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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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Vets air grievances as issues pile up


When Daniel Larsen stood to speak at a mid-October town hall meeting hosted by U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, it wasn’t to voice a complaint about the recent government shutdown or to discuss Second Amendment rights.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - U.S. Navy veterans Marlyn Miller and Daniel Larsen spoke to U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader on Veterans Day about their exposure to toxic chemicals while in the service. The issue he brought forward was very specific, one that he and scores of other Navy veterans had dealt with for years, yet remained unknown to officials like Schrader.

Beginning in 1992, when he was deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan, Larsen was exposed on a daily basis to an array of toxic chemicals generated by the Skinkampo trash incinerator located off-base. He sees it as no coincidence that, in the years following his service, he has dealt with chronic health issues such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and short-term memory loss.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Marlyn Miller served at Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan for three years, and has since suffered lung cancer, liver damage and neurological issues. Scores of others — including Larsen’s friend Marlyn Miller — have reported similar or even worse health problems following their time in Atsugi. They claim that the military failed to properly disclose the risks upon deployment and has refused to provide proper health coverage for those affected — including families who lived at the base.

That’s where Schrader comes in.

After hearing Larsen’s story at the town hall meeting, Schrader agreed to meet with Larsen and Miller in person to discuss how he might be able to help. The meeting, fittingly, took place on Veterans Day at Larsen’s West Linn home.

Schrader agreed it is a major issue and promised to begin working on a solution.

“These gentlemen have been lied to,” Schrader said. “Their families have been exposed to things that the military knew about and, so far, has refused to acknowledge their responsibility. We’re going to do what we can to make sure their families at least get health care.”

Schrader said the first step will be to gather more information to better understand the chronology of what happened and who was responsible.

“Then we’ll go ahead and talk to the Department of Defense and Department of Navy, and see if we can’t get them to do the right thing,” Schrader said. “If not, then we’ll put legislation in any bill that we can.”

Aside from their own personal health problems, Larsen and Miller have confirmed more than 100 cases of cancer in veterans who spent time in Atsugi. Of the 600 families they’ve surveyed, 98 percent reported health problems.

According to Larsen, the majority of these health issues aren’t covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, in part because Congress has yet to appropriate funding or specify what side effects for Atsugi veterans must be covered.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, Larsen and Miller found that both the air and water at the base were contaminated by 236 different chemicals — 27 of which exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum exposure limit. Many of the chemicals were dispersed by the off-site trash incinerator, which operated from 1985 to 2001.

The first warning about the dangers of the chemicals, according to Larsen, did not come until 1997, when the Department of Navy added a “Standard Form 600” to service members’ permanent medical records. The form acknowledged that an air-quality survey report from 1995 listed 12 emissions that exceeded EPA standards.

A waiver form distributed in 1998 classified Atsugi as a “hazardous and high-risk duty station,” but Larsen and Miller said service members had little choice but to sign it for fear of being blackballed from the military.

Miller, for his part, was stationed at Atsugi for three years and has since battled lung cancer, liver damage and neurological issues. His wife and daughter lived with him at the base, and the Millers suffered numerous miscarriages when they tried to conceive a second child.

Larsen, Miller and other members of the “NAF Atsugi Incinerator Group” are primarily interested in obtaining further health benefits from the military. Dependents like Miller’s wife and daughter are mostly shut out from coverage at this point, and even veterans themselves aren’t being properly treated, according to Larsen.

This isn’t Larsen and Miller’s first appeal to Congress. In 2010, they pushed to pass a bill that would “authorize health care for certain individuals exposed to environmental hazards at Camp Lejeune and the Atsugi Naval Air Facility,” but it died in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Though Congress is gridlocked on many issues, Schrader said this is an issue everyone should agree on.

“We’re not getting much done these days, as you might have noticed,” Schrader said. “But there are some ‘must pass’ legislations.”

Both Larsen and Miller came away from the meeting feeling hopeful about the future.

“He was very receptive, extremely helpful,” Larsen said.

“He was concerned for the active-duty retirees and their families,” Miller said. “He was willing to take that on, and that’s going to be a huge battle for him as well.”

Moving forward, Larsen and Miller hope to start a registry of every veteran who served at Atsugi from 1985 to 2001, spreading word about the issue while also taking stock of how many people were affected by the chemical exposure.

“There are so many people who were exposed and dying of cancers,” Miller said. “They need to be able to get that treatment.”

To learn more about Larsen and Miller’s efforts, visit nafatsugiincineratorgroup.weebly.com.