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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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TriMet execs get raises while fares go up


The transit systems of Portland and Denver are ranked right next to each other in average daily ridership. On average, 328,000 people use the mass transit system each weekday in Denver and 308,000 in Portland.

Denver RTD carries those people across a 2,300-square-mile area with 120 miles of light-rail track. In Portland, TriMet transports people over 575 square miles with 58 miles of light-rail track.

But TriMet leads Denver RTD, 70 to 51, in executives and managers earning more than $100,000 per year, according to TriMet records given to KOIN 6 News.

When asked if that’s a fair number for a transit agency its size, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane said, “Yes, given the work that we have underway right now.”

Pressed on the fact that Denver RTD serves an area four times larger than TriMet, McFarlane persisted. “Again, I would say, in general, when you look at the overall comparison, we stack up well against our peers.”

Documents provided by TriMet show the newly-created position of deputy general manager is budgeted at $208,000. In 2012, Denver’s deputy general manager was paid $162,556 — $46,000 less than Portland.

TriMet’s chief financial officer is paid $175,663, about $18,000 more than the same position in Denver. The chief technology officer at TriMet is paid $26,000 more than his counterpart in Denver — $149,960 to $123,136.

“There’s a definite difference in the positions and responsibilities,” McFarlane told KOIN 6 News. “One had to look at that in a much more comprehensive way than just looking at the wages.”

Portland’s cost of living, he added, is slightly higher than Denver’s.

“Again, I would say, in general, when you look at the overall comparison we stack up well against our peers.”

McFarlane, who became TriMet’s general manager on July 1, 2010, recently gave himself a raise to slightly more than $221,000. That’s more than the general manager of transit systems in Chicago, Boston and Seattle’s King County Metro.

“Do you know what the general manager in San Diego makes?” McFarlane asked rhetorically. “He makes more than I do.”

But in San Diego, there are only 30 transit executives earning more than $100,000.

“It’s a very different operation,” McFarlane said, “where a number of the services are contracted.”

Both San Diego and Denver do contract out some services. To passengers, though, the only thing that matters is the cost of a ride.

TriMet fares are now among the highest in the nation.

A monthly pass for an adult on TriMet is $100. In Philadelphia, it’s $83. In Denver, $79, $72 in both Los Angeles and San Diego and $70 in Boston.

Jonathan Ostar, who heads up OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, an organization that closely watches TriMet, said Portland riders are paying more money for less service right now.

“When you look at the raw numbers, we are paying the same amount here in Portland as transit riders in New York and San Francisco,” he said. “And they get much more extensive service for that fare.”

McFarlane blames the recession and the high cost of TriMet’s union health benefits for the increase.

“When it came to our most recent fare increase, which was last September, we went out with a very thorough public process,” he said.

“We were asking a very fundamental question,” McFarlane said. “We have an imbalance in our budget caused primarily by the health care costs of the legacy lifetime health care benefits of our union employees.”

When asked about the controllable administrative costs, he said, “They are less than 10 percent of the budget.”

But when it came to raises for TriMet executives, the process wasn’t so public. In June 2012, the TriMet board approved cuts in service and fare increases — and approved more than $900,000 in raises for TriMet executives.

There was no public discussion. The raises weren’t listed as an item in the budget. They were buried inside TriMet’s $20 million contingency fund. It seemed TriMet was less than transparent, an attempt to hide the raises from the public.

“I’ve admitted and I’ve apologized for the way that was rolled out,” he said. “That was wrong. We can do better and we will do better next time.”

When asked why money could be taken out of the contingency fund for executive raises but not to reduce fares, he said there was no good time to do what he said had to be done.

“We need to retain talented workers at TriMet, a talented workforce in the non-union ranks.”