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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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Local choirs head to Singing Christmas Tree


For the first time, Singing Christmas Tree organizers are bringing in local high school choirs for special performances at the Keller Auditorium. Of the seven Portland-area choirs asked to perform, three are from Clackamas County.

by: PHOTO BY: JAMIE SCHERSCHEL - Oregon City High School's choir, directed by Amy Aamodt, performs at the schoolwide Veterans Day assembly this month.Oregon City High School’s choir will kick off the series Saturday, Nov. 30, by joining the Tree singers at 2:30 p.m. At 2 p.m. the next afternoon, Sunday, Dec. 1, the Rex Putnam High School choir will try to outdo the OCHS performance; Clackamas High School’s A-Choir will sing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.

“The Singing Christmas Tree is a well-established tradition in the Portland area for more than 50 years, and it’s a great honor to be asked to be part of such a grand production,” said OCHS Choir Director Amy Aamodt. “For students to be at such a grand venue as the Keller Auditorium is an exeptional experience for them just to be backstage and to be able to sing in such a large space.”

Putnam Choir Director Erika Lockwood also expects students will get “a very educational experience” from performing their routine in the Keller Auditorium, in addition to singing the

“Hallelujah Chorus” with a full orchestra and 350 singers.

“We are extremely honored to have been asked to perform with the Singing Christmas Tree,” Lockwood said. “It is wonderful that the new director, Wes Walterman, has decided to include area high school choirs this year.”

Tree production staffers, including Walterman and General Manager Scott Galloway, came to Oregon City and North Clackamas classrooms to listen to the kids sing, validate their talent and talk about how important they were to the remake of the Singing Christmas Tree.

The Singing Christmas Tree also will make donations to each high school choir that participates. For each ticket that is purchased using codes “rexputnam2013,” “clackamas2013” or “oregoncity2013,” the Tree will add $2 to the respective school’s total donation. The school that sells the most tickets will be treated to a pizza party.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: SCOTT DAVIS - Clackamas High Schools A-Choir gathers this year at the Lewis River Camp in Washington for their retreat in October.

Donations going to good causes

Demonstrating the closeness between the two groups of performers, the OCHS choir will be donating to band member Brandon Soumokil for his battle with stage-four Hodkins lymphoma.

“We’re all hoping for his full recovery and restored health,” Aamodt said. “The Singing Christmas Tree people are being doubly generous by donating to our program and making it all about the kids.”

Putnam singers will use the donations as part of their fundraising efforts for an acoustic shell on their auditorium. Most high school choral programs have one, but Putnam has not had one for several years.

“It will make a big difference for us and for others who perform in our auditorium,” Lockwood said. “The cost is just over $10,000, and the students and I are working hard to get one by this spring. We are about halfway there, and are extremely grateful for the Tree’s donation.”

CHS Choir Director Scott Davis also appreciated how Singing Christmas Tree is a long-standing family tradition for thousands of people throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington. Davis noted it has a reputation of musical excellence, a value he strives to teach in his classroom.

“We love the family-oriented messages of peace, compassion, giving and joy that is embodied in the Tree productions and are excited to be included in the show,” he said. “It is very rewarding for students to perform the results of their hard work in rehearsal, and the Singing Christmas Tree offers a broader audience than our home concerts might bring. That said, just singing together during the holiday season is reason enough to be excited. It will be a fun, rewarding evening for performers and audience alike.”

CHS's choir is touring to Nashville over Memorial Day weekend and will use any funds donated for scholarships to students in need.

“We're also fundraising like crazy to make this trip work for any student who wants to go,” Davis said. “In Nashville we’ll have workshops with pro music recording officials. We'll record an album at RCA Studio B. We’ll give a concert at the world-famous Ryman Auditorium, catch a show at the Grand Ol’ Opry and generally have a great time learning about the professional music world. It is going to be a life-changing off-campus educational tour.”

by: PHOTO COURTESY: ERIKA LOCKWOOD - Rex Putnam High School belts out the chorus at its spring concert at Putnam earlier this year.