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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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Fingerless bridal designer's journey back to health


Coming back home from Spain to her Mount Scott home in 2008, after meeting with designers of bridal gowns, Jan Schumacher — then the owner of Tres Fabu Bridal Shop in Westmoreland — didn’t feel well.

by: PHOTO BY: DAVID F. ASHTON - Clackamas-based bridal couturier Tres Fabu owner Jan Schumacher will be the keynote speaker at the Donate Life Northwest Lifesaver Breakfast.Brides who had shopped at her store became concerned about her subsequent absence, which led to this reporter investigating the situation and reporting the unfortunate turns in Schumacher’s life. She had suffered severe injury to her hands for reasons unclear.

Her store, which long graced the corner of Southeast Milwaukie Avenue and Bybee Boulevard in Southeast Portland, serving more than 10,000 brides by her estimate, slowly emptied over the months, while Schumacher dealt with a life-threatening illness. The shop eventually closed, and the space was rented to another business.

As she prepared to give the keynote address at the Donate Life Northwest “Lifesaver Breakfast” to be held Nov. 6 in the living room of her Clackamas home, Schumacher recounted her experiences.

“To me it’s kind of crazy, kind of like a crazy dream,” Schumacher began. “As frightening and painful as it was, it put me on a new, happy trajectory in my life.”

Even now, she can’t name the illness that nearly took her life in 2008, left her body scarred — and without fingers on her hands.

“I am undiagnosed; my blood showed no bacterium and no virus. I was becoming more and more seriously ill by a ‘mysterious something’ that had taken over my body. The Center for Disease Control has cataloged only 10 patients who have had this affliction and survived.”

When first admitted to the hospital, Schumacher said experts tried without success to understand the illness. “It started becoming critical one night, when I started bleeding out internally, from my small arteries. If it progressed to major arteries, my organs would have shut down.

“At one point, it became critical. They called my family to come say goodbye,” Schumacher said. “I ‘journeyed into the light,’ feeling myself becoming one with — part of — light. I met with family and friends who passed away before me. My husband was sitting at my bedside, in the ICU, watching me converse with these people, and at the same time, saying his goodbyes.”

A “massive dose” of steroids given at that time was credited with saving her life — helping her blood again stay inside her arteries. “But, it also kept blood flowing from my extremities — like my fingers, and the tip of my nose.”

Schumacher held up her hands, showing her finger stubs on one hand, and the other hand with a thumb, but no digits. “I spent six months at the Oregon Burn Center, and had 25 surgeries in 24 weeks.”

What helped her begin to heal was donated tissue. “They call it a biological bandage; these strips covered up to 35 percent of my body. When you think about it, this amounts to one very large and deep wound.”

Doctors replaced the sections of donated tissue until she was well enough to become her own donor, Schumacher said. “My hands would not take the grafted tissue, so at various times they were sewn into my abdomen until they formed their own blood supply.”

“When you visited my store in 2009, I’d just had one of my hands freed from my abdomen,” she said. “I soon recognized that all of this was just going to be too much for me. With 10 more surgeries coming, I could see I was not able to fulfill the requirements of the job.”

With the help of her family and friends, the remaining inventory of the 7,000-square-foot store was moved to her Clackamas home.

“All I can say is ‘God bless brides.’ I’ve had a good name in the community, and many families remembered me. These brides got me out of bed on days when I otherwise just would not have gotten up for any other reason.”

Now, she operates Tres Fabu in her home, doing a limited business by appointment. “I love being with ‘my’ brides, giving them the bridal gown of their dreams, and a phenomenal deal at the same time.”

Joy in service to others

“But what really makes me happy is a whole new trajectory my life has taken, helping

others,” Schumacher said.

As a member of the Amputee Coalition of America, Schumacher is a peer-to-peer counselor. “I talk with and give support to amputees all over the country.”

She also volunteered at the Oregon Burn Center, and through them, became involved with the Phoenix Society, a burn survivors group. “I have thousands of people with whom I’ve shared stories. I let them know that there is life after a near-death experience.”

Additionally, Schumacher supports another Portland-based organization, Community Tissue Services. “I am so blessed to have received my donated tissue — and to think that 75 percent of Oregonians are donors — it was the donated tissue that kept me alive until I could become my own donor.”

Schumacher said she’s “test-riding” a computerized partial-hand prosthesis — and is the first woman in the world to do so. “I am thrilled with that opportunity to help move this research forward,” she said.

Thinking about the message she’ll be delivering in her Donate Life Northwest speech, Schumacher’s thoughts were clear:

“Regardless of the trauma, when a person comes upon ‘a 90-degree fork in the road,’ this experience can really take you to the ‘core of your being’ as you question and decide the importance of things in life.

“After such a tragic experience, you really question if you’ll have purpose again — and that’s what I’ve discovered is most precious to me — to be purposeful to others,” she said.

Anyone can easily live a purposeful life — even in death, Schumacher said, by registering to become a donor.

“I can assure you, in my glimpse into heaven, there is just nothing about this vessel — your body — that is required in the next life. Think about it. If you can save five or 50 lives with your body by donating it, would that not be a marvelous thing to leave behind you, as you journey forward into the light?”

To learn more about Donate Life Northwest, visit donate