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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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County court braces for more cuts


by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Robert D. Herndon is the presiding judge who manages Clackamas County Circuit Court's budget, which is down to $11.9 million annually down from $16.6 million in 2008.State cuts to Clackamas County Court budget, now down to $11.9 million from $16.6 million in 2008, have had devastating effects on local access to justice.

Examples are numerous:

Domestic-violence survivors in Clackamas County now often have to wait 100 days to get a judge to order a spouse to let them visit with their kids, nearly double the average wait time from 2008.

In that year, someone from out of state who needed proof of his or her not-guilty verdict in a Clackamas County trial could mail in a request with a 25-cent-per-page payment and expect to get the document back within three weeks. Now that person waits three months, or hires a local private investigator to track down the document.

After two board members illegally staged a political takeover, a local water-district governing board remained in limbo for at least a month before a document came through from a judge officially nullifying the action. Five years ago, officials could be back on their feet with a civil judgment in less than a week.

For Robert D. Herndon, the presiding judge who manages the Clackamas County Circuit Court, these types of delays are just a sampling of the problems that Oregon legislators have caused by reducing Fifth Judicial District’s budget. Now, the Oregon Legislature is considering another 3 percent cut effective July 1, which would mean that the local court system would have to survive on $11.6 million annually through 2015.

“We collectively as a judicial branch have really started to think that the cuts that we’ve suffered have had a severe impact on access to justice and public safety,” Herndon said.

Cuts have torn through the court’s nonunionized employee group, bringing 2008’s 110 positions now down to 80, assuming no one is out on leave. Nine mandatory furlough days resulted in an almost 10 percent cut in pay, and court employees are looking for work elsewhere. A record 23 of the remaining county-court employees left their jobs last year, and the high staff turnover (about double the average of the previous four years) has resulted in losses of institutional knowledge and in decreased efficiency due to more frequent staff-training sessions.

“Unlike other state-funded agencies, we don’t have any road projects or capital improvements we can defer,” Herndon said. “When we’re underfunded, we have to just not do some things or do things in ways that they shouldn’t be done.”

Asked about the court’s hardships, state Rep. Brent Barton (D-Oregon City) responded that he “absolutely” agrees with the Clackamas County Court’s opinion that further cuts would have a considerable effect on access to justice and public safety.

“The rule of law is the first duty of government and is fundamental to civilized society,” Barton said. “Every issue that goes before the court is affected by the budget crisis, whether it be domestic violence, child-custody resolution or addiction services.”

Finding efficiencies

Clackamas County Court has limited scheduled public access hours from 45 to 30 hours a week so that its staff can process all the pleadings. But there have been several periods when court staffers are so far behind that Herndon will shut down the building to the public for a couple hours.

“Nothing says closed for business like a closed courthouse,” Barton said. “Businesses will not invest in Clackamas County if they cannot enforce their rights, be it property, contracts or intellectual property.”

The state mandates that courts expedite certain types of hearings, but case hearings having to be held within 14 days or less are some of the fastest-growing in the county. Stalking orders are up 14 percent, restraining orders are up 21 percent, and landlord/tenant eviction hearings are up 24 percent.

“If the Legislature gives us one more mandated thing to do, we’ve going to have to quit doing some other things,” Herndon said. “We got very creative with saving money in every way we can, but there’s no more fluff to cut.”

Clackamas County Court already has outsourced its technological services and implemented procedures to reduce the amount of paper it needs to print.

Last year, when a clerk entered the billionth item, yes, 1 billion, into the aging computer system, which is not user-friendly even when working properly, it crashed the entire system. In December 2016, Clackamas County will be one of the later counties in Oregon to upgrade its outdated system so that all public files can be effectively searched from outside of the courthouse.

“All branches of government are going to be smaller, so we have to have technology to do it,” Herndon said. “We already did the downsizing part of it, and now we’ve got to get the technology on board.”

As a practicing attorney, Barton watched Clackamas County Court get more efficient when the recession hit.

“There is only so much that can be done before affecting public safety and the administration of justice,” he said. “Although we always have a duty to pursue additional efficiencies, the fact is that Clackamas County Court has been cutting into the bone for several years.”

Everyone ‘equal’ before law

The court’s 15 percent increase in workload lately is largely due to civil cases being up 22 percent and to “self-represented people making unnecessary filings” according to Herndon. Although he appreciates new state laws increasing access to justice through that self-representation, he wants the Legislature to know how it affects courthouse staff.

“The volume of pleadings that are filed in our court is staggering, and so much of it is from self-represented folks,” he said. “They’re often wanting someone to practice law for them, and the staff can’t do that. A family law coordinator can assist but she can’t cross the line in terms of telling. So, practically with every civil case, there’s a lot of pushing and shoving that requires a lot of judicial intervention to occur to shepherd them to the point that they’re ready to go to trial.”

Barton countered that citizen access to justice is “fundamental” to the U.S.

“The courtroom is the only place left where everyone stands equal before the law, which is certainly not the case in the Legislature,” he said. “Our judicial system filters out frivolous filings in many ways, which means that an increase in unnecessary filings does not drain court resources proportionately.”

Each legislative session, the Oregon Judicial Department’s budget comes toward the end of June as a very small portion of the overall budget, so Herndon advocates that OJD’s budget should come earlier in the session so that it’s not squeezed with other budgetary distractions. Barton points out that OJD is part of the overall public-safety budget, which includes the Department of Corrections, Oregon Youth Authority, Oregon State Police and other vital services for Barton.

“The public-safety budget is almost always one of the last things voted on by the Legislature because the debate surrounding the Corrections budget is always contentious, especially in hard economic times,” Barton said. “Given that DOC is by far the largest line item in the public-safety budget, what happens to DOC necessarily affects the other agencies in that budget.”

Town halls scheduled

Joint town hall with state Sen. Alan Olsen and Rep. Brent Barton on bipartisanship in the Legislature from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, at the John Adams Fire Station, 624 Seventh St., Oregon City.

Town hall with Barton and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler on jobs and Oregon’s economy from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, at Operating Engineers Local 701, 555 E. First St., Gladstone.

Town hall with Barton and AARP’s Executive Director Jerry Cohen on issues facing seniors in Oregon from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, at Pioneer Community Center, 615 Fifth St., Oregon City.

Barton town hall from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, in Johnson City prior to the City Council meeting at 16121 S.E. 81st Ave.