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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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Medical marijuana growers take the high road against county


Heading down a residential side street just east of Interstate 205 in unincorporated Clackamas County, you’d never guess that dozens of marijuana plants grow next to one of the area’s ubiquitous three-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot houses.

by: PHOTO BY: JONATHAN HOUSE - Medicinal marijuana is grown in the 'Bloom Room' of Mike Mullins and Jenifer Valley's small operation just east of Interstate 205 in unincorporated Clackamas County.Mike Mullins and Jenifer Valley, owners of approximately 24 plants rotated for continuous harvest, have won first-place awards at the Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards, have been featured in High Times magazine articles and were on the cover of the latest edition of the “Big Book of Buds.”

“Higher” educational outreach through the Stoney Girl Gardens Foundation’s Portlandsterdam University (actually in Clackamas) gives the couple even more pride than the national recognition they’ve received for their legal pot. Classes are scheduled every other weekend at the Monarch Hotel and teach about everything cannabis-related, from how to distill oils to awareness of medical marijuana laws. Their studies have developed a periodic table of intended effects and a 1-to-9 scale indicating active to sedative qualities.

With names such as “Pit Bull,” “Oregon Pinot Noir” and “Hazed Plum,” the more potent organic marijuana varieties mature more quickly than the standard three-month wait period. Their genetics are only available to Oregon’s approximately 56,000 medical marijuana cardholders (up from 40,000 in 2010 when Oregon began allowing out-of-staters to register), so people are heading in droves to Happy Valley.

“We’re the No. 1 breeder in the world,” Valley said. “It’s creating a lot of medical tourism actually, because lots of people come from all over the world to get our genetic material. They get a card, and that ($200 registration fee) money goes to fund Oregon’s emergency services.”

But a government official with Clackamas County saw a website detailing their special growing techniques, determined that they needed to apply for a $520 “soil amendment business” permit, and began levying fines until they applied on May 17. County Senior Planner Lorraine Gonzales then sent a letter to West Mount Scott property owners on July 22 saying that Mullins applied for a permit to grow medical marijuana for personal use in a 280-square-foot attached greenhouse.

“They’re spending significant resources harassing sick and disabled people,” Mullins said. “Now the county has put a big target on my forehead.”

After the county sent out the notice, he said middle-age neighbors started knocking on their door to “score weed” and teenagers attempted to break into their greenhouse. Now the couple keeps a licensed grower on site at all times to monitor a 24-hour video and alarm system. They said they don’t plan to file a lawsuit, because they would rather work with the county to help educate the community about marijuana legalization.

“I suspect it was their way of trying to humiliate us out of the neighborhood,” Mullins said. “But at least every patient across Clackamas County now has a clarification.”

After the county promised to reimburse the permitting fee, that clarification came in the form of a second Sept. 5 “courtesy notice” to neighbors:

“The medical marijuana growing operation is regulated by the state,” Gonzales wrote. “Staff received validation that the soil amendment business has not been active on the subject property for over two years.”

She sent a third letter directly to Mullins thanking him for submitting the required land-use application that the county later determined wasn’t necessary. In that letter, she said the county encourages him to continue to work with the state “to ensure the legality” of his product.

Marijuana outreach

According to the official minutes at city council meetings across Oregon, they’ve spoken “as a support mechanism in Oregon for major medical marijuana organizations and patients” in support of business applications for Club Pit Bull, an association of medical marijuana dispensaries. Preferring to call them “Patient Resource Centers,” Mullins, who graduated with honors from Clackamas High School in 1971, says he knows of no plans for a dispensary in the Happy Valley area at this time, although he and Valley dream of opening an alternative cancer treatment clinic in Clackamas County.

“End-of-life care, pain and chronic-disease management are the three fastest growing areas for health care costs in this country, and the state should cover more than just vaporizers for medical marijuana cardholders in recognition of its potential to save taxpayers money in these areas,” Valley said. “We’re starting an industry that’s going to have as much impact as the Industrial Revolution.”

They harvest approximately one plant every other week, which produces three ounces of dried material. But all of their patients, whose average age is 57, prefer to use edibles and oils to protect their lungs from smoke. With three pounds of a plant required to make 40 grams of oil or butter, these patients run through a lot of cannabis.

It costs about $6,700 to set up a marijuana greenhouse for four patients, they estimate, with an additional $700 in monthly operational costs. They also work with many more patients than they grow for, due to their work with doctors at Oregon Health and Science University and many other hospitals in palliative care or end of life and cancer care.

“Most of these patients are short term, however the state requires us to be licensed to work with them,” Mullins said.

Marijuana has the potential to cure many different types of cancer, argues Brandon Krenzler, whose daughter, Mykayla, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia that had metastasized to her brain and spinal fluid shortly after her seventh birthday last July. She then became one of the state’s youngest medical marijuana cardholders.

“Cannabis should be a first-line treatment for children with debilitating conditions rather than going straight into these harsher treatments,” Krenzler said. “THC has the potential to treat leukemia by means of causing cell apoptosis.”

Mullins and Valley donated 90 percent of Mykayla’s slightly more than one gram-daily medical marijuana, which she takes through whole extract cannabis oil and cannabis juicing. Krenzler says the treatment counteracts damaging effects of Mykayla’s chemotherapy drugs that are required for treatment under FDA standards.

“Mike and Jen are very active activists and medical people,” Krenzler said. “They like to blend multiple strains of marijuana to balance effects.”

Valley, 42, also experienced relief from marijuana after being diagnosed with an advanced case of thyroid cancer when she was 25. She underwent one of the first modified throat dissections and received experimental radiation. Within six months of joining the medical marijuana program in 1999, her cancer went into remission and she went down from dozens of pills a day to just two.

“If marijuana works like this for more people, we could actually make the Affordable Care Act affordable,” she said.

Clarification: An earlier version of this online story should have made it more obvious that Mike Mullins and Jenifer Valley grow medical marijuana in the unincorporated area of Clackamas County just east of Interstate 205. While the post office recognizes their home as a Happy Valley address, the county is their local governing body. We hope that fact was clear in county officials responding to their planning code enforcement.