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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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Metro vote rekindles 'Portland creep' fight

When you drive down 82nd Avenue or McLoughlin Boulevard, you can easily miss small signs that signal crossing between Portland and Clackamas County — the neighborhoods look very similar on each side of the nearly invisible dividing line.

Metro Councilor-elect Bob Stacey also didn’t notice much difference between the people who answered the doors he knocked on either side of Clatsop Street, which marks part of the counties’ borders.

But that line was drawn in bright red in the run-up to last month’s election. Two candidates who unseated incumbents on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners warned voters of “Portland creep” of crime and transportation problems into the south.

Stacey, a Southeast Portlander, would like to reclaim the campaign slogan into a button for himself, and “I am a Portland creep,” has been his frequent quip in campaign interviews, open houses and panel discussions in all three metro-area counties. In his attempt to make the phrase coined by commissioners-elect John Ludlow and Tootie Smith an opportunity, he brings it up to highlight what he sees as his “responsibility to Clackamas County citizens” as part of the metro region.

“We need to engage and have a dialogue about people’s fears on an ongoing basis,” Stacey said. “I remain the eternal optimist about solving our problems together, and I feel as connected to Clackamas County as any other part of the Portland area.”

In another form of “Portland creep,” Portlanders and state Reps.-elect Shemia Fagan and Jeff Reardon unseated sitting representatives from Clackamas this year. Reardon, who has a lot of friends who are in Clackamas County, also thinks of “Portland creep” more as a campaign slogan than anything else.

“I really care a lot about both parts of my district, and in the thousands of doors that I knocked on there, I never heard the term once, and only very occasionally would anyone bring up light rail,” Reardon said, whose top priority in Salem will be supporting his district’s Sabin-Schellenberg Center and Clackamas Community College through more career and technical education funding.

“Schools that get kids excited and get them the careers they need are a win-win for everybody,” Reardon said.

Parks levy

Stacey spent much of his childhood weekends in Oregon City, where his mother grew up, visiting relatives and friends that still lived there. But debate about Metro’s role is not limited to the Clackamas County commission.

Eighteen mayors signed a Nov. 30 letter to Metro President Tom Hughes asking for time to study how the levy might affect the budgets of their cities. The levy will ask voters to help enhance and develop many of the natural areas Metro has acquired during the past 17 years.

The letter, signed by mayors from Gladstone, Happy Valley, Milwaukie and Oregon City, expressed concerned that passage of the proposed Metro natural areas levy could reduce city budgets because of “compression,” a side effect of Oregon’s complicated property tax limitation plan that reduces collections of existing levies when new ones pass in some circumstances.

Metro councilors unanimously voted on Dec. 18 to send the levy of 9.6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to voters in May. Speaking at the meeting last week, Metro Council President Tom Hughes, a former mayor, disputed the other mayors’ claims that the levy would affect school budgets and permanent tax rates, and said the impact of this measure on compression would be “miniscule.”

Metro sponsored an October telephone poll by DHM Research of 800 likely voters in the Portland region. About 48 percent of respondents said they’d support a local option levy to maintain natural areas and improve water quality. Twelve percent said they’d vote against it, and 41 percent were undecided.

“There is a surprisingly high level of support for good stewardship of the lands that we’ve already acquired,” Stacey said. “This ongoing need that needs to be addressed in an ongoing fashion.”

Ludlow argued that the regional agency should have thought about the effects of buying park land, including the parks’ blocking of development, roads or sewer lines.

“I would think that Metro would have more important things to do than suck more money from taxpayers,” Ludlow said. “When they got the public to buy these lands, they had to put ‘No Trespassing’ signs so people wouldn’t come and trample wildlife, but that impacted people’s perceptions of these so-called public resources negatively.”

Arguing that voters will support developing parkland in a piecemeal fashion, Stacey said that if Clackamas County helped spur a ballot initiative to dissolve Metro, or to kill specific Metro projects, it would probably succeed. If you flash forward 20 years to a Clackamas County that’s politically isolated, Stacey doesn’t see any benefit for local residents.

“There’s obviously something to be said for ballot titles that tap into people’s right to vote, but that’s not a way to govern,” Stacey said. “If you said, ‘Let’s get rid of seven paid elected leaders,’ then people would say, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ But you’d get a different outcome if you asked people whether they’d support things like recycling, parks and regional planning.”

Mayors appear to be saying they speak for their constituents, but those voters are Metro’s constituents as well, Stacey argues, and Metro has an obligation to them to maintain and restore the natural areas purchased with voter-approved property taxes over the past two decades.

“I’m very sympathetic to the mayors’ call for greater and earlier communication and coordination between all governments using the property tax mechanism, and I hope we can work together to achieve agreement on how to do that,” he said. “But to demand that Metro drop its efforts to ensure parks and natural area maintenance while that discussion is taken up and resolved is a remarkable overreach.”

Light-rail message

Rob Kramer, an Oregon Transformation Project leader and treasurer for the Republican Party, touted his organization’s success in the “Portland creep” campaign as he left his positions last week for a charter-schools foundation. The Oregon Transformation Project has been explicit about its goal to turn the voting trends of Clackamas County from blue to red.

“It’s for me too cynical in its manipulation of local policy issues in the pursuit of making Clackamas County appear to be more conservative,” Stacey said. “I don’t think the folks in Clackamas County are that different, apart from some demographic differences, such as being in general whiter — they’ve got a lot of the same concerns.”

However, Stacey said he has “enormous sympathy” for the residents of Molalla and Estacada who voted against paying a $5 fee for the Sellwood Bridge project. He understands their same eagerness in favor of urban-renewal oversight.

“You see the urban-renewal line on your property-tax bill and you say, ‘I’m not getting any benefit from that over there,’ so it’s certainly deferred gratification,” Stacey said. “You had a pretty organized effort starting with the urban-renewal vote, another populist idea, and there’s a lot of suspicion about urban renewal.”

Ludlow, who takes office on Jan. 7, said he didn’t see his fairly close results as a mandate to separate from Metro and TriMet. But, spurred by voter sentiment skeptical of urban renewal and light rail, he promises to put the actions of regional agencies in Clackamas County under the microscope of voters by referring questions to the ballot.

Ludlow said that Measure 3-401, which passed in September by a large margin, compels him to advocate for referring a ballot question about the light-rail line to Clackamas County voters. County attorneys would help determine specific ballot language and effects, but Ludlow expects a question at least related to the county’s property along the rail line. Acknowledging that the potential effect of a vote would probably be minimal on a line already funded and being built, he sees the vote as an important message to the transit agency struggling with employee contracts and budget cuts.

“Nobody’s going to bail TriMet out, and they’re going to continue to cut the most vital services unless we start doing something,” Ludlow said.