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

Drama students get front row seat to Met's 'Aida'


by: MARTY SOHL/MET OPERA  - North Clackamas high school students will feast their eyes on the massive set of 'Aida' on Dec. 15 at Century Clackamas Town Center cinemas.Drama students in the North Clackamas School District are getting to experience the world of opera up close this year, as the result of a partnership between the school district and the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Area movie theaters, including Century Clackamas Town Center, have been broadcasting live productions of the Met’s opera performances for six years, but tickets are pricey at $16 for students and $24 for adults. However, because of the partnership, 50 tickets are made available to the high school students for free for each opera.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - CHS Thespians Mychal Elmore and Christine Zhao look over a musical script.The partnership between the two entities came about because of Carrie Jo Vincent’s ongoing work with the Portland Opera. Vincent, the drama teacher at Clackamas High School, knew that the Met’s previous partnership with the Portland Public School District had ended, and she knew that the Portland Opera was focusing on local marketing of its own organization.

So she jumped at the chance to form an alliance with the Met, said Scott Walker, the drama teacher at Milwaukie High School.

In October, students from Clackamas, Rex Putnam and Milwaukie high schools went to see “L’Eliser D’Amore” (“The Elixir of Love”) by Gaetano  Donizetti and Felice Romani and “Otello,” by Guiseppe Verdi and Arrigo Boito.

“‘Aida’ will be our third opera, and is the one that we are really putting our energies into in terms of preparing the students with background information prior to the viewing of the opera,” Walker said.

Vincent noted that MHS students will attend a comprehensive workshop about “Aida” on Dec. 11 at CHS, just prior to seeing the live broadcast of the famous opera on Dec. 15.

As part of the partnership, Vincent went to New York City to train with the Met, and came back with study guides and binders for all three high school drama teachers in the district.

“The lessons include everything from plot and character to characteristics of the history of opera. The lessons also have accompanying sound bites from the various operas to illustrate the examples,” Walker said.

Purest form of theater’

“I wanted to take part in the program, because as a theater teacher I see opera as probably the purest form of theater,” Walker said. “It includes all of the basic media of theater: rhythm, harmony and language, as wellas compelling plots and fantastic acting.”

And there is so much to be gained from exposing students to opera, he noted, adding that opera “highlights classical plot structure, protagonist/antagonist relationships, conflict, complication and character.”

From a drama teacher’s point of view, opera also “demonstrates excellent acting, over-the-top scenic and costume design and vocal technique,” Walker said.

It also “showcases world-class singers using their instrument to fill a house with intense and passionate music, without the aid of artificial amplification to boot,” he said, adding that students must focus on a continuous story, with no commercial breaks and no interactive touch screen.

“And it does it all in a foreign language, so the kids really have to watch and listen and read the translation flashed across the top of the screen when they get lost in the plot,” Walker said.

“This is an amazing gift to our students from the New York Metropolitan Opera, and we hope to expand the offerings to our students in the future, both in the number of students we can take and in the number of live HD shows we can take them to. It is only the first year of the partnership, and we are looking to grow with it.”

Opening up a new world

Seniors Christine Zhao, 18, and Mychal Elmore, 17, are thespians at Clackamas High School, and although they have years of drama experience, the world of opera was a new one for both of them.

“Acting is acting, and in musicals, there is both music and dance, but opera takes musicals to another level,” Zhao said.

“The Elixir of Love” was the first live opera broadcast she had ever seen, and she said, “The music blew me away.”

She also loved the visuals, describing the sets as having a “painterly look” that enhanced the feel of the performance.

Elmore saw “Elixir” and “Otello,” and said for her it was an amazing experience to see how it all came together. Much of her own experience at CHS has involved backstage crew work and she stage managed the last two big musicals at the high school.

So for her, the backstage aspect of the live broadcast was a real eye opener. During the real-time intermission at the Met, viewers are led on a tour of the backstage area, and see set technicians at work.

“The size of the sets, everything they do, I did not realize how much work went into putting it on,” Elmore said, adding, “Seeing the stage manager with a giant clipboard, and seeing the intensity, made me see how much more difficult it is in the real world.”

Elmore is also in band at CHS, so she was fascinated by listening to the orchestra and watching them follow the singers; seeing them all work together, she said.

When she went to see “Elixir,” she sat next to an older lady who told her that she had become involved with operas when she was 11 or 12.

“She told me that she fell in love with them; that they opened up a whole new world for her. And she said she was happy to see high school students in the audience,” Elmore added.