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

John Sciarra, Bernard's GarageWhat’s less fun than getting stuck in a nasty traffic jam? Getting cooked in your car on a hot day.

Summer's right around the corner and 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, the system may need to be recharged. Manufacturers used to use a type of refrigerant known as Freon. Now, manufacturers use R-134a to keep things cold in the cabin.

Working on a vehicle’s 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 peripheral components at the same time.

Bernard’s, which has been in business since 1925, services our clients’ foreign, domestic, hybrid and electric cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles. We offer free pickup and delivery for our customers’ convenience.

Plan ahead and stay cool this season!

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



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


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Mill's riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma


Blue Heron Beginnings: Commentary on the Willamette Falls Legacy Project -

In the riveting view from the McLoughlin Promenade down into the Blue Heron site, a particular building looms discordantly from the surrounding jumble of mill structures.

Photo Credit: PHOTO BY: JAMES NICITA - After 131 years, Mill C has retained its basic form of a taller north half and a shorter south half.It looks like a grain elevator, swept up from the empty Kansas plains — as if by the tornado in the Wizard of Oz — and plopped out of the sky into an urban paper mill complex. A quest to discover its beginnings yields a fascinating result: it began, in fact, as a grain elevator.

Mill C ranks as one of the most significant of Blue Heron’s edifices. Its origins, in 1880, stretch back a quarter century prior to those of any other one standing. Its history embodies both flour milling and paper-making legacies: until 1908 as the warehouse and grain elevator for the Imperial Mills, and afterwards as the Hawley and Publishers’ sulphite mill. It escaped the trustee’s salvage process: the three-story, cylindrical pulp digesters endure intact as on-site machine artifacts of paper making in Oregon City.

Yet Mill C remains tantalizingly, and frustratingly, obscure. No detailed initial construction accounts exist, primarily because few 1880s editions of the Oregon City Enterprise survive; we must stitch a story together from various other sources. Enticing leads reach evidentiary dead ends, and result in historical maybes. Even the pulp digesters have always lurked hidden behind Mill C’s walls; few in Oregon City, aside from former mill workers, know what they are or what they look like.

The first historical maybe concerns the site itself. A researcher pursuing a reference to the Imperial Mills in the Oregon Historical Quarterly’s index receives a shock when encountering the actual subject matter of the reference, in steamboat captain and flour milling entrepreneur James D. Miller’s autobiographical “Pioneer Narrative”:

“Some time in the winter of 1849-1850, General Joseph Lane, governor, Joseph L. Meek, Dr. Robert Newell and a few soldiers went into the Umatilla country and arranged with the leading chiefs of the Cayuse Indians to give up the murderers of Dr. Marcus Whitman, to be tried before the United States court in Oregon City, which was to be held in April or May. The tribe gave up five Indians, said to be the leaders of the murderers...It took one week to try them, at which time, the jury brought in a verdict of murder in the first degree; so the judge sentenced them to be hanged on June 3, 1850. People from all parts of the Willamette Valley came to Oregon City that day... The scaffold was put up near the site of the warehouse of the Imperial mills in Oregon City. At the appointed time, the Indians, five in all, were taken to the scaffold...”

The Imperial Mills would not be constructed until 1863, and the warehouse not until 1880: Miller used the warehouse as a contemporary spatial reference at the time he wrote his memoirs. His account of the location of the execution, if verifiable — and accounts vary — would place it within the boundaries of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project. If the project’s consulting Native American Tribes found it appropriate, a transcendent memorial in the vicinity, perhaps beside the placid waters of a restored Basin, might resonate profoundly.

John McLoughlin’s house, was in fact standing in 1850, almost adjacent to the site described by Miller, which became part of McLoughlin’s Oregon City land claim, and subsequently part of his platted Mill Reserve. His son-in-law Daniel Harvey, who first built the Imperial Mills and who served as the executor of McLoughlin’s estate, deeded the bulk of the Mill Reserve to the People’s Transportation Co. — which held an effective monopoly on upper-Willamette River steamboat traffic — in 1865, “together with all water rights and privileges appurtenant,” as part of the transaction that led to the construction of the steamboat basin.

When the P.T. Co. folded up shop in September 1871, after losing its competition with the Willamette Falls Canal & Locks Co. for state funding to construct the Willamette Falls Locks, it sold all its assets — the Mill Reserve Property, the water rights, the basin, the horse railroad, and the steamboat fleet — to the railroad monopolist Ben Holladay, who for the purchase formed a company called the Willamette Transportation Co. Holladay brought his Oregon & California Railroad (later the Southern Pacific) through Oregon City in 1869, and in 1870 bought the competing railroad that ran on the west side of the Willamette. Holladay’s P.T. Co. purchase caused the Enterprise to fret, “Mr. Holladay has now the people — merchants and farmers — at his mercy, and should he be so disposed, he could exercise his power to their injury.”

In December of 1871, Holladay as W.T. Co. president, and John D. Biles as secretary, signed a deed that carved out a lot from the W.T. Co. property and transferred it to Holladay as an individual. The lot fronted 125 feet along the east side of Main Street, just south of the McLoughlin house — by that time the Phoenix Hotel — and stretched back to the right-of-way of the O.&C.R.R. The deed also included a major water right: namely, the right “to take from any part of the basin...sufficient water to be conveyed from said basin to said premises in a race or flume to create at all times forever fifty horse power with a twelve foot head...”

Why would Holladay be interested in such a water right? Another historical maybe, this one almost certainly myth, concerns a story told by the historian Ellis Lucia, in his 1959 biography of Holladay entitled “The Saga of Ben Holladay.”

Lucia claims that Holladay, panicked that the imminent opening of the Willamette Falls Locks would undermine his railroad and steamboat monopoly over the upper Willamette Valley, hired “armies of men” that raced to dig out — but ultimately did not complete — a competing canal and locks on the Oregon City side of the Willamette River. But no newspaper article, or scar on the Oregon City landscape, corroborates Lucia’s story.

A more plausible explanation comes from the Enterprise of Feb. 2, 1872, “that the property adjoining the Phoenix Hotel, in this city, has been purchased by J.D. Biles and Ben Holladay Jr. from the W.T. Company, and they propose to erect a large barrel and tub factory thereon.” It appears, however, that they ultimately decided to build the factory elsewhere. They completed the factory by July 1872, before the November 1872 fire that destroyed the original Woolen Mills building. Yet a photo taken after the reconstruction of the Woolen Mills shows no such factory on Holladay’s lot. In 1876 the West Shore identified the location of the “Tub and Pail Company’s Factory” behind the Woolen Mills, along the Willamette River.

Holladay kept the lot through the 1870s, even after the collapse of his empire after the Panic of 1873. The 1870s photo of the Woolen Mills and the Imperial Mills appears to show use of the lot associated with the railroad: an elevated wooden plank ramp leads from the railroad (in foreground, out of sight in the picture) to two small sheds, a drop down to ground level and a path to the rear entrance of the Imperial Mills. Very likely, wheat was a key commodity being unloaded off this wooden ramp. The Enterprise wrote on September 12, 1873, “The freight trains of the O.&C.R.R. Co. are running daily, carrying from 250 to 300 tons of wheat per day — a large quantity of which is being ground into flour at our mills, and the remainder transported to Portland, where it will be shipped to European markets.”

Photo Credit: PHOTO COURTESY: CLACKAMAS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY - 1870s: The Holladay lot in front of the newly rebuilt Oregon City Woolen Mills had a wooden ramp leading off the Oregon & California Railroad track (foreground, out of picture), dropping to ground level to a path to the Imperial Mills. By 1880, a railroad warehouse replaced the railroad ramp. In July 1879 Holladay sold the property and water rights, to the steamboat captain George Marshall, who had been Captain Miller’s partner in the Oregon City Flouring Mills until 1876. Now, Marshall made a brief comeback to the flour-milling business. In November 1879, Marshall entered into a deal with D.W. Burnside for a half interest in the Imperial Mills. Marshall deeded a half interest in the Holladay lot to Burnside for $1,500, and Burnside deeded a half interest in the Imperial Mills to Marshall for $15,000. The new firm, D.W. Burnside & Co., made a major investment the following summer.

On July 9, 1880, the Oregonian reported, “Chalmers & Holmes of this city have about finished the stone foundation of a large warehouse to be connected with the Imperial Flour Mills at Oregon City and which will be convenient to the track of the O.&C.R.R. at that point.” On Oct. 1 of that year, it further reported, “The new warehouse of the Imperial mills, Oregon City, has had a side track constructed so that wheat can now be received from points above on the railroad.”

Soon after completion, the warehouse was accommodating a busy traffic. On Jan. 14, 1881, the Oregonian wrote that the railroad warehouse was “full to the roof with wheat.” Later that year, Marshall sold the entirety of his interest in the Imperial Mills and its warehouse back to Burnside for $37,500.

On the Historic Oregon Newspapers website, one solitary, lonely edition of the Oregon City Enterprise survives for the entire year 1882: Jan. 12. But that single edition records the existence of the elevated iron conveyor that carried wheat from the warehouse and above Main Street across to the Imperial Mills itself. The new railroad warehouse and conveyor complemented the existing delivery of wheat by steamboat, and opened up a new era of efficiency and productivity. As the Oregonian would later state:

“In the matter of receiving grain no town in the Northwest enjoys opportunities in this direction than does Oregon City. The track of the Southern Pacific railroad is sufficiently elevated above the town to allow the ‘shooting’ of grain from their cars down to the level of the warehouses below, and after this wheat is ground into flour the elevation of the mills is such that the sacks can be again ‘shot’ down to the boats in the river.”

Burnside took the next step. The Willamette Farmer wrote on Nov. 3, 1882:

“The foundations for the new warehouse for the Imperial mill at Oregon City, will soon be under way. It is alongside the old one. Messrs. Ballantyne & Chalmers have the contract for the stonework and already have a number of stone masons on the ground.”

The Oregonian reported, in more detail, on New Year’s Day 1883:

“The Imperial Mills — Of Oregon City, one of the oldest flour mills in the state, built in 1863. Since then additions have been made from time to time until it is now one of the largest mills on the coast. Its brand of flour is well known both in eastern states and also in Europe. Owing to the excellence of flour manufactured, its export trade has increased to 100,000 barrels in 1881. This amount will be shipped this year. The proprietor, Mr. D.W. Burnside, has always worked to keep pace with the times, has been adding new and improved machinery to the mill, and also for increasing his facilities for handling wheat. He has in connection with his mill a warehouse with capacity for storing 100,000 bushels of wheat, and is now building another warehouse or elevator to receive wheat from railroads, in bulk or in sacks. Capacity of the new warehouse will be 200,000 bushels. The water power of the mill and warehouses is supplied from the noted Willamette Falls...

This last sentence, “The water power of the mill and warehouses is supplied from the noted Willamette Falls,” combined with the fact that the warehouse lot had its own appurtenant water right, evokes perhaps the most maddening and elusive mystery of Mill C’s 19th-century beginnings: did the warehouse and grain elevator use mechanical power from water supplied through a flume, or otherwise, from the nearby Basin?

Photo Credit: PHOTO COURTESY: CLACKAMAS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY - 1880s: The newly constructed warehouse (1880 front) and grain elevator (1883 rear), railroad side track, and iron conveyor over and above Main Street.Did a water turbine power the cleaning machinery and wheat separator denoted in the warehouse and elevator in the first 1880s Sanborn maps? Or drive the “power belt” or “three conveyors” in the elevator, or the “two conveyors” in the warehouse, shown in the 1900 Sanborn map, to lift grain to storage bins? Or turn a long spiral auger along the elevated iron conveyor to push grain from the warehouse across Main Street to the Imperial Mills?

Alternatively, might the water right have enabled the extra flow of water from the Basin into the Imperial Mills building itself to drive extra gears to turn the “shaft” the 1900 Sanborn map shows crossing over and above Main Street along the elevated iron conveyor? Might the shaft, upon reaching the other side, have propelled a Rube Goldberg-like array of additional gears, wheels, shafts and belts to power, in turn, the machinery in the warehouse and elevator?

Or, was the Oregonian just wrong? The 1892 Sanborn map does show several of the flumes and water turbines, but does not show any associated with either the Imperial Mills warehouse or grain elevator. In the 1880s, was the lift in the elevator provided by manual pulleys, the wheat conveyed above and across Main St. by hand-pushed carts, and the machinery in both structures turned by hand cranks? Was the “power belt” in the 1900 Sanborn map powered by electricity tapped off the power lines that after 1888 ran right in front of the elevator and warehouse from Station A just on the other side of the Basin? Was the Holladay water right never developed, at least not in the 19th century?

An anecdote from the Flood of 1890 might be evidence that the water power of the warehouse and elevator came from the Imperial Mills itself. The deluge broke the Basin breakwall, and damaged the warehouse: “Almost immediately drift began to accumulate from the [Woolen Mills] factory to the Imperial mill warehouse,” according to the Enterprise’s account of Feb. 6, 1890. “Huge logs striking the Imperial mills warehouse broke the south wall,” the paper reported. “Holes have been battered into the walls of the Imperial warehouse and that building is threatened.” Aside from this damage, though, the flood knocked the Imperial Mills itself out of operation, and after the flood had receded, an Oregon Courier report of Feb. 23, 1890, seemed to suggest that the shutdown necessitated an alternative temporary power source for the warehouse and elevator:

“As the Imperial mill will probably not be able to grind until June on account of the destruction of the basin and breakwater, a steam engine was planted at the foot of the warehouse of the mill, and Saturday morning the elevator pulleys were attached to it for the purpose of raising the wheat from the lower bins to the floor on a level with the railway track, where it is sacked and loaded on cars for transfer to the [Portland Flouring Mills Co.’s (PFM)] Albina mill. The engine was run continuously until late Sunday night, and during the week to air wheat by elevating it from one bin to another.”

Photo Credit: PHOTO COURTESY: CLACKAMAS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY - 1890s: Newly painted Imperial Mills, warehouse, and grain elevator after the Flood of 1890. Note new covered flour conveyor inclining to top floor of warehouse, power poles from Station A, and horse drawn wagons behind Imperial Mills and in front of grain elevator. By the time of the Flood of 1890, the Imperial Mills had passed from Burnside to PFM, and through this company’s substantial resources, the Imperial Mills and its warehouse and elevator recovered in short order. Towards the end of 1890, the Oregon City’s elected officials granted the company’s petition to construct across Main Street a second conveyor.This one was covered, and inclined from the Imperial Mills up to the second floor of the warehouse. Whereas the original conveyed wheat from the warehouse to the Imperial Mills building, this second one in turn conveyed flour from the Imperial Mills building to the warehouse for shipping by rail.

A photo from the 1890s shows the Imperial Mills, warehouse, and elevator at their peak under PFM, redolent in a new coat of paint, framing either side of a plank road constructed after the flood had scoured out the area around the basin. It is the picture of the zenith of Theodore B. Wilcox’s wealthy, global flour empire, when the Imperial Mills shipped flour east to Liverpool to west to China — even while farmers were still delivering wheat to the mill by horse-drawn wagons, one of which can be seen in the photo at the rear entrance of the Imperial Mills, and another within the shadow in front of the grain elevator.

After the turn of the century Wilcox provided financial backing for Willard Hawley’s acquisition of the Imperial Mills; and of the warehouse and grain elevator that would become Mill C. They were about to enter the era of sulphur, and, while retaining their basic form, would transform almost beyond recognition.

Oregon City resident James Nicita is a former city commissioner.