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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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Clackamas grad Aaron Ahlstrom starts his Make-A-Wish experience at Hops game

Photo Credit: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Ahlstrom throws the first pitch at last Thursdays Hillsboro Hops game. He kicked off his Make-A-Wish experience with a trip to the Hops game before heading to New York to watch the Yankees.Doug Ahlstrom’s recall is precise and immediate.

“I know the exact date — Oct. 5,” said the Happy Valley resident, about the day his family’s life changed in an instant.

That day, his son Aaron Ahlstrom, 17 at the time and a month into his senior year at Clackamas High School, was fielding ground balls at an Oregon baseball scouting event.

Leading up to that day, Ahlstrom had experienced some strange symptoms and sensations, but they came in extreme conditions — the humidity of Omaha, Neb., the cold waters of the Deschutes River.

Not so this time.

“The worst happened,” Ahlstrom recalled last week while standing off the first base line at Ron Tonkin Field. “I had a seizure on the field, and that indicated that I had a tumor.”

In no small part because of that terrible event, Ahlstrom has been creating baseball memories of a different sort over the past week. As a Make-A-Wish recipient, he kicked off his wish last Thursday by throwing out the first pitch at a Hillsboro Hops game. His family then moved on from there to New York, where the Ahlstroms would tour Yankee Stadium and meet some of the Yankees players.

That is a big week for any baseball-loving young man. It also was a big week for Make-A-Wish Oregon, the local chapter serving Oregon and Southwest Washington, since Ahlstrom is the 31-year-old chapter’s 3,000th wish recipient.

Photo Credit: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Aaron Ahlstron (in Hops jersey) is greeted by Clackamas teammates and coaches on the field before he throws out the first pitch at last Thursdays Hillsboro Hops game. Ahlstrom, 18, a recent Clackamas High School graduate, is battling brain cancer.To commemorate the milestone, Ahlstrom wore a white Hops jersey at the game with his last name and the number 3,000 screened in blue on the back.

“We knew that he was going to be our 3,000th wish, and we wanted to make it something special for him,” said Tracey Lam, the chapter’s public relations and communications manager. “Throwing out the first pitch is just a really fun way to celebrate his wish, his battle with cancer, his graduating high school as a star athlete, and then also a milestone for the Oregon chapter. It was a great way to tie everything together.”

After Ahlstrom experienced his seizure, he was taken to a local hospital for an MRI, which Doug Ahlstrom said indicated his son had a lesion on his brain. The elder Ahlstrom then drove his son to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Southwest Portland, which is where Ahlstrom received his treatment.

“It hits you like a ton of bricks,” Doug Ahlstrom said.

Ahlstrom underwent radiation and oral chemotherapy — in fact, he is on a regimen of chemotherapy pills five times per month for another six months.

“Knock on wood, the side effects have not been what you would think. He’s a strong kid,” Doug said of his son, who also played soccer and basketball for the Cavaliers. “He’s a fantastic athlete in great shape, and I think that has something to do with it.”

Because of Ahlstrom's age — he turned 18 last Halloween — his doctors at Doernbecher ushered him quickly into the Make-A-Wish process, as the organization grants wishes to children age 2½ to 17 with life-threatening medical conditions.

Recent Clackamas graduate Aaron Ahlstrom is the 3,000th recipient of a wish through the Make-A-Wish Oregon chapter. He started his wish experience last Thursday at Ron Tonkin Field, where he toured the Hillsboro Hops facility and threw out the first pitch before a game against the Tri-City Dust Devils.  And that brought Ahlstrom to last Thursday, when he rolled up to the ballpark in a limousine and then toured a portion of the Hops facility before the game. He met with team manager J.R. House and hitting coach Mark Grace, a former three-time MLB all-star who told Ahlstrom to tell Derek Jeter — the player Ahlstrom most hoped to meet in New York — that he enjoyed meeting Grace more than Jeter.

Before the game, Grace and Ahlstrom chatted in the Hops batting cages while the two played catch to warm Aaron up for his big pitch.

Then it was time to head out to the mound.

Before the pitch, the public address announcer introduced Ahlstrom to the crowd, and then his Clackamas teammates and coaches came out onto the field to surround him as he threw out the pitch. That came as a bit of a surprise, since Ahlstrom knew they were coming to the game — but not that they would be joining him on the field.

Ahlstrom, who remarkably missed just one game and earned second team all-Three Rivers League honors as an infielder this past spring, had no trouble getting his pitch to the Hops’ Justin Gonzalez — from one infielder to another.

Afterward, he posed for pictures and spoke with members of the media before enjoying the game with family and friends.

“It’s really cool,” he said. “I’m really thankful for everybody that’s helped me out with this and gave me this opportunity to come out here and have fun.”

On Sunday, Ahlstrom flew to New York — someplace he had never been before — with his mother, Suzanne, as well as with his father and 14-year-old brother, Ryan. The Ahlstroms were scheduled to meet some of the team and also to take a tour of Yankee Stadium before Monday’s game against the Rangers. Other stops on the itinerary were the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty before a flight home on Thursday.

And now Ahlstrom keeps moving forward. He said his goal is to “just live a normal life and not have to worry as much about my health as much. Just be normal. That’s my next move.”