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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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Milwaukie's 'Fresh Look' attracts crowd


{img:11419}“What do you want out of your Downtown Milwaukie?” was the central question posed to citizens who attended an open house and workshop last week.

There were so many people at the April 1 event that Rick Wheeler, owner of Roseland Piano Co. on 21st Avenue, was among those who thought it was crowded. While about half of attendees were business owners like Wheeler, the other half included interested residents.

The event kicked off with the “Fresh Look Milwaukie: Downtown Road Map” project — a major initiative aimed at bringing the various adopted plans that map downtown Milwaukie’s future growth in closer alignment with the community’s vision.

The kickoff meeting was the first step in a three-month planning process that seeks to facilitate community conversations with identified stakeholders.

“The downtown is for everybody,” said Li Alligood, associate planner for the city of Milwaukie, who is leading the effort. “We want to hear from a broad spectrum of people and learn what people value about our downtown and what they’d like to see in its future.”

Participants talked about things like walkability, being connected to nature, what types of businesses they’d like to see and where they’d best be located, what kinds of activities would add vitality, and current barriers to success. However, some attendees thought the meeting was not conducive to a broad spectrum of people.

Co-chairwoman of the Historic Milwaukie Neighborhood Association Jean Baker left before the meeting even began. Her reason: the workshop’s poor accessibility. She said that since so many showed up to the meeting, it was too crowded to stand. Instead of staying to read the written material, Baker and fellow neighborhood leader Dion Shepard chose to say a few words to planners and then leave early.

“You shouldn’t have to load up on pain medicine to go to a city meeting,” Baker said.

But city planners know that the open-house format may not have been for everyone. Those whose needs were not met by Monday’s meeting, or those who could not make it, are encouraged to schedule a meeting with planners.

Future opportunities for involvement will include informal interviews with community members, “community conversations” with groups of interested people at local places, walking tours, photo contests, an online survey and a second public event on May 9.

For Wheeler, the process ended up being worthwhile. After the initial milling around, attendees broke off into three smaller groups. Wheeler found his group had a lot of positive ideas on ways to improve downtown Milwaukie.

Wheeler was particularly interested in discussing expansion of the Portland metro area’s MAX transit system scheduled to open in 2015. “The light rail will bring a lot more people in to see Milwaukie,” he said. “And in the future that will help businesses.”

Funding for the “Fresh Look Milwaukie” project became available after the Home Builders Association lost its lawsuit against the regional government in an attempt to halt the construction excise tax for infill projects.

Metro’s excise tax grant is proposed at $224,000, with a $30,000 “hard match” from the city and about $115,000 in a “soft match” of city staff time. However, Metro hasn’t approved the revised scope of the project, and the city of Milwaukie would still have to sign an intergovernmental agreement for those funds.

Metro taxes construction at 0.12 percent of value, exempting projects under $100,000, while projects of more than $10 million pay a flat $12,000 permitting fee. While the dispute was being settled on the funding within the urban growth boundary area, important projects for cities across the region were on hold.

Also key to the process is a group of urban-planning graduate students from Portland State University. The project team will identify the shared and competing elements of these plans and bring them before the community for evaluation and prioritization so that, ideally, in the end, the plans work together in realizing the community’s vision.

The graduate students are providing their services pro bono in order to meet the requirements of their graduate studies. The city is contributing staff time and up to $1,000 in reimbursements for materials, facility rentals, etc.

“It’s a pretty great deal for us,” Alligood said.

For more information: contact Alligood at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 503-786-7627; visit the project website at ci.milwaukie.or.us/planning/fresh-look-milwaukie-downtown-road-map.

News Editor Raymond Rendleman contributed to this story.