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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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'Plan B' aims to save Riverside Elementary


by: PHOTO BY: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Riverside Elementary School students play on newly constructed surfaces near the school buildings proposed for closure given North Clackamas School District projected budget shortfalls.Riverside Elementary School parents have spent three solid weeks lobbying North Clackamas School Board members to consider an alternate plan in advance of a Riverside closure decision. They say closing Concord Elementary School would be a better option.

If School Board members decide to close Riverside, its more than 300 students would have to go either to Concord or Oak Grove schools in the coming school year. Facing community outcry over Riverside and over a possible move of New Urban High School to share the Sabin-Schellenberg campus, the School Board has delayed its decisions until April 4. To help the district grapple with an estimated budget gap of $5 million to $7 million next year, the schools were originally scheduled to come face to face with the budget ax this Thursday, March 21.

To maximize calculated cost effectiveness, the district would like its elementary schools to hold 500 students, but Concord can only hold 448. Riverside can hold 560 students.

If a closure is necessary, “Concord would be the better choice overall for the district based on location, safety and future capacity,” wrote Riverside parent Theresa Johnson in one of dozens of impassioned pleas.

In a 20-page PowerPoint-style “Plan B” presentation contradicting conclusions of district staff, Riverside parents point out that Concord’s building was constructed in 1936, whereas Riverside’s construction dates to 1955, with Riverside PTA funding and bonds financing installation of a dozen upgrades to the scenic property during the past decade.

After hearing such community feedback at a March 7 School Board meeting and four community gatherings at the potentially affected schools, NCSD announced Friday that the School Board would delay its vote on school consolidations to give district staff more time to weigh substantial public input on the proposals and to consider how to accommodate people’s concerns.

“We’ve received a large number of comments about the proposed school consolidations, with many thoughtful questions raised by students, parents and residents of the Oak Grove community,” said Superintendent Matt Utterback. “We don’t want to rush this decision.”

Utterback said the district got substantial feedback on all the proposals under consideration in January, when more than 1,000 people participated.

Crime, WalMart concerns

Riverside parents fear that crime and loitering will increase around Concord. They see a lack of safety for children getting to Concord, where a traffic situation has given them grave concerns.

Located a block off Highway 99E, Concord borders a light-industrial area and McLoughlin Boulevard mini malls where WalMart is constructing a smaller “neighborhood” store that one of the two nearby neighborhood associations opposed. Concord’s playground will sit just across the fence from WalMart’s loading dock. Concord Road, where the school has its entrance, is a major cross street off 99E.

Concord students often can be seen on the street where large delivery trucks drive up and down in front of the school. There is no standard pick-up and drop-off loop for parents and buses there, so buses pull over into a section of the driveway where cars have to maneuver around the buses. The buses at times must partially block the roadway.

Jessica Cheyne, parent of a second-grader at Riverside, feared putting her son in an already dangerous situation with more buses, cars and students walking to and from school after a potential consolidation.

“Please don’t put our children, teachers, parents, staff and other community members in danger before they are even in the school,” she wrote to school board members. “This is the current traffic situation with only 304 children enrolled in the school. And now they want (according to the district’s recommendation) to add another 90 students to this already major problem.”

District officials point out that when the former GI Joe’s store on the site brought traffic close to the school, multiple procedures were put in place to keep students safe.

Concord’s principal has been working with parents to reinforce safety procedures during pick-up and drop-off times, NCSD officials said.

Riverside has two loops, one mainly for buses and a second for passenger cars, so children do not have to be on the street while commuting. Riverside parents say they would be more than happy to accept transfer students from Concord after its closure.

Their “Plan B” would send 160 students to Riverside, 120 to Oak Grove and 40 to View Acres Elementary from a closed Concord’s 320 student body.

‘Wisest decision possible

School board Chairman Rein Vaga noted that elected school officials have received numerous emails expressing a “wide variety of viewpoints.”

“No individual plans from the community will be specifically addressed as agenda items at the board meeting, however, all community input as well as alternate plans have been closely studied by both administration and board members,” Vaga said. “Reflecting community and staff input, I am certain the board’s decision will be the wisest decision possible during this continued period of financial exigency.”

Riverside parents say the wise decision should be clear when the district looks at the options. They have plans to plant more trees in a grove of proposed heritage trees next to the preserved wetland near the Willamette River.

“Choosing to close a school that is protected at recess from a public right of way and surrounded by rich, calm, peaceful natural surroundings offering a better learning environment, over one that is separated by a chain-link fence from a public sidewalk on a busy through street ... potentially increases the district’s liability,” Johnson said.

District officials say the population of people who are out on the street has not changed significantly in recent years, and they expect that population does not stand to change dramatically as the neighborhood continues to evolve. Concord has not gone into lockdown due to any emergency situations for at least the past 10 years.

Dividing united school

Students in a bilingual program at Riverside would go to El Puente Elementary in Milwaukie this fall, while their schoolmates would be split between Concord and Oak Grove under the district’s current plan.

A Spanish bilingual program started at Riverside four years ago amid hearted emotions and occasional heartbreak. Some parents had difficulty adjusting to the change and tensions emerged between families of different ethnic backgrounds.

“We have all worked so hard and feel like we have come a really long ways to clear the tension and make our school, one school,” Cheyne said. “One school that works together, for our kids, our teachers, our staff and our community. Within four short years we have been able to accomplish this.”

However, Cheyne points out, El Puente for the last nine years has been at Milwaukie Elementary, where they still operate as two separate schools under one roof. While there are separate PTAs at Milwaukie Elementary for El Puente, the shared principal there has expressed a commitment to continuing to develop partnerships between the two programs.

“I would hate for our children to be sent to a school that is divided,” Cheyne said.

District staff people point out that there are many good ways to support bilingual teaching and learning. The model for bilingual education at El Puente has been recognized by the state of Oregon as a model school this year, putting El Puente in the top 5 percent of all schools in the state,.

Concord has had three principals in the past three years, while Riverside parents have supported the same principal for six years. District staff listed this fact as a reason to avoid closing Concord, because students there have already experienced a lot of changes. Riverside parents were upset that they are seemingly being punished for helping preserve consistent leadership at their school, while Concord’s instability is viewed as a credit toward its ability to stay open.

“I really cannot see how anyone would see this as a positive,” Cheyne said.

Cheyne added that, if the district wants to avoid further disruption at a school that’s already experienced a lot of change, it’s Riverside that has been through more change. When it added a bilingual program, for example, it had to hire new bilingual teachers each year.

“I understand that any decision will be a hard decision,” Cheyne said, hoping the school board “will look really hard at the proposed closure of Riverside Elementary and reconsider.”