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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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Scholarships guide new lives for Whitcomb fifth-graders


by: ELLEN SPITALERI - Lot Whitcomb Elementary School students who have been chosen as Marathon Education Scholars stand in front of the school's mural. Front row: Litzy Talavera, Abigale Wrenn, Larry Sutton and Daniel Espinosa. Back row: Emma Gray, executive director of Marathon Education Partners, Stephanie Gonzalez, Junet Lugo, Inessa Yantsen and Antonio Cuevas.Although they are only fifth-graders, eight Lot Whitcomb Elementary School students know one thing for sure — they are going to college. And they are going to have plenty of help along the way, as the eight were chosen to be the first Marathon Education Scholars in Clackamas County.

The Marathon Education Partners program was founded in 2002, with a goal to increase access to higher education for low-income students in the Portland-Vancouver area through a combination of mentoring and a scholarship opportunity.

Students come from Title 1 elementary schools, which means that at least 50 percent of the student body must qualify for the free-or-reduced lunch program

“This is a needs-based program, and it works because it is a combination of a scholarship and working with a long-term mentor,” said Emma Gray, executive director of Marathon Education Partners.

“We identify kids who are very bright and have a desire to go to college,” she said, adding that the program starts with students in fourth or fifth grade, because “we feel if we wait until they are in eighth or ninth grade it will be too late.”

Adults who sign on to the program as mentors, commit to setting aside $100 per month for a college fund for the student they are matched with, and they also agree to work with that student for 10 years.

Mentors are required to contact their student at least once a month, by email, phone or in person, and they also meet one-on-one with the student at least three or four times per year.

“This is not an intense intervention; we are not trying to take the place of the family. We schedule at least two big events per year, and give opportunities for people to connect in person,” Gray said.

She added, “It is important to us that the relationship does what it is supposed to do; it is a really powerful tool to help kids be successful.”

A face on philanthropy

Marathon Education Partners is funded through individual and private grants and corporation foundation grants. There are fundraisers throughout the year to help with operation costs, but 100 percent of the money set up for the scholarships goes to the students, Gray noted.

There are 98 scholars and around 140 mentors; the numbers don’t exactly match up, Gray said, because some students have more than one mentor.

“I have been working really hard in this community to find mentors; to find people with a vested interest in these kids,” Gray said, noting that she has been speaking to local Rotary clubs and hopes to meet with officials in other service clubs, on school boards and involved in local and county government.

“Safety of these students is our first concern,” she said, noting that there is an application process for mentors.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to put a face on philanthropy. I know there are amazing people out there who want to help these kids,” Gray said.

And the program is working, she said, adding that 100 percent of the first class of scholars is now in college.

“Some of these kids got full-ride scholarships and have not even had to touch our scholarship money yet. We have kids in college at OSU, PSU, Pacific Lutheran, Concordia and all the campuses of PCC,” Gray said.

Why does the program work?

“The scholars get a role model who has typically been to college and can tell them about career opportunities. Mentors can expose students to cultural and sporting events, and we have partners with resources centered around college, that provide training opportunities; that can help students figure out how to pay for, apply for and be successful in college,” Gray said.

“They have this person who says, ‘I want to help you.’ And then the students start to believe that college is right for them, that they can do this. It allows them to have faith in their own dreams,” she added.

“We also take them to a college campus,” she said, just to give them the experience of seeing a college setting.

Gray added that she just can’t emphasize enough the importance of the mentoring and the long-term commitment to students.

“It is profoundly powerful to have a person who knows them. We have mentors who feel like this has changed their lives,” Gray said.

Another choice

Ellen Baltus, the school counselor at Lot Whitcomb, has decided that she is going to become a mentor, because she believes in the program.

She was raised in a family where higher education was a given, so she went on to college and became a social worker and then a school counselor. Every day she meets youngsters who don’t even think about going to college, because no one in their families has ever attended college. Many live in poverty, and their goal is simply to survive.

“I began realizing that we need to start having these conversations with kids now — they need to know there is another choice,” Baltus said.

“There are thousands of kids out there who are obviously gifted and I am just one person. I can’t do this all myself, so my mission is to bring armies of people into the school to see these children. All it takes is time; these kids need get connected with adults who care, who will come in and listen to them,” Baltus added.

Principal Sid Ong described the Marathon Education Partners program as a “huge gift out of nowhere.”

Lot Whitcomb has around 90 percent of the student body on the free-or-reduced lunch program, and the school also has the largest number of students in the North Clackamas School District on the free breakfast program, he noted.

“Most of our kids don’t have the first idea how to go to college. The Marathon program has mentors who will give them hope and help them break out of the cycle,” he said.

Ong, who has been the principal at Lot Whitcomb for 10 years, added, “This is doing a great thing for kids and it will help strengthen the community. Every time you send a kid to higher education, they become an asset to the community, and they are able to mentor others.”

Future goals

All eight of the Marathon Education Scholars at Lot Whitcomb have ideas about their futures.

Antonio Cuevas, 11, wants to be a soccer player, but knows that college will allow him to “get a job that is important to the community I live in.”

At age 10, Daniel Espinosa already knows that he wants to have a good life and a good job, and because he loves to build things, is looking at engineering as a profession.

Stephanie Espinoza, 11, wants to have a good future, and already understands the importance of community service, as a member of K Kids, a group that has raked leaves and done other tasks around town.

When she meets her mentor for the first time, she will say “Thank you for helping me.”

Junet Lugo, 10, is also a member of K Kids, where she recently participated in caroling for the elderly. She looks at the Marathon program as “a good opportunity for becoming a marine biologist.”

At age 12, Larry Sutton is the oldest student in the group, and is also a member of K Kids. He pointed out that the group adopted a park, in order to help keep it tidy, and noted that he wants to go to college to become known as a wrestler

Litzy Talavera, 10, plans to become a veterinarian and has a special affinity for dogs. What will she say to her mentor?

“I am so happy to meet you,” she said.

Abigale Wrenn, 10, plays basketball and soccer and enjoys singing. She said she would love to have a mentor who also sings, and noted that another reason she wants to go to college is that her mom has told her she needs to do well in school and go on to higher education.

Inessa Yantsen, 11, knows exactly what she wants to do.

“Go to college and get a good job as an eye doctor,” she said, adding that she plays the piano and violin and sings.

For more information about Marathon Education Partners or to become a partner for one of the Whitcomb Scholars, contact Emma Gray, 503-235-2500, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To learn more about how the organization was founded, and to see stories about other scholars in the program, visit marathoneducationpartners.org.