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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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District needs to re-evaluate its closure proposals


North Clackamas Schools is currently proposing to close down two excellent schools. My motive of writing to you is that my daughter goes to the elementary school they want to close, but I also have larger concerns about choices our district is making.

I am also a teacher, so I know all too well about the horrible state of educational funding, and I know that at this point, closing schools is one of the only options available, sadly. My issue is with the schools they choose for closure proposals.

A strong school district can draw a lot of families into our area and help real-estate prices. What makes a school district enticing? In my opinion, it’s not the “regular” schools; it’s the magnet schools and the special programs. Our district has several of these: Milwaukie Academy of the Arts, the IB program at Putnam, New Urban High School, Sabin-Schellenberg, Sojournor, El Puente and Riverside bilingual (I’m sure there are more). Programs and options like these are what will attract families to our district.

In the past two years, our district has started targeting the magnet schools and is shoving them into the shadows. Two years ago, Sojournor (an elementary school with very long wait lists at every grade level) lost its building and was forced to “merge” with Linwood Elementary. They aren’t one school; they’re two schools in one building. That just doesn’t work, and it isn’t going well from what I hear.

This year they are proposing to consolidate or move two more magnet schools. The first is New Urban, which serves a small population of at-risk youth. They do an amazing job with kids who have never been successful in school and get them to graduation, college, or where ever they want to go. These are kids who have been on the outside their whole lives, picked on, not understood. Now the district wants to take their building (in Oak Grove where they do community service all over the neighborhood) and put them in Sabin-Shellenberg. I don’t really know a ton about this program, but I heard them speak at the School Board meeting. According to the results of a student survey, only 7 percent of the kids will stay if they move. The rest will end up...who knows where?

The other school is Riverside Elementary, which also has very long waiting lists of around 30 kids a year. I know I’m biased, but it is an AMAZING place. There are (approximately) two classes at each grade level. One is English speaking; one is Spanish immersion. The school totally operates as one school. The students and staff see no difference or division in the two programs. Global understandings and true multicultural education is infused every day there. It is a truly unique place that we feel extremely fortunate to be a part of. Our redheaded daughter speaks fluent Spanish with a very authentic Mexican accent. She comes home with knowledge about other cultures (not just from Latin America, everywhere). It’s not only the bilingual kids that benefit from this program; the kids in the English program are right there, receiving all the same lessons, just in English. They start every Friday with an all-school assembly where they celebrate each other’s victories and sing the school song in English and Spanish. Several times a year we have evening celebrations, including Dia del Niño. I could go on all night about how amazing this school is, but I’ll stop.

My point here is that they want to close the school. The plan is to send the English program to two nearby schools, and the bilingual kids will be sent to merge with El Puente, the other bilingual school in the district. What really upsets me is that the district is looking at Riverside as two separate schools.

El Puente is a fine program, but it is run totally differently than Riverside. It is its own school housed in Milwaukie Elementary. They have separate websites, separate PTAs, etc. They have spent the past six years trying to merge the two schools, and apparently the “walls are beginning to dissolve.” They are taking the school that is truly the model of what a bilingual school should be and destroying it and shoving it into a building that already has two schools in it. They are also taking the two programs whose partial mission is to celebrate diversity and teach acceptance and shoving them into one school where only the students lucky enough to get in benefit from the program.

If our district continues to do this, our wonderful programs will no longer attract families. They will see that the district doesn’t value any of the programs and will cut them back and put them in locations that tear them apart as soon as money needs to be saved. Since the district wants to close an elementary school, we did present another option that would save Riverside and close an unsafe school and get three out of four schools in the area to nearly 500 students (the district’s goal). The district’s plan does not get any of the schools near their goal, and it destroys two wonderful programs.

The School Board plans to vote on March 21, and this was only announced Feb. 28. Many people have no idea this is even happening, and we need to get the word out. It is an absolute nightmare that they have to close down any school. But if they have to do this, why are they destroying the very schools that will attract families to the district?

Megan Oliver is vice-president of the Riverside Elementary PTA.