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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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GHS students convert Chevy truck to electric


Although Gladstone High’s school colors are orange and black, it is known for being a “green” school, due to its engineering technology and environmental programs and clubs that have led to GHS being named a National Green Ribbon School in 2012.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Pictured with the still-to-be-painted truck are Brian Esquivel, Colton Anderson, Vincent Rininger, Armand Jayne and Trask Telemanich.GHS teacher Steve Carrigg and 10 of his students are now making the school even more sustainability minded with their extracurricular club, the Gladstone Electric Vehicle Organization. They are working on converting a 1986 Chevy S10 truck to electric power.

Carrigg, an English, journalism and creative-writing teacher at GHS for 22 years, started talking to his students in March 2011 about converting a gas-powered vehicle to an electric vehicle.

“I was inspired by a book about a high school teacher in North Carolina who put together a successful vehicle conversion program in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s,” Carrigg said.

He and his students also watched the film “Who Killed the Electric Car?” made by electric-car pioneer John Wayland, who lives in Portland.

“We talked to people like John and a small group of electric-car experts in the Portland metro area who are members of the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association. They have all been very supportive,” Carrigg said.

by: ELLEN SPITALERI - Steve CarriggThe reference book the group is using is “Build Your Own Electric Vehicle,” by Seth Leitman and Bob Brant, one of the most popular books used by vehicle convertors.

Carrigg originally bought the Chevy truck, and when the conversion program got underway, the school district was able to find some funding to purchase the truck. Once it is up and running on electric power, school-district employees will drive the truck, Carrigg said. He hopes the project will be completed by the end of this school year, and that a group of students will convert a car every year in the future.

This has been a good learning experience for his students, Carrigg said, because “they are learning about a different source of energy and a cleaner source of energy to power a car. Also, teamwork and community-building come out of this kind of project.”

Paying for parts

One of the first things Carrigg did was launch a crowdfunding campaign on incitED.org, a local, education crowdfunding site, in order to pay for the parts to convert the truck to electric power. That organization has helped GEVO raise $1,300 to pay for the necessary parts.

There are four major components needed for the conversion, Carrigg said: the motor, batteries, controller and a charging system.

“Free batteries have been offered by Brad Laird of RAE EV in Sherwood, but we are waiting for school district approval to accept the donation. Of course, we are very excited and hope we can move forward with these batteries,” Carrigg said.

They already have a motor and controller, but still need to raise money for a charging system, which will cost $1,500. They also need financial help or in-kind donations for cosmetic work on the truck, like paint and upholstery.

People can go to incitED.org where GEVO is one of the featured campaigns to donate to, before the campaign ends on Sept. 9, Carrigg said, adding that the group is exploring putting donor names or logos on the truck.

“Even small donations add up and make a difference,” he said.

Guardsmen lend a hand

Two members of the Oregon National Guard are part of the project as well, adding to the community involvement. The partnership began in February of last year, when 80 GHS students attended a leadership forum at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas.

“During that process, the principal said to me, ‘Camp Withycombe is really something. Are there more opportunities for more partnerships?’ And she told me about Steve’s project,” said SFC Pete Fritsch, the National Guard recruiter at the high school.

That led to a partnership with Lt. Matthew Worley’s 3670th Maintenance Company, which has “some of the finest automotive technicians — we can fix lots of things,” Worley said.

The National Guard “has always been a community-based organization, when citizen soldiers come together to serve when the country needs us,” he said.

“We are always working with someone who can help. This project is exciting, has a lot of potential and is technically challenging,” he added.

“This is ground-floor stuff. A lot of people hope a partnership develops. There are a lot of resources at Camp Withycombe, with a lot of possibilities to share those resources with the public schools. There are always barriers, but we are a problem-solving organization, and we are eager for this partnership,” Fritsch said.

Student involvement

Four current GHS students and one former student form the core group of GEVO; all work on the car during after-school hours.

Brian Esquivel, 19, a 2012 graduate of GHS, was in at the beginning of the conversion process and used it as his senior project.

Even though he has graduated and is getting ready to start college at Marylhurst University, Esquivel is still involved in the project. Since he put so much time in it, he wants to see it through to the end.

“I’m interested in sustainability, in getting away from diesel and fossil fuels,” Esquivel said.

Colton Anderson, 16, owns a 1968 Ford Fairlane, so he already liked to work on cars, but is also working on the project to promote the school’s green image, noting that custodians can drive the car or the environmental science teacher can drive the car and haul all the equipment to and from work sites.

One thing that has surprised him is “people are so generous with crowdfunding; they are so open to donating.”

Armand Jayne, 16, came to the project because his father was into electric cars and renewable energy, and that caught his attention. He serves mainly as the public relations person and updates the Facebook page.

“I want to be a mechanic, and I like working on electric cars,” said Vincent Rininger, 17, adding that he was surprised by how big a process the whole thing is.

Trask Telemanich, 16, is interested in a career as an environmental engineer and hopes to learn new skills he can take further.

“I have learned how much teamwork can accomplish,” Telemanich said. “Once we get our minds set on one goal, we can make a dream happen.”

Visit incitED.org before Sept. 9 to donate to the GEVO project, or email Steve Carrigg at carriggThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..us.