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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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New thrift store focuses on work ethic, training


by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI -  Michael Gonzales, right, finishes up a transaction with Chris Pfeiffer, who purchased a vintage massage kit.There is a new thrift store in town, and Shane Tebeck, the manager, would love to have more customers come and take advantage of the special prices.

The store, called Teen Challenge Pacific Northwest Thrift Store, is at 13843 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd., in Courtney Plaza. The name of the store comes from the founding organization, Teen Challenge, which has been offering faith-based recovery services since it was founded in 1958 in New York City.

The program started off working with teen gang members, but then expanded into recovery services for anyone with “life-controlling issues,” like drug and alcohol addiction, anger management and other social issues, Tebeck said.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI -  Ricky Younger, left, and store manager Shane Tebeck look over a vintage piece of furniture with an RCA Victor turntable and radio.Because the name Teen Challenge was so well known, the name stayed the same, although the client base changed, he added, noting that the specific religious affiliation is Assemblies of God.

The thrift store used to be on Sandy Boulevard in Portland, but there was minimal parking and other issues, so the store moved to Milwaukie last November, because of better visibility, large square footage and a big parking lot, Tebeck said.

The shop is also closer to the Portland Metro Men’s Center rehabilitation facility, on Warner Parrott Road in Oregon City. It is there that the 30 to 40 students, aged 18 and up, take classes.

Students can check themselves into the center or can be court-appointed, Tebeck said. There is an entry fee to the program, which can be waived if there are financial problems.

“Since it is faith-based rehabilitation, we work on the whole person to strengthen them through the Bible and discipline,” he said. Course work includes basic Bible classes, hygiene, spiritual well being, work ethic and other kinds of business skills training.

All the money that the store brings in goes straight back into the program, Tebeck noted.

After-care programs

The rehabilitation program lasts for one year, and then students have three options. The first is the basic plan, where they can go out into the community and live and work and check in frequently; after four months they then officially graduate from the program.

The second option is Phase Five, a six-month program, where students live in the alcohol- and drug-free dorms, and have more structure to their lives. And the final option is the staff-in-training program, where students can spend one year working in the store in Milwaukie or the store in Salem; these students also take Internet business-training classes.

“We are working now on a training piece where the students are certified, so they can show a potential employer specific criteria; they can put on an application or resume that they have vocational training,” Tebeck said.

Ricky Younger has been in the program for seven months and works at the Milwaukie store. What he likes best about his job is “interaction with customers,” he said, adding that furniture, knickknacks and clothing are popular items in the store.

Michael Gonzales has also been in the program for seven months, and said, “I have a purpose in life here; I want to help the program and give back to the community.”

He also likes interacting with people, and said he even “loves grouchy customers, because all they need is more attention.”


The thrift store specializes in furniture and also carries clothing, linens, household items, appliances, electronics and more.

People can donate to the store from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and “we also do pick ups and delivery for free; people can give us donations for gas, that would be OK,” Tebeck said.

Monday is senior day, when everything is 25 percent off for seniors, and on Wednesdays, clothing, shoes and linens are 50 percent off. There are special sales and colored tag sales every day.

“Sometimes we run across treasures,” Tebeck said, noting that one day the store received a Drexler dresser “that was solid mahogany, with beautiful craftsmanship and ornate details; it was about 100 years old.”

Last week Chris Pfeiffer, an Ardenwald resident, found a portable massage kit from the 1950s that reminded him of when his grandfather owned the building that housed the Shriners Hospital, when it was on Sandy Boulevard and 82nd Avenue. Tebeck plugged the massager in and it started right up, so Pfeiffer purchased it, of course.

Tebeck would like to see an increase in business, but emphasized that the goal of the program is to focus on the training aspect.

“We are not here just to raise funds. We are here to train the guys, give them business skills, integrity and a work ethic. They are with people eight hours a day, so they have to pay attention to detail, and stick to a routine and schedule,” he said.

Tebeck added, “We want to create a program so that when a guy exits, he has every single skill he needs to be successful. We want them to go out there and not fall on their face; they have a work ethic, they work well with others, they can prioritize tasks and they have every possible basic work skill.”