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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 Hilltop dining spots tempt appetites


by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Helio Rodriguez, Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant's owner, and his niece, Jessica Barajas, greet customers.Two new restaurants opened at Oregon City’s Hilltop Mall in November: Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant and Jimmy Johns Gourmet Sandwiches. Both face busy Beavercreek Road, and managers at both eateries say customer response has been good.


Owner Helio Rodriguez has been in the restaurant business for 27 years, but this is his first outpost in Oregon City. He has owned El Toro in downtown Silverton for 14 years, and before that worked in Mexican restaurants in Vancouver, Wash.

He likes his new space, he said, because there are a lot of people in the area and it has high visibility from the street.

Because Ixtapa is a locally owned family restaurant, the menu features family recipes and specialty plates that are not served at other Mexican places, he said.

Customers have been particularly fond of dishes like mi gusto, a dish with chicken, steak and four pieces of shrimp, served with rice, beans and tortillas, for $14.95.

Two soups have also been favorably received — the classic sopa de tortilla, with chicken, avocado, tortilla strips and shredded cheese; and 7 mares, a hot, rich soup with crab legs, tiger shrimp, octopus, scallops, clams, chunks of fish and vegetables.

Server Jessica Barajas is Rodriguez’s niece, and she said her favorite dishes are the fajitas and the fish and shrimp tacos.

The fajitas are served on a sizzling plate, with rice, beans and tortillas.

Ixtapa offers a lunch special, Monday through Friday, usually featuring two items, such as a taco and enchilada, with rice and beans for $5.95. Dinner specials start at 3 p.m. and are most often one of the Mexican plate entrees, served with rice, beans and tortillas for $10.50.

Vegetarian enchiladas and burritos are available, all in the $10 range.

Barajas said that a favorite customer dessert consists of “six pieces of churros, which are like fried bread. We roll them in cinnamon and sugar and serve them with whipped cream, blended strawberries and chocolate.”

The restaurant is open on Monday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Ixtapa is at 407 Beavercreek Road in the Hilltop Mall; call 503-305-6261.

Jimmy Johns

The first thing customers notice about Jimmy Johns, a national sandwich franchise with its first outpost in Oregon City, is the enthusiasm of the employees.

“We have a friendly, interactive staff; we want you to enjoy your experience here,” said manager Brandon Thompson.

What does Jimmy Johns do better than any other sandwich joint?

The sandwiches are ready in 30 seconds or less, and they can be delivered to your door in about five minutes, making them popular with busy shoppers and college students at nearby Clackamas Community College, he said.

But, Thomson added, “This is not fast food; it is good food that is fast.”

“If you are hungry now, we’ve got you covered,” said Mark McLean, assistant manager. “We bake our own bread and also process our own vegetables, meat and cheese here.”

Two types of bread, a French roll and seven-grain sliced wheat bread, make up the foundation of the sandwiches, but there is a lettuce wrap for gluten-free and low-carb options, Thompson said. Sandwiches come with Jimmy Johns own brand of chips and an “outstanding” dill pickle, McLean said.

More than 20 varieties of sandwiches are offered, but two seem to be favorites: the Italian night club, featuring real Genoa salami, ham and provolone cheese; and the beach club, with turkey, provolone cheese, avocado spread and sliced cucumbers. Both are $5.75.

“Here in Oregon City the hunter’s club is popular with meat lovers,” Thompson said, noting that this sub comes with one-quarter pound of fresh, sliced medium-rare roast beef.

Vegetarian sub and club sandwiches are also available, and Jimmy Johns is very big on catering, Thompson said, noting that employees can produce a large sandwich platter in 20 minutes, that would be perfect for an office party.

Both Thompson and McLean have several years of Jimmy Johns experience between them, since both worked at the site at Bridgeport Village, before coming to manage the Oregon City restaurant.

“We get a lot of return business, because this is a fun environment and we make it fun so our employees will enjoy coming to work,” McLean said.

Thompson added, “If we treat our employees right, then they will be happy and our customers will be happy. We want to be fair to everyone.”

Jimmy Johns is at 431 Beavercreek Road, in the Hilltop Mall. Store hours are: Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call 503-905-3131.

Fast Facts

The Hilltop Mall is in Oregon City between Warner Milne Road, Beavercreek Road and Molalla Avenue. Tenants include: Animal House Pet Shop, Ashley’s Footwear, Beyond Beauty, Bugatti’s, Coffee Rush, Designer Nails, Herbst Florist, Hilltop 9 Cinemas, Hilltop Smiles Dentistry, Honey Baked Ham (opening later this year), H&R Block, Islands Tanning, Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant, Jimmy Johns, John L. Scott, Key Bank, Laurie’s Paperback, Max Muscle, McDonald’s, Papa Murphy’s, Safeway, Sprint Store, The Barbers, U.S. Bank and Willoughby’s Hearing Aids.

Visit danielsons.net to see a list of addresses and phone numbers for the mall’s businesses.