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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


Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Letters: Concord closure; 'dysfunction' in Milwaukie; open-mic saved; etc.


North Clackamas School District officials are looking at closing a Rex Putnam feeder school (“Concord Elementary recommended for closure,” Nov. 13). This could be the last year that Concord remains open.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: SHELLY HAINES - Parents and neighbors rally against any proposed school closure at Concord Elementary School on Saturday, saying there should be a better way to balance the North Clackamas School District budget.My son currently attends Concord, and I attended Concord when when I was his age. It is a great school with great teachers and an awesome community. Losing this school will not only break the hearts of all those who attended, but truly break the hearts of those currently attending. Starting a new school is scary, especially when your friends were transferred to another school.

The school district tells us that this is only a recommendation, and that it’s not final. Yet the way they speak and act it seems they have already made the decision for closure. They have had many opportunities to address this before it became an issue about closure, but they didn’t explore any of those chances. Their talking points for choosing Concord are shaky, and some even just not true (they said Concord has a severe collapse risk in the event of an earthquake, but according a geological survey in 2006 it is only moderate, same as the other schools). They say that the students from Concord wouldn’t fill the classes as much, but the classrooms are full as it is!

I think that this needs to be made more public, as it seems the only ones who are aware of it are at risk for closure.

No one wants to see their school closed. There needs to be another way.

Sierra Vail

Oak Grove

Editor’s note: The School Board heard testimony at the formal recommendation announcement Nov. 14. Elected board members will hear from more citizens Wednesday, Dec. 4, starting at 6 p.m. at Sabin-Schellenberg South Campus, 14450 S.E. Johnson Road, Clackamas, before making a final decision Thursday, Dec. 12, when anyone can make comments starting at 7 p.m. The board will make a decision on which school will be closed after hearing the third set of comments.

Response to management-study stories

Dysfunction at City Hall? In Milwaukie? Just a little hint — this city has always been dysfunctional, a trifle odd, a little out of synch, a tad behind the others, but that’s what makes it so distressingly enjoyable (“City ‘not too worried’ about staff turnover,” Nov. 20).

There’s no discussion in most Milwaukie homes on City Council night regarding “What’ll we watch on the tube?” Humor, game show, reality, pathos, drama? It’s all there on Government Channel 30. Not all at once every session, but there’s usually something for everybody at every meeting.

The idea brought forth by City Council to hire consultants to study the dysfunction is, in itself, straight out of horror fiction. $3,500 a day? Some of our streets resemble logging roads, we owe TriMet a huge wad of money because we’re supposed to honor our commitments when they aren’t, and we’re in a budget crunch? Hello? Tune back to the reality show.

Another hint: The main reason Milwaukie is dysfunctional is that the elected part-time councilors cannot possibly keep up with a full-time city manager and a huge staff of planners and engineers. No matter how good their intentions, City Council is outnumbered, outflanked and many times starved of information they need to govern. The present council/strong-city-manager system cannot possibly work. Look around you at the small towns in the area that have sunk into chaos trying to function under this model.

It has also been recently revealed that our City Charter, the basic guideline and functional law of our city, has been misinterpreted by so many councils and city attorneys that it is in shreds, basically useless and out of date.

The money spent on consultants should go to people experienced in researching, designing and installing a governmental system that could actually function in our city, and at the same time rewrite our charter. I’m sure other small towns would also benefit.

Of course, if they were successful, we’d lose our major source of entertainment.

Ed Zumwalt


Editor’s note: Starting at a study session Nov. 21, Milwaukie City Council began considering hiring possible management consultants at lower prices.

New open-mic night

As you might have heard, copyright enforcers (ASCAP & BMI) swooped in and made it clear that they will not permit playing any copyrighted music at the Spring Creek Coffeehouse unless the coffeehouse pays remarkably high licensing fees (which they can’t possibly do).

There is light on the horizon, however. We have talked with the Milwaukie Elks Lodge and they will be happy to have the Open Mic move there. The Elks Lodge, by the way, is exempt from ASCAP, BMI and the like, so there are no restrictions on which songs we can perform.

You don’t have to be a member of the Elks to attend, and there is no age restriction on attending, even though there is a bar. They serve coffee, beer, various drinks and food. You could have dinner there while watching the show!

The Elks Lodge is a big building, over 50,000 square feet, and it has several different venues that we might play in. The venue we will use can change from month to month, but we’ll always be in the same building at 13121 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd., Oak Grove.

The new Open Mic nights will start in January, so there won’t be any action until then. We will keep the same “last Saturday” schedule as we had before (with a few exceptions). The next one, therefore, will be on Jan. 25 from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Mark your calendars! And, as always, it’s free.

Ed Riddle

Oak Grove

Rampant racism

The anti-President Obama billboard on Interstate 205 northbound in the Gladstone area is so venomous, it’s hardly just political. The billboard smacks of racism.

The secondary objective of the billboard is to help prevent 24 million Americans from having affordable health care.

The primary message has

been clear in the Congress of the United States for five years. Now we see that objective alongside an Oregon highway.

The primary objective of some Republican U.S. senators and representatives and of this billboard is to say to progressive and centrist Americans that if you elect a black American as president, you can expect this kind of hate mongering from redneck racist Americans.

Playing the race card? No! It’s simply responding to the playing hand as dealt by the party across the table!

D. Kent Lloyd


Take off those rose-colored glasses

Jim Redden’s article (“Including fuel, EVs cost less,” Sustainable Life, Nov. 14) is half the truth.

Yes, we all would love to skip the gas station and put those dirty, evil oil companies out of business. The article reads like a rosy-colored glasses thing. Please, let stop drinking the Kool-Aid for a moment and look at the truth.

It was never mentioned that most car buyers will buy a battery replacement program of a $100 per month, above and beyond the car purchase price and warranty. OK, so the owner in the article is a lessor and may not be part of that program, but a buyer, which most people are, will pay for battery insurance instead of buying gas.

The Nissan Leaf has a 60,000-mile lifespan and the batteries need to be replaced. The price tag? $15,000. My car with 189,000 miles has a total cost of around $10,000 for maintenance. So the Leaf owner has a choice in order to drive 189,000 miles: Replace the battery two times at a cost of $30,000 plus the price of the car or, at 60,000 miles, replace the car two times.

With all that aside, the real problem with the Leaf and all battery cars is the environmental damage used to manufacture the car. It’s the dirty little problem the PC green movement just won’t report on and would like to keep a secret, because if people ever found out the heavy metals needed to make batteries and the toxic nature of mining, refining and storing the toxic metals, and the environmental impact to our earth, people would revolt.

Please, can someone write the entire story and not sound like a commercial for Nissan and the rosy green movement?

Andrew Weisenberger


We welcome submissions from readers on local issues for our Opinion page. Please send your thoughts by noon Friday to Raymond Rendleman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Keep Letter to the Editor submissions under 400 words; longer submissions will be considered for Community Soapboxes. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, libel and appropriate taste. Letters must be accompanied by a full name, a telephone number and street address for verification purposes. Readers are also invited to call 503-546-0742 with story ideas and comments.