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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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Oregon City Commission race heats up

Both candidates for an Oregon City commission seat have strong roots in the community, and while the incumbent would like to build on the commission’s work of the past four years, his opponent is coming out swinging for an upset in November.

Commission president and lifelong resident Rocky Smith Jr. is an Oregon City High School art teacher whose father was a city police officer and whose uncle was mayor.

Smith, 35, received 46 percent of the vote to incumbent commissioner Trent Tidwell and co-challenger Phil Yates in the 2008 race for the city commission.

Smith says the city needs to come out with another solution for the library quickly, but “coming up with the right solution” is equally important to him.

“We’re in a really good place in Oregon City right now, but one of the major things we need to think about is issues with the facilities,” Smith said. “We’re not talking about just the library, we’re talking about public works, we need to replace the police station by 2020 and we have a City Hall that looks nice but is too small, so we need to decide how we’re going to expand the space there.”

Smith’s challenger, Tim Powell, a former city commissioner and former chairman of Oregon City’s Planning Commission, also has strong ties with the Oregon City School District. His wife, Delpha Powell, is a special-ed instructional assistant for K-3 students at Jennings Lodge Elementary.

Chairman of the McLoughlin Neighborhood Association, Powell is the retail manager for the Classic Pool and Spa branch opening in Aloha, and his goal is to get back to the company’s outlet in Gladstone.

After graduating from Arapahoe Community College in Colorado, Powell, who turns 58 in October, was a flight attendant for 10 years before he met his Oregon-born wife and also fell in love with the Portland area.

Powell says he’s gotten tired of watching projects “fester at the commission level” as elected officials are busy “hemming and hawing” over decisions.

“I understand how much money has been spent on studying these projects, and to have the city commissioners sit there and not make a decision, is really a concern,” Powell said. “We vote for someone to go in there and review things and make things happen. Those are benefits for this community, and the lack of growth is starting to destroy our community.”

Smith argues all of Oregon City’s building needs will require voter support, and with voters rejecting last year funding requests by the Oregon City School District and Clackamas Community College, “we’re going to have to be very considerate about the plans.”

Smith criticizes past commissions for failing to develop a comprehensive facilities plan to tackle all of these challenges together.

“We’re not to the place where we can say that we have a good answer,” Smith said. “I would like to see more discussion on how to deal with all of the facility issues on the whole.”

Smith also takes issue with the idea that commissioners haven’t accomplished anything in the past four years. During a work session last week, commissioners discussed progress on the Ermatinger House, after raising about $420,000 to start dealing with saving what Smith saw as a historic treasure and potential tourist draw.

“We’ve gotten all the neighborhood associations back active, and the Tourism Council, when they were all basically disbanded when I took office,” Smith said. “One of my main focuses when I ran was the police department, and we had planned to hire new two police officer (positions) during that time, and I advocated that we hire seven. Switching over to a 4-10 shift has taken the additional coverage and added to that.”

Urban renewal at issue

Powell targets Smith for allegedly dragging his heels on urban-renewal projects.

“We could have used that money more efficiently, and had they been supportive of the projects all along, they’d be in place now,” Powell said. “There were many great opportunities we had up there that we squandered, and now we’re left holding bake sales.”

Smith found himself between two factions on the commission during the past year or two. He shares a frustration about “the back and forth” where “we tend to take positions on one side of the fence or the other.”

Smith said the answer, however, isn’t to go into negotiations with preconceived notions and decisions already made.

“It’s a very emotional and political debate, but that black-and-white viewpoint is not going to move us forward,” Smith said. “My only reservations with The Rivers and other large developments is that we didn’t have the services to deal with them, and I don’t think that’s a problem anymore.”

Smith pledges to continue a balanced approach.

“Being on the minority the first couple years was really tough, but once there was kind of a shift with the (2010) election, I didn’t feel it was fair to put the other people on the commission in the same position,” Smith said. “It’s never easy, but we actually have more things in common than we know. Instead of working together we tend to fight on the small things that we disagree on.”

Although he’s aware of possible abuses of urban renewal, Powell also makes clear that he opposes Measure 3-407, also on November’s ballot. If passed, the measure would require voter approval if the commission wanted to issue urban-renewal bonds.

“It’s going to be a problem to have to go through a vote every time we want to go into the toolbox for using urban renewal,” Powell said. “Cities have taken advantage of urban renewal, and I completely understand that, but I think we can use urban renewal to do good things.”

Smith said that now that the urban-renewal measure is “in the hands of the voters,” it shouldn’t be a campaign issue.

“The voters are going to tell us what they want us to do, and that’s what we’re going to have to do, so I don’t see that it’s going to be up to us,” he said.

On the Cove project, Smith acknowledges that agreement is “obviously not going as quickly as we thought it would, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens to the Cove now that this ballot measure is up, because it may drive us to a deal faster, or it may break up the deal altogether.”

Downtown focus

Smith says that commissioners have started making progress on the Urban Renewal Commission, which has been working with storefront grants and adaptive infill plans.

“If we get to the point where we have some small successes, it will get easier to tackle these bigger projects,” Smith said

Powell thinks Oregon City “citizens want a strong government” and a strong center, which he believes needs more residential building to thrive.

“I’m excited about the changes, and I think the downtown manager is doing a great job, but that alone is not going to revitalize downtown,” Powell said. “What makes a vital downtown is people living and recreating downtown, and there’s such an opportunity down there.”

Smith is also “really excited” about downtown, and is serving on the committee to plan the Arch Bridge reopening in October. He would like to see a shift of resources to other parts of Oregon City, which he believes can be accomplished once projects are completed on Main Street

“When you walk through downtown, you definitely feel that things are changing and improving, but not all business owners are feeling that they’re part of it. Main Street can’t listen too much, and there’s still work to be done in those areas,” Smith said.

As his campaign message, Powell emphasizes what he sees as a need for action.

“We keep redoing the plans, but we never do anything with them,” Powell said. “What I can bring to the table is looking at things from a business perspective, because we’re here to make the city more prosperous, livable and energetic. We need to work closely with our business partners, whoever they are out there, and I don’t think we’re doing a good job with that now. We need to work closely with developers and Metro to bring that Blue Heron site up to its potential.”