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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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TriMet's union plans a PR blitz in contract fight


by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - With six months on the job, Amalgamated Transit Union 757 president Bruce Hansen will eventually head up contract negotiations with TriMet. The union's positions suggest cutting management compensation rather than employees paying more into their benefits.  It’s contract negotiation time for TriMet, and management has been clear about the health benefits that most of its employees receive. In a series of speeches and media releases, General Manager Neil McFarlane has repeatedly argued that benefits received by the members of Amalgamated Transit Union 757 are too generous.

TriMet is pushing hard for its employees to pay more for the benefits they receive to help balance the regional transit agency’s budget.

Where does the union stand on the budget? Does it believe cuts are needed and, if so, from where?

New ATU 757 President Bruce Hansen says union members deserve their benefits and believes there are other places to cut the budget, including management positions and compensation.

But Hansen, a bus driver who was elected the local’s president last June, admits the union has not communicated its position clearly to the public, including frequent TriMet riders.

To counter that, Hansen, says the union is launching a public relations campaign to refute what he calls TriMet’s repeated “lies and distortions” about his members. And he promises to present alternative budget cuts and strategies to reign in what he calls the agency’s “unsustainable spending.”

Hansen argues that TriMet should withdraw from the Columbia River Crossing project and put plans for future transit lines on hold until its current budget problems are solved.

“We’ve dropped the ball in the past, there’s no doubt about that. We need to tell our story so the public understands what’s going on,” Hansen says.

Residents in TriMet’s service district — which includes Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties — can expect to hear more from the union. ATU 757 members recently approved higher dues to help pay for the public relations campaign. It includes a new website to expose what Hansen calls TriMet’s mismanagement and partnerships with other unions and community groups, including the Service Employee International Union Local 49, the union-backed Jobs With Justice advocacy organization, the Independent Living Resources disability advocacy organization and Bus Riders United, an affiliate of the nonprofit OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon community organizing group.

As part of that effort, ATU 757 recently submitted 14 public records requests to TriMet seeking details on budget and operational matters. Among other things, the union is seeking details on management compensation, expenditures on the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project, operator health issues and a pending move of most management personnel into new downtown Portland offices. Hansen expects many of the documents obtained through the requests to be posted on the website, transitvoice.org.

TriMet’s budget problems have had a significant impact throughout the tri-county area. In recent years, the agency has reduced service as part of its strategy to eliminate revenue shortfalls. Fareless bus and rail service have been eliminated downtown and in the Lloyd District. Some bus lines have been dropped and others have seen the frequency of the stops decreased. MAX service has also been reduced. None of the cuts can be restored until TriMet gets its budget under control.

Dueling complaints

Following the budget deliberations has been difficult, however. Negotiations on the contract with ATU 757 that ended in November stretched on for years. A state arbitrator finally ruled in management’s favor late last year, approving a contract that reduced health benefits.

But ATU 757 appealed the ruling to the state Employment Relations Board. And the union has declined to attend negotiating sessions on the next contract, saying TriMet is refusing to open them to the public, something that can be done under Oregon law.

TriMet disagrees with that interpretation of the law and has filed an ERB complaint to force the union to the bargaining table.

Both complaints were heard by an administrative law judge in Salem last week. It could take 45 days or more for the board to issue its rulings.

In the meantime, both TriMet and ATU 757 have asked the Multnomah County Circuit Court to resolve the question on whether the bargaining sessions should be open to the public. A hearing on the issue has not been scheduled.

And breaking news events sometimes overtake budgetary matters. When a TriMet driver struck and killed a number of pedestrians in downtown Portland in April 2010, public outrage put the union on the defensive as it stood by the driver, even though that is a role it traditionally plays. Likewise, the voter revolt in Clackamas County has raised questions about the status of the Milwaukie light-rail project, even though TriMet says it is on track.

Recent media revelations on driver fatigue have caused both TriMet management and ATU 757 to scramble to propose solutions, even though scheduling policies are traditionally addressed in contract negotiations.

Health care instead of wage hikes

Hansen admits that McFarlane has convinced many people that ATU 757 members have “Cadillac health coverage” that TriMet can no longer afford. For many years, union members did not pay any portion of the health care premiums and received coverage for life after they retired. Although the contract approved by the arbitrator required members to pay a small portion of their premiums, they were not deducted from their paychecks until recently.

But Hansen argues that union members are entitled to the benefit package because their work is stressful and hazardous. Drivers have numerous health issues, including back and kidney problems, while mechanics frequently have to work outside in the rain and snow.

“People don’t understand what our members do in their jobs. That’s part of the story we have to get out,” Hansen says.

In addition, Hansen notes that ATU 757 members have chosen to forgo pay raises to preserve the benefit package. Their hourly wages have not increased in recent years, except for cost of living raises.

“We’ve prioritized the health benefits over pay raises,” Hansen says.

Hansen and other ATU 757 board members believe that if TriMet needs to cut spending, it can find other places to save money. They are convinced the agency has too many managers and that spending on large capital construction projects, like the Milwaukie rail project, is not carefully monitored.

Hansen and the others are not prepared to recommend specific cuts, however. They say the previous leadership had not done a good job collecting detailed agency budget records. As a result, Hansen and the others are unsure how many management positions are filled, how much they are paid or how much TriMet is contributing to the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project, which is also supported by federal, state, regional and local governments.

That helps explain the sweeping nature of some of their recent public records requests. For example, on Jan. 3, the union requested the names, salaries and benefits of all union and non-union employees hired since 2005. On Jan. 7, the union requested all documents on expenditures on the Milwaukie rail project.

That same day, the union requested all documents related to the pending move of management staff to Harrison Square in downtown Portland, even though much of the cost is being paid as part of the the Portland-to-Milwaukie work.

According to Hansen, the union plans to present its story and raise issues during contract negotiations — when talks finally begin. That is one reason why ATU 757 wants them open to the public.

“If they’re not open to the public, no one will ever learn what’s said there,” Hansen says. “All that’ll ever be reported is, the contract was approved or it wasn’t approved.”

Hansen and the other board members argue that contract negotiations involving public agencies are open to the public under the state Public Meetings Law. TriMet management disagrees. McFarlane has said TriMet is willing to allow the press to attend and report on the sessions, however. But that is not good enough for ATU 757, which says it will not begin negotiating until the open-talks question is resolved.