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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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Book giveaway sees 10,000 positive changes

Donations are needed to help librarian amass even more books

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Laura Jones, librarian at Kelly Elementary School, helps Reola, 7, find a book about ballerinas on the last day of school last June.It seemed a simple goal: give kids books to take home during the summer to encourage them to read. But Laura Jones kicked it up a notch when she decided to give every one of the nearly 500 students at Kelly Elementary School at least 10 books to take home, and she let them choose which books they wanted.

She called the effort the 10,000 books project. She put out a call for book and cash donations, and the resulting support from the surrounding communities enabled her to give students 12 books each in June.

During the past school year, she and her volunteers gathered and organized the books, and on the last day of school she set up a system where each class came in, accompanied by a teacher and parent helpers, and the students “shopped” for their favorite books; library books were not included in the activity, she added.

It could have been chaos, but mostly it was exciting to see the kids so eager to grab their favorite books on the last day of school, Jones said, noting that now it is time to start planning for next year’s book giveaway, and she would love some help from the community.

Two years ago, Jones, the librarian at Kelly Elementary School, just off Southeast Foster Boulevard and 92nd Avenue, read about a program that provided 800 low-income kids with 12 books each during the summer for three years, and it turned out that those 800 students returned to school at the same level as their peers who went to summer school.

So she decided to see what would happen if she and her volunteers gave each of the students at Kelly 10 books to take home during the summer for two years. She wanted to flood the community with 10,000 books, and see how it would change the students, she said, and she noticed a change before the last day of school even ended.

“One teacher said at recess the kids were so quiet; they were all sitting down reading,” Jones said, adding that one girl thanked her and said, “I’ve got a library now.”

During the summer, Jones received a thank-you note from one fourth-grade girl, who said she’d finished some of the books, and enclosed a photo of her reading.

Later in the summer, a staff member at Kelly told Jones he ran into a sixth-grader who said he had finished all his books, leading the teacher to tell Jones, “I think we are changing the culture of the neighborhood.”

“Laura goes above and beyond the call of duty with this 10,000 books project,” said Ann Bakkensen, a retired elementary school librarian who volunteers in the library at Kelly. “Her vision and passion for the kids inspired her to do this. Reading levels go down over the summer, and the teachers work so hard to have them progress. If kids have books, they can come back to school in the fall stronger readers.”

Books a luxury

About 80 percent of students at Kelly Elementary School are on the free or reduced-rate breakfast and lunch programs, and there is no public library in walking distance, Jones said.

“In this economy, families are struggling, so extras like fun books are not in the budget,” she noted.

In addition, the school has a Russian-immersion program and a student body from diverse cultural backgrounds, so finding books to meet the needs of students in kindergarten through fifth grade can be a challenge.

Jones said she is grateful that Multnomah County Library, with an outreach program called Book2U, comes to Kelly both during the school year and every other week during the summer.  

“They bring books that kids can borrow whether they have a library card or not ,and since the books aren’t officially checked out kids can keep them as long as they like,” Jones said.

For the summer giveaway program, she targets phonics books for the kindergarteners, and tries to make sure the Russian-immersion students get to take home at least two books in Russian.

The students at Kelly want to read the same books that kids everywhere want to read, Jones said, adding that she has a wish list for the 10,000 books project that includes picture books and chapter books for early readers, graphic novels and comics, like “Garfield” and “Calvin and Hobbes,” the latest fiction books for appropriate age levels and non-fiction books on subjects like animals, pets and sports.Even though next summer vacation is months away, Jones is already looking ahead to the end of school, and she has begun to gather and categorize books and ask for donations.

What works best for the program, Jones said, is for people to send checks to the school, so that she and her volunteers can purchase new or gently used books. They work closely with the students during the year, and can pinpoint the kinds of books that the students love to read, Jones added.

County connections

Although Kelly Elementary School is not in Clackamas County, hundreds of books come from donors or stores that are in the county.

“I have used the Barnes and Noble at Clackamas Town Center to buy books with donations and they give a teacher discount and will special order books if needed,” Jones said.

Volunteer Ellen Bartholomew works with the students at Kelly every Tuesday in the library, and has come to know their tastes in books; she keeps a mental list, sometimes matching books to specific students.

Every Wednesday, on senior discount day, Bartholomew heads to the Red, White and Blue store in Gladstone, where “they have wonderfully nice staff and always a great selection of books for really good prices. Their merchandise is generally in much nicer condition than other thrift stores.”

She recently visited the Pond House bookstore, adjacent to the Milwaukie’s Ledding Library, where she also found books in excellent condition and at reasonable prices.

Helping kids read

The physical condition of the books matters to her, she said, adding that she and Jones want the students to feel that they have been given books that come straight from a bookstore.

Bartholomew has volunteered at Kelly since February 2010, and she is in her third year of helping organize the books for the 10,000 books project.

“I loved to read as a kid, and I will do anything to encourage kids to have books that they enjoy. If you can read, you can do anything you might want to do,” she said.

She expected the younger students to like picture books, but was surprised that the third, fourth and fifth grades liked non-fiction.

The older students love to get into a series like the “Harry Potter” books, she noted, and books about snowboarding, fashion and friendships also have appeal.

Finding, categorizing and organizing all the books is time consuming, but the looks on the kids’ faces when they get to choose their books is gratifying, Bartholomew said, and she has seen a big upswing in interest in reading at the school.

In early September, Bartholomew was volunteering at Kelly the first day that one of the kindergarten classes came to the library.

“They all burst in and said, ‘Wow, look at all the books.”