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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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Cities face down tough issues at forum


Mayors had to jump into their challenges last week at the State of the Cities event hosted by the North Clackamas Chamber for hundreds in the audience at the Monarch Hotel.

Moderator and former State Superintendent Verne Duncan didn’t let the mayors give lengthy speeches on Jan. 30. Forcing them to address controversial issues, Duncan read pointed questions from audience members.

Milwaukie Mayor Jeremy Ferguson had just discovered other changes to the Clackamas County portion of the light-rail line that came after TriMet’s budgetary challenges. Ferguson had to defend the value of light rail in the face of renewed criticism over further cuts.

“Some of that is justified, and some of that is fear factor,” he said. But he sees an “overwhelming” majority of business owners and residents excited about the line coming.

Mayor Doug Neeley will expound more on Oregon City’s fear of a water-rate rollback at his own State of the City address on Friday, Feb. 22. See 2012 stories “OC rate rollback hits city projects,” Aug. 14, and “Poll: Voters oppose water-rate rollback,” Nov. 20 for more information.

“We’ll probably be going to the voters with a referendum in May,” Neeley said.

Damascus Mayor Steve Spinnett wants to present a plan for city growth to voters in November after last year’s ballot initiative forced voter approval of such plans.

“It’s a little bit like threading the needle,” he said, “but I have confidence that we’re going to come up with a comprehensive plan that’s going to be acceptable to the people.”

If a ballot measure for disincorporation of Damascus passes and the comprehensive plans fail, voters would hand power back to the Board of County Commissioners. Spinnett explained that such a scenario would dissolve the city’s charter, then all city assets would go to Clackamas County, which would have to redo its comprehensive plan.

Spinnett promised to “keep it positive” in responding to a question about his lawsuit over four other council members allegedly having an illegal meeting.

“I eventually dropped the case, because the cost to me to pursue it wasn’t worth it,” he said, adding he had been seeking “transparency in government, and that wasn’t transparency.”

Gladstone Mayor Wade Byers claimed that his biggest challenge last year was to pass fourth iteration of police and fire levies to prevent “dramatic” cuts in other areas of the city.

“Fortunately our voters saw fit to pass those levies,” Byers said.

As Byers discussed his next major crusade to seek grants for some aging infrastructure to maintain pipes, some audience members wondered about the city’s plans for a new library that failed at the ballot box in November. Byers did not discuss the library issue until asked directly, when he said, “We’re working on it.”

At first the mayors seemed to agree that tax compression wasn’t a problem for Clackamas County cities, but Happy Valley Mayor Lori DeRemer saw a bigger issue in state tax measures that are “handcuffing” government.

“Please do not let this drop off the radar, gentleman,” she told the other mayors after their comments. “It will affect us in the future, and we have to pay attention to that.”

If Damascus plans failed, she worried Happy Valley would become a “cul-de-sac” for East County. She saw hope, however, in the Eagle Landing project in parts of unincorporated Clackamas County that would focus growth on two million square feet of buildable space.

Local mayors are not unique in having challenges.

The League of Oregon Cities “State of the Cities” report released last month predicted “a robust recovery for Oregon’s cities is highly unlikely as they continue to feel the pinch of rising costs, stagnant revenue growth and escalating citizen demands.” City survey data found city revenues have declined during the past six years, with general fund revenues down an average of nearly 1.5 percent.

Areas of agreement

On the subject of Oak Grove incorporation, the mayors agreed, with a proviso from Spinnett on ongoing local challenges. They felt that city taxpayers were subsidizing Clackamas County’s efforts in urban unincorporated areas, where there’s been a renewed drive to become a new city.

“Most of us would probably support an effort,” Neeley said.

DeRemer and Ferguson celebrated their cities’ recent resolution of growth-boundary discussions (“Cities agree on Clackamas Town Center boundary line” Dec. 5).

“At this point, it would be better if these businesses came into a city rather than staying with the county,” DeRemer said.

Cuts to Milwaukie staffing indicate that it may be a challenge to take on those extra areas soon, Ferguson added.

“It takes a lot of growth to make a big impact on city resources,” Byers noted.

Sitting down with Clackamas County attorney Chris Storey and Commissioner Paul Savas, Ferguson managed to end a more than 25-year-long dispute (“County and Milwaukie reach sewer agreement,” April 30). The deal got county money toward reducing stench and mitigating the uglier features of the county’s sewage plant in a prominent part of Milwaukie’s downtown.

“As you enter Clackamas County from Portland, you have an opportunity to see a really nice McLoughlin Boulevard,” Ferguson said.

However, a capital campaign for the $7.5 million Riverfront Park project has raised less than $10,000 so far.

“Soon we’ll start seeing the red on that thermometer,” Ferguson said, adding that he still hoped to get the park completed in time for the opening of the light-rail line in 2015.