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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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Sister cities for 40 years


Although she is not looking forward to the 10-hour plane journey, Elise Lunas is looking forward to her fourth trip to Japan, as part of Oregon City’s Sister City Committee.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - An ornate Japanese doll, a gift from sister city Tateshina.Lunas, the committee's chairwoman, and six others will travel to Japan from June 8 to June 23. They will visit Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, World Heritage sites Koyasan and Nikko, and several other spots, before ending up in Tateshina, OC’s sister city.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Elise Lunas, chairwoman of the Oregon City Sister City Committee, poses with a stone lantern in the Peace Garden. Once in Tateshina, which is in the prefecture of Nagano, delegates will stay with host families.

“They do such an amazing job of taking care of us. They will hold a dinner, and Oregon City Commissioner Kathy Roth will present a gift from Oregon City, a large photo of Willamette Falls — the same one on the cover of the Trail News,” Lunas said.

The Oregon City Sister City Committee will present the Tateshina Sister City Committee with a gift of a handpainted Native American drum, with a rabbit fur drumstick.

In addition to Roth, other members of the delegation include Lunas’ husband Larry, Beth Werber, secretary of the committee, and her husband Bob, Trevor Holland, and Jessica Stringham.

Stringham, 23, now lives in San Francisco, but when she lived in Oregon City her family hosted students from Tateshina, so she “has fond memories,” Lunas said.

Assistant language teacher

In August, Holland, 26, and a recent Portland State University graduate, will return to Tateshina, where he will be an assistant English-language instructor at the junior high for one year. His connection to the delegation is through his grandmother, Verda Spickelmier, a member of the sister-city committee.

Holland has taken Japanese classes on and off since he was 13, and said because of that he has gained an appreciation for the culture and people of Japan.

“Applying to work as an assistant language teacher has been something I’ve wanted to do for years. I was actually looking for positions to apply for when the opportunity to teach in Tateshina was presented to me. I was thrilled, not only to get the chance to live and teach in Japan, but to do so in a town I have some connection to through the sister-city committee,” he said.

Holland looks forward to meeting his students and hopes he can get them excited about learning English during his stay in Tateshina.

He added, “I feel I have one other important role during my time in Japan and that is as a cultural ambassador of sorts. I feel I have a responsibility to positively represent Oregon City as well as the United States because I know that my actions may have a lasting impact on how our country is viewed by others. It’s my hope that I can represent our country well, in addition to fostering a continued friendship between Oregon City and Tateshina as sister cities.”

Sister cities

Oregon City and Tateshina have been “sisters” since 1974, when prominent Oregon City figure Dr. Glenn Parrott’s son and daughter-in-law were doing missionary work in Japan, Lunas said.

“They met some people from Tateshina, and, at that time, the two cities were about the same size in population, and both were rural and agricultural,” Lunas said.

Since then, Oregon City’s population has grown to more than 32,000, while Tateshina is down to about 8,000, she said.

“Although the two cities have gone different ways, those initial connections have lasted,” Lunas said.

The international sister-city program was established in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower to encourage peace among nations. The first delegation from Tateshina visited Oregon City in 1975; an OC delegation visited Japan in 1977, and numerous visits have taken place since then.

In even-numbered years, volunteer families in Oregon City host a delegation of junior high students from Tateshina. This past March eight students and their two chaperones came to visit.

Adults from Tateshina last came to Oregon City in 2004, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the sister-city charter, and another delegation will come to OC this year for the 40th anniversary celebration, Lunas said.

Cultural exchange

“You really get a world perspective and develop a different view of the world. You also learn about another culture,” from taking part in the sister-city program, Lunas said.

“It is amazing how much you can communicate even if you don’t speak the language. You develop other ways of communicating. It is also amazing how quickly friendships form,” she added.

Luna and her husband became involved with the sister-city program a number of years ago when they hosted delegates from Japan. She is looking forward to seeing the people she has met on previous trips, describing the experience as “old-home week.”

The OC Sister City Committee is always looking for more people to host visitors or to volunteer to work in the Peace Garden, which was built in 1987. The garden, located adjacent to the Pioneer Center, houses a large stone lantern that was a gift from the Tateshina Sister City Committee for the inauguration of the garden. The garden also features an arched wooden entryway, built for the 35th anniversary of the sister-city program.

A glass cabinet at the Pioneer Center houses past gifts from Tateshina, and other gifts from that city are on display at the OC City Hall, Lunas said.

Regular meetings of the sister-city committee take place at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of the month at City Hall; they are open to the public. No meeting will be held in June since many of the members will be in Japan.

For more information, contact Elise Lunas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call her at 503-656-5578.