Featured Stories

INSIDERS (Sponsored Content)

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


Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Support group throws lifeline to generation


by: SUBMITTED - Bret Martin of Prior to AA leads a class of young people in Clackamas County.The Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., provoked a nationwide discussion about guns. But one Clackamas County man has decided to try to do something about what he sees as the bigger problem: a neglected generation of young people between 18 and 25.

Bret Martin, a Milwaukie resident and 1980 graduate of Rex Putnam High School, has founded Open Heart Prior to Alcoholics Anonymous, with the goal of providing a meeting place where young adults can be part of a community of their peers.

“It is a nonprofit, AA-type open forum, where individuals can get their needs met among their peers. They can work out issues in their lives or compare themselves to others who are working out life’s issues,” Martin said.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Bret Martin, right, founder of Prior to AA, and his son, Grant, 19, enjoy some time together in New York City at Christmas time.The important thing, he added, is to get these young people to talk about their thoughts and feelings in a place where they feel safe. Martin held his first meeting on Jan. 5 at the Milwaukie Center, and about 30 young people attended and voiced their opinions on a variety of subjects.

He hopes to hold a meeting there every Saturday at 8 p.m., and expects to see more and more young people showing up.

“Prior to the shootings of Dec. 14, I had seven financial companies with 750 employees all over the nation. After I heard about the shootings, I sent them all an email and told them I was retiring,” Martin said.

He spent three days doing intensive research on mass shootings and realized that all the major events — from Sandy Hook Elementary School to Clackamas Town Center to Columbine High School — involved young men from 18 to 25.

“Is it a coincidence these massacres have happened? Not at all. There are people who talk about better gun control, but we have got to do a better job of raising these kids; this is right at the heart of it. That is why I quit what I was doing, and this is what I’m going to do,” Martin said, explaining why he chose to start Prior to AA.

Why is this organization needed now?

“The problem is we are in the middle of a ‘perfect storm’ from an economic standpoint,” Martin said.

Mentors can’t mentor anymore, because they have had to go back to work, he said. And many of these older people are competing for the same jobs that 19-year-old kids used to get, he added.

Divorce rates are high, so many of these young people don’t have the parental support and guidance they need. They have graduated from high school, but can’t afford college and most don’t have career jobs. In short, these young people lack community, and that is precisely what Martin wants to give them.

“They are the neglected generation; they need to hear some hope versus despair,” he said.

Martin feels a connection to this generation, he said, because of his closeness to his own children, ages 19 to 21, and their friends.

Days before he held the first meeting of Prior to AA, Martin told his 19-year-old son that he was going to try an experiment, and asked his son to text and Facebook his friends about the meeting on Jan. 5. His son’s friends showed up, and brought their friends.

“At the end of the meeting, I asked them to please come back one more time, and bring a friend. I heard they are coming and bringing three to five friends — it’s working,” Martin said.

Solid foundation

For now, Martin is taking the helm at the meetings, in order to explain what Prior to AA is all about. He stresses that the format is an open forum, so any topic of discussion is fair game, including thoughts about suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction, among others.

“It is about the need to share and the sharing needs to be public. They all have thoughts, and they can start to notice that their thoughts are not unique. It is OK to bring anything up in an open forum,” Martin said.

He feels he has a good solid foundation to start with, but he is looking for other adults to join in as board members. He would especially like to see support from the business community and from mental health care professionals.

Sometimes, young people are told they have to wait months to get an appointment with a mental health specialist, and Martin would like to see a program started where they could get help immediately.

He wants people to know that his organization is only one of the resources available to young adults, but those resources are diminishing rapidly, he noted, pointing to the controversies surrounding the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts.

“Where do you take your child these days? There are fewer communities available to them,” Martin said.

Alive again

Martin wants to encourage an awareness of the issues these young adults are facing, but first, older adults need to stop being too busy focusing on themselves, noting their own problems.

“Our own problems cause us not to see their problems, and if we’re going to get to the helm of these issues, it has got to be through these kids. These kids will be taking care of us in a few years,” he said.

He would love to see Prior to AA grow and spread across the nation.

The actor Carroll O’Connor had a one-minute TV spot years ago: “Get between your kid and drugs, any way you can.”

Martin wants parents to get between their kids and a whole host of issues, including suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction and homicide.

He has been a successful businessman, several times over, but now Martin plans to devote his life to Prior to AA.

“I’ve been chasing money all my life, but now I am done. I called my mom, and said, ‘Mom, I’m 51, and I feel like I’m alive again,’” he said.

“I don’t want a dollar out of this, but I want to fix this situation. I’ll never know how many lives I’ve saved.”