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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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Giant hogweed plant appears across county


It’s big, it’s beautiful and it is very, very toxic.

In fact, giant hogweed is a Class A noxious weed, and contact with any part of the plant can result in serious burns, similar to chemical burns or fire burns, said Jeff Lesh, WeedWise Program technician with the Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District.

If the sap comes into contact with eyes, it can cause temporary or permanent blindness, he added.

Lesh described giant hogweed as a “limited problem” in the county, saying the conservation district is dealing with a “handful” of patches at the moment.

But because he and his colleagues want to stay on top of the problem before it becomes more widespread, he is asking that people who think they have a giant hogweed plant on their property notify him at once.

There are two main ways to recognize the perennial plant, Lesh said, including the fact that it produces dinner-plate size white, umbrella-shaped flowers, similar to, but much larger than Queen Anne’s lace.

But the really definitive means of identification is the size of the plant, which grows above 10 feet, and produces massive leaves, which can be 3 to 5 feet in width.

It can easily be confused with cow parsnip or even poison hemlock, but “no other plant that has a similar flower grows above 10 feet,” Lesh added.

Weeds spreading

Giant hogweed is native to Eurasia and was intentionally planted in the United States in the early 20th century as a “horticultural curiosity” in ornamental gardens. It spreads by seed, and can crop up anywhere, including residential areas.

“It will spread naturally along roadsides, in ditches and by creeks and streams. It is mostly spread by human assistance in contaminated soil or intentional planting,” Lesh said.

In Clackamas County, giant hogweed has been found on residential properties. The city of Portland is managing an outbreak of the plant near Mississippi Avenue.

Probably the most publicized appearance of the noxious plant was in June 2012, when it was found at Hartley Elementary School in Gresham, a school located at Northeast 185th and Glisan. This was a doubly dangerous location, because there is a public park directly behind the school.

“The parents of some of the neighbor kids said some of their children had recurring burns and rashes,” due to contact with the giant hogweed, said Sam Leininger, the WeedWise Program manager for the conservation district.

He added that the boys had cut off the hollow stems of the plants and used them as “telescopes,” endangering their eyes.

Eradication important

People who think they have a patch of giant hogweed on their property should contact the conservation district at once, Lesh said.

“Call us and don’t disturb the plant. If property owners want to control the plant themselves, that is an option, or we’ll take care of it for free,” he said.

by: PHOTO BY SAM LEININGER, CCSWCD - The leaves of the giant hogweed, pictured left, can grow from 3 to 5 feet in width. The plant is a noxious weed, and the sap is the most dangerous part.He added that if property owners try to remove the plant themselves, they may inadvertently spread the problem, by moving contaminated soil.

“Our job is to identify the plant, prevent the spread of it, control the plant and eradicate the plant infestation,” Lesh said.

Above all, he added, people need to be aware that giant hogweed is regulated by state and government laws, and is not allowed to be intentionally cultivated or transported, unless it is being taken for disposal.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture “wants to know where the plants are, and they want them to be controlled because there are human-health concerns,” Lesh said, noting it is illegal to buy giant hogweed or any Class A noxious weed at a nursery.

The soil and water conservation district specializes in early detection and rapid response programs emphasizing education and cost-effective prevention to help property owners eradicate weeds of any kind and to stay on the lookout for weeds before they become widely established on their property.

Lesh added that free brochures are available to help property owners identify the “Terrible 10” noxious weeds, including giant hogweed.

Get weed wise

To learn more about the WeedWise Program or to report a weed infestation, call the Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District at 503-210-600 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To pick up brochures, stop by the CCSWCD office at 221 Molalla Ave., Oregon City, Suite 102.