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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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Timely art


Time is running out if you want to get your hands on one of Deborah Ellis’s whimsical clocks made from recycled materials. She will be showing her work in Blackberry Hall at Cracked Pots, an annual art show held at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Deborah Ellis gets ready for Cracked Pots, working on a clock made with a light fixture and CD base.The event is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, July 24. However, time is on your side because the clocks also are sold at Grapevine Graphics & Picture Framing art gallery space, located in the Singer Hill Cafe in Oregon City.

“I also have clocks on display and for sale in the lobby of the Clackamas County Public Service Building on the Red Soils Campus in Oregon City until Aug. 3,” Ellis said.

by: PHOTOS BY ELLEN SPITALERI - A working clocks Deborah Ellis made from recycled materials.Ellis, a Milwaukie resident, has been making the clocks for more than a dozen years, and calls her business Timediscs. And make no mistake about it — these clocks work and keep accurate time.

Describing her work as “edgy art clocks,” Ellis faced a special challenge in selling her work at Cracked Pots, a display of indoor, outdoor and wearable art.

“At least 80 percent of the materials used in the piece of art must be recycled; they must have led another life,” she said.

In addition, “we need to have available for the customer a story about each piece, about where it came from.”

Ellis has some pretty compelling stories about her clocks.

One particularly eye-catching piece is titled “U’Melth,” and Ellis said the base of the clock was pulled from the Clackamas River after last September’s Down the River Clean Up.

When she saw the silvery, misshapen piece of metal, she immediately thought it looked like a raven, so she researched names for ravens in mythology and came up with U’Melth.

“U’Melth is a spirit raven familiar to indigenous people of Northwest Coastal British Columbia. The legend is that U’Melth brought the moon, fire, salmon, sun and tides to the people,” Ellis said.

As near as she can tell, the bird beak-shaped piece of metal came from an automobile and may have been part of the car’s dashboard.

Used cooking implements figure in some of her pieces. One clock is made with a trivet base and is adorned with steamer basket “fins,” while several others began life as burners on a stove top.

Other recycled materials include transmission flywheels, black plastic packaging, tension coils and light-fixture bases.

Although she has sold her clocks in various venues, “Cracked Pots caused me to jump ahead and explore other mediums. It has been a real boon to my artistic development,” Ellis said.

Right time, place

In the late 1990s, Ellis began taking classes in a variety of art forms at First Impression in Northeast Portland. At the same time, she saw an article about a woman who had made a clock from a compact disc.

Ellis liked the idea from a creative standpoint, but also from an environmental point of view, adding, “I hated to see CDs being thrown away; that is a terrible waste.”

Soon she began experimenting with the discs, drilling holes, painting them and even warping them with a heat gun. Then she made a clock for a friend, and when others admired it, she found herself with a business.

She became really serious about the clocks “after the events of 9/11, when I felt a need to create something colorful and whimsical, after a dark time. It was a boost for me. I do smile when I make them,” she said.

“I do not have an interest in welding or soldering, but I love assemblage. I love taking things apart and putting them back together in a way they were not originally meant to be. Michelangelo said, ‘Form reveals itself to you.’ “

Ellis noted that in addition to spending hours making clocks, she also spins, weaves, dyes and explores the fiber arts. She will sell her hand-painted and dyed yarns and fibers at the annual Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in September, at the Clackamas County Events Center.

She also teaches a paper-making class, noting, “I just love the tactile nature of fibers.”

And although she does not want people to drop off anything at her doorstep, she does have a piece of advice: “Don’t waste materials. If you have the time and inclination, there are wonderful things people can do with recycled materials.”

Fast Facts

What: 14th Annual Cracked Pots, a show of indoor, outdoor and wearable art

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 24

Where: McMenamins Edgefield, 2126 S.W. Halsey, Troutdale

Visit: crackedpots.org or call 503-669-8610

More info: Contact Deborah Ellis, owner of Timediscs, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..