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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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Looking for a local home? Study says you're not alone


by: 2012 FILE PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Construction workers in Oregon City's South End neighborhood are busy building new homes for families looking to move to the suburbs, bucking the overall trend of the past few years.Is the decline in housing prices that began in 2006 finally making its way back up? It looks like urban Clackamas County may be finally able to hold its head above water.

North Clackamas became a major player in a recent analysis of economic trends in the Portland metropolitan area conducted by Christian Kaylor, a workforce analyst with the Oregon Employment Department.

According to the testimonies of those deeply invested in the real estate market today, now is a great time to put your house on the market if you live in urban areas around Oregon City.

“More people who couldn’t sell before, because they were under water, now can,” said Realtor Kristin Harris with Remax Group.

Residential building permit applications are rising in the metropolitan area, jumping from 5,226 in 2011 to 8,483 in 2012. That’s still well below the peak of 17,175 in 2005, however. Most applications for cities located entirely in Clackamas County were for single-family homes, and Oregon City led the way with 410 applications in 2012, of which only 29 percent were for apartments.

Portland is attracting highly educated young people, Kaylor believes, who are underemployed, socially conscious and do not want to own cars. They are drawn to the city’s well-developed transit system and emphasis on bicycling, along with the thriving neighborhood centers that offering shopping, eating and drinking options within walking distance of homes.

“If you live in the suburbs, you really have to have a car to be comfortable,” says Kaylor.

At the same time, many couples move to the suburbs when they have children.

“I’m finding more and more that people are able to sell,” said Harris. “Who less than a year ago could not.”

Harris has been lately dealing with trying to find families houses with a lack of inventory that is driving prices up.

Chris Engelke, who has been looking for a house to buy for her family for over six months, has been hindered by the lack of inventory. Engelke and her family have been renting a three-bedroom townhouse since August after their seven-acre family home of 10 years sold quickly.

For them, Engelke said, renting is not a good option, there are few apartment complexes with enough bedrooms for them, and the rental houses that they looked at were either not in family-friendly neighborhoods or did not allow pets. “Families come with pets,” she said.

But so far, Engelke and her family have been unable to act quickly enough to snag what might be their dream home. “Most houses we seriously look at, we have to make an offer within one or two days of listing,” said Engelke. “Or it’s gone.”

Trends vary

People with children look for larger homes with yards and good schools, which you can find in the suburbs, but, Kaylor adds, fewer couples are having children these days, reducing the potential size of the migration.

“Right after World War II, 50 percent of all households had children. Now it’s 25 percent,” Kaylor says.

Kaylor notes that many young people in Portland area are working in Washington County, especially for such large companies as Intel and Nike. He expects that to continue, in part because both companies can be reached from TriMet’s westside MAX line.

Harris believes that this new trend is simply supply and demand, and right now, the demand is there, but the supply is very low. “I think that people are not aware that the housing market has increased and that it’s okay to sell now,” Harris said.

Harris also cited the slowing down of foreclosures and short sales as a reason that inventory is scant. And Oregon City area is not the only market with few houses available to buy, according to realestateagentpdx.com, Portland housing inventory is at a record low as well.

For some people, the disbelief in the market is still there, and thoughts about houses not selling may be keeping families from moving. “I was chatting with our Realtor,” explained Engelke. “And we have both noticed that when we tell friends that good houses are going like hotcakes, they all look surprised.”

But the increase in possibilities to sell is not a complete surprise, Lawrence Yun, chief economist and researcher for the National Association of realtors predicted that by the end of 2012 there would be a nine to 10 percent increase in total home sales. And according to the PSU Center for Real Estate Winter 2013 Quarterly Report, “Sales are at the highest level since November 2009 when the annual pace spiked at 5.44 million.”

Still looking for jobs, homes

According to Kaylor, economic data reveals the region is finally beginning to recover from the Great Recession. The results vary by county, however.

Oregon added approximately 18,000 jobs in 2012, Kaylor found, with virtually all of that growth occurring the Portland area. Multnomah County led the way with 10.200 jobs, followed by Washington County with 6,000 jobs and Clackamas County with 2,000 jobs.

The new jobs increased Multnomah County’s share of jobs in Oregon slightly in 2012 after decades of declines, Kaylor says. Washington County’s share of jobs also grew, a trend that began many years ago. The share of Oregon jobs in Clackamas County remained flat, however.

Kaylor says the leading economic indicators indicate job growth will continue. The Conference Board, an economic consulting firm, reports that online help wanted ads are continuing to increase.

Engelke also sees past economic issues as a reason there are no houses available. “I’m guessing that people are still worried that the market is “down”, or flooded with foreclosures,” offered Engelke. “Not so. Yes, prices are not what they were five years ago, but they are more realistic.”

According to Harris, of all of her homes, only one—which is older and needs some improvements—is having some trouble with offers, the others are selling with multiple offers, and in less than 10 days.

So if you’re holding back your typical family-of-four $280,000-$330,000 home, with three bedrooms, a bonus room, and a decent sized backyard, that is perhaps 2200 - 2600 square feet, maybe its alright to take a chance on the market. Engelke and her family would sure be interested.

Reporter Jim Redden contributed to this news story.