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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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'Open Arms' group helps 5,000 in need annually


by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Amy Graves and her father, Lee Roundtree, moves chairs around in the Open Arms and Helping Hands warehouse.Deacon Jim Pittman has always worried about those less fortunate, and nine years ago he decided to do something.

With only two garages and a storage locker, Pittman began to collect donations to help people in need. Then, four years ago, he built a warehouse on the grounds of Milwaukie’s Christ the King Catholic Church. Now, he and a group of about 150 dedicated volunteers gather and organize donations of household goods and other necessary items.

Pittman, who is a member of the ordained clergy at the church, called the private, nonprofit organization Open Arms and Helping Hands, and he is most proud that no one is charged a dime for any of the services.

by: PHOTO BY: ELLEN SPITALERI - Deacon Jim Pittman stands at the entrance to the warehouse, located on the grounds of Christ the King Catholic Church.“Many of the nonprofits still charge, but no matter what your color, creed or religion, we never charge anyone, and we don’t make people read the Bible,” Pittman said.

The name of the organization stems from what the volunteers do.

“It is what we are all about. We have open arms to welcome anyone, and we use our helping hands to help them,” Pittman said.

He noted that everyone seeking help needs to be screened by a social services agency before coming to the warehouse, although students may work with a school counselor, who can refer them to Open Arms and Helping Hands.

People can go to the normal places and agencies where they seek help, he said, or contact him by phone for a screening.

The warehouse accepts donations of gently used household items and winter clothes. The most requested items include beds, small dressers and large and small appliances, Pittman said.

“We need the basics that people take for granted. Things like pots, pans, dishes, linens. I have five people looking for a stove and 25 people looking for washers, dryers and refrigerators,” he said.

“It is really sad how many people don’t have anything,” Pittman added.

St. Vincent de Paul has set up a location next door for emergency food boxes, but, he noted, people need to call St. Vincent de Paul to set up an appointment for the food pantry.

Community Help

In 2012, Open Arms and Helping Hands helped about 5,000 individuals, and already Pittman is seeing an upswing in need.

“There are a lot of homeless in Clackamas County, including a lot of children. We are not even touching the iceberg — we’re a band-aid. We help a tremendous amount of people, but for us to help people in need, we need people to help us,” Pittman said.

“We need the community’s help so we can help those in need,” he added.

Donations of gently used household items are always appreciated to re-stock the warehouse, and volunteers will pick up donations; monetary donations are also appreciated, to pay for fuel costs, Pittman said.

“We don’t deliver a lot, because it is too expensive, but we recently had a young lady, 18 years old, with a 2-year-old baby and a newborn. We took tremendous amounts of stuff out to her and found that she was living in a trailer with no heat, and she was sleeping on the floor.”

Two of his volunteers bought heaters with their own money, and when they returned with them, found she had put all the donations away and the house was “clean as could be. That is the kind of person we try to help; we are here to help people who can’t help themselves,” Pittman said.

Volunteers still needed

Volunteers are always needed, and come from all over the area; some are even former clients from a few years ago, Pittman said, noting that volunteers do not need to be churchgoers, or be members of Christ the King Catholic Church.

Amy Graves and her father, Lee Roundtree, have been volunteers with Open Arms and Helping Hands for three years.

Graves does volunteer in the warehouse, but mostly focuses on marketing and the website, while her father helps with pickups, loading up his truck and off-loading it at the warehouse.

“It is very fulfilling, very worthwhile and helps a lot of people,” Roundtree said, adding that “the hard part is not being able to help everyone.”

Since more and more children are in need, students at Christ the King Parish School have begun putting together birthday boxes for kids.

Donations are always needed, and they go “to a good cause; directly to the people who need them,” Roundtree said, noting that volunteers are needed to just work a few hours a week.

The big problem is letting everyone know that Open Arms and Helping Hands exists and needs donations to help the needy, Graves said. “We need to spread the word; people aren’t even aware that we are here. We need to target more people who can give.”

Fast Facts

Open Arms and Helping Hands, a private, nonprofit dedicated to helping those in need in Clackamas County.

Call Deacon Jim Pittman at 503-785-2415, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, to make an appointment for a screening, or to volunteer with the organization.

Donations are gladly accepted Tuesday and Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The warehouse is at 7414 S.E. Michael Drive, in Milwaukie.

Monetary donations may be sent to Open Arms and Helping Hands, at P.O. Box 1027, Clackamas, OR 97015. Visit the website at helpinghands.horsleyfamily.com for more information.

To contact St. Vincent de Paul’s Emergency Service Center for food boxes, call 503-235-8431.