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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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Local angels make 'Wonderful Life' ring


Who can a guy turn to, when he comes up with an idea for a show and wants to make it happen? Sometimes, it’s the guy’s mom, and that is exactly what happened when Kirk Mouser, the executive artistic director of Stumptown Stages, wanted to “musicalize” one of his favorite movies, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

by: PHOTO BY PAUL FARDIG - Donna Sellman-Pilorget, above center, reprises her role as Cousin Tilly in 'It's A Wonderful Life,' opening Nov. 21.Although the show is being staged in Portland, it has deep Clackamas County roots. For starters, Mouser is a Lake Oswego resident, and his mother, Janet Mouser, lives in Clackamas.

Janet Mouser is a veteran director and theater educator and part of the founding team of Stumptown Stages. In addition to being a playwright, she has worked as a librettist, costumer, prop designer and director of play development/dramaturge and serves on the board of directors for Stumptown Stages. She also has written plays and designed costumes for Milwaukie-based New Century Players.

“My mother carefully crafted the original script. She skillfully utilized Clarence as the storyteller with an ode to ‘Our Town’ in its complex simplicity,” Mouser said.

The show debuted last year in Portland and is opening again with a preview on Nov. 21 at Hatfield Hall (Brunish Theatre), 1111 S.W. Broadway, Portland. It continues through Dec. 22.

Birth of a show

In addition to working with his mother, Mouser’s idea for the musical was fully realized with the support of well-known Portland pianist and songwriter Michael Allen Harrison, Julianne Johnson, Stumptown Stages associate artistic director, and Rabbi Alan Berg, with whom Mouser co-produced the book and lyrics for the concert “Crossing Over: A Musical Haggadah.”

“I knew that with the support of Julianne, Michael and Alan, we had the most dynamic musical team outside of New York City. All of the pieces fell into place, and what was once a mere idea in my head, flourished into a full-fledged Broadway musical,” Mouser said. 

Corey Brunish, another Lake Oswego resident, is again the director of the show, and for those unfamiliar with the classic Frank Capra movie, starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, he described the plot as “the perfect story.”

“A man, a good man, runs into some problems, wishes he had never been born, but an angel shows him what the world would be like without him. As the story resolves, and he returns to his crisis, all the folks he helped along the way, now help him. It is the personification of ‘cooperation,’ the one thing the human race does better than anything, when we choose to,” Brunish said.

He said there are too many favorite moments in “It’s A Wonderful Life” to list, but “this time out we have a very simple and effective set concept, and we have some new folks, so that is always thrilling, and the message is the same.”

Mouser’s favorite moment in the show is in the first act, when Bailey sings a song of reflection at his father’s funeral, called “Watching From Heaven For Me.” This past summer, Mouser sang this song at his grandmother’s funeral, so it has a special resonance for him.

“She lived to be 100 years of age. She lived a simple life full of love and compassion. This beautiful song reflects the life of someone who puts other people’s needs in front of their own. It is universal in its meaning and touches all of us who have experienced the loss of a relative or someone close to us,” he said.

Clackamas County connections

There are 22 actors in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” hailing from Portland, Seattle, New York City and Clackamas County.

Donna Sellman-Pilorget, an Oregon City resident well-known in the area for her work with New Century Players, plays Cousin Tilly again this year.

“She is a fun character to play as she is less defined than the leads, which gives me a bit of leeway to add my own flavor to her. I take advantage of this by playing Tilly as a bit of a worry wart who is a little less than average in the worldly wise category,” she said.

Her favorite moment in the show is the same as Mouser’s, and for pretty much the same reason.

“I love the scene in which the whole cast gathers for Pop Bailey’s funeral. It is a very moving scene in which George Bailey sings a very beautiful song that inspires some of the actors to weep. The scene was actually quite bonding for the cast,” Sellman-Pilorget said.

Audiences loved the show last year and will love it even more this year, she said, because of the “roller-coaster of emotions it produces. It takes the audience on a familiar and friendly journey that ends on a high note, perfect for walking out of the theater into the gorgeous holiday season with spirits refreshed.”

Sam Jones also is in the cast of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” fresh off “9 to 5,” his previous show with Stumptown that just ended.

He is a 2012 Rex Putnam High School graduate and plays young George Bailey. It has been interesting as a 19 year old to play a 12 year old, he said.

Jones said he spends his downtime in the rehearsal process observing professional actor Jordan Stanley, who plays the adult George Bailey, so he can understand his character’s mannerisms and voice patterns.

“I also play Sam Wainwright, a spunky former classmate of George’s, whose wild, mischievous nature is unlike anything I’ve had the experience of portraying before. I also play George’s oldest son, Peter, and a couple ensemble roles,” Jones said.

His favorite moment in the show is when George and Mary sing the duet, “You Alone,” because “the melody and harmonies are so enchanting. This is an intensely romantic moment in the musical, where the two sing of touching one another’s souls.”

Jones noted that the music in this adaptation “was brilliantly written to fit the styles of the early 20th century, with beautiful, heart-warming ballads and plenty of jazzy grooves that hit you right in the jingle bells. The audience is certain to enjoy how the music complements the story and the time period, and may find themselves humming a tune and tapping their feet while they’re out doing their holiday shopping.”

Mouser said: “The cast sings and dances with a passion befitting the story they are telling. It truly is a ‘wonderful’ show, and we hope families across the Portland area will make ‘It's A Wonderful Life’ at Stumptown Stages their holiday tradition.”

An angel gets his wings

What: Stumptown Stages presents “It’s A Wonderful Life”

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Nov. 21 through Dec. 22

Where: Hatfield Hall, 1111 S.W. Broadway, Portland.

More: Tickets start at $25; call 503-248-4335. For additional information, including group sales and subscriptions, visit stumptownstages.org or call 503-381-8686.