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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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Happy Valley homeowners benefit from project slowing down water, preventing erosion -

The sight of rushing water in a stream can be lovely, but when that same water is rushing through your basement or eroding the banks under your house and deck — that’s another story entirely.

Photo Credit: PHOTO BY: ELLEN SPITALERI - Leah Johanson, senior civil engineer with WES, stands by a snag and points out where water channels were diverted at the site of the Echo Valley Project.Luckily for the residents in the Echo Valley section of Happy Valley, Clackamas County’s Water Environment Services personnel were able to mount a project to address the runoff and erosion problems.

Photo Credit: PHOTO BY: ELLEN SPITALERI - WES employees Leah Johanson, left, and Gail Shaloum remove invasive weeds at the Echo Valley Project site in Happy Valley.Although it took a few years to come to fruition, the Echo Valley Project is complete, and project manager Leah Johanson said she has received no complaints from the six homeowners most affected by the water problems.

One homeowner, Angela Fox, publisher of the Clackamas Review and Oregon City News, said she initially had concerns and did lose some trees during the process, but is pleased by the outcome.

She added, “I would like to compliment Leah Johanson and staff for their continued communication and service. They had to work with the homeowners during the process to answer questions and ensure us that it all would be worth the construction and wait, and they did a great job.”

Johanson, a senior civil engineer with WES, said the project actually began six years ago, when complaints from homeowners began to accumulate about water in crawlspaces and basements and significant erosion on their properties.

Employees at WES already knew about the issues, and the agency was able to purchase the three remaining properties on the Echo Valley site so no more homes could be built there after 1996, Johanson said.

Located at the headwaters of Cedar Creek, the area is “naturally a wetland,” Johanson said, adding that there always has been water there, but with the influx of homes and pavement, two main storm channels developed in the neighborhood.

In the initial stages of the project, homeowners were sent mailings and invited to attend meetings, held at nearby Clackamas High School.

Neighbors looked at maps of the area and discussed alternatives available.

After the preferred alternative was selected, construction at the site began in the summer of 2013.

“Through constant back and forth with homeowners, we helped them understand what was going on. We asked them to bear with us through construction,” Johanson said.

Echo Valley Project

The basic goal of the project was to slow down the water in Cedar Creek, divert it away from homeowners’ property and move the flows onto WES-owned land, where it could be naturally filtered.

“We brought in logs to slow down the water and divert it. We also incorporated boulders and planted willow stakes to stabilize the banks along the creek,” Johanson said.

Because the roots of willow trees are so dense, they “hold the soil in and are great stabilizers,” said Gail Shaloum, environmental policy specialist with WES.

Some homeowners were taken aback that trees were cut down, but those trees were non-natives and were too big for the site, Johanson said, adding that they kept as many trees as possible.

Johanson also pointed out that the contractors Tammy and Dean Edgerly, of T. Edge Construction, deliberately left portions of standing tree trunks, called snags, to provide good habitat for nesting birds.

“Those snags are rare in an urban environment, and so valuable to insects and birds,” Shaloum said.

In addition to installing the logs and boulders, the Edgerlys also removed invasives from the site and replanted it with native species.

“We have an agreement with them that they will continue to keep the invasives at bay to allow the natives” to thrive, Johanson said.

And those natives, including shrubs and wetland herbaceous plants, will work to “stabilize eroding banks and help filter pollutants from rooftops, cars and whatever people put on their lawns,” Shaloum added.

The project, now complete, has improved livability for homeowners by slowing the water down, moving the flow away from their homes, and enhancing the wetlands, Johanson said, adding that the project also has created habitat for frogs, ducks and other birds.

Clackamas High School partnership

Shaloum is now heading up a partnership project with the North Clackamas School District and Clackamas High School, looking for ways “to retrofit the campus, by creating rain gardens, using stormwater planters and installing porous pavement.”

The project has three main goals, and No. 1 is to “see if we can slow down the runoff from any rain events at that site,” she said.

No. 2 is to build some demonstration projects, like creating rain gardens and constructing planters, to educate community members about what they can do to enhance water quality, and filter out pollutants around their homes.

And finally, “we want to provide hands-on learning for the students. We want to help them apply what they are learning in the classroom to the outdoors. We want them to learn about stormwater, and then come out and build a rain garden,” Shaloum said.

She added that all of these projects apply to the STEM curriculum, which is the study of science, technology, engineering and math.

Also, “when you educate kids, you are educating their families and the community. These kids are going to be the stewards of the land in the future,” Shaloum said.


Water Environment Services provides surface-water management services, wastewater collection and treatment, and biosolids reuse for seven cities and several unincorporated areas in Clackamas County. Stormwater management, on-site sewage disposal, and water-quality and stream-enhancement projects also are coordinated by WES.

Educating the community is vital, noted J. Michael Read, the interim director at WES.

“When people complain about the surface-water fee, we explain about impervious surfaces and pollutants, like pesticides and urban and agricultural runoff, that end up in the rivers and streams,” he said.

“Luckily Mother Nature provides us with plants to filter out pollutants. We have to remember that we all live upstream of somebody,” he added, noting that Cedar Creek in Echo Valley feeds into Mount Scott Creek, which in turn feeds into Kellogg Creek and, ultimately, the Willamette River.

Gari Johnson, the watershed health education coordinator at WES sums it up this way, Johanson said: “If it’s on the ground, it’s in the water.”

And Shaloum added, “We’re all connected.”

To speak to J. Michael Read, interim director at WES, call 503-742-4560, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Call Leah Johanson, senior civil engineer at WES, at 503-742-4620; call Gail Shaloum, environmental policy specialist at WES, at 503-742-4597.