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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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OC resident helps dog-fighting victims


Oregon City resident Jo Becker recently returned from a weeklong journey to help care for the dogs at a Humane Society of the United States emergency animal shelter.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: JO BECKER - Saved from a suspected dog-fighting group, a pit bull receives attention from staffers at the emergency shelter.The national organization assisted in the seizure of 367 dogs suspected to be bred for fighting in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia.

With help from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the groups transported hundreds of pit bulls to temporary shelters, and then turned their attention to providing ongoing care of the dogs, which were estimated to range in age from several days to 10 to 12 years at the time of seizure.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: JO BECKER - Jo Becker plays with some of her kittens back at home in Oregon City.Both national groups also assisted authorities in collecting forensic evidence, including the remains of dead animals discovered on some of the properties where dogs were housed and allegedly fought.

Becker, 39, says she was fairly successful at compartmentalizing her “grunt-work for a week” from the full reality of the cruelty behind the situation.

“The dogs were so incredibly sweet and such innocent victims in this story,” she said. “They’ve never known life as good as this.”

Becker recalls reading to a handful of the most frightened and withdrawn of the dogs in the shelter.

“For them, very quiet, minimal interaction was important to help them relax and get comfortable with people,” she said. “I spent 20 or 30 minutes reading to each one individually. One or two were so nervous I turned around on my stool and read with my back to them, turning occasionally to roll a treat into the pen for them. They never got up to get those treats. I only hope they retrieved them after I left, taking to heart all the ‘good boys’ I offered while I was there.”

Becker spent her last couple of days working with a section of bouncing, bubbly adolescents whose energy and enthusiasm was “simply precious.” After months of individual care and proper food and water, Becker says most of the dogs seemed to be doing well.

“I really can’t bring myself to imagine what their lives had been like before being rescued,” she said.

Criminal trials have not yet begun in what is thought to be the second-largest dog-fighting raid in U.S. history. It took place Aug. 23.

Humane Society of the U.S. officials declined to identify the location of the emergency shelter.

“These dogs have been in secret shelter locations for six months, and there’s no telling how much longer before the legal cases are resolved,” Becker said. “Secrecy was important and, of course, legally the animals are ‘evidence.’ Heaven forbid, justice doesn’t prevail, the ‘property’ must be returned to the defendants in as good or better condition than when seized. Of course, for all of us who volunteer, it’s about the animals, but this harsh reality was real and palpable.”

Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the multi-state investigation has involved numerous local agencies, led by U.S. prosecuting attorneys and the FBI.

“These defendants were betting between $5,000 and $200,000 on one dogfight,” said U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. “The number of dogs seized and the amount of money involved in this case shows how extensive this underworld of dogfighting is. These dogfighters abuse, starve and kill their dogs for the supposed ‘fun’ of watching and gambling on a dogfight. Their behavior is deplorable, will not be tolerated, and will be punished to the full extent of the law.”

Local volunteers neededby: PHOTO COURTESY: JO BECKER - One of the rescue dogs is chained up outside a 'doggy-shack' without food or water within reach before being seized by the Humane Society of the U.S.

In going to the emergency animal shelter, Becker responded for the second time to a national call for volunteer experts, the other in response to Hurricane Sandy in December 2012 (“Volunteers help Sandy’s four-legged victims recover,” Jan. 2, 2013). The main difference between the storm-related animal shelter was its individually owned pets versus a shelter set up as part of a criminal case like this.

“In some ways, this was very similar,” she said. “The primary objective each day is to feed, clean and care for the animals.”

Typical shelters have a variety of breeds in various shapes and sizes, but it was “mind numbing” for Becker to see so many pit bulls in one place.

“There were so many brown pit bulls, and lovely tan pit bulls, and black pits with a touch of white here and there,” she said. “There were so many that after a while, especially moving between different areas in only a week’s time, it was hard to keep them straight.”

Becker spent her first three days in an area with approximately 40 dogs. Throughout the shelter, Becker saw signs of many stories that may never come to light — only the silent victims know the horrors they faced. She saw many female dogs with extended nipples — suspected evidence of frequent and repeated matting and nursing — even in dogs that weren’t very old. And, just like people, the individual animals responded to their situation differently.

“Some were damaged by their upbringing and despite intense care and studied behavior training, a few continue to sit in the corner of their pens,” Becker said. “Others proved unbelievably resilient, trusting and taking comfort from people as if they’d never known how cruel humans could be.”

Volunteers provide the dogs daily mental and physical stimulation aimed at aiding animals’ natural, healthy behavior. They gave treats to the dogs that sit on command or keep “four on the floor,” as opposed to jumping up on the cage for attention.

“My favorite reading partner was a light brown pit the volunteers called Ethel,” Becker said. “I read to Ethel twice, and each time she quietly sat close to the front of the cage and took treats from my hand as I read. She was nervous, but sweet. I only learned later that she typically spends her time fully hidden beneath her bed; it made me appreciate the value of what I was doing there.”

Becker reported that there also was a small brood of chickens, also confiscated from one of the properties, at the shelter.

“I don’t know a lot about chickens, but have had some experience and enjoyed working with these,” Becker said.

They, too, Becker said, got behavioral enrichment treatment. “For them,” she said, “it was sitting quietly talking to them or reading to them and hand feeding them treats. They loved tiny dried mealworms, which they’d pluck out from between two fingers. I particularly enjoyed holding them and feeling them relax in my arms.”

Throughout her stay, Becker and other volunteers cheered as a handful of released dogs were matched up with rescue groups and shelters across the country that have the capacity to work with them toward eventual home placement

“There were cheers and high-fives; some cried tears of joy that these dogs were moving on to better opportunities and a chance at a normal life,” Becker recalled.

“This trip taught me a great deal about dogs in general and about these ‘trauma victims’ specifically,” she said. “I’ll forever be grateful for the honor of helping to care for those animals. I met wonderful people and made great friends at the shelter, but the scope of this operation and the depravity that allows some people to do this to other living beings still dumbfounds me.”

You can help canine victims

Jo Becker encourages Clackamas County residents to visit the HSUS site to learn more about this and other national animal abuse issues (humanesociety.org/action).

Locally, the Oregon Humane Society has championed several advances in Oregon’s animal protection legislation (oregonhumane.org/advocacy/overview.asp). Becker added, “Please take the time to reach out to elected officials to voice your support for animal protection legislation.”

Becker, who has lived in Oregon City since 2006, is a member of two technical rescue groups, Oregon Humane Society’s Technical Rescue Team (oregonhumane.org/services/animal_rescue.asp#.UqeXFyfhcgw) and the Washington State Animal Response Team (washingtonsart.org). She offers free information and presentations on preparing animals for disaster at www.jobecker.weebly.com.