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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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North Clackamas School District to close Concord Elementary


Concord Elementary School in Oak Grove will close at the end of the school year following the North Clackamas School Board’s 6-1 vote Thursday, saving $450,000 in estimated annual administrative and custodial costs.

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Concord Elementary School parents pack the Sabin-Schellenberg Skills Center auditorium to protest the closure of their school beginning next year.Trisha Claxton, who lives halfway between Concord and Riverside elementary schools, voted no. She’d rather see the district enact measures such as discontinuing the purchase of new textbooks until voters pass a bond to improve the safety of schools during earthquakes.

According to Macadam Forbes, Concord’s building and prime acreage could be resold at $4.9 million, the most of the five elementary schools under consideration for closure. But several elected school officials vowed keep the historic building intact for public use.

“It’s a sad statement on the value that the public places on public education that our funding situation has led us to this,” said longtime Board Member Vivian Scott.

Tearful parents, teachers and students singing versions of their school songs gave moving speeches to save their school at the Dec. 12 meeting, even though their school building was the oldest and operating only at 63 percent of capacity. Some parents encouraged the School Board members to postpone their decision until after the arrival of Milwaukie light rail in 2015, which they expected would attract families with school-age children to the area.

That suggestion resonated with elected official Rein Vaga, who lamented that the McLoughlin community has been trying to improve itself and wondered how history would judge the School Board’s decision. His motion to delay the closure until the 2016-17 school year was seconded by Claxton but failed 5-2.

“I am betting 285 lives that nothing happens with this amendment,” Vaga said.

Daryl Dixon spoke for the majority of the board, however, in recalling the recent earthquake in China that killed thousands, including many children.

“That’s just not something I’m willing to take a risk on for our kids,” Dixon said. “I hope this is the toughest decision that the School Board ever has. I couldn’t imagine any harder or more difficult.”

Scott said she couldn’t live with the idea that her decision could have contributed to the death of a child, and though the closure was a hard pill to take, she was confident in the enrollment projections and in the district’s ability to close its budget gap.

About 100 taxpayers in the Rex Putnam feeder area signed a petition to find alternative budget-saving measures that wouldn’t require disrupting children. But other parents feared that crime and loitering would increase around Concord’s campus next to a newly built McLoughlin Boulevard Walmart, where a traffic situation has given them grave concerns about student getting safely to school.

Superintendent Matt Utterback recommended the “tough financial decision” with the hope of lowering class sizes by hiring more teachers and restoring NCSD student days in the near future. He said the budgetary axe fell on Concord mainly because of its $3.8 million in maintenance and seismic-upgrade costs estimated as necessary through 2021, 56 percent higher than the next highest school in the Rex Putnam High School feeder system.

Moving Concord’s 285 students to safer schools will bump enrollment numbers of all area schools closer to the district’s target of 500 students. Based on Portland State University enrollment projections that considered population increases stemming from light-rail construction, the remaining four elementary schools in the Rex Putnam feeder area have classroom space until at least 2022.

Concord parents were also out in force to defend their school at the board’s previous school-closure hearings, Nov. 14 and Dec. 4. They spoke of Concord’s longstanding educational traditions and its principal who has been working with parents to reinforce safety procedures.

Now an appointed NCSD Boundary Committee will redraw elementary school attendance boundaries for the Putnam feeder system to present to the School Board for discussion in February and possible action in March.

Earlier this year, district staff recommended that the School Board consolidate the five elementary schools in the Rex Putnam High School feeder system by closing Riverside Elementary, a bilingual school that produces graduates fluent in both Spanish and English. After an outpouring of support for Riverside, Utterback reversed course in March, instead forming a District Boundary Committee to recommend a school for closure in the Putnam system.

Before Utterback’s reversal, Riverside parents had lobbied School Board members to consider closing Concord to maximize calculated cost effectiveness. The district would like its elementary schools to hold 500 students, but Concord can only hold 448. Riverside can hold 560 students. Concord’s building was constructed in 1936, whereas Riverside’s construction dates to 1955. Riverside’s building and property would only be worth $3.9 million.