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

Oregon City's little neighborhood library


by: PHOTO BY DICK TRTEK - Mitchell Castor, 10, hands a book to Jayce Helmboldt, 10, from the Helmboldt family's Little Free Library box, while brother Kyler Helmboldt, 13, looks on.An adorable little red house with a slatey-green shingled roof and glass front door could be mistaken for a starter home for Barbie and Ken, but it has a loftier purpose. The house on the corner of Wynton Drive and Coltrane Street just off Beavercreek Road in Oregon City houses books, not dolls, and is officially a Little Free Library.

It sits on a single post in the corner of Ryan and Tracey Helmboldt’s front yard, and the books inside are free for the taking. The couple found the idea online at the Little Free Library website, and were so taken with the idea that Tracey Helmboldt said, “We’ve got to do this.”

Todd Bol and Rick Brooks, co-founded the Little Free Library organization, and built the first one in 2008 in Bol’s front yard in Hudson, Wisc.

“We did it to celebrate reading in neighborhoods; people greet the library box like they are greeting a new puppy; it opens the heart,” Bol said during a telephone interview.

It was a combination of things that led the two men to the idea of the Little Free Library. First of all, Bol wanted to honor his mother, a teacher who loved books, so he dedicated his library box to her; then he wanted to slow traffic and do something good for his neighbors.

“I never built the first one thinking of a big plan; Rick and I just wanted to plant a few seeds and went from there. This is a story of neighborhoods and thousands of people” who picked up on the idea, Bol said. He and his volunteers keep track of where all the libraries are, and people can access a map online to go visit sites in their city. The LFL organization also certifies all the libraries and sends out official plaques to be posted on the boxes.

He and Brooks also came up with another goal: to build more than 2,510 libraries around the world, more than Andrew Carnegie did.

“We blew that out of the water,” Bol said, adding that there are now more than 3,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide, including boxes in all 50 states and more than 50 countries. He noted that the idea is catching fire in the Pacific Northwest and added, “Every week we are sending signs to Portland.”

Thayer Estates free library

“We are Little Free Library number 1,963,” Ryan Helmboldt said, noting that he put up the library this past June.

Already the family has noticed examples of community building, they said.

People in their Thayer Estates neighborhood have stopped by to chat with them about the library, and neighbors are taking books and bringing in new books, nearly every day.

“It’s neat for the grandparents, every time their grandkids come to visit they come over to look at the books,” Ryan Helmboldt said.

Although there are LFL kits available on the website, the Helmboldts decided to build their structure from scratch.

“It was a good project to do with all of us, because we all read, and it is interesting to see what anybody else reads,” Ryan Helmboldt said, noting that their two sons, Kyler, 13, and Jayce, 10, were involved with the painting and setting up of the bookshelves.

This summer, the Helmboldt family grabbed some books from their library, hopped in the car and visited other sites in the Portland metro area, dropping off books and leaving stickers behind, noting their location.

The Helmboldt family’s library box has a plaque declaring that their structure is a certified Little Free Library, but it is also dedicated to the memory of Shawn Marie Egli, Tracey Helmboldt’s sister, who died on March 24, 2011, from breast cancer. There is a photo of her sister inside the library box, and the family dedicated their LFL to Egli, because she loved to read.

The library box holds more than 40 books of various sizes at any one time, and popular titles include “Magic Tree House” and the “Twilight” series. Jodi Picoult books also show up regularly, Tracey Helmboldt noted.

She added that her sons made bookmarks over the summer, some with riddles and some with quotes on them.

In the coming year, the couple hopes to landscape the corner and put in an arbor, to draw neighbors to the site.

“We’d like to see more of these pop up in Oregon City,” Tracey Helmboldt said.

Her husband added, “We accept donations; people can come browse and drop off books.”

Grassroots movement has grown from humble start

In an email interview, co-founder Rick Brooks shared the story of the Little Free Library movement.

Question: How did you and Todd Bol come up with the idea for the Little Free Library? 

Answer: Todd originally built the first one in Hudson, Wisc., as a memorial to his mother. He built a model of a one-room schoolhouse, filled it with books and put it in his front yard with a sign that said “Free Books.” It literally stopped traffic, and people loved it.

Q. How did you realize it could be bigger than one little box?

A.  When I saw it the first time, I knew it could do more than just attract attention.  As co-founder of a group of independently owned local businesses in Madison, Wisc., and Dane County, Wisc., I had worked with neighborhood organizations, schools and nonprofit groups and thought the little library could serve as an excellent way for people to share interests and connect with each other. When we installed one at Absolutely Art community gallery’s backyard near a bike path in Madison, it really caught on. We were amazed by how many people saw it and remembered it, and with just a little sign that said “Take a book, return a book,” scores of volumes went through the library in the first few weeks. The Little Free Library movement was on its way after we got several requests to build them for people in Madison.            

Q. What has been the most exciting part of this whole process for you?  

A. This happens almost every day when we open our email or look on Facebook and see the stories and photos of Little Libraries all around the world. We have had thousands of messages from Little Library stewards who are grateful for the idea, quite sentimental and charmed, even, by the number of neighbors they have met since their library was installed. They marvel at the quality and diversity of the books as well as the fact that people are taking such pleasure in donating books. Those daily stories are extremely gratifying. The creativity and enthusiasm of Little Free Library patrons and stewards is infectious.  

Q. Why should people set up Little Free Library boxes in their yards?  

A. They will meet and talk with their neighbors, inspire children and adults to read more, feel good about making a contribution to the quality of community life and be able to share a wide diversity of literature. Realtors have told us that customers have decided to buy homes because they saw a Little Free Library on the block and loved the feel of the neighborhood. Some families dedicate their library to family members or pets; others celebrate poetry or a specific topic.  

They tell us they love the serendipity of never knowing what they might find in the library, and they are not overwhelmed as they might be in a huge, big-box bookstore. And for communities that have no public library or bookstore, these little guys can open up a whole new world of literature.

Q. Anything else you would like to say?  

A. The story of all this is really thousands of stories already; of good people reaching out to their neighbors and strangers all around the world as well as in their neighborhoods.  For many reasons, a simple little box of books seems to have generated relationships and shared interests that have exceeded our highest hopes already. Community groups and executives are coming together to build enough Little Libraries to reach entire towns and metropolitan areas. Hobbyists and librarians, parents and kids are having a great time building what appears to be a new American folk craft.  What they create is amazing, and sometimes quite moving.