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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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Field trip offers kids hands-on learning


The weather gods smiled on the 17 students in Terri Gibson’s Clackamas Web Academy science class last Wednesday, March 12, as they set off for a field trip to the Three-Creeks Natural Area, just behind the North Clackamas Aquatic Center.

by: PHOTO BY STEVE ST. AMAND - (From left) Clackamas Web Academy students Samuel Georgiyev and Max Skvortsov find a western tree frog egg sac in the wetlands at Three Creeks Natural area, just north of an industrial area that includes McFarlane's Bark.  Because the day was sunny and warm, walking to the natural area from the school, located on the third floor of 24-Hour Fitness on Sunnybrook Boulevard, was a breeze.

Before the students left for the natural area, they listened to a classroom presentation from Susan Barnes, regional conservation biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Susan is going to have them survey amphibian egg masses, looking especially for red-legged frogs, which are on the sensitive-species list in Oregon. She is teaching them how to identify the different stages of egg development,” Gibson said.

A huge plus for the students, ages 13 through 18, is that they “have full classroom instruction from a professional, and then they immediately go out into the field. The combination of classroom and hands-on completes the science experience,” she said.

“The school has partnered with Water Environment Services, and WES has brought us all these amazing experiences at no cost to us. They have been our bridge between the classroom and real life. Our students get to work in the science field alongside professionals,” Gibson said.

Amphibians in spotlight

This term the students have focused on amphibians, and last term WES brought a Portland State University professor and an assistant into the CWA classroom to work on a bio-assessment survey.

“The students took macro-invertebrate samples, collecting bugs and bug larvae out of the creeks in order to do a water-quality assessment,” Gibson said, adding that the group did one survey in creeks near Mount Hood, and the other at the Three-Creeks Natural Area.

“Three-Creeks is right down the street, and it is a place we can go to look at what life was like before we started building here. It is a slice of natural habitat, and it is in our backyard. It is a learning space for us, an extension of our classroom,” Gibson said.

“We are learning to identify the egg masses from frogs, toads, newts and salamanders, and we are trying to compare and contrast the species that are on the sensitive list,” said Kira Corbett, 13.

These amphibians are “really important for our ecosystem and for healthy water chemistry and they help control insects,” she added.

The field trip to Three-Creeks is educational, she said, because “hands-on experiences help people think cautiously about the environment around us. Where the school is now used to be a wetland, so habitats were removed; it is important to maintain the habitats we still have.”

Spencer Rice, 15, said he started going to the Three-Creeks area when he was younger, and recalls following the life cycles of frogs from eggs to tadpoles and beyond.

It is important to preserve natural spaces, he said, so that “people see that we do have wildlife areas that need more attention brought to them, to help the ecosystems.”

Rice enjoys the outdoors and studying biology, and plans to pursue some kind of medical field in college.

Survey a first in county

Barnes noted this is the first time a concerted effort to find amphibians has taken place in Clackamas County, and “it is important because amphibians are great responders to their environment. Our native amphibians need our help, and we all play a role in conservation at some level.”

She said there are many benefits in engaging students and other local citizens in this type of survey, because “it opens our eyes to these amazing creatures around us and what we could or perhaps should be doing differently to improve the health of our environment, not just for the frogs and salamanders, but for us, too.”

As the field trip came an end, Barnes said the students “explored one of the WES wetland mitigation sites and found hundreds of Pacific tree-frog egg masses, most close to hatching. We also found a few long-toed salamander eggs. To top it off, we found several red-legged frog egg masses, which were definitely the highlight as they are on Oregon’s state sensitive species list and a priority species in the Oregon Conservation Strategy.”

“It is extremely important that young people understand about water quality. They will grow up and realize that water is our most valued resource; all life depends on water,” said Gari Johnson, watershed health education program coordinator for Clackamas County WES.

“Our main objective at WES is water quality and to protect public health and the environment. Our whole objective with students is to get the kids out into the field to learn about water quality, so they can touch it, see it and feel it,” she said.

“And the beauty of getting them out there is they are engaged, focused and curious. They can ask questions, and it is so helpful to have our experts right there to answer those questions,” Johnson said, noting that among WES’s partners are the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Friends of Trees, SOLVE and other nonprofits.

WES works with many schools in the North Clackamas area, Johnson said, but the field trip with the Web Academy students came about because the ODFW was conducting a professional amphibian survey on WES property at the Three-Creeks Natural Area.

“We turned it into an educational opportunity. The Clackamas Web Academy was chosen because the students could walk there. It is important to us to connect people with the water in their community,” Johnson said.

She recommended that anyone interested in watershed health visit riverhealth.org, and click on the Get Involved site.

Clackamas Web Academy

Gibson describes the Web Academy as a hybrid school, with online classes, live classroom opportunities and on-site tutoring opportunities.

“We get a lot of students who are home-schooled, and this opens up a wider range for them. We serve all kinds of kids who need to work or parent or who have medical issues and are unable to attend a traditional school,” Gibson said.

Clackamas Web Academy is a free public charter school in the North Clackamas School District. It provides instruction to 465 students in grades one through 12. At the high school level, CWA offers students the opportunity to volunteer in the community, complete an internship, and earn college credits, while earning a North Clackamas School District diploma.

For more information about Clackamas Web Academy, visit clackamaswebacademy.org.