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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 wants more voice in TriMet, ODOT


“We want to be heard” was the frequent refrain voiced by Clackamas County residents about two bills making their way through the Legislature.

State legislators last week held hearings on proposals to allow local governments within TriMet’s boundaries to appoint members to an expanded board of directors and create area committees on transportation for the parts of the state lacking an organized voice on state-funded transportation issues.

The legislation is targeting Clackamas County’s challenges as a regional and state player in political issues: The county’s only representative on TriMet’s board is Lake Oswego resident Craig Prosser, a retired Tigard city manager appointed to the board by the governor. Clackamas County has 287 miles of state highway and 129,000 people lacking representation in an area committee on transportation, 93.5 percent of the area in the third-largest county in the state.

One proposal by state Rep. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) is House Bill 3316, which would expand TriMet’s seven-member board to 11 people and let local governments select most of the board members. Gov. John Kitzhaber opposes the measure that would remove his own authority to select TriMet’s board members.

Despite protests also coming from heads of TriMet and the Oregon Department of Transportation, both bills are making progress through committees. At an April 15 hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development, legislators approved refinements of TriMet reforms and sent the bill to the Rules Committee. On that same day, committee members seemed to favor additional provisions to allow small portions of Washington County and East Multnomah County to join Hood River County in developing their own ACTs on a flexible timeframe, bringing the total number of unrepresented people to 170,000.

When Metro annexes parts of rural Clackamas County into the urban growth boundary, the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation would then represent those areas. The bill would require ODOT to meet with county commissioners by late October 2014 and take other “steps taken toward the formation” of an area committee on transportation for Clackamas County.

Speaking ‘loud and clear’

House Bill 2945 sponsor Bill Kennemer (R-Canby/Beavercreek) represents a large part of rural Clackamas County where constituents have pressed him for representation in state-controlled agencies. The cities of Sandy, Molalla and Canby support Kennemer’s bill, as well as the Board of County Commissioners and all state legislators who represent portions of Clackamas County.

“It’s time for us to bring public process, representation and fairness to the folks in this area,” Kennemer said. “I ask that you please help find the orphans of these four counties find an ACT.”

One of the co-sponsors of Kennemer’s bill, state Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River) joked, “We can get our ACT together.”

Both bills could have widespread significance for how Clackamas County is perceived as a regional player. Both bills also have the support of lawmakers who live in Portland.

State Rep. Shemia Fagan (D-Southeast Portland/Clackamas) gave Kennemer credit for spearheading HB 2945 and promised to support it.

“People in Clackamas County have spoken loud and clear,” Fagan said. “They want to have local control, and this bill takes the power away from Metro and puts it back in the hands of Clackamas residents.”

Sen. Chip Shields (D-North/Northeast Portland) spoke in favor of the TriMet reforms, but his speech sounded similar to many of those delivered by Clackamas County ACT proponents.

“The more democracy the better, and the public interest is best served when it’s closer to the people,” Shields said.

Agency opposition

ODOT Director Matt Garrett took issue with the idea that legislators would step in when the agency already has “a very strong partnership with the communities of Clackamas County.

“I embrace and strongly subscribe to the intent and that type of outcome here, but unfortunately I disagree with the approach,” Garrett said. “I have concerns that the legislative language creates a potential here in its structure to pit rural perspectives with urban perspectives — I think that’s a recipe for conflict rather than consensus.”

He asked legislators to put off their decisions so that ODOT could create a committee to consider composition of possible metro-area committees on transportation. In response to legislators’ concerns, Garrett argued that the counter proposal wasn’t a “delay tactic” but a “comprehensive conversation” among all the areas within the five-county area.

County Chairman John Ludlow protested ODOT’s suggestion to create one “mega-ACT” for the Portland region.

“This would create a single ACT for 1.7 million people, almost 44 percent of the state’s population, when 11 ACTs exist to serve the remaining population of the state,” Ludlow said. “We do not believe that the rural interests would be well-served in an ACT at this time and would likely be dominated by the needs of the urban areas, much like it is now.”

TriMet concerns

“Wilsonville, Sandy, Molalla (and) others have done pretty good models of small, cross-suburban transit, and TriMet is not getting that done,” said Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn).

Kitzhaber said the TriMet board reform bill is not likely to pass this session.

“I think there are problems with TriMet, and I intend to aggressively pursue them,” the governor said. “I think that it’s an organization that’s very challenged. I don’t think that just changing the way the board is appointed will change very much.”

At the April 15 committee hearing, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane told the panel that the agency’s board was tackling a host of challenges and trying to improve transit service with shrinking resources.

“These have been difficult times and we are doing our best to serve our customers and get our fiscal house in order,” McFarlane told the committee, “And our board is suited to the task. Changing the appointment of the board doesn’t create more revenue or reduce costs by itself that allows us grow more service.”

He noted that TriMet is looking into “innovative” models, including in partnership with the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce, to create more concentrated service areas in the suburbs.

Reporter Steve Law contributed to this news story.