Featured Stories

INSIDERS (Sponsored Content)

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


Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Envirobots advance to regional robotics championships


The members of the robotics team from Oregon City’s Springwater Environmental Sciences School are on their way to the West Super-Regional Championship Tournament, held March 20 to 22 at McClellan Airfield in Sacramento, Calif.

It almost didn’t happen.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Tucker Bowlin holds the controls, while Brighten Carter and Jordyn Duntley look on, as Robert the robot picks up some blocks during a trial run.The nine-member team, all seventh-graders, finished in fifth place in their division at the state tournament, held in early March at Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland. This was a disappointment for them because only the top four teams advanced to the super regionals.

Then came the news that one of the four teams would be unable to attend the tournament due to financial reasons, so the Springwater team, the Envirobots, was tapped to go to California.

“We are so excited, so lucky,” said team member Brighten Carter, 12, while fellow team member Jordyn Duntley, 12, added, “It is a huge privilege.”

The students in Kassandra Paige’s seventh-/eighth-grade science class began working on building a robot for the first time last September. Because this is the first time the school has fielded a robotics team, it received a $10,000 federal grant to build an indoor field and to buy the parts to construct the robot itself, Paige said.

Andy Bowlin, a parent who also is the volunteer technical coordinator at the school, came up with the idea of implementing a robotics program into the STEM curriculum, Paige said, adding that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

“It seemed intimidating to the students at first,” but once the program was underway, the students were happy and excited to take part, she said.

Since the Springwater Environmental Sciences School focuses on project-based learning and problem-solving skills in a multidisciplinary arena, Bowlin thought a robotics program would be a perfect fit for the school’s seventh-grade curriculum.

“By adding engineering into the curriculum, you apply mechanical design and technology, you work on team-building skills, you talk about ideas, and you experience failure and learn from that,” Bowlin said.

And because there is an existing international youth robotics program called FIRST, an acronym, which means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, there already is a structured element that would be easy to incorporate into the current curriculum at the school, he said.

FIRST issues challenge

In the FIRST program, students are given a specific set of rules to follow that stress “gracious professionalism,” Bowlin said.

“Every year in September, FIRST issues a new challenge to all teams all over the world. Students are told what parts they can use to build their robots and complete the challenge, but it is the students who design, build and program the robots, within the parameters of the challenge,” he said.

There are several age-group divisions within FIRST, including junior teams, ages 6 to 9. The Envirobots are in the First Tech Challenge division, for grades seven through 12.

The team chose the name Envirobots because they wanted to emphasize that they represent an environmental school, team members said, and they also decided to name their robot Robert.

Rules for the competition are complex, and include inspections of each team’s robot by the judges, a student presentation to a panel of judges about the process of building and programming the robot, and the actual operating of the robot on a specially constructed indoor field.

The competition is a two-day process, said Tucker Bowlin, 12, a member of the team and Andy Bowlin’s son.

“The first day you get the robot inspected and tested to see if it is still working, and then we talk about the robot and how we built it,” he said, noting that the theme for this year’s competition is “block party.”

As the students begin to build their robots, they must “think about manipulating the robot to do certain tasks, and they must develop their critical-thinking skills. They must figure out all the steps needed to pick up a block, and this makes the students think harder,” Andy Bowlin said.

When it is time to roll out the robots onto the field for that part of the competition, the drivers take over, including Carter and Tucker Bowlin. The field has two ramps and other small structures, but most importantly, there are containers filled with brightly colored blocks that the robots must pick up and deliver.

There are three main periods in the competition: Autonomous, Teleop and Endgame.

In Autonomous, the robot has 30 seconds to pick up a block and carry it to a specific location. The driver has programmed the instructions into the computer, and at the touch of a button, the robot begins to move on its own, Carter said.

“But in Teleop, we control the robot with one of the controllers, and we try to get blocks into baskets” which are balanced on a see-saw like structure, she said.

Teleop is two minutes long, but the last 30 seconds of that period is called Endgame, during which the driver can direct the robot over to a corner and raise a flag, or can direct the robot to hang from a rod. None of the robot’s wheels are allowed to touch the ground in the latter maneuver. Or, to rack up more points, the driver can direct the robot to do both tasks.

Teamwork counts

Points are compiled to determine winners, but there are other ways to advance to the next competition, Andy Bowlin said.

“The bigger part is how you present yourself as a team, how much you inspire the younger generation, how you form team strategies, how you designed the robot and how you are able to think outside the box,” he said.

In fact, the Envirobots qualified for the state competition by winning a second-place Inspire Award at the Evergreen Air Museum regional robotics competition.

“The Inspire Award truly embodies the ‘challenge’ of the FTC program. The team receiving this award serves as an inspiration to what this program, and the young minds involved, can accomplish. The team has performed well in all judging categories and serves as a model FIRST Tech Challenge Team,” Paige said.

Andy Bowlin also noted that although FIRST is the international governing organization for the competitions, Oregon has a state organizing body called ORTOP, an acronym for Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program. He recommended that anyone interested in starting a robotics program visit ortop.org.

Looking back on what the team has accomplished, Carter said her favorite part of the process is “speaking to the judges and going to the competitions.”

She added that she has learned valuable engineering skills through trial and error, but in the end it has been “really fun and cool to know that you know how to build a robot.”

“At first I didn’t want to take on the challenge, but now I am really happy and know that everything I learned I will be able to use in high school and the rest of my life. I learned about technology and teamwork and how to work out problems,” Duntley said.

Tucker Bowlin learned about robotics from his father, of course, but said he had always been interested in engineering, robotics and mechanical things.

“I like building things, so I liked the idea of building a robot from scratch and seeing others compete,” he said.

Paige added that next year her new seventh-graders will get to be part of the robotics program, and this year’s team, which will then be in eighth grade, will have the opportunity to continue through an after-school program.

She also said that she and the team will be looking for local business sponsors to help them continue with robotics since the federal grant was just for one year.

Nine members of the Envirobots will attend the competition in Sacramento. They include: Tucker Bowlin, Brighten Carter, Liam Cummings, Tony Cyphers, Jordyn Duntley, Jesus Ferreyra, Callie Glasgow, Henry Phipps and Joshua Rippe. Coaches are Andy Bowlin, Carol Krueger and Kassandra Paige.

Four other students are part of the team, but are unable to go to the California competition. They are: Maggie Anderson, Duncan Harris, Mishayla Walker and Emma Woodward.

The Springwater Environmental Sciences School is located at 16491 S. Springwater Road, in Oregon City. It is a public charter school for students in kindergarten through eighth grades, and is part of the Oregon City School District. Call 503-631-7700 or visit springwaterschool.com.