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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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A state park at Willamette Falls?


by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader sees potential for a San Franscisco-style waterfront in Oregon City and supports an effort to name the Willamette Falls a national historic area.What could have possibly drawn dozens of regional and state leaders to a precipice over Willamette Falls on a drizzly and blustery morning last week?

Forklifts from demolition company PIC crisscrossed the paths of elected officials touring the Oregon City landmark, a 23-acre defunct industrial site that became a No. 1 priority for the state’s Regional Solutions initiative. Several top officials with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department visited the site of shuttered Blue Heron Paper Co. for the first time on Jan. 29.

Among them was Natural Resources Manager Jim Morgan, a repeat-visitor who was excited to show Director Tim Wood and Commissioner Jay Graves the potential to put a “crowning jewel” on the state parks system. Morgan sees Blue Heron’s closure in early 2011, which laid off 175 people, as an opportunity to create a park that would be a “gateway to the Willamette Valley.”

Willamette Falls holds the “missing piece” in Oregon’s current park network, Morgan argues, because it offers historical, biological and geological wonders:

1. Called the “birthplace of Oregon” by Mayor Doug Neeley, American Indians used the Willamette Falls site as a Pacific Northwest trading and fishing center for thousands of years. Anglo Americans settled the falls area before other parts of the American West in the 1840s, Morgan also points out.

2. Several threatened animals can only be regularly found in the area around the falls, including lamprey eels and several migratory fish species revered by Native Americans, Morgan notes.

3. Willamette Falls is second only to Niagara in volume anywhere in North America. Created by the epic Missoula Floods after the last ice age, the falls site offers a rare glimpse of the force at which torrential walls of water tore through the landscape about 15,000 years ago.

Later that day, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission held an executive session at Oregon City’s Best Western Rivershore Inn that was closed to the public. On the agenda, commissioners were “to discuss potential property acquisition and opportunities.”

On the potential for the state acquiring the Blue Heron property, Morgan said later in the week that it’s “very early” in the process. Any possible state purchase, Morgan said, would involve the state’s Historical Preservation Office, Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office and the Department of Environmental Quality.

“Everyone’s just kind of blown away by the potential there, and the public really deserves to have access to those falls,” he said.

Preliminary, informal discussions have envisioned a public-private partnership in which local agencies also help develop a master plan for the site to determine the important features to maintain. Before the state could make an offer, the Oregon Legislature would first have to approve its budget, currently proposed by Kitzhaber to include about $5 million in lottery revenue bond proceeds for the Blue Heron site.

“Even if it is in the final budget, none of this is prescribed,” Morgan said.

‘Unbelievable opportunity’

The tour was “eye opening” for Congressman Kurt Schrader, a Democrat whose district covers Clackamas County and other parts of Oregon. Schrader has for years supported the Willamette Falls Heritage Coalition’s drive to designate the site as a federally recognized and funded historic area.

“I hadn’t seen the falls at eye level before, and that’s really renewed my commitment to championing the importance of this initiative,” he said.

Known as “the beast” to Oregon City staffers, the Blue Heron site probably has less than 10 acres that are developable. Much of the remaining acreage sits above or below the “main Street level” or is flooded by lagoons.

City officials see lots of potential, however, even for the areas now covered with water, where walkways could be constructed to allow the public out onto the river. Oregon City is in its second year of budgeting $100,000 annually to the site.

“The projections for environmental work are less onerous than we originally thought, and that’s good news, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said City Manager David Frasher.

Jim Desmond, Metro’s sustainability director, added that there probably wouldn’t be a bankruptcy-court buyer that would interrupt a multi-agency partnership after sitting on the market for almost two years.

“The likelihood that a private buyer would sweep in and not want the public here — that’s not a very likely scenario,” he said.

When pressed for specifics on the environmental hazards of the site, Desmond speculated that the 1996 flood may have washed away most of the dangerous chemicals used in the early 20th century, leaving only a toxicity level on par with the average state highway stained with oil leaks and gas exhaust. Asbestos in the buildings could go with the demolition process, but there’s been talk of saving structures of more historic value, including the original generators visible from Portland General Electric’s overlook.

“We’re really excited about the opportunities here,” Desmond said. “Right now you can’t buy a postcard of these falls, but that’s an unbelievable opportunity.”

Oregon City had foresight eight years ago when it redid its comprehensive plan to recognize that Blue Heron would probably not remain forever. Officials promised rigorous public involvement as to what exactly is built as a replacement down there.

“A lot of things will have to be done,” Neeley said, “and I’m looking forward to some great opportunities.”

Walking together through the site, Schrader and Metro Councilor Carlotta Colette agreed that the right redevelopment could propel the sight to vitality on par with San Francisco’s waterfront. They hoped that local, state and national leaders would work together to realize a shared vision of public access, economic development, historic preservation and environmental stewardship for the area.

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - A 'concept image' of Willamette Falls tourism potential, according to Oregon City Community Development Director Tony Konkol, will help the community imagine renovations to the site.