympic lifting. An online web page for members offers nutrition counseling and an online training center.

“Our members are our greatest assets,” Nielsen added. “We do all we can to make sure they have not only the best facility and equipment, but a wonderful experience.”

Snap Fitness


Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.


Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170


Canby: 1109 SW 1st Ave.


Brought to you by John Sciarra - Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraAfter nearly 100 years of providing excellent full-service automotive repair and maintenance, Bernard’s Garage is a classic Milwaukie institution trusted by generations of customers.

Founded in 1925, old timers and area residents still remember Joe Bernard Sr., who would design and build custom car parts when his customers’ vehicles needed it. Joe Bernard Jr., a former Milwaukie mayor, helped modernize Bernard’s and continued his father’s tradition of excellent customer service.

The current owner, Jim Bernard, another Milwaukie mayor and current Clackamas County commissioner, has computerized Bernard’s—turning his father’s mechanics into today’s technicians.

Besides providing free pickup and delivery, Bernard’s offers DEQ repair and adjustments, check-engine light diagnosis, manufacturer-scheduled maintenance, brakes, steering and suspension repair, timing belt tune-ups, radiator and water pump work, as well as engine, transmission and air conditioning service.

“We are straight shooters and will let you know what the problem is and what the cost is upfront,” Operations Manager John Sciarra says.

Sciarra, an 18 year veteran of Bernard’s, has attained numerous specialty vehicle class certifications. With 26 years in the industry overall, Sciarra is our INSIDER for automotive excellence.

Bernard’s Garage is a 17-year-long supporter of the Milwaukie Farmers Market, a Milwaukie First Friday participant and frequently donates to the Annie Ross House, Milwaukie Senior Center and other local schools and events.

A member of the Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce since 1955, Bernard’s has been named Business of the Year twice since 2000, and has received the BRAG award from the county for practicing responsible recycling and waste management.

Bernard's Garage 

2036 SE Washington St, Milwaukie, OR.

(503) 659-7722


Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Come see the falls and watch us make things


Blue Heron beginnings: Commentary on the Willamette Falls Legacy Project

Picture this in the Blue Heron Mill site:

People come from all over the world to Willamette Falls, to “feel the thunder,” and to gain inspiration from the immense beauty of this natural feature. A pedestrian trail and boardwalk runs the length of the mill site along the Willamette River. Its centerpiece: a converted historic mill building with massive, sturdy old-growth wood beams that support a high roof. Under this roof, a teeming marketplace houses Oregon City’s new and expanded farmers market, and a myriad of food-related shops and restaurants. It rivals Pikes Place Marketin Seattle and the Grandville Island market in Vancouver, B.C. Outside, a crowded plaza looks down on the water garden that includes the splashing flow of restored tailraces into the Willamette River.

But more awaits the visitors, even on the railroad side of Main Street. Huge windows in behemoth historic industrial buildings allow tourists to peer in on an array of food making enterprises, and then draw them inside for tours and tasting. Cheese making like Beecher’s in Pike’s Place Market or the Tillamook factory. Chocolate making like TCHO at Pier 17 in San Francisco. An endless parade of bottles along a conveyor pass a Main Street window, as people watch them filled with beer from the Blue Heron site’s brewery. A mill grinds Willamette Valley grain — as occurred a century earlier — after arrival by train or by barges in the Basin. Just as the Imperial Mills served a local market — advising in nineteenth-century ads that people wanting to buy feed “must furnish their own sacks” — but also exported flour to England, these new factories sell their products locally, for example in the riverside marketplace, but also export their products to far-away markets by truck, rail, and water transport. They provide family-wage jobs.

Food preparation and processing, perhaps more than any other economic development opportunity, offers the possibility for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project (WFLP) to reconcile two aspirations that might otherwise appear irreconcilable: opening up the falls to public access and tourism, and simultaneously maintaining a traditional industrial employment base.

The legacy of the Blue Heron Mill site is manufacturing. For almost two centuries, Oregon City has been making things.

Walk into a tavern like the 505, right outside the gates of Blue Heron, and you will hear from former mill workers and community members the resounding sentiment that some form of manufacturing employment remain at the mill site with its redevelopment.

Oregon City stands at the frontier between the vast agricultural production lands of the Willamette Valley and the market of an entire metropolitan region. The main north-south railroad line of the Pacific Coast passes from the valley through our town to this market, as does an abundant water source, the Willamette River. Three major highways, I-205, and state highways 99E and 213, also link the valley to the market, through Oregon City. These types of infrastructure resources turn industrial lands into what our land-use rules define as prime industrial lands.

Oregon City’s early history reflected its geographic advantage. The flour, woolen and shoddy mills were early forms of Willamette Valley food and agricultural processing. John McLoughlin built his flour mill for the Hudson Bay Co., which had an enormous granary in Champoeg in the 1840s. The workings of the Imperial Mills included storage and landing facilities as far up the Willamette River as Newberg. Flocks of sheep form part of the panorama from the window of a southbound Amtrak train today, as they no doubt would have from the window of a train in the 1880s.

In more recent years, Willamette Valley wheat declined, and gave way to agricultural products like grass seed. Now, though, there are signs of a wheat comeback. After grass-seed prices collapsed with the housing market in 2008, some Willamette Valley farmers started making a switch back not only to wheat, but to other grains like rye, beans like pinto and garbanzos, and quinoa. In January, the second annual Cascadia Grains Conference, held in Tacoma, Wash., discussed how wheat and other grains might make a return west of the Cascades. OPB passed along a report from the lead organizer: “[A]rtisan bakeries, breweries and local-food operations have told him that wheat grown West of the Cascades has its own unique flavor profile.” The conference also considered future challenges, including “linking producers and buyers and reviving the infrastructure to store, transport and market the grain.”

With foresight, Oregon City could position itself as a hub of such infrastructure, storage, transport, marketing and processing, not only of grains but all kinds of Clackamas County and Willamette Valley agricultural products. Oregon City can draw on a lot of good research and policy development, such as Clackamas County’s Agricultural Investment Plan and its Agriculture and Foodshed Strategic Plan. And, an Oregon City agricultural strategy could take advantage of a number of available financing mechanisms: For example, Business Oregon’s Infrastructure Finance Authority provides types of loans, including Special Public Works loans of up to $10 million. Several Business Oregon loans are targeted only towards the traded sector, which includes agriculture.

The WFLP provides an opening to seize this economic development opportunity. The public process and consultants’ studies have yielded some hopeful initial results. For example, the project identified the food industry as one of a number of economic opportunities for the Blue Heron site at both the second and third Public Interactive Events last fall. Further, the project’s web page describing the “framework plan” states regarding possible rezoning of the site: “This framework model is the base requirement to rezone the site from Industrial to a new mixed use zone that will also allow compatible light industrial uses.”

Such a “new mixed use zone” that includes light industrial, if actually implemented, would be an exciting prospect, and would represent the kind of innovation in city-building that might allow us to put a stamp on our era. Further, it could open the door to a broader economic development strategy for Oregon City based on the food industry. The Blue Heron site could become the first of a number of other mixed-use light industrial food industry “nodes” along the Union Pacific railroad: the area south of Canemah, the 14th and Washington corridor, which already has a core “food cluster” represented by Spicer Brothers Produce and Tony’s Fish Market, and which features some restorable railroad spurs; and the area around the I-205/Highway 213 interchange, which has benefitted recently from the infrastructure improvement of the “Jughandle” interchange.

The governmental partners that make up the WLFP could, upon adoption of a “framework plan” for the Blue Heron site, take the next step and establish a cooperative partnership to create an Oregon City food industry business cluster, or a food-inovation district:

“A food-innovation district is a geographic concentration of food-oriented businesses, services, and community activities that local governments support through planning and economic development initiatives in order to promote a positive business environment, spur regional food system development and increase access to local food.”

This definition comes from an excellent study called “Food Innovation Districts: An Economic Gardening Tool,” available at: www.nwm.org/userfiles/filemanager/1753/ “Economic gardening” is an economic development technique that emphasizes the cultivation and expansion of existing local business. A strength of Oregon City’s economic development manager Eric Underwood’s candidacy for that position was his success with economic gardening in his prior position in Tualatin; he might be a good candidate to spearhead a food industry business cluster strategy in Oregon City.

One measure of success of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project will be the degree to which it maintains Oregon City’s deeply ingrained tradition of manufacturing, and the family-wage incomes that manufacturing has provided. Let’s invite the world to come see the falls, and to come watch us make things.

Oregon City resident James Nicita is a former city commissioner.