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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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Utterback wants top North Clackamas schools position


School Board still divided on making interim permanent

by: PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Matt Utterback, interim superintendent speaking at the North Clackamas School Board meeting Nov. 15, focuses on academic disparities and student achievement.Previous superintendents of the North Clackamas School District have tackled education disparities, but after Matt Utterback took the reins on a School Board resolution to make “equity” on of the district’s three top goals, he launched a new initiative this month.

With support of staff at his “alma mater” Clackamas High School, where he served as principal for five years until accepting the top district post on an interim basis July 1, more than 500 students have participated in difficult conversations about race and social class presenting potential barriers to academic achievement.

Seeing how kids behave differently and develop more empathy for their peers when they share struggles, Utterback, 45, would like to expand the pilot program called Breaking Down the Walls to a district-wide basis. The project is named to “break down labels” so students can view each other as individuals by talking about stereotyping and pressures to perform.

Disparities are a growing issue in the district that is seeing an increasing proportion of students of color and living in poverty, two indicators of lower average academic performance. In Utterback, disadvantaged populations have found a stronger voice of advocacy for the importance of the issue.

“We have a moral obligation as educators to make sure that each student has the opportunity for the highest level of achievement regardless of their race, how much money their family makes or what language they speak at home,” he said.

Utterback would like the superintendent’s job on a permanent basis, but the School Board on Thursday night was divided as to whether to pick him or spend up to $70,000 on a national search for someone to oversee the district’s $130 million budget.

The School Board contracted for a survey of local views in what qualities people would like to see in a superintendent. Respondents to the survey, results of which were released this month, varied widely in their responses and were more likely to say what they didn’t want in a superintendent, including “not making everyone happy” or “not getting discouraged.”

School Board member Linda Moraga said a helpful common themes in the survey were that people often noted their appreciation of a superintendent’s willingness to address large class sizes and to close the achievement gap. Moraga said the district needs to invest in classrooms and not a search for a new leader.

In the open-ended anonymous comments section of the survey, more than 200 people wanted the current interim superintendent and only 12 comments were against Utterback.

Board members Kyle Walker and Trisha Claxton agreed that funding a superintendent search did not make sense for a district with an interim that already matched the goals of staff in closing the equity gap, commitment to the district and passion for the job. The School Board will probably discuss the issue again at its Dec. 6 meeting.

Taking on challenges

The district is currently budgeting hiring 25 to 30 more teachers next year, although the district has had to cut 200 out of a high of 900 teaching positions in the past three years. Performance Auditor Lee Goeke, who presented to the School Board on Thursday, noted that the district was lagging behind in technological investments from comparatively sized districts in Oregon. Goeke said the district has continued to increase average academic achievement despite the cuts.

After overseeing state budget cuts that forced the closure of two elementary schools last year, former NCSD Superintendent Tim Mills took the top job in the Bellevue School District starting this fall. Disappointment and anger about Mills leaving was another theme School Board members noted in the comments section of the survey.

“Our community wants that consistency of someone who is going to stick around,” Moraga said.

The School Board selected Utterback as a interim superintendent because of his deep ties to the district and for his history of leadership.

Utterback has a freshman daughter at CHS, and his wife is an NCSD teacher. His 24-year career in the district has included service as assistant superintendent.

“I didn’t feel our district was in a position to bring an interim in who didn’t know us,” Utterback said. “I am deeply committed to the long-term health of the district, but at the same time I honor the process that the board is going through; they need to do their due diligence, but if they end up coming back and picking me, then I’d say great.”

Utterback is also tackling the board’s goals for quality instructional practices and long-term fiscal resiliency.

The North Clackamas Education Association is working with the Oregon teachers union to create a pilot evaluation system for large districts like NCSD to meet state-mandated recertification requirements.

“That’s an example of really trying to get creative with our very limited resources,” Utterback said. We’re pretty thin across all our employee groups, so we look for grants when we can.”

Robin Troche, a teacher at Milwaukie High School and NCEA vice-president, said that the teacher evaluation methods have used similar “collaborative, interest-based” methods to the new bargaining techniques recently adopted with the district.

“Matt has the benefit of being a building principal, so he has the perspective of, ‘This is nice, but how long is it going to take to actually do it’ because you don’t want new tools to just sit in the garage,” Troche said.

One initiative of Utterback’s to improve academic performance, through training of the principals he hires, is also not costing the district any money. He said, with 15 minutes of observation and feedback from a principal, a teacher will grow as much in a year as a teacher who doesn’t get that feedback will improve performance throughout their career.

“My goal is to move principals to a place where they’re seen more as a coach than as an evaluator, but that doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.