Featured Stories

INSIDERS (Sponsored Content)

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


Other Pamplin Media Group sites

TriMet budget holds line on services


by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRIS ONSTOTT - TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane presented his proposed budget to the agency's board of directors Wednesday, including vice chairwoman Tiffany Sweitzer.TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane released a proposed $485 million operating budget Wednesday morning that may — or may not — provide a couple years of relief from fare increases and services cuts.

The difference is expected to be determined soon by the state Employment Relations Board, which is considering a challenge to TriMet’s current labor contract with Amalgamated Transit Union 757.

That contract was imposed by a state arbitrator last year. It includes health benefit reductions sought by TriMet but strongly opposed by the ATU 757. The union has challenged the legality of the arbitrator’s action with ERB.

If the ERB sides with TriMet, McFarlane says the next two TriMet budgets can be balanced without fare increases or service cuts. That would be a dramatic reversal from last year, when the board increased fares and cut service to close a $12 million budget gap.

In fact, McFarlane says TriMet can make some service improvements, including increasing frequencies on a few overcrowded lines.

But if the ERB sides with ATU 757, the previous contract will be reinstated. If that happens, McFarlane says TriMet will probably need to cut an additional $7 million to $9 million from its 2015 budget, with service reductions hitting in September of that year.

Even if the ERB sides with TriMet, McFarlane says the relief is only temporary, however. Without additional health benefit reductions, McFarlane says, TriMet will have to begin increasing fares and cutting service again in the 2017 fiscal year. If that continues, McFarlane says the regional transit system will be a ghost of its already diminished self by 2025.

Union officials strongly disagree with that assertion. ATU 757 President Bruce Hansen says TriMet should instead cut management salaries and stop expensive new rail projects. The union has taken its case to the public with press releases, newspaper advertisements and a website. The ATU 757 campaign is being funded by a temporary monthly dues increase approved by its members.

Despite the campaign, the four TriMet board members at Wednesday’s briefing all expressed support for McFarlane’s proposed budget. The TriMet board has scheduled a March 27 public hearing on the budget, and could approve it then.

ODOT rail inspections

McFarlane’s presentation came two days after the release of an internal TriMet budget document that showed 47 agency managers received salary increases totaling just under $1 million during the current fiscal year. The document had been obtained by ATU 757 through a public records request. Hansen says he only recently became aware of the increases and was shocked by them.

“They prove management is making secret decisions that contribute to TriMet’s budget problems,” Hansen told the Portland Tribune.

McFarlane had previously stressed that management pay has been frozen for 3 1/2 years.

In fact, TriMet had revealed in a May 12, 2012, memo that it planned to increase some management salaries. It was presented to a transit rider advocacy group called OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon during negotiations on the current budget. The eight-page memo included a breakdown of $10 million in proposed contingency funds that listed $830,466 for “Non-union wage increases.” The wage increases were spread among 420 non-union employees.

Nevertheless, McFarlane apologized to the board Wednesday morning for not publicly announcing the increases when they occurred. Three of the four directors said they supported the increases, calling them long overdue.

The spat was just the latest clash between TriMet and ATU 757. The union is still refusing to negotiate its next labor contract, charging that TriMet will not conduct the talks in open meetings as required by state law. TriMet argues the law does not require its labor negotiations to be conducted in public. The question is before Multnomah County Circuit Judge Leslie Roberts, who could issue a ruling any day.

In the meantime, TriMet and ATU 757 officials have been sparring over the safety of the MAX light rail system. Last month, Hansen issued a press released accusing TriMet of endangering public and employee safety by failing to properly maintain the system. After the accusations were reported in the press, the Oregon Department of Transportation inspected portions of the track. Although inspectors found areas where routine maintenance was required, they found “no safety concerns.”

Health care costs

The $12 million reduction in TriMet’s current budget produced the most dramatic fare and service changes in years. The traditional three-zone system was replaced with a single fare, which amounted to an increase for most regular riders. In addition, the board eliminated the Free Rail Zone in downtown Portland, eliminated a number of

underperforming bus lines and reduced the frequency on some bus and MAX routes.

As painful as the cuts were, they were only the most recent round that began when the Great Recession took hold in the Portland metropolitan area. It significantly reduced payroll tax revenue, TriMet’s single largest source of funding. According to TriMet officials, since 2009, the regional transit agency has cut spending by $43 million and service by 14 percent. More than 200 positions have been eliminated and non-union employees have had their wages frozen for more than three years.

Despite the multiple causes for TriMet’s budget problems, McFarlane has continued to focus on union employee health benefits as the greatest threat facing the agency’s future. He brought them up again in a Feb. 13 State of TriMet address to the board. The contract imposed by the arbitrator required ATU 757 members and their spouses to pay a percentage of their health care costs for the first time. The budget proposed by McFarlane for the next fiscal year raises that amount from 10 to 20 percent, the same share paid by non-union TriMet employees.

Using charts and graphs, McFarlane argued that unless ATU 757 members and their spouses start paying a bigger share of their health care costs, the agency will face $19 million in additional cuts in 2017, precipitating a service crisis. If nothing more changes, McFarlane said, the additional cuts will grow to $48 million in 2020 and $142 million in 2025. By then service will have been reduced by 70 percent from today’s levels, with the equivalent of 63 weekday lines canceled.

Hansen responds that TriMet should not balance the budget on the backs of its union employees.

“Our collective bargaining agreement is a joint agreement,” Hansen told the Tribune. “Management agreed to everything they are now complaining about.”