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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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Planner ready to tackle big projects


by: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Steve Butler, Milwaukie's new planning director, stands in front of a city map in the department headquarters on Johnson Creek Boulevard.The new year brings Steve Butler, Milwaukie’s new planning director, a full plate of issues.

Butler, 55, says he’s ready and excited to take on everything from light-rail construction to downtown plans to new neighborhood retail. He has a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from University of Wisconsin in Madison, and from there he worked as a city planner in Wisconsin, Maine and Washington.

“I’m really looking forward to a lot of interesting and rewarding projects,” he said.

The city’s former planning director, Katie Mangle, left Milwaukie for a similar job in Wilsonville after the city manager barred her from light-rail work to avoid any appearance of conflict, because her husband started working for TriMet (“Milwaukie takes director off light-rail work,” Feb. 29).

by: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - City Manager Bill Monahan leads the Milwaukie Council, including newly elected Mark Gamba (left) in setting goals for 2013 at a Dec. 5 work session at the Public Safety Building.Butler is also coming on board at an interesting time for City Council with the election of two new members taking office in January, one of whom is upset that the rest of the councilors want to continue studying potential issues before removing the Kellogg Dam. Councilor-elect Mark Gamba said the city has worked on the dam’s removal for 20 years to restore salmon habitat to Kellogg Creek, so he’s baffled that elected leaders are now wary.

“We’re in negotiations with a company that’s prepared to spend $15 million of its own money, and they’re saying they need more answers, but they’ve had report after report saying we’ve got the green light,” Gamba said. “We know that the fish will be able to get up there because all the fish biologists say they will, and they certainly won’t be able to get up there if the dam’s in the way.”

But Butler’s role could help him avoid Milwaukie political pitfalls. The planning director doesn’t help come up with a grand vision for Milwaukie, because department directors work at the direction of the city manager, who in turn takes marching orders from City Council.

City councilors will continue in January to discuss their goals for 2013, but they’ve already agreed on several big projects to develop with Butler’s help:

1. Public-area requirements and strict limitations on ground-floor uses have made it difficult for new businesses to open in downtown Milwaukie. The regulations force the Planning Department to deny uses that would help to make downtown a diverse and unique place, officials say. The Planning Commission will continue public hearings on proposed code amendments on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

by: RENDERING COURTESY: CITY OF MILWAUKIE - This artist's rendering of a community plaza shows how a potential Adams Street connector project could make light-rail areas through Milwaukie more pedestrian-oriented by connecting 21st Avenue with Main Street.2. Another potential project that so far has the support of City Council to continue studying would turn part of the parking lot next to the Post Office into a 12-foot-wide pedestrian walkway by the time light rail comes in 2015. The Adams Street project would cost somewhere between $364,000 and $788,000, depending on whether it includes a pavilion west of Main Street and a multi-use plaza in the park.

3. The Planning Department is also working on council goals to complete Riverfront Park, a library expansion and railroad quiet zones.

We sat down with Butler recently to get his take on these and other projects.

Question: The Johnson Creek Watershed Council recently won $10,000 in an online contest for salmon habitat restoration at the new Tacoma Street/Johnson Creek MAX station. What work is being done on our side of the county line in preparation for light rail?

Answer: Right now we’re halfway through the Tacoma plan, and a lot of attention has been paid to the downtown plan, but with a grant from ODOT we’ve been able to focus on this area that definitely extends into our sphere of influence, as I like to call it, in the North Industrial Area of Milwaukie.

Since the stakeholder meetings, we’ve been able to create a preliminary draft of the preferred concept trying to incorporate the ideas of stakeholders and from public meetings, with the main focus being on what’s going on in the city of Milwaukie. We also heard from developers and business owners, and we’ve also held public meeting to get input from neighborhoods.

We’re looking at opening up a little bit more, to get a little bit more office and commercial uses that would bring a mix of uses instead of just the light industrial we have now. With that, we’re looking at what types of street improvements we can make, not only for cars, but also for pedestrians and bicycle riders, and we’re also making sure there’s enough parking.

Two “Opportunity Sites” were identified early on: One is the Pendleton site next to the Springwater Corridor, and it sounds like the owner there is interested in doing something more with the property, and the other is the ODOT building that City Council had considered for a baseball stadium.

The next step is to hone in so that we can go from a preliminary draft, and we’ll have a series of public meetings in the spring, including review by the Planning Commission so that the City Council could adopt the final plan in June.

Q: OK, do you have time to work on anything else, not light-rail related?

A: We’re also working on an update of the Transportation System Plan, and we did a major update in 2007 and ended up with this stellar document that was award-winning, so what we’re doing now is what we’re calling a minor update — just a light touch.

We’re identifying projects that have been completed between 2007 and now and seeing if any additional projects need to be added. If anyone wanted to know what’s Milwaukie plan for bike-access improvements, well, there’s a Bicycle Master Plan. Because it’s a minor update, we’ve been briefing the Planning Commission and having some public involvement, but it won’t be as intensive as before.

We were working on a set of what we were thinking would be a bunch of minor amendments that we thought would be quick and simple updates to the regulations governing downtown. The Planning Commission met with the City Council and agreed that the Planning Commission could make minor recommendations, but there’s a perspective that we have to make a much more detailed review of downtown policy with fairly intensive public involvement.

Our overall goals are to make sure that the city’s rules are overall clearly stated and fit in well with what we want to see downtown with strengthening business.

Q: What about the other neighborhoods, which many people say get less attention than downtown?

A: Last spring, Portland State University students did a pretty intensive study on new retail areas.

They were looking at two areas, around Safeway on King Road and the other neighborhood-based commercial area on 32nd Avenue, that could serve neighborhood residents in a way that they could actually walk. There was a lot of support for what they were recommending.

We’re hoping to make sure that the zoning would allow the types of uses that people want. We need clearly indentified uses, and small restaurants and coffee shops were two of the most highly ranked and popular uses.

Q: Back to light rail, we almost forgot to discuss what’s going on in the area south of downtown.

A: We are reviewing some of the final Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail projects. Some of the final permitting is being done.

One of the final things that Kenny Asher was doing (before the community development director left for Tigard) was trying to figure out if there’s interest in developing that downtown/Lake Road station triangle piece. That’s part of what we’re going to be doing as part of the detailed review of downtown policies.

We’re also working on the Adams Street connector project to make it more pedestrian-oriented, connecting 21st Avenue with Main Street.

There could be a nice pedestrian walkway with street trees and lighting, if we could find some additional moneys, lighting of a more artistic nature, with beacon markers, that would have the functional aspects of providing lighting while being aesthetically pleasing and possibly have something that functions to speak to the history of Milwaukie. It’s being phased so that over time it could fit into the other projects.