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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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Worries about extremists on the rise in Clackamas County


As a Washington County resident who has expressed concern over the anti-car movement centered in Portland, I can understand resistance in Clackamas County to Portland expansion there. At the same time I see in Washington County an ability to deal with the inevitable growing population that is not as extreme as Portland’s approach.

I don’t believe Clackamas County can avoid the population growth of the metro area. The question is how will it deal with it? While the thought of the Portland model may not be acceptable, the full opposite, rejecting all metro initiatives could lead to larger problems. Discussing some of these problems is only meant to bring in the views of an outside observer who has no stake in Clackamas County. Hopefully they will be of some use.

Recently both Hillsboro and Milwaukie sought single A baseball teams for their respective cities. As has happened for decades, the Washington County city was more successful than the Clackamas County one. While the deal is sealed for Hillsboro, Milwaukie recently abandoned the effort.

This pattern of economic success favoring Washington County has been especially evident in the area of jobs creation. In the last year, Washington County reported a net gain of 3,700 jobs while Clackamas County had a net gain of only 100. Washington County’s population is about 40 percent greater than Clackamas County’s, but that comes nowhere near accounting for the huge job creation difference.

When we look at light-rail history we see similar differences. Westside light rail has been in place since 1998, and ridership has more than doubled in that time. On the other hand there seems to be wide spread resistance to any light rail at all in Clackamas. The just-completed approval of Measure 3-401 is being widely interpreted as a victory for anti-light-rail forces.

When we look at the situations of the counties in terms of geography, location and population trends, it’s hard to see why the counties differ so greatly in economic success. Both counties border the largest city in the state. Both have about the same median income and high school diploma rate. Both have medium-sized cities but also large agricultural resources. One possible explanation lies in attitudes towards government. Clackamas County has become increasingly conservative compared to Washington County. Conservative thinking today is most strongly tied to the reduction in size and influence of government.

In 2004, while Washington County voted for John Kerry by an 8 percent margin over President Bush, Clackamas County favored Bush 51-48 percent. Clackamas did vote for President Obama in 2008 by 54-44 percent, but this was less than half the 60-38 percent approval margin in Washington County.

Clackamas County has also been the home of some of the more extreme anti-government individuals, including Bill Sizemore and Lon Mabon.

Perhaps the most bizarre manifestation of the anti-government, anti-tax mentality was the battle over the Sellwood Bridge reconstruction tax. Personally, I felt it was a no-brainer for the Clackamas residents to approve an automobile registration tax to contribute to needed reconstruction of the main bridge many of the residents use to access Portland for work and shopping. A good connection between Clackamas County and the prosperous Westside would be good economically for all of Clackamas County. But county voters turned it down cold.

It’s obvious why people might have a desire for less government. Government adds more layers of bureaucracy, more programs that may not be of direct benefit to many people, and, of course, more taxes.

But at the same time, an adequately funded and supported government provides the infrastructure that is needed for economic development to bloom. While the relation between the more government-friendly environment of Washington County and its higher level of economic success can’t be directly proved, it seems plausible.

Whether true or not, Clackamas County is getting the reputation that it doesn’t want to be part of the metro area and pay to create the transit infrastructure needed to accommodate population growth. But it is part of the metro area, and the population is coming.

Will economic development and jobs continue to flow where growth is being more actively accommodated? Will Clackamas County end up a congestion hive with inadequate roads and transit?

Clackamas County was where Oregon started, the end of the Oregon Trail. That is a magnificent past. But its future prosperity may well depend on whether Clackamas County residents will increase their support of government-based infrastructure and planning. Portland extremes are not a fit for Washington or Clackamas counties. But the opposite extreme will not solve the very real issues that are upon all of us in the metro area.

Walt Hellman is a resident of Hillsboro.