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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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Reconnecting with hope


Homeless and out of work, David Gibbons turn his life around with help from OC Goodwill's Job Connection program

Most people would dread seeing flashing lights in their rear-view mirrors, especially if they had been drinking. But David Gibbons was glad to see them, because he knew he had reached a turning point in his life, and he was going to get the help he needed.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Jamie McMurray helps David Gibbons, her fiance, get ready to leave for work at the Interfor sawmill in Molalla.At the time, Gibbons knew his life was going to change, but he did not realize how much better it was going to be. Now he has his own apartment, which he shares with his fiancée, he has a job, and he thanks Clackamas County diversion programs and the Oregon City Goodwill for it all.

It hasn’t been easy. Gibbons had a rocky start early in life, and with little continuous adult supervision he shoplifted and began to experiment with drugs and alcohol, becoming an alcoholic by age 16. He spent time in the juvenile detention system, was incarcerated as a youth for stealing three guns, and was expelled from his alternative high school.

It was on Jan. 5, 2010, that Gibbons was stopped for speeding in Molalla, and he told the police at the time he had been drinking. The result was a DUI.

“I was a massive alcoholic, and when those lights came on, I was relieved. I was glad to be caught,” he said.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Shamyia Becerra sits at her 'desk of hope' at Oregon City's Goodwill, ready to help anyone who needs a job.About halfway through his diversion program, he had to start over again. At the same time, Jamie McMurray was halfway through her own diversion program, after also receiving a DUI. She tried to move to California to live with her mother, but there were problems transferring the diversion program from one state to another.

To make a long story short, Gibbons and McMurray ended up in the same program, they went to their first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting together, and now they are engaged to be married. And they both have been clean and sober for more than two years.

But the road to recovery has not been easy. They have had to deal with Gibbons’ employment issues, and both have experienced medical problems.

Gibbons, now 33, was unemployed for eight months and said he “felt less than adequate” having to live off McMurray’s wages from working as a stylist at Oregon City’s Perfect Look Salon.

He signed up for every job-finding organization on the Internet, and sent out three to four résumés a day, but did not get a single offer.

“I was close to giving up. I was close to turning back to drugs and alcohol. I felt like I had no worth,” Gibbons said.

Doors opening

In October 2012, Gibbons walked through the doors of Oregon City’s Goodwill and applied for a job. But Shamyia Becerra, an employment specialist with Goodwill’s Job Connection employment program, took one look at him and offered advice.

“When he came in, he was pretty down. He felt broken and felt it was impossible to find work. I told him we have to keep jiggling doorknobs until one opens,” Becerra said.

“It was hard to talk to a complete stranger about my faults and downfalls, but she is an amazing woman. Her drive to help people is so incredible; she cares about what she does,” Gibbons said.

Becerra redid his résumé, sent him to a temp agency and within three days he was offered a job at Interfor, a sawmill in Molalla. Gibbons worked for a 91-day temporary period, during which he received training in how to work in a sawmill, a place he had never worked before.

After that he was hired permanently, and now works 12-hour days, six days a week, manning various machines in the mill.

“He’s made leaps and bounds. I am more than proud of him,” Becerra said.

Positive changes

In January, Gibbons and McMurray moved into their own apartment in Molalla, close to the mill. It is their first home together, as the two previously had shared a number of different living spaces with friends in Oregon City.

“This is what I have always wanted to do — have a home and take care of someone,” Gibbons said.

The two have different work schedules, and have only one day off together, but he credits his fiancée for supporting him, and she says she “showed him it was OK to believe in himself.”

“I felt worthless. I did not think I would ever find someone who cared. Never give up. if you try hard enough, anything is possible,” Gibbons said.

“Everything I have is due to Goodwill, what Goodwill has done for me. Goodwill saved my life and my relationship. I didn’t even know they did what they did. They are willing to help anyone who walks through the door. I sent a friend there and Shamyia got him a job, and he is back on his feet again and feels self-worth,” he said.

He noted that he goes back on a regular basis to thank Becerra for what she has done for him.

“I sit down and tell her that I couldn’t have done this without her. She doesn’t get enough credit; she deserves an award for decency,” Gibbons said.

Job Connection program

Becerra herself is a testament to the good that can come from the Goodwill Job Connection program, as she was once homeless and unemployed.

Now, she says, she has such a love for her job, and she considers her office in Oregon City a “room of hope.”

Anyone who is in search of a job, from “ditch digging to being a CEO,” is welcome to come to the Job Connection program, Becerra said.

She first finds out what kind of work people want to do and can do, and then she re-writes their résumés to reflect their skills. She sends out job leads, helps fill out applications, advocates for people and uses a lot of her connections to help them find work.

Employment is absolutely the key to a successful community, Becerra said.

“If we can employ people in our community, it will be safer and happier, and children will thrive, because they have working parents. I want to change our community one person at a time,” she said.

“I don’t let anyone leave here without hope and without feeling empowered,” Becerra added.

Fast facts

Goodwill’s Job Connection program is a free job search and referral program designed to assist people in locating employment in the community within 30 days. The program offers one-on-one personalized service designed to address an individual’s employment needs.

Contact Oregon City’s Goodwill Job Connection office at 503-212-2209, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.