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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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ReCycle pedals for a new life


by: PHOTO: ELLEN SPITALERI - ReCycle founder Gerry Hines attaches a bicycle seat.ReCycle, the bike ministry supported by the Oregon City Evangelical Church, started out six years ago with a simple mission — every child should have a bike.

But now ReCycle has “come full circle,” said Gerry Hines, the founder and bike coordinator for the group. What he means is that the bike ministry now works with other agencies in Clackamas County to supply bikes to adults who need them, and ReCycle also is reaching out to young people who need to do community service.

Folks who are interested in what ReCycle does can come to the church on Sunday, April 7, to an open house for the nonprofit organization. Hines is hoping that visitors might bring along gently used bikes to donate to ReCycle, or make cash donations. That same day he is going before the church members to ask for money to expand the bike ministry, Hines said.

Although Hines founded ReCycle, he said that Al Snell, owner of Oregon City’s Classic Cycles, has been a key factor in the success of the bike ministry.

“He came in here and taught us how to repair bikes, until we’re pretty good. He’s an amazing guy,” Hines said, adding that ReCycle buys needed replacement parts from Classic Cycle at wholesale prices.

Snell moved to Oregon City in 2007 and purchased Classic Cycles, then located in downtown Oregon City. He moved the business to a spot near the Grocery Outlet on Molalla Avenue in early March, partly because the parking situation is better there and also because he is closer to a residential neighborhood in that area.

He found out about the bike ministry when he began attending the Oregon City Evangelical Church, and said what he likes best about working with the group is “teaching the guys how to work on bikes — they have a passion for it and a desire to learn.”

A group of 10 men meet at ReCycle, in a small garage next to the church, the first and second Saturdays to clean and repair the bikes.

“We have a fully functioning bike shop here, and I tell the guys to fix up the bikes to the condition that they would put under the Christmas tree for their own sons or daughters,” Hines said.

ReCycle gave away 67 bikes in 2012, and the organization is definitely in the market for good used bikes for this year, although ReCycle does not accept bikes that have rusted out. Members of the group will go to a residence to pick up a donated bike, Hines noted.

Community outreach

ReCycle has reached out to the community in a number of ways, Hines said, noting that the organization gets referrals from Love INC, a group of 46 churches devoted to helping the needy in Clackamas County. He also works with Celebrate Recovery, an organization that helps people who recently have been released from prison.

“We had one man come in who had been in prison for 31 years. He was totally transformed. We also have people who have lost their licenses, and people who just can’t afford a car in this economy,” Hines said.

Beginning this month, 10 young people from the Clackamas County Juvenile Department’s Community Connections Program will come to ReCycle every Monday.

“We’ll introduce them to bikes, teach them how to build one from the ground up and then sell them. That is how we make our money to buy our bike parts,” Hines said.

Other young people come to ReCycle to do community service, he noted.

Monetary donations are always needed, Hines said, because the organization needs to purchase bike lights, locks and the saddle on the back of the bike, in addition to parts needed for repair. He added that new helmets are provided by a nonprofit organization called Helmets Are Us. None of the helmets are used or donated because there may be cracks or other unsafe factors in those helmets.

Why bikes?

The most rewarding part of the whole ministry is seeing the reactions when people are given their own bikes, Hines said.

“A lady called from Love INC, and told us about a 9-year-old boy who had never had a bike. You should have seen his face when we told him to choose a bike from our stock of children’s bikes. It took him an hour and a half to find the right bike. That was our reward, just seeing his face,” Hines said.

Then there was the time Hines took a bike out to a homeless veteran named Vicky.

“We found a Schwinn woman’s bike, fixed it up and took it out to Vicky. I asked her to close her eyes, and when she opened them and saw the bike, she started crying, then jumped on the bike and rode it around. That makes it fun,” he said.

Snell has his own story as well. He said he has always had a little bike shop in his garage, even before he opened Classic Cycles, and recalls the time he passed by a Dumpster in his neighborhood and saw a little girl’s bike.

“It had a flat tire and a broken chain. I took it out of the Dumpster and fixed it, then knocked on doors until I found her. She was 8 years old, and you should have seen her face when I gave her the bike back,” Snell said.

It was then he knew he wanted his own professional bike shop and the reason the shop’s motto is “all my customers are neighbors.”

Fast Facts

What: ReCycle Open House

When: 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 7

Where: 916 Linn Ave., Oregon City, next door to the Oregon City Evangelical Church

Meet Gerry Hines, bike coordinator for ReCycle, and others, and see what the organization does to provide bikes for those in need in Clackamas County. Monetary donations and donations of gently used bikes greatly appreciated.

For more information, contact Hines at 503-593-1485 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit the website at secondtimearoundbikes.com.

Meet owner Al Snell at Classic Cycles, 812 Molalla Ave., in Oregon City. Classic Cycles is a full-service bike shop. For more information, call 503-557-1977.