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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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Oregon City’s Clackamette Mineral and Gem Club, is celebrating 50 years, however, the secret to the club’s longevity is up for debate.

Is it the knowledgeable and friendly members, eager to share their expertise? Is it the lure of collecting beautiful rocks from faraway places and polishing them until they shine? Or is it the fun of getting muddy and scrabbling away in the dirt?

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Art Hess, left, points out the markings on a polished Brazilian agate, while David Hanna displays the innards of a huge thunder egg.The answers, according to a group of seven club members, are yes, yes and heck, yes — it is loads of fun digging in the dirt.

Although the club has nearly 200 members, the group would like to encourage more people, especially families and youngsters, to come to the meetings and join in the fun.

Education also is a huge part of the club’s mission, said Richard Mauer, adding, “When young people are fooling around with rocks, they are connected to the Earth, they get a little bit of respect for the Earth we are on.”

“The club has lasted this long because of Bea and Forrest Settle. They keep the club’s paperwork up to date, and Bea has a tremendous knowledge of rocks,” said Carolyn Hess, who calls herself a greeter at the club’s monthly meetings.

Tomoko Kira, another member, described the Settles as mentors for her and her husband, Hidemi. In fact, the Kiras have acquired so many rocks, that they have had to expand their garage.

Bea and Forrest Settle have been members of the club since 1977, and Bea has been treasurer since 1982.

“Before we were in the rock club, we didn’t know many people. Now I consider this group sort of my main family. Everyone in our club gets along with each other,” she said.

Collecting rocks is a “fabulous hobby, and it draws you to a good core of people who enjoy the same thing you do. It creates great friendships. These are hard-working and dedicated people,” said David Hanna, president of the club.

Art Hess, Carolyn’s husband, said he has been collecting rocks all his life, but joined the club to learn more about them from knowledgeable people.

He was the chairman for the club’s 50th anniversary celebration in May, and said he was grateful that so many “generous, helping” members jumped in to assist him in putting the event on.

Mauer has a story about the incident that caused him to join the group.

He purchased some rocks and minerals and was able to indentify everything except for one piece.

“I had this chunk of green rock, and I walked into the Clackamette Mineral and Gem Club fall show and saw a guy in an orange vest. I showed him the rock, and he told me to go talk to Bea. She took one look at it and said it was nephrite jade, maybe from Wyoming or Siberia or British Columbia.

“I walked out and said, ‘Wow, somebody knows something. There is a pool of knowledge here, a collective intelligence,’ ” he said.

Mauer is now the chairman of the fall show, held this year on the weekend of Oct. 26 at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds, in Canby.  

Beauty is in the rocks

Rock hounds find it difficult to describe their favorite stones, because, as Hidemi Kira said, “there are so many pretty rocks.”

This from a man who wears around his neck a pendant made from a large slice of drusy quartz that is part amethyst.

“It is supposed to be a mineral specimen, but I wear it to the grocery store to recruit people to the club,” he said, adding, “People always ask about it.”

He and his wife came to rock hounding by accident; they were driving around “in the middle of nowhere,” and ended up in Lakeview.

“Someone told us to go see the sunstones, and when we saw them, the whole ground was sparkling. We got so excited, we thought we had found treasure,” he said, adding that he and his wife joined the club initially to learn to polish the stones they found that day.

His wife added that she considers rock hounding a “sustainable hobby,” and she loves it because she gets to see “natural wonders.”

Art Hess remembers the first rock that he collected as a child, when he was living near a gravel pit on Johnson Creek Boulevard.

“It’s a square-ish piece, almost orange with wavy white lines. It wasn’t carnelian, but is in that family. I still have it,” he said.

Mauer also still has the first rock he ever collected, a piece of green jasper from the beach at Tillamook. But the stone that really speaks to him is a piece of India green moss agate he found at an estate sale.

“It was sitting on a window sill, and the sun was shining on it. It was a grass green color with a blue area, and there is kind of a cavity filled with fine quartz crystals.”

Digging it

Hanna considers himself an “urban rock hound,” he said, noting that he now usually acquires his rocks from collectors at shows.

But he did note that in 1967, when he and his wife were first married, they dug out about 60 pounds of thunder eggs from the Lucky Strike Mine east of Prineville.

“We hung onto them until about six or seven years ago, when we found someone to cut them open for us. We were amazed what was inside,” he said.

“Our first real rock field trip was in 2003, when we drove to Utah. We went up this steep hill and saw whole mountains of agate — we were like kids, so excited,” said Tomoko Kira.

Bea Settle’s favorite stone is a 300-pound piece of rainbow obsidian that she and her husband dug out of an area in Northern California.

“You hit a pocket and hundreds of pounds are coming out of that area. You learn where to dig,” she said, adding that some areas require permits for digging.

“You go on field trips to learn where to dig, and you share holes, if people around you are not finding anything,” Carolyn Hess said.

Her husband added, “When you are out in the woods or in the desert, on your knees digging in the dirt, you are all on a common level.”

Rock hounds

What: The Clackamette Mineral and Gem Club of Oregon City

When: Meetings held from 7 to 9 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month. This month’s meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Where: Kraxberger Hall at the Zion Lutheran Church, 720 Jefferson St., Oregon City

Contact: For more information about the club, call the message line at 503-650-4000, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit clackamettegem.org.

Fall show: The Clackamette Mineral and Gem Club of Oregon City’s 49th Annual Rock and Gem Show takes place Oct. 26 and 27, at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds, Canby. The event is free.

For more information, visit the website listed above, or call Richard Mauer at 503-691-6395.