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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 unnecessarily raises sewer rates


On June 11, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, as the governing body of Tri-City Service District, filed a lawsuit against Oregon City challenging the city’s Right of Way Usage Fee. The county claims that this fee for use of the rights of way — a fee paid by all entities that use the city rights of way to provide utility services — is a tax on the district’s property, and that the District as a public entity is exempt from such taxes. The same body also raised sewer rates for the residents of Oregon City, West Linn and Gladstone, but raised Oregon City residents’ rates more than the other members of the district.

Since the county sued the city, Oregon City has avoided issuing press releases or other statements about the case, opting to leave the matter to the court rather than the media to resolve. However, the county has released several misleading statements about the case that I feel compelled to address. For example, in this month’s edition of its Citizen News publication, the county ran an article entitled “Oregon City fee raises sewer rates” in which it claims that right-of-way fees are “rare,” describes the fee as a “hidden tax” and implies the city chose to impose a higher fee on the district than that paid by other entities. Providing misinformation about the city’s fee does not promote the “transparency and accountability” the county references in its article.

Oregon City has been charging fees for use of its rights of way for decades, as have most, if not all, cities in Oregon. In fact, Oregon City’s ordinances on this topic go all the way back to 1865. For those who are not aware, rights-of-way are spaces on, above and under the streets, alleys and sidewalks. The city’s fees have long applied to electric, gas, cable and telecommunications providers as well as the city’s own water and sewer services. In 2013, recognizing that many other utilities used the city’s rights of way but did not compensate the city for such use, Oregon City adopted a new ordinance based on a state-wide model from the League of Oregon Cities. Among other things, the city’s ordinance established fees to be paid by all utility service providers that own facilities in, or use, the city’s rights of way. The purpose of the right of way usage fee is to ensure that all utilities using the city’s rights of way compensate the city for that use. Since adopting the ordinance, the city has identified 24 entities that are now paying for their use of the city’s rights of way, including several public entities, thanks to the new ordinance. With the exception of the county’s Tri-City District, all of these entities have complied with the ordinance without taking legal action against the city.

The county’s position in its lawsuit is, in essence, that as a public entity the district is entitled to use city rights of way free of charge. While public bodies do enjoy an exemption from property taxation under state law, that does not permit public bodies free use of other government property. Public bodies must still feed parking meters, pay application fees, pay for city-provided utilities and otherwise comply with many of the same fees as everyone else. Similarly, Oregon City cannot demand free office space in county buildings or use other county real estate for city purposes without payment. The property-tax exemption does not amount to a free pass for government, which is expected to pay its own operating costs despite the tax exemption. So, too, is the government expected to be a good steward of public resources, which includes charging fees and rent for use of public assets, which is what the city has done with the rights of way.

The city’s fee is far from the “hidden tax” characterized by the county. It was adopted through a public process (in which the county participated) that included at least three public meetings. This is no less transparent — and perhaps more transparent — than other Tri-City District costs, such as payments the district makes to the county for various county services. The district does not get these services for free simply because they are provided by the county. Similarly, the city expects the district to compensate the city for use of the public rights of way managed by the city. Otherwise, city taxpayers have to subsidize the district’s use of city streets, which comes much closer to a “hidden tax” on city taxpayers than the city’s fee assessed on the district and other utilities.

Finally, the city has not singled out the district for this fee nor does the district pay a higher fee than other utilities. All utilities subject to the fee pay the greater of a percentage their gross revenue from operations in the city or a minimum fee based on the linear feet of facilities in the rights of way. The city simply expects the district to comply with this fee in the same manner as the city and all other public and private utilities. It is disappointing, to say the least, that the county has chosen to spend taxpayer dollars to sue the city to avoid compliance with the law.

The citizens of both the city and the county have the right to expect their government to protect the public’s fiscal interests, respect validly adopted laws and to work together for the greater good. The city’s adoption of its right-of-way ordinance does all of those things; we will see if the county’s lawsuit does so as well.

Doug Neeley is mayor of Oregon City.