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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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The value of BIG TREES


Some people see a big tree, and that is all they see. But Brian French sees a champion; he sees something significantly more than just a large tree.

“To me, big trees in urban communities are ambassadors for all trees,” he said.

by: PHOTO BY ALEX RAGUS - Brian French is shown above measuring the national champion Pinus ponderosa, or Ponderosa pine. The tree, located in Oregons La Pine State Park, is the largest of its species; it is visited by thousands of people each year.French, a certified arborist/tree risk assessor, will share his treetop vision from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, at the Milwaukie Center. He also will show his 28-minute film “Treeverse.” The event is sponsored by the Clackamas County Master Gardeners, and is free and open to the public.

French’s presentation, “Looking Up — The Benefits of Our Oldest Trees,” will explain the many functions of big trees in urban areas.

“They do represent the pinnacle of what a species can be in size and habitat,” he said. And then there is the human-tree relationship.

“We look at old trees as something important. When trees are 300 to 400 years old, we imagine what the world must have looked like then. They are the evidence of where we came from,” French said.

In his presentation, he wants to encourage gardeners to look up and appreciate old trees in the landscape. He wants landscapers to understand that cutting down old trees and replanting young trees is not always the answer.

He will also share information about his nonprofit organization, Ascending the Giants.

“Our group is apolitical and nonconfrontational. We work with parks, cities and private property owners, to educate folks about the importance of trees,” French said.

Anyone interested in trees will benefit from the presentation, he said, adding that one reason he likes doing these talks is what happens afterward.

“People come up to me and tell me they know where a big tree is. We meet other people and network, and I tell them I am really interested in coming out and seeing their trees.”

Canopy ‘Treeverse’

Another facet of French’s presentation will be a screening of his film “Treeverse,” made in 2011. During the filming, French and Will Koomjian, also an arborist, set off on a canopy trek through an old-growth Oregon white oak forest.

The two men made the film to introduce modern tree climbing, what French calls “expedition-style climbing,” to as many people as they could.

“We went from the top of one tree to another for one kilometer with no ground support. We slept and ate in the tops of these trees for five days in a grove of trees just off Central Point Road in Oregon City,” he said.

They raised $10,000 to make the film, aided by $200,000 in pro-bono and sponsorships, French said.

A 12-man film crew, some in helicopters, recorded the effort and the resulting film was shown in the 2012 world tour of the Banff Film Festival, the world’s biggest adventure film festival. Viewers in 97 countries saw the film, French said.

Even better, “Oregon Field Guide” won an Emmy for the “Making of Treeverse,” he said.

Tree love started early

French’s love affair with trees and his passion to conserve and protect them began at an early age, when he was growing up in the wide-open spaces in Kentucky, where his best friend lived half a mile away.

Then, when he was 18 and living in Monterey, Calif., he saw a man climbing trees who asked him if he wanted a job.

“Rigging, harnessing — oh yeah, that’s what I wanted to do,” French said.

Later, he and a friend were working for a company, measuring large trees that were on “an epic scale,” and they wondered what it would be like to be in the top of those trees.

“With the utmost respect we climbed to the top of some trees on the upper Clackamas River in a snowstorm, and we were really hooked on a new way to approach tree climbing,” he said.

In 2008, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife connected French and his colleagues with the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy, based in Ashland.

“They had a tree registry, and we asked them if they needed help measuring big trees. Then we started Ascending the

Giants, and in 2009 we adopted the registry, renaming it the

Oregon Champion Tree Registry,” French said.

“It is a compilation of measurements. We take in measurements of trees and verify them, and we search for big trees. We measure their height, their circumference at breast height, and their crown width to come up with the total value of that tree. And then we compare information gathered from other trees to determine the oldest trees.”

As the state coordinator for the Champion Tree Registry, French has a mission of sorts.

“We like to photograph and document old trees, and encourage people to go see trees. There are not very many of those trees around any more, and we want to share them,”he said.

Organization sponsors talk

As program chairwoman for the Clackamas County Master Gardeners, Laura Eyer is always looking for inspirational speakers for the group’s meetings, held at 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month at the Milwaukie Center.

“We try to find individuals who are accomplished in their field, are good speakers and who give university research-based information to our chapter members and the general public. Some of our programs qualify for educational credits that Master Gardeners must earn if they wish to work with the public,” she said.

Eyer heard French speak at the Master Gardener Mini-College on the Oregon State University campus last summer.  After speaking to the audience about the importance of old-growth trees, he showed his film, “Treeverse,” and she found him to be “an entertaining, erudite fellow.”

French has “reverence for large trees of all species and then shares this with the public in an apolitical approach to better tree protection,” Eyer said.

She added, “Sometimes people take for granted the value of big trees. They just always are there, indestructible and part of the landscape. What is not always thought about is what these trees do for communities, the forest and wildlife. It takes someone like Brian who is passionate about his lifework to remind us of their value.” To learn more about the Clackamas County Master Gardeners, visit cmastergardeners.org.

Root of the issue

What: “Looking Up — The Benefits of Our Oldest Trees”

Who: Clackamas County Master Gardeners present certified arborist Brian French

When: 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13

Where: The Milwaukie Center, 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive

Call: 503-653-8100

More: French also will show his 28-minute film, “Treeverse.” The meeting is free and open to the public. To learn more and see a clip from “Treeverse,” visit ascendingthegiants.com.