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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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County digs into ambulance contract


by: PHOTO COURTESY: AMR - American Medical Response paramedic Michael Templeton brings a patient to Good Samaritan Medical Center's emergency room in Portland. “If you want to drink water from a fire hose, then ambulance contracts are it,” noted Clackamas County Commissioner Martha Schrader last week.

Commissioners have been doing their best to gulp down new provisions in an increasingly controversial multimillion-dollar contract with American Medical Response. Despite three new commissioners taking office this month, there’s still a majority that wants to look at alternatives to AMR.

Commissioners decided in February 2012 to renew the AMR contract until May 1, 2014. County officials discussed during their Jan. 22 work session the process to seek proposals for a new contract to replace the AMR pact.

Users of ambulance service — mainly through Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance — netted AMR $12.5 million last year, of which profit was about $157,000 or 1.2 percent margin. AMR pays the county an annual $365,000 franchise fee, and another $640,000 that goes to fire departments and the system enhancement fund, so another bidder would have to lower labor costs to pay for startup and still make a profit.

“Ambulance contracts are notorious in having subjective areas, because you’re talking about quality. And what does quality mean?” Schrader asked.

Ask that question of AMR Oregon General Manager Randy Lauer, who was “blindsided” by the county’s decision not to renew the contract expiring in May 2014, and he’ll give a long list of responses. First, he’ll cite Moore Information’s telephone survey last year of 300 likely voters that showed 61 percent are satisfied with ambulance service in the county and just 4 percent are dissatisfied.

“There’s an overwhelming opinion that we should renew this contract and move forward,” Lauer said. “Clackamas County just pulled the rug out from under us.”

With the county moving forward on a bidding process, Schrader expected it is “highly likely” that a “provider war” between AMR and Metro West Ambulance will result in litigation. She doubted that going out for a bid would reduce ambulance costs at the current level of service.

Schrader’s predicted war has already started in earnest, even if it hasn’t yet headed to court. Metro West points to AMR’s ambulance transport rate in Clackamas County that’s 23.5 percent higher than in Multnomah County and 73.5 percent higher than in Washington County. But AMR says Metro West is “immune to competition” in Washington County because of an auto-renewing contract.

As for the price difference between Multnomah and Clackamas counties, AMR points to challenging geography around Mt. Hood National Forest and special programs related to recreation here. Clackamas County residents request ambulance services about 17,000 times a year.

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office often requests AMR’s “Reach and Treat” team to respond to falls and other Mt. Hood wilderness incidents with medical care during hazardous search-and-rescue situations. AMR also provides a lifeguard-safety program at High Rocks, a regionally popular Clackamas River swimming hole between Gladstone and Oregon City.

Janelle Meredith, executive director of Clackamas-based Oregon Impact, was among many regional leaders who wrote letters to the county encouraging commissioners not to waste time and money by putting the contract out to bid. AMR is the lead organization and one of the founding members of Safe Kids Portland Metro serving Multnomah and Clackamas counties, dedicated to preventing childhood injuries.

“AMR is a valuable community partner and one who provides support to community-service programs,” Meredith wrote.

‘Splitting hairs’

by: PHOTO COURTESY: AMR - American Medical Response personnel bring 10 ambulances  to the scene of the Dec. 11 Clackamas Town Center shooting within 30 minutes.When a gunman fired on shoppers in the Clackamas Town Center on Dec. 11, off-duty AMR personnel stepped up to bring 10 ambulances to the scene within 30 minutes. While the number of patients fortunately did not reach the magnitude of an anticipated “mass casualty incident” such as the movie-theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., AMR demonstrated its capability to respond to such an incident.

Earlier last year, Clackamas Fire District No. 1 was the only one of nine fire departments in the county to request that the county initiate an ambulance bidding process, but since the shooting, the district declined to comment further. After emergency crews responded to the Clackamas mall last month, Fire Chief Fred Charlton said, “I was extremely impressed with the integration and coordination of our fire crews and AMR.”

New commissioners spent nearly two hours last week parsing out the details of how to request for proposed contracts. Eventually, they came to one major change: Price should be more important in selecting an ambulance provider. Weighted with such considerations such as “quality” and “innovation,” price would be 25 percent of the score for selection, instead of 20 percent.

“We may be splitting hairs,” said Cindy Becker, county health and human services director, “but we’re trying to find a compromise.”

County steps in

Schrader expressed concern last week that the board was micromanaging a standard procedural contract.

The sad thing about the whole county process, according to AMR officials, is wasted time and costs. County officials could have simply renewed the contract that AMR already has.

Commissioners and AMR have perceived Commissioner Jim Bernard as instigating the contract negotiations unnecessarily, an accusation he denied. AMR came to the county for help when it was losing money, Bernard pointed out, and now he’s concerned that AMR’s Teamster union contract has raised costs for Clackamas County taxpayers. AMR’s employees voted to unionize in 2007; Clackamas County employees, excepting the county administrator and elected officials, are also unionized.

At AMR’s request, the county last year increased payments per patient-loaded mile from $17.33 to $21.33 to offset fuel costs and changes in Medicare reimbursement. Of the typical $1,200 ambulance bill, AMR only collects $516, when 10 years ago, before Medicare and Medicaid cut reimbursement for half its patients, its collection rate in Clackamas County was 78 percent.

Lauer said that AMR has recovered financially and posted its first profit in 2011 after six years of losses. He considers it noteworthy that AMR “never threatened to walk away” from its contract while it was losing money.

“In some respects, we’re being punished for being honest with the county about our financial situation,” he said. “However, we’re committed to Clackamas County and to speeding up response time through a pilot project that’s reducing duplication of services with fire departments. We’d like to put a half-million-dollar investment into upgrading ambulance equipment here, but the county’s early RFP had really put the skids on that.”

County officials spent more then $50,000 to hire consultant Polaris Group to construct a contract for the county, and Bernard admitted at the Jan. 22 work session that elected officials have gone too far.

“We stepped into it,” Bernard said. “We got way further than any of us thought we were gonna get, even into the points that we agreed we weren’t going to do and was recommended that we did not do, but we did it anyway, and that in my opinion confused it and made it much more challenging to move forward in what the consultant advised.”

Commissioner Paul Savas has also been concerned about the board’s level of involvement.

“I don’t think it should be us — I don’t see the need for the expertise that we have as commissioners to start tweaking something,” Savas said.

Bernard said that his original memo was concerned with citizen comments. What started with five EMS Council recommendations later turned into commissioners, in Bernard’s words, “playing around with” a point structure that would decide which ambulance company gets the contract.

“I wasn’t me who said this — it was the folks out there who reviewed the RFP who suggested these five things,” he said.

The RFP was set to go out next week to potential bidders, who can formally object to its content and demand to have it revised again.by: PHOTO COURTESY: AMR - American Medical Response  provides a lifeguard-safety program at High Rocks, a regionally popular Clackamas River swimming hole between Gladstone and Oregon City.