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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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Cat comes home to OC from Afghanistan


by: PHOTO COURTESY: OREGON HUMANE SOCIETY - Sgt. Jesse Knott found the young Koshka being abused by tormentors in Southern Afghanistan before beating the odds to take him home to Oregon City.A U.S. Army official from Oregon City who served at a camp deep inside Afghanistan received statewide recognition for developing an unlikely friendship with a cat.

Sgt. Jesse Knott found the young cat, now named Koshka, being abused by tormentors. He first saw him a couple of days after he arrived in Southern Afghanistan’s Maiwand district near a village called Hutal. He was deployed on June 3, 2010, and he arrived at COP Rath in late June.

Koshka was a small kitten of perhaps a month or two old at the time of meeting Knott. He was a loving affectionate kitten at first, but started showing signs of being abused a couple of months after Knott’s team arrived.

“The final straw was when I found him limping one day with a bloody injury to his toe pad and what seemed to be a possible hip injury,” Knott said. “I decided to treat his wounds and keep him sequestered in my office. Shortly after I treated his wounds, we bonded and I knew I had to keep him safe until I could find a way to rescue him.”

Knott was able to take Koshka under his wing after being wounded in a previous deployment to Iraq. He was not able to perform his normal infantry duties and was assigned to gathering and processing all battlefield intelligence for the company commander. So Knott had a locked office in which he could secure Koshka.

Knott says he was “something of a misfit in high school,” which may have helped him relate to a cat that couldn’t find a place in Afgani society. Knott went to West Linn High School for a while and ended up in a continuation high school program in Beavercreek called the Sage School that was behind the Clackamas Community College campus in Oregon City. He received a GED in 1993 and wound up doing “this and that,” ending up in software engineering before deciding to join the Army. He graduated OSUT Infantry basic training at Fort Benning in March ‘06.

But in one fateful day, Koshka and Knott became inseparable. On Dec. 8, 2010, a suicide bomber hit a patrol comprised of members of Knott’s platoon, killing two and seriously wounding the rest.

“Once the facts set in and there was nothing I could do, I returned to my office, and a depression struck me like I had not felt since Iraq when a similar event happened,” Knott said. “Koshka walked up onto my desk, started to mew and bonk my head purring until I would look up at him. With tears in my eyes he locked eyes with me, reached out with his paw and pressed it to my lips, then climbed down into my lap curled up and shared the moment with me.”

As soon as Knott realized that he shared a bond with Koshka, he knew that he had to get him back home to Oregon City “one way or another.” Knott called and emailed several organizations before finally reaching the Afghan Stray Animal League (http://www.afghanstrayanimals.org/).

“This organization is amazing in what they did and do on a daily basis,” Knott said. “The only problem was that they are based in Kabul, and I was in Maiwand, nearly half way across Afghanistan.”

Knott tried everything he could think of, and was becoming desperate at the point where he was a week away from leaving for good. He had still had not been able to get any mode of transportation for Koshka to the “Tigger House,” which was the name of the organization’s facility in Kabul.

“I had contacted friends and family back home and we had put together the money to pay for his trip, but getting him to Kabul was proving to be impossible, I knew that if I left him behind I would be damning him to be tortured and most likely put to death under Army regulations,” he said.

At the last minute, Knott spoke about the problem with one of his interpreters, who volunteered to take Koshka with him when he left for Kabul to go on holiday.

“I could hardly believe it,” Knott said. “If he were stopped by a Taliban checkpoint, he surely would have been killed for working with the Americans since the locals of the area put so little value in anything but livestock. Pets were practically unheard of, and should someone take a pet, it was pretty much always a dog.”

The Oregon Humane Society honored Knott among five heroes on Feb. 27 with Diamond Collar Awards recognizing both animals and people for remarkable achievements. OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon noted that Knott endured a chaotic, dangerous and deadly situation with so much out of his control. But what he could control was his compassion, and in an effort to right a terrible wrong, he reached out and saved the life of a cat.

“Heroes don’t always leap through fires or pick up cars with one hand, sometimes it’s a sustained act of kindness, exercised one small step at time for over a year that is the heroic act,” Harmon said. “While Sgt. Knott certainly gave Koshka a chance at life, what is apparent to all who have met the soldier, the cat equally returned the favor with hope and affection, delivered in soft purrs and a reason to stay strong during a grand test of his faith and belief in humanity.”