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

Small fish, small tanks


The name of the shop says it all, so it should come as no surprise that Little Wet Pets sells freshwater and marine aquariums, fish, invertebrates and more.

Owner Eric Rasmussen started raising fish as a hobby when he was only 8 years old, but said he always knew his ultimate goal was to have his own shop.

And now he has two stores: The World of Wet Pets in Beaverton, and Little Wet Pets, which opened in downtown Milwaukie in August.

While many business owners like to think big, Rasmussen instead chose to think small — choosing to specialize in what he calls “nano” or “desktop” aquariums, which are much smaller than regular tanks, some as tiny as one or two gallons.

“Technology has made it easier for things to be smaller, and we are now coming to an understanding of the biological requirements of these smaller animals and small live plants,” he said.

Small space, small aquariums

Rasmussen’s friend and frequent fish supplier, Kevin Plazak, opened his fish wholesale business, 20/20 Tropicals, in April on Southeast Scott Street in Milwaukie, and then approached Rasmussen, saying that there was a small retail space in front that he couldn’t use.

Rasmussen decided the time was right for him to pursue this opportunity, noting that the small space fit in nicely with the concept of small aquariums.

Also, he added, in the last few years tank manufacturers have come up with more miniaturized versions of tanks that are appealing and easy to afford.

Among the fish that thrive in small tanks are betas, danios, small tetras and rasboras, and Rasmussen even has a small stingray in stock.

The shop carries both freshwater and saltwater fish and plants and some invertebrates as well.

“Our freshwater invertebrates are snails and decorative shrimp, and the saltwater ones are corals, shrimp, snails and clams,” he said, adding that he has a wide variety of plants for fresh and saltwater tanks.

Care and feeding

“If you buy a good quality system with a good filter, all you have to do is spend 30 minutes every two weeks, doing a partial water change and filter maintenance and wiping down the inside for algae growth,” Rasmussen said.

As for feeding, that can be accomplished once or twice a day, and his shop stocks a variety of foods, depending on the types of fish in the tank. The lifespan of the smaller fish is two to three years, but some of the larger fish can live as long as 20 years, he said.

The ultimate starter fish, or “go-to, gateway” fish for beginners, is the paradise fish, which Rasmussen said has “all the attributes of a goldfish. You don’t need a heater, and they can breathe air off the surface; they are very low-fuss, no-muss fish, especially suitable for children.”

He discourages giving fish as gifts, but said a gift certificate is a good way to go to get someone started raising fish.

Because sustainability in the industry is important to him, Rasmussen said he has visited his fish suppliers, in places such as Singapore and Malaysia, in order to “see what can be done to promote sustainable wild fishing and to help protect the environment.”

Why fish?

Fish are fascinating creatures, Rasmussen said, noting that he particularly enjoys seeing the behaviors exhibited by these animals.

“When you breed them, there are a lot of different ways they take care of their babies,” he said, “and they also have different feeding styles and defense mechanisms. There is so much variety with fish.

“Ask anybody who has ever owned a puffer fish, and they’ll tell you it is just like owning a dog.”

As for his favorite fish tale, that would be about Baby, a three-foot-long Amazon red-tailed catfish that occupied a 240-square-foot tank at a fish store in Albany, where Rasmussen worked while he attended Oregon State University.

“Every night I would feed him and pet him; if I fed him live food, he would snap, but dried food I could hand-feed him. He was very popular in the store.”

Rasmussen said he came up with the names for his two shops after seeing a display at Newport’s Hatfield Marine Science Center called “The World of Wet Pets.”

“The exhibit is long gone, but Wet Pets felt right — it is a great name,” he said.

Little Wet Pets

1928 S.E. Scott St., Milwaukie, near Spring Creek Coffee House

Call 971-270-7229, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Visit the website littlewetpets.com.

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The shop specializes in freshwater and marine aquariums, fish, invertebrates, live plants and supplies.