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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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NCSD's education budget rises above historic peak of $151.5M


North Clackamas School District finances, as in Gladstone and Oregon City, are looking much better, but there’s still a long way to go if state lawmakers want to achieve their own goals for the education system, Superintendent Matt Utterback announced last week.

Restoring three additional student instructional days would allow the NCSD to meet the 990 hours required at the district’s high schools, but Utterback’s proposed budget still had to keep in place two student days and one teacher’s workday as furloughs. Concord Elementary School, by closing with a June 3 event from 6 to 8 p.m. to hear community stories from its 150-year history, will create annual savings of approximately $450,000.

NCSD tax revenues peaked in the in 2008-09 school year at $151.5 million, and since then the district has had to cut 250 positions valued at more than $23 million. Utterback sees state revenues finally surpassing funding levels from five years ago as “a significant milestone,” but “there is much that remains uncertain” beyond the next school year. After enrollment peaked then at 17,728 students, NCSD enrollment is down 7 percent to 16,512 students.

“For the first time in six years, we can look to the future with optimism,” Utterback said. “With increased funding, we can continue to build on the excellent education we provide our students. Our district employees deserve our deepest appreciation as they continue to provide unfaltering support to our students despite increases in workload and expectations.”

Challenges remain

Although NCSD’s 2014-15 general-fund budget is projected at $162.7 million, which includes rolling over $9.7 million from 2013-14, state and local regulatory measures require that the district keep that approximately 5 percent ending fund balance in place.

Adding to the financial crunch are Public Employees Retirement System expenses continuing to increase significantly. Health-insurance costs increased by 3 percent for the North Clackamas Plans and 4 percent for the Kaiser Plan.

Given the austerity measures put in place, Utterback projects that the district’s average class sizes will decrease by one student during the next school year. To achieve that goal with a predicted 250 more students due to enrollment growth and open enrollment, he plans that the district will hire 24 teachers, in addition to the 10 full-time-equivalent teachers added for the current school year. Among the numerous “significant investments” that the district can now make: All NCSD employees are set to receive the equivalent of a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment.

NCSD is now able to set aside $650,000 for math curriculum purchases, $400,000 in technology replacement funding and about $100,000 to purchase 12 new school buses.

Utterback believes the district’s financial picture will continue to improve, but state legislators still need to determine what funding level will serve as the basis for the start of the 2015-2017 educational-funding debate.

“The answer to this question will be essential to increasing state funding long-term,” Utterback said. “In addition, our state leaders will also need to wrestle with how to fund full-day kindergarten beginning in 2015. Additional state revenue will be needed to address this state goal.”

NCSD’s preparation this year for full-day kindergarten implementation in two years includes funding two full-day kindergarten pilots and adding a second kindergarten class at El Puente Elementary School.

Setting future course

Budget Committee and School Board members began sending district officials their questions and comments about the budget Tuesday, May 20, after Utterback presented his budget message that night. Members of the public have until the next Budget Committee meeting Tuesday, June 3, to send more feedback, and then they can testify in front of School Board members before their final approval of a plan June 26. Utterback promised that NCSD administrators would get answers to those questions out as soon as possible, but no serious issues or concerns have been raised so far.

However, much work remains for the district, Utterback noted. NCSD can now create its own special education testing and evaluation center, designed for children from birth through high school, with the transfer of $900,000 from the Clackamas Educational Service District. It will be expanding the bilingual program at Alder Creek Middle School and hiring a part-time dean of students at New Urban High School.

School Board members are also planning a capital construction bond in November 2016 to address seismic issues, facility improvements and over $40 million in deferred maintenance. It’s not expected to increase the tax rate for district homeowners.

As they examine the sale or leasing of surplus district property and address stagnant employee compensation, Utterback hopes to build a variety of learning paths and school options to accommodate the diverse needs of students and to enhance student retention and enrollment growth.

“As we look to the future, we must continue to examine and implement financial systems and practices that will build long-term financial resiliency over the next five years, while ensuring we are meeting our district mission of preparing graduates who are inspired and empowered to strengthen the quality of life in our local and global communities,” Utterback said.