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Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - Auto Repair INSIDER -

John Sciarra, Bernard's GarageWhat’s less fun than getting stuck in a nasty traffic jam? Getting cooked in your car on a hot day.

Summer's right around the corner and 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, the system may need to be recharged. Manufacturers used to use a type of refrigerant known as Freon. Now, manufacturers use R-134a to keep things cold in the cabin.

Working on a vehicle’s 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 peripheral components at the same time.

Bernard’s, which has been in business since 1925, services our clients’ foreign, domestic, hybrid and electric cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles. We offer free pickup and delivery for our customers’ convenience.

Plan ahead and stay cool this season!

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



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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'Begging Sux ... Compassion Doesn't ...'


Milwaukie-area man seeks work, sheds light on path to homelessness -

You’ve seen him at freeway on-ramps and off-ramps in Oregon City and at strip malls in Milwaukie and Oak Grove.

He’s always with his dog, a 3-year-old friendly pit bull named Edward, and he displays a weathered cardboard sign that reads, “Begging Sux ... Compassion Doesn’t ...”

His name is Trinidad Rodriguez. He’s 31, and he’s homeless. Rodriguez has been living outside for much of his life, after being kicked out of his house by his stepmother when he was 13.

Before moving in with his dad and stepmother, he lived with his mother and grandmother. He says he ran away from that home at age 12, after undergoing constant physical abuse.

“My mother broke my nose, and she tried to kill me three times,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez agreed to be interviewed for this article in the hopes that it might land him a job and that passers-by won’t be so quick to pass judgment on him and others who, due to circumstances beyond their control, find themselves living on the streets.

“You asked what I’d say to people who think I’m here because I’m lazy,” Rodriguez said. “To people who drive by and think that people like me don’t want to work, I would say, ‘Get to know my story. Stop by, even if it’s just to say hi. Give me a chance, give me work. I have skills, and I’m a hard worker. If you’ve got work to do, give me a call, and I’ll do it to the best of my ability.’ I’m ready to settle down. I have a family, and I’ve got to think about them before myself. ... I’m a hard worker. I’m loyal and trustworthy.”

Rodriguez would like people to know that being homeless is no picnic.

“It’s just like a five-day-a-week, 40-hour-a-week job,” he said. “Only it’s harder ... 24/seven, 365 days a year. In the heat and cold, wind, rain, sleet and snow. There’s no time off.

“When you first start out, it’s really scary, because you don’t know anybody, or where you’re going to get your next meal. You don’t know if where you are going to sleep is safe. Safe for me was under bridges, next to a train yard or railroad tracks, or in the woods, somewhere on the outskirts of town. But you’ve always got to think about keeping safe, from animals and sometimes people. If you can find it, they can find it.”

Rodriguez says he’s had run-ins with “bears, wolves, mountain lions, snakes of all kinds — many times poisonous — rats, spiders, bugs of all kinds, scorpions.

“The wild animals, that’s one good reason you should have a dog with you,” he said.

A native of Southern California, Rodriguez graduated from Santa Maria High School in 2000. Not long afterward, he began traveling around the country.

“Something just pulled me to the road,” Rodriguez said. “At that time I was soul searching, mostly running from my past. Trying to figure out who I am. Trying to discover my soul again.”

His travels took him to every state in the U.S., with the exception of Hawaii. He’s been homeless in Canada, Mexico and South America — Rio de Janeiro and even “the jungles of Brazil.”

During most of Rodriguez’s homeless years, he has worked. But he says that since the economic downturn, work has become much more difficult to come by. Among skills he says he’s acquired through the school of hard knocks are: “lots of construction and demolition, landscaping, small-engine mechanics, pile driving, painting — I’m a good painter, roofing, moving, splitting wood.

“Roofing is one of my main things. I’ve done a lot of roofing, hot, cold, tarring, from tear-off to complete reconstruction. Putting shingles on, metal roofs, wooden roofs.”

Born in San Bernardino, Calif., Rodriguez is the oldest of six children, each with a different father.

by: PHOTO BY: JOHN DENNY - Its nap time for baby Gideon, as Trinidad Rodriguez, Sara King, and their dog, Edward, stand outside their home, a 1976 Ford Econoline van, which has a leaking roof and a cracked front windshield.He says his mom, who gave birth to him at age 16, sometimes worked three jobs to make ends meet. Still, he says that things were OK at home until he was 8 and the family moved to Redlands, Calif., to stay with a grandmother.

“Until then I was a good boy,” Rodriguez recalls. “Made breakfast for my brothers and sisters and made sure they were ready for school. When we moved, everything went downhill from there. I was physically abused by both my mom and grandma. Beat on top of the head, told over and over I’d never amount to anything and that I was ‘all-around dumb.’

“I was constantly in fear of being beaten, many times for no reason at all. My mom would come home after a bad day at work and beat me, just because she’d had a bad day. I’d tell my siblings when my mom got home, ‘Stay in your room, and I’ll take the abuse.’”

Rodriguez recalls the punishment he received from his grandmother when he wet his bed shortly after moving into her home.

“I pissed my bed, and I lied to my grandmother because I was scared,” Rodriguez said. “I cleaned it up and put the bedding in the laundry. The next day my grandma asked if I’d pissed myself. For the first time ever, I lied to her. She lashed me and hit me with a telephone cord so long and so hard that my back was completely sliced open. I felt like Jesus Christ must have felt like when he was crucified.”

Every day, Rodriguez says, his grandmother would make him and his siblings copy pages of the Bible on paper so that they would “learn the Bible and morals of the Bible.”

“My grandma had me up all night writing the Bible,” Rodriguez said. “But it was never good enough. Every day I’d write a page out of the Bible and every day I got hit. She’d hit us on the palms of our hands with the heel of [a hard-soled shoe]. If we’d wince or cry, we’d get hit more. I’d have blisters on my hands, and sometimes they would bleed. I remember it hurt, a lot.”

He added, “My grandma believed she could talk to angels. I think she was psychotic.”

Rodriguez has a vivid memory of the first time his mother tried to kill him.

“It was late one night,” he said. “I was in our house asleep, and I woke up, and everything was really, really quiet. I could sense something wasn’t right. I grabbed my brothers, and we hid in the closet. When I looked out through the crack in the closet door I saw something shimmering. I opened the door a little more and saw my mother, with a butcher knife. She went over to my bed and starting stabbing the sheets, over and over and over.

:At the time, I was playing baseball and my baseball bat was in the closet. I grabbed my bat and came out of the closet and hit her on the knees and knocked her to the floor. I hit her arm, and the knife fell from her hand. She had this blank stare and a crazed look in her eyes. Eventually she came out of it and she said, ‘I’m sorry.’ I said, ‘Get out of our room and leave us alone!’ She asked me not to call the cops, so I didn’t.”

Rodriguez says that on two occasions, when he was 11, his mother attempted to run him over with their car, one time “smashing me against the house,” and another time, running over his bicycle, just as he jumped off.

By the time he was 12, Rodriguez had had enough.

“I told myself, if I stay here, I’m going to die,” he recalls. “I told myself, I either need to leave and stay away or I’m going to kill myself. I was done. I was getting hit all the time.”

Rodriguez did run away from home, with his brother, Rey, who also had received his share of physical abuse. But the police found them the next day and took them back to their mother.

“When they brought us home, I said, ‘I don’t want to live here anymore. I’ll commit suicide if you leave me here with her.’ I had it all planned out. I’d hang myself in the garage with a nylon rope we had.”

Rodriguez recalls the painful words his mother had for him as she made arrangements for him to stay with his father.

“She told me, ‘You go with him, I don’t want no letters, no phone calls. I don’t want to even hear if you’re alive. You’re not my son anymore. You were the biggest mistake of my life.’ She gave me a kiss on the cheek, and that was it.”

Rodriguez didn’t see his mother again for 19 years. He was visiting a sister last November and she arranged a meeting.

“When I saw her in November, I instantly started crying,” Rodriguez said, with tears streaming down his cheeks. “She just looked at me. She didn’t say anything. It was really awkward. We embraced, and I told her I forgive her and I love her. I asked her why she allowed all those things to happen. She said, ‘I don’t know why.’

“There was so much hatred. The last words I’d remembered was her telling me I was the biggest mistake of her life. All I wanted to do was hit her. But I told her I forgive and I love her. I had to forgive her for myself as much as for her,” Rodriguez said. “Whatever happened was for a reason, and it has made me the person I am. In order to move on with my life, I had to forgive all the hardship and stop dwelling on the past.

“The forgiveness has put a lot of ease on my mind and my soul. I have become more understanding and peaceful. She was a single mother, working three jobs and trying her best to raise six kids. It wasn’t easy.”

His rough life as a youth led to heavy drug use and associations with Southern California gangs.

“My main gang was PMK,” Rodriguez said. “Punk Mafia Klick. It was a skateboard gang.”

He says that when he was younger, he spent a lot of time in jail. “Mostly on drug-related charges, but never thievery.” He says he once went to jail for “skateboarding on top of a car.”

Rodriguez nearly died between his junior and senior years in high school, when gang membership led to his getting shot.

“I was shot twice,” he said. “Mistaken identity. They thought I was someone else. I got shot in the hip and spine. I was laid up for four months. The doctor said I’d never walk again. I proved him wrong.”

Rodriguez says he no longer does drugs. He says he stopped using on his own, because of the consequences.

“I’ve done everything. Heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, pills of all sorts, PCP, marijuana. I kept getting in trouble, going to jail. I decided it just wasn’t worth it. It was ruining my life. I kept losing relationships and going to jail. The last time I did anything was marijuana, around eight years ago. It’s not worth my going to jail and not worth me sacrificing my family.”

Rodriguez has a soulmate in Sara King, a 29-year-old homeless woman he met four years ago in the South Park Blocks in downtown Portland. They have a son, Gideon, who turned 2 on April 17.

They’re making their home in Milwaukie, living in a 1976 Ford Econoline van, which has a cracked front window and a roof that leaks when it rains.

Asked how he envisions his future, Rodriguez said, “I would like to be in a house and on some land. In a house, with my family and with a good job.”

Rodriguez says his life has made him “the person I am.”

Asked who he is, Rodriguez said, “I’m a family man. I’m a brother. I’m a hard-working man. I’m a husband. I’m an uncle, a very good friend, and somebody you can trust. I’m a protector. A protector of women and children.”

One might add, “gentleman.”

During the interview for this story, this reporter visited a local Starbucks with Rodriguez. Approaching the counter to place an order, Rodriguez trailed behind, holding the door for a customer.

On another occasion, while visiting a McDonald’s to talk and get a cup of tea, a woman and her child arrived at the counter. Despite the woman’s protests, Rodriguez insisted that the woman place her order first.

Another time, while visiting with Rodriguez at the entrance to Milwaukie Marketplace, he abruptly ended the conversation and said, “I’ve got to go.” He apologized profusely after returning from helping a motorist in distress.

Over the past year, Rodriguez has taken 20-year-old James Ormsby, a young man with local ties who is down on his luck, under his wing, mentoring Ormsby and teaching him how to survive on the streets.

Ormsby attended Milwaukie Elementary School and Rowe Middle School and has been out of work for two years. Raised by his grandmother, he hasn’t seen his mother since she left when he was 2 1/2 years old.

Shorty after beginning his freshman year at Milwaukie High School, Ormsby’s grandmother became seriously ill, and he quit school to care for her. Since then, he’s earned his GED from Clackamas Community College.

Ormsby’s grandmother died when he was 18, and he found himself without a place to stay, living on the streets.

Ormsby said of Rodriguez, “He’s mentored me. I see him as a brother — family. When I’m sick he’ll go out and make money to bring me food, besides getting his family and his dog food.”

Rodriguez never asks for a handout. If someone makes an offer of financial assistance or food, he accepts, but with a warm and sincere, “Thank you so much!”

“Everything I’ve gone through in my life has made me who I am, and I’m thankful for that,” Rodriguez said. “God has helped me out in everything I’ve gone through, and I put all my faith and trust in Him. I’ve been shot, stabbed multiple times; I almost died twice by drowning. If He didn’t want me to be here, I’d be dead. I was forced into what my lifestyle is. But if you asked me if there is one thing in this life I’d change, my answer would be no. I’ve met really nice people. Some of my friends have become my enemies, and some of my enemies have become friends. I love them all the same. They’re all human beings, and I love them all the same.”

by: PHOTO BY: JOHN DENNY - Their sign says it all, as Trinidad Rodriguez (left), his dog, and street brother James Ormsby greet motorists as they exit Milwaukie Marketplace.Asked to elaborate on the meaning of his cardboard sign, “Begging Sux ... Compassion Doesn’t ...,” Rodriguez said, “It does suck when you’re out in the rain and cold, begging for someone to help out. It sucks. Don’t judge me until you get to know me. Stop by and talk, even if it’s just to say hi and wish me well. Help out if you can. I’m human, too. I’m here. I’ve got work skills. Help me out.”

Rodriguez says anyone with work to do may reach him by calling Sara King’s phone at 828-699-3000. Or stop and talk when you see him at an area shopping mall or near a freeway.