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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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Longtime Oregon City resident Sylvia Soumokil noticed a couple of bruises that just didn’t seem to be healing, and this concerned her since she has lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sylvia Soumokil, far right, is pictured in her hospital room with, from left, her sister Dorothy Wenzel, son Brandon Soumokil-Freer and husband Kevin Freer.  She went to urgent care, and, after the doctor took one look, she was taken immediately to Providence Portland Medical Center.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sylvia Soumokil works with two physical therapists as she attempts to take her first steps with her prosthetic feet.“I got a call from Sylvia that she was in ICU. When I got there, she was all bandaged up and said she had a blood infection that the doctors were trying to control,” said Dorothy Wenzel, Soumokil’s sister.

That blood infection, Purpura fulminans, ultimately caused sepsis, cutting off circulation to Soumokil’s extremities. Within days of being hospitalized, Soumokil lost both feet, her left hand and the index finger of her right hand.

And Soumokil was lucky that her Providence doctors transferred her to the Legacy Emmanuel Hospital Burn and Wound Unit, Wenzel said, since doctors there have been doing research on this rare blood disease since 2010.

“Amputation is the only cure for it,” she added.

Upcoming fundraiser

Soumokil has supported the city of Oregon City and the school district all her life. She graduated from the old high school, has been the wardrobe coordinator for the OCHS marching band for eight years; has volunteered at the graduation party for six years; and runs the Snack Shack at OCHS football games.

Now, Wenzel said, it is time for the community to come together and support Soumokil, and there are numerous ways to do that.

Chief among them is a fundraiser dinner and concert, beginning at 5:30 p.m. May 2, at the Oregon City High School Commons; tickets are $25.

Bugatti’s restaurant in Oregon City has been “amazing,” said Christy Parrish, Soumokil’s friend and a fellow member of the OCHS Band Boosters.

“They have donated 400 servings of pasta and will supply the servers for the buffet,” she said, noting that people need to buy their tickets right away.

And, she noted, world-renowned, new-age pianist and philanthropist Michael Allen Harrison will perform a special concert in Soumokil’s honor.

“Michael does an annual benefit for the band, and when we needed someone to do the concert, he said he’d be there and do whatever it takes,” Parrish said.

The OCHS band also will play that night, so the $25 ticket for the concert, the dinner and a silent auction with “really great items” is “a steal,” she added.

People who cannot attend the concert may donate money at the register at Bugatti’s, and a fund has been set up at the Oregon City Wells Fargo bank. Because the school district has allowed the fundraiser to be run through the district’s nonprofit, people may send checks to the high school, but must put Soumokil’s name at the bottom of the check.

“This is the community’s chance to rally. Everyone can do a little tiny thing, and make that a big thing for Sylvia,” Parrish said.

Cancer, medical expenses

As posters around Oregon City note, the Soumokil family has “endured an incredible and life-altering ordeal.”

In the spring of 2013, Soumokil’s son Brandon, now a senior at OCHS and member of the marching band, was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He received chemotherapy and radiation, and is now in remission.

“All through his chemo he showed up to band practice. Even though he was sick as a dog, he continued to be there,” Parrish said.

And all through her son’s treatment, and even as the medical bills grew larger, Soumokil was maintaining a positive attitude and “telling Brandon that life is worth living. She kept saying ‘We’re going to be OK’ so many times last year,” Parrish said.

After enduring six surgeries in four weeks, Soumokil has “flipped that attitude around on herself. She wants to get her life back the way it was. She believes everything she told Brandon last year.”

And Soumokil’s own medical treatments “have to be incredible in terms of expenses. The Legacy Burn Center is very expensive care, and now she is working her way through prosthetics, and that has to cost a fortune,” Parrish said, noting that Soumokil can’t work as a checker at Fred Meyer right now.

In fact, she added, a lot of people in the Oregon City area know Soumokil from Fred Meyer, where customers would often change lanes at the store to go through Soumokil’s line because “she was always smiling.”

Help from friends

Sheri Jones, another band booster member, has taken on the role of driving Soumokil to her appointments.

“She’s my friend; when I connect with a person and we have a friendship, I help my friends,” she said.

Calling Soumokil an inspiration, she said her friend still has a smile on her face, and the attitude that “nothing is going to get her down.”

Jones said that Soumokil is determined to put adaptive devices in her vehicle so that she can drive, and she is determined to return to the Snack Shack in September.

“People have called her a warrior. She is going to keep moving forward. Most people would be sitting in a hospital bed, wallowing in negativity, but not Sylvia. She is not complaining,” Jones said.

“We all go along in our day-to-day lives, and then a stumbling block comes along and we overcome it and move forward. Sylvia is having to do this on a greater scale — that puts it in perspective.”

As for why people should support Soumokil and her family by attending the event or donating money to help defray medical expenses, Jones said, “look inside your heart and help this incredible woman.”

Dana Henson, musical director at OCHS, described Soumokil as a “can do” person who helps organize band trips and, as the uniform coordinator, keeps the marchers looking their best.

“Sylvia has touched the lives of everyone she meets. She is always full of energy and spirit. She has donated hundreds of hours to make sure all of our band students look their best. She has taken care of our marching uniforms to ensure they last for years to come. Without her help and support, the band would not be where it is today,” he said.

People should attend the event, “because Michael Allen Harrison is not only a great performer, he is also a great person. He will be performing on the piano he donated to OCHS through his Snowman Foundation,” Henson said.

He added, “Our community will not only be able to hear Michael Allen Harrison in concert, it will also be an evening of fun and community. We will have dinner, silent auction items, and performances by our high school jazz band and jazz choir.”

Sylvia Soumokil fundraiser

What: Benefit dinner, concert and auction to raise funds to defray medical costs for Sylvia Soumokil and her family

When: 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 2

Where: The Commons at Oregon City High School, 19761 S. Beavercreek Road

Tickets: $25, available online at tinyurl.com/mdb7s65.

More: Visit facebook.com/groups/SupportingSylvia for more information on this fundraiser and other opportunities to help. For those who wish to help but can’t attend the fundraiser, make a direct donation to the family, at Wells Fargo bank, or make a direct donation at the Oregon City location of Bugatti’s restaurant. Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..