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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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'Erin Hunter' mesmerizes young readers


by: PHOTO: ELLEN SPITALERI - Victoria Holmes, as Erin Hunter, signs books for Nicole, 11, left, and Aliya, 11, after her presentation at Barnes & Noble on March 10.Without the ring on her finger, she is Victoria Holmes, a “very shy” British writer “who doesn’t have a big voice.” But when she puts on the ornate ring, she becomes Erin Hunter, the author of more than 60 books with animals as the protagonists.

As Erin Hunter, she drew around 400 young readers and their parents to the Clackamas Town Center Barnes & Noble bookstore Sunday, March 10. The crowd was so large that the presentation took place in the mall itself at the lower entrance to the bookstore.

Most of the children attending were clutching copies of Hunter’s new book “Dawn of the Clans —The Sun Trail,” which she signed after the presentation. The book is part of the “Warriors” series, which features cats. Other series in the animal fantasy books include “Seekers,” which features books about bears, and “Survivors,” which has dogs as the main characters. Holmes answered questions, drawing many laughs with her wry answers.

One youngster asked when her next book was coming out, and she answered “is four days ago soon enough for you?”

She added: “You can’t move these days without tripping over a book by me. There is one coming out every month this year.”

It seemed like almost every other question from the readers dealt with the death of a favorite cat character.

“You do realize that I am not actually killing cats, just making a good story. I’m not that bloodthirsty; I’m a vegetarian,” Hunter said.

Unusual writing process

Erin Hunter actually is the writing name for a group of four authors. Holmes is the chief writer and editor, and when she is too busy to fully write a book, she sends a “very detailed storyline” to Kate Cary and Cherith Baldry or Tui T. Sutherland.

She tells readers she creates a metaphorical balloon with a pattern on it.

“It is flat and lifeless until Kate and Cerith get it and they breathe life into it. They then send it to me, and I edit it and sometimes revise it or do some rewriting of it,” Holmes said. “They trust me to give them a great storyline, and I trust them to write beautifully.”

She came up with the name Erin Hunter, because Erin is a name she loves, and she chose Hunter because she wanted her books to be alphabetically close to the books on the shelf by Brian Jacques, the author of the “Redwall” series, featuring heroic mice, evil rats and other animals of the forest.

Although the majority of her readers are children, she never thinks of writing just for children, she said, noting that the themes of her books, like Shakespeare’s themes, include “doomed romance, revenge, betrayal, politics, war and death.”

Cats are the stars in Warriors

“Dawn of the Clans — The Sun Trail” is the start of the fifth series, with a brand-new set of cats.

This book takes the reader back to the early history of the cats in the earlier “Warriors” series, who started out living in a forest, but had to move to the lake when a new road destroyed the forest.

“We meet the cats who first settled in that forest; we see where they all came from, how the different personalities of the clans formed, and how the warrior code developed. Readers of the early books can recognize the ancestors of those cats in this book,” Holmes said.

For new readers, Holmes suggested they start with the first book in the “Warriors” series, “Into the Wild.” But she noted readers could simply pick up her latest book, because all the characters are new.

Holmes spent more than two hours signing books after her presentation, noting that she was “overwhelmed and honored” by all the attention.

She added, “Without the fans, I’d be writing in the dark.”

Fans follow the characters

The Barnes & Noble store at Clackamas Town Center has more than 50 autographed copies of the new book, noted Aaron Kier, community relations manager for the bookstore.

The author has an “amazing ability to create characters that these readers respond to. These kids know all of them, and they are really invested in the characters,” he said.

Aliya, an 11-year-old fan of Hunter’s books, said “Into the Wild,” Hunter’s first book featuring the cat clans, is her favorite.

“I like the way she brings things to life, and I love the details,” she said, adding that her favorite character is Yellowfang, who is noted for her “sharp tongue.”

Aliya’s friend Nicole, 11, said her favorite book is “Last Hope,” the sixth in the “Omen of the Stars” series, because it is exciting and she likes the dramatic action.

Addison, who is 12, has read all the books, and said she has loved them since her third-grade teacher gave her the first one.

“I fell in love with them. The characters are perfect, especially Rusty and Gray Paw — they have a true friendship,” she said.

As for the fact that cats die in the course of the books, Addison thinks that aspect of the books is completely appropriate.

“Unless there is death involved, people won’t take the books seriously, and death is a big part of the warrior code,” she said. She also noted that when the good cats die, they become part of the Star Clan, and can be seen in the sky every night, while the bad cats go to the Dark Forest when they die.

Visit to Oregon City

Holmes spoke in Oregon City on Monday, March 11, at a districtwide assembly for all fourth- and fifth-graders, said Jan Snyder, district media specialist for Oregon City Schools.

“We brought Erin Hunter to speak with our fourth- and fifth-grade students, as she is a very popular author with that age of student, and her books are widely read from grades three to seven.

“Having the students interact with a live author gives them huge motivation and encouragement in the writing process,” Snyder said.

Hunter’s books appeal to young readers “because they relate to everyday character issues and problems of students, told through the lives of various clans of cats. They speak of loyalty, compassion, friendship, honesty, as well as the negative, and not so admirable, aspects of character traits such as lying, stealing, jealousy. There is lots of intrigue and action,” she said.

After the assembly, Snyder said, “the kids were enthralled. They were fascinated with her talk. They had a wonderful time listening to the descriptions of the various clans from the ‘Warriors’ series, and deciding which clan best fit them individually.”

She added that the students asked very thoughtful questions about how Hunter develops a character, and how she decided which cats would live or die in her stories.

“Students were very intrigued with her collaborative writing process, which is something they occasionally do in the classroom as well. It was a wonderful assembly all the way around,” Snyder said.