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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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Don't punish people who save water


Perhaps you are a Milwaukie water and sewer customer noticing a big increase in your bill?

As noted in the newsletter included with the bill, sewer rates have gone up for those who use 600 cubic feet of water a month or less. Don’t worry - it’s not due to a leak you need to fix, nor do you need to install a low-flow toilet to better manage your bill - both of which have been recommended by the city for years as ways for people to manage their sewer costs. It just means that since you are a lower user of the system, you are being required to pay more. In fact, the lowest users are seeing their sewer rates more than double. The rate plan chosen by Milwaukie hits those 25 percent who use the least water every month with the greatest rate increases. But it’s OK because everyone is paying their fair share, right? Actually not. Almost one-third of the residential users (32 percent), those using the highest volume, and therefore putting the most into the sewer system, are in fact now paying less.

It didn’t — and doesn’t — have to be this way. This was a conscious decision of the Milwaukie City Council, even though an alternate rate plan was presented to them that would have spread the increase more equitably across residential ratepayers. The alternate plan was developed by the city’s rate analyst consultant and the city’s finance director, who worked with me when I was challenged by one of the city councilmen to come up with a more equitable rate structure. Even after it was presented by the city’s own staff, the council stated that there was not enough time to review it. This is puzzling to me since I addressed the inequity of the rate structure on lower volume users at the point it was first publicly presented in early December, at which time City Council delayed the vote, supposedly to try to work something out.

You might like to know that the alternate, more equitable, plan uses a common methodology within the utility rate-setting field, which is to include a small base amount within the flat rate, which will moderate flat-rate impacts across user classes. This alternative was, however, opposed by the council because it was never raised at the Citizen’s Utility Advisory Board (CUAB). It does no good at this point to wonder why this option was not raised earlier, but it can still be adopted. I note that one of the CUAB members actually told me by email that he felt all the lower users had just been getting a break all those years because the system was “out of whack up till now.” This comment implies that all of us who have tried to moderate our water use, for conservation reasons as well as to lower our sewer bills, have just been freeloading, a point with which I obviously disagree. This doesn’t strike me as the position of someone concerned about the equity issues within the residential class.

The city has heralded this rate increase as justified because it achieves equity between classes. I suspect most people don’t know what that means. It means that residential customers (91 percent of the ratepayers) will now pay more as a class compared to business customers - based on volume usage between the two classes. There may now be greater equity between the business and residential classes, but this rate plan imposes significant inequity on small user residential accounts compared to large user residential accounts. In its Dec. 18 meeting, the City Council refused to consider an alternate plan which would have included a base rate of 200 cubic feet within the flat rate, stating that although they recognized the rate increase hit the low water users hardest, they felt that they had to adopt a rate structure that took no consideration of flow rates for residents. They took this position even though they used that same methodology to reduce the amount the business class as a whole will pay for sewer treatment.

So these are the facts.

1. The city of Milwaukie imposed a sewer rate increase which has two impacts. First it lowers the total costs paid by business and raises the total cost paid by residents. And second, it imposes a very high flat rate on residential customers (highest bill in Clackamas County, where rates range from $21.22 to $38 with Milwaukie at $40.76). The flat residential rate hits the lowest residential users of the system with huge increases, while high users get an actual reduction in their sewer bills.

2. A fiscally responsible alternate billing structure that would spread the residential increases more equitably was considered and rejected.

3. Low water users, we know from demographics, are most likely to be those who live alone, many of whom are elderly, are women, who historically have fewer retirement resources, and those most likely to be on a fixed income.

4. I requested that if the city imposed this rate structure, it publicize its low income assistance program, so that low water users for whom this rate increase takes a large share of their monthly income, would be made aware that they can apply for rate relief. Given Milwaukie’s demographics, this may involve a lot of people. No such outreach was conducted with this bill.

5. City Council can still adjust this rate methodology to be more equitable to lower volume users—if they don’t, the inequity will continue to recur month after month after month.

Two of the current councilmen had yet to take office when this decision was made, one of whom spoke in favor of the alternate plan. Two of the returning councilmen seemed open to reconsidering the issue. One of the CUAB members present for the vote expressed interest in considering the alternate methodology, which had never been presented to CUAB, even though, as I noted previously, it is a well-known methodology in the rate-setting community for applying a flat rate that makes some accommodation for lower end users.

Leslie Schockner is a former member of the Milwaukie Budget Committee.