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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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Forced out of shop, headed to OC


Isa Flores needed a toolbox.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Isa Flores' son, Isa Flores Jr., works part time alongside his father at Isa's Auto Service - which will soon move to Oregon City. The year was 1984, and Flores was 17 years old. For the past two years, he had worked as mechanic at a Volkswagon dealership near his home in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

It was a good job in a field he was passionate about, but it didn’t pay anything. The work was part of a program at the mechanical school he attended, akin to an unpaid internship. He needed to log 2,000 hours at the dealership to earn his mechanic’s certificate.

After that, Flores could start making a salary, but on one condition: He needed his own toolbox.

And that, as it turned out, was far from a simple request. A proper toolset in Mexico was almost impossible to come by, and Flores decided his best shot was to travel 1,450 miles north — across the California border and into the United States of America.

He’d find work, acquire his toolbox and head back home.

That was the plan, anyway.


by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Isa Flores is sad to leave West Linn, where he has worked for more than 20 years, but he remains positive about the future.

Almost 30 years later, Flores still doesn’t have his toolbox. What he does have is a self-owned business, Isa’s Auto Service, that has called West Linn home since 1991.

He built a loyal following over the years with his tireless work ethic and a resolve to always do right by his customers. If he couldn’t guarantee success on a repair, he wouldn’t do it. if a customer was dissatisfied with his work — and it’s only happened twice, by his count — he would write a check to reimburse the fee.

All of this only made it more shocking to Flores’ customers when they learned earlier this year that his lease had been revoked, and that the auto shop on 22250 Willamette Drive would soon be replaced by a convenience store.

“When I read that he was being put out of work, I lost sleep that night,” said Toby Daniels, who has taken his cars to Flores for the past eight years. “Not because we couldn’t find another repair man, but just because this guy deserves to be in the community and helping people.”

Daniels resolved to help Flores get back on his feet, and he was joined by a number of other concerned customers. They helped Flores scout out a new location, and he eventually settled on the former Weiler Chevrolet building in Oregon City — just about a mile away from where the auto shop currently stands.

The whole ordeal has saddened Flores, who loves West Linn and refers to it as home even though his family lives in Clackamas. But he is nothing if not relentlessly positive, elated to be doing what he loves and willing to take the bumps that come along with it.

It’s a mindset that has passed through generations of the Flores family.


When Flores was 15, and he began his foray into the workforce, his grandfather told him to never leave the house without a sack to pick things up.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

His grandfather explained that it was a figurative sack, invisible to everyone but Isa Flores.

“Everything you put in the sack should be positive,” Flore’s grandfather said. If he could return home with a sack full of positive experiences, it was a successful day.

Flores listened, and he now thinks of it as one of two life-altering lessons from his grandfather. The other was to never live beyond his means.

“When you have a full-time job, life is easy,” his grandfather told him. “But we always make it so hard, because we make one peso a day and spend two.”

And so, though Flores has never been rich, he always made sure to save money for life’s unexpected turns — like this latest move to Oregon City.


It was money that attracted Flores to mechanics in the first place. When he was 7, he occasionally helped out at his uncle’s farm — cleaning pigs, feeding the cows, whatever had to be done.

When his uncle’s truck broke down, they would ride together to the local mechanic.

“When he was done, my uncle would pay him,” Flores said. “And that mechanic — boom! — to give us change he got out from his pocket a bunch of money, all greasy.”

The sight was enchanting to the young boy.

“Wow,” he told his uncle. “When I grow up, I’m going to be a mechanic. Look how much money he had in his pocket!”

His uncle laughed and said he wished he had that opportunity when he was growing up.

Flores promised that he would find a way, but it proved to be far more difficult than he anticipated. Even after he arrived in California to hunt for his toolbox, it was hard to find work because of his young age. He worked various odd jobs here and there and enrolled at night school to learn English.

He soon found that there was a mechanic class at the school as well, and he jumped at the opportunity.

Yet, it would be years before he could put his skills into practice. In between, he worked a grueling factory job as a machine operator. Nine hour days felt more like 90 hours.

He lasted two years at the factory before finding his first mechanic job in Glendora, Calif.

It was there that Flores met Jesse Talhebe, who would soon come to him with a life-altering offer.

Talhebe was buying a gas station property in West Linn, Ore., and invited Flores to join him as the mechanic at the adjoining auto shop. It was January of 1991, and Flores came straight to the auto shop after landing at the Portland airport.

It proved to be the perfect fit, a dream job for Flores. Talhebe ended up retiring about a year later, and sold the auto shop to Flores on a 20-year lease.

“I thought, ‘Wow, 20 years! I don’t know how I’m going to do that!’” Flores said. “I just needed my toolbox and I was going back to Mexico.

“But it passed, just like that.”


Isa’s Auto Service made it 21 years in West Linn before the lease was pulled. Somewhere along the way, Flores put his toolbox quest aside and decided this was where he belonged. He got married to his childhood sweetheart, Maria, had kids and grandkids, built a steady life for himself — all while working a job he loved.

“I love my wife, I love my kids,” Flores said. “But I feel happy here in the shop, or at any shop — when I was in the city in Jalisco, I used to work from 9 to 12 or 1 in the morning, happily.”

Perhaps that’s why, if you talk to him at the auto shop, there’s a palpable joy in his voice. He often punctuates thoughts with a friendly laugh and a smile.

“Over the years, more and more folks have developed tremendous fondness for Isa and his approach to business,” Daniels said.