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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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How much do annexations cost Oregon City?


Are residential “annexations” a profit or a loss for taxpayers in Oregon City? The Oregon Home Builders Association came to town the week before Halloween saying “growth pays for itself.” Serious investigators are saying the opposite. Which is it, a “trick” or “treat?” Homebuilding growth may cost more than projected income and create more “losses” through degraded urban services.

Try a computer search on “cost of residential annexation” and you’ll find reports of many cities and towns in the US looking for answers. Many say citizens need better information. Taxpayers need to be more skeptical.

Did OHBA make its case? Remarks on the front page of the Oct. 30 edition of the OC News, attributed to Oregon City Commissioners Mumm and Pauli, reveal how easy it is for elected officials to engage in self-deception about annexations and growth.

Mumm ridiculed “citizens” for rejecting recent past annexation attempts, saying citizens should not “fear” traffic generated by future annexations. She added voters should be more afraid of an “empty Main Street.” Pauli chimed in saying people (voters) made a mistake in not annexing prime homebuilding sites. Both apparently accept the financial calculation of the Home Builders.

Our leaders should be skeptical when listening to a pied piper like the Oregon Home Builders Association, especially when it comes to city money. For many years the OHBA has promoted home building as the answer to city financing problems. It’s their job to help contractor/developers members make money by offering the treat without revealing the trick.

OHBA executive Nielsen glibly spouts about reports saying millions in revenue awaits cities building houses. The gullible will praise him. The skeptic will pause. Honest appraisal may not show residential growth “pays for itself.”

Many students and “experts” in city financing will tell you just the opposite.

It’s taxable property values on industrial and commercial development that give a city a balanced budget, not residential property taxes.

The tax income from industrial/commercial could be as much as three times the cost of services provided by the city. A city with only houses within its limits would go broke, or suffer limited amenities.

States, counties and cities seek industry with a passion. Officials offer tax breaks and other perks to industry to locate in Oregon. Higher taxable property value created by industry pays the bills. When the auto industry left Detroit it went into the red and eventual bankruptcy.

What about Oregon City? The population has doubled in the last 25 years from 15,000 to 30,000. City limits have expanded to meet the needs of added residential units. More people, more streets, more parks, more water users, more sewers, along with more tax income.

Did we gain enough new income to pay the additional costs? The answer seems obvious. Streets are crumbling, (a new utility fee was imposed by a City Commission to solve a multi-million dollar problem), and we are told water pipes are plugging up. Public works officials say we need many more millions for pipe repair and replacements to keep the water flowing. Your water rates may go up soon.

Tri-Cities sewer district has expanded treatment plants to handle the additional waste flow. Sewer rates will go up.

Oregon City parks suffer from lack of maintenance. A million dollars’ worth I’m told, and park officials talk about another “fee” to catch up.

To meet budget problems, OC moved its city fire protection service to a fire district at a higher rate to citizens.

The police department has grown to be 40 percent of the city operating budget. Homes are a target for crime. In Oregon City illegal entry is our leading problem, and OC police will soon have a special traffic team, according to City Manager David Frasher, as traffic clogs many streets in OC.

New homes bring need for new traffic control with lights and road improvement. Rebuilding Molalla Avenue and the Highway 213/Beavercreek Road corner was the direct result of new traffic, and the millions spent were not recouped from new homebuilder charges. Nor were the millions of federal and state dollars spent at the junction of Washington Street and Highway 213.

Doubling our population in a quarter century requires expansion of Oregon City Public Library services. A vote on spending $10 million or more is projected be on the May ballot.

Is Main Street any better off after doubling the population? No, the continuing cry for more “financial help” for downtown tells us Main Street may be worse off than it was in the 1970s and ‘80s, even after 30 years of spending millions of tax dollars in subsidies, building facades, street reconstruction and free trolley rides.

Who pays for growth in Oregon City? Every property taxpayer, every renter, and every utility-bill payer pays. It’s certainly not the absentee homebuilders using out-of-town labor and disappearing into the night with their profit.

If Metro wants Oregon City to share population growth, its leaders need to find a way to move some of the industrial growth of Washington and Multnomah counties to Oregon City. Or at least find a way to share the wealth.

At the very least, Oregon City taxpayers should demand proponents produce an impartial financial report detailing the cost and potential income from any annexation. Let’s find out what the real “trick” is before we accept the “treat.”

Oregon City resident John F. Williams is one of the city’s former mayors.