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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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Spelling Bee wins with c-h-a-r-m


by: PHOTO BY DICK TRTEK - Jon Quesenberry, musical director, and Ron Palmblad, director, look over some sheet music from 'The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.'Everyone associated with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” has a slightly different take on the upcoming musical offering from New Century Players, opening on Friday, Feb. 8.

But they all agree on two things: this is a stellar cast, and the production is fun, fun, fun.

The production features “great music, quirky characters and is very funny. This is a character-driven show, so watching and guiding actors through the process is very satisfying to me, especially when you are as lucky as I am in getting the right people to work with,” said director Ron Palmblad.

“I can’t imagine having a better cast,” said Jon Quesenberry, the music director. “The show was written for everyone involved to have fun; it is impossible not to have fun.”

Although “Spelling Bee” doesn’t really have a traditional plot, Palmblad described the show as “more of a slice-in-time story. It takes place at the county finals spelling bee competition, and the winner will go on to the national competition in Washington, D.C.”

The cast has nine very different characters: six middle-school-age spellers (played by adult actors) and three adults. As the bee proceeds, the audience learns more about the characters through their interactions with one another and flashbacks of their lives and inner thoughts.

Audience interaction

What sets “Spelling Bee” apart from other musicals is the audience-interaction component.

As audience members arrive at the theater, they will find a spellers registration desk, where they can sign up to be part of the spelling bee.

“From the list of volunteers each night, we will select four people to be in the show as contestants in the bee. They will be given instructions to just be themselves and follow the simple rules: When their name is called, they must go to the microphone; when the word is given, they must ask for a definition; then they ask for the word to be used in a sentence; and then they spell the word,” Palmblad said.

Usually characters in a play or musical interact only with one another, but in this play, some of the characters reach out to the audience as well.

Bryan Kinder, 19, plays Chip, an outgoing Boy Scout who wants to have the best things in life, and develops an attachment to an audience member, he said.

He, like several others in the cast, said he wanted to be in the show because he had seen the show on a national tour that came to Portland and had heard the soundtrack.

“I had to be in this show — it is so much fun,” Kinder said.

“My character interacts with the volunteer spellers onstage and I high-five with an audience member at the end,” said Kira Batcheller, 23, who plays 12-year-old Marcy Park.

She described her character as “the ultimate overachiever, know-it-all. She comes from a Catholic school background and thinks God wants her to be perfect.”

Audiences will like “Spelling Bee,” she added, because of its “quirky and unique humor — it is not like any other show.”

Todd Carlson, one of the three adult characters, plays Mitch, an ex-convict doing community service by acting as a sort-of counselor to the spelling bee participants. He escorts the audience volunteers off stage and sings a special song to one of them.

“I also explain to the audience the challenges of comforting the spellers, who don’t understand that good kids don’t always win. That is hard life lesson,” he said.

Carlson is having a ball playing the “bad guy,” he said, and has thrown himself into the part, by putting together his own costume of a black leather vest, studded armbands and fake arm tattoos. He also learned a life lesson when he went to the grocery store after rehearsal one night.

“I was still wearing part of my costume, and I noticed that people were exiting the aisle I was in. It is so much fun to be bad,” he said.

Larger than life

The four remaining young actors don’t have as much audience interaction, but they are characters modeled on real life and that people will relate to, they noted.

Stephanie Leppert, 22, a Rex Putnam High School graduate, plays Olive Ostrovsky, who is very shy.

“She is really insecure, and it is hard for her to reach out to people,” Leppert said. “Everyone can relate to Olive; she is just coming out of her shell and realizing her potential. Like Olive, everyone wants their parents to love them; she just wants her mom and dad’s approval.”

Although most people have not come from a background of “aggressive hippies,” like Tom Young’s character of Leaf Coneybear, they may be able to understand his excitement at being part of something completely new.

“He is an ADD, homeschooled, sheltered child who is easily distracted,” noted Young, 22.

Brandee Palmblad, 27, plays Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere, a “very smart” young woman who “puts pressure on herself to be the best she can be.”

She has two fathers, Dan Schwartz and Carl Grubenierre, thus her last name is a combination of their last names, Palmblad said.

Playing another smart character, William Barfee, is Larry Taylor, 24.

“William is quite into science, and he is mean to those around him, but this is more of a defense mechanism,” Taylor said.

Taylor was attracted to the role, which he said is “larger than life,” and to the show, because he “loved it when I saw it on the national tour.”

Playing a fun character

The two remaining adult actors will be familiar faces to theatergoers.

People will recognize Terry Lybecker from many performances with New Century Players, and they may know Oregon City resident Chanda Hall from her work as the artistic director of Staged! Musical Theatre.

Lybecker has the only non-singing role in the production, that of Vice Principal Douglas Panch.

“He is part-disciplinarian and part-drill sergeant, and he thinks he is very clever,” as he helps officiate at the spelling bee, Lybecker said.

What audiences will like best about the production is the really good songs, he said, adding, “Our cast hits these harmonies really sharply and really well. They are all fantastic singers, and our musical director really has a good ear; he has whipped the cast into shape.”

Hall said she is enjoying being on the performing side of the stage, in her role as Rona Lisa Perretti, the moderator of the spelling bee.

“Rona is someone whose high point occurred when she was 12, when she won the county spelling bee. It launched her in a new direction, but nothing since has quite lived up to that moment of glory,” Hall said.

There are too many good scenes for Palmblad to pick a favorite, but both he and Quesenberry described one number, “I Love You,” as being special to the production.

“One of the most touching scenes is the ‘I Love You’ song. It is a fantasy moment when one of the spellers reveals her home life situation and how she wishes it could be, with both her parents there,” Palmblad said.

Quesenberry added that the song provides a “heart wrenching” moment.

by: PHOTO BY DICK TRTEK - Chanda Hall, far right, hands out numbers to, top row: Brandee Palmblad and Bryan Kinder; middle  row: Stephanie Leppert and Tom Young; and bottom row, Larry Taylor and Kira Batcheller.

Fast facts

The New Century Players present “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

Performance dates: Feb, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 10 and 17 at 2 p.m.

Venue: Milwaukie High School Blackbox Theater, 11300 S.E. 23rd Ave., in Milwaukie

Tickets: General admission $20; students/seniors $15. They are available online at NewCenturyPlayers.org.

Information: call 503-367-2620.