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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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HeartLife School focuses on character building


Anyone who loves Christmas and anyone who wants to learn more about HeartLife Imagineering Home School Co-op should come see the school’s Holiday Revue on Dec. 7 at The Bridge House in Milwaukie, said Kevin Brusett, HeartLife’s founder and director.

“It will be a showcase of our music, drama and dance classes along with a silent auction, and it is free and open to the community,” he said.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Students at HeartLife Home School Co-op rehearse a scene from their upcoming Holiday Revue. Seated, left to right are: Michael Crozier, Alexander Bates and Ezra Kamerman. Standing, left to right are: Trinity Edwards, Griffin Guy, Ben Wheelhouse and Kris Hess.HeartLife is a private, family-oriented educational community, shaping students via character formation, core academics, arts, travel and technology. It provides a rigorous program with a challenging curriculum and supportive environment for students entering grades 6 through 10, Brusett said.

He founded the school in 2007 because he wanted more investment in students’ lives than he was getting just as a youth pastor at Milwaukie’s Bridge City Community Church.

Brusett has been a teacher or youth pastor since 1985 and has been with Bridge City since 2002.

The school is structured in a “character format, rather than a religious format,” he said, adding that he chose to call the school HeartLife, “because that seemed to be what the character process is about. It is an inside-out process.”

Housed inside Bridge City Community Church, the school has 14 students, but can accommodate as many as 28. There are 13 teachers, all part-time.

Curriculum at the school is inspired by a book Brusett read, “Character First: The Hyde School Difference,” by Joseph W. Gauld.

“The school is in Bath, Maine, and I contacted them and observed there for 10 days. The idea is that school shapes the character of the child,” Brusett said. He now uses a different book as inspiration, “The Biggest Job We’ll Ever Have: The Hyde School Program for Character-Based Education and Parenting,” by Laura and Malcolm Gauld and Marc Brown.

Character counts

“The way the system works is that students spend so much time in class and the same amount of time outside of class” doing their school work, Brusett said.

Students attend classes at HeartLife on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. At the end of that time, they will have 12 hours of homework due the following Tuesday.

The curriculum includes language arts, math, science, performing arts, computer classes and life-fitness classes.

“It is based around students building initiative. We have a Wiki system where they post their homework. Their parents can see it, and we can see it, so they have the highest level of accountability. We have a grading period every month, so if they don’t do their work, the consequences are immediate,” he said.

At the end of each month, students are checked to make sure they have all their homework done and turned in. If they do not, they must spend one extra day, a “joy day,” outside of regular class time, doing service projects or engaging in supervised study time.

In the character-building class that he teaches, Brusett stresses five positive character traits: courage, leadership, integrity, curiosity and concern for others.

Parent involvement

There are several aspects of HeartLife that set the school apart from others, and one of those is parent involvement, especially in the character-building process.

Parents are expected to be involved at least two hours per week at the school, preferably during class time, and many of them volunteer to teach classes.

“Parents come into the character class and can see the character process of their kids. We teach them to communicate with each other by using the same language,” Brusett said.

And it is working, said Lynne Kammerman, who has a 10th-grade son at HeartLife.

She said she can tell when her son looks checked out or disengaged, asks him what she can do to help him, and he understands.

She commends the school for its “atmosphere of character standards that I can build on at home. It provides a consistent environment.”

Tina Buda, whose daughter attends HeartLife, said: “There are people here who have been where she is, in transition, and she feels loved and encouraged. She is doing her work and completing her assignments, but the school cares about your attitude. It’s not just about getting results, it is about the character behind those results.”

Because of changes in state laws, HeartLife is not an accredited school, so parents are responsible for ensuring their child meets all state educational requirements when they move on to grades 11 and 12, Brusett said. Some public schools may not accept HeartLife credits.

“When students leave HeartLife, they know how to study hard because of our high expectations and accountability. Private schools take all our credits, and we tell parents about some really good early college programs,” he said.

Travel program

Susan Crozier’s son is in his second year at HeartLife, and she said she and her husband looked around at other schools before deciding that this was the right one for their son. He wanted to jump right in to the school in the middle of the year, but because of the way classes are structured, he needed to wait until the start of a new school year to enroll.

HeartLife has been a success for her son, and Crozier said she appreciates the diversity of the school and the variety of experiences it provides, especially the travel opportunities it offers.

Students spend eight months in the classroom, and one month traveling, and it is in the extended travel experience, called TREX, “where everything they’ve learned comes together,” Brusett said.

“The whole year comes into play during TREX. They plan their menus, do their laundry, and write in their journals every day,” he said, and when students fail to follow through, they are not permitted to take part in certain activities.

The staff is there to keep them safe, but students plan the itinerary, Brusett added, noting that first- and second-year students travel in the United States, while the older students travel overseas.

“That first week, they act just like they do at home. The second week the wheels fall off in a reality check, and the third week they get it together,” he said.

Students are expected to raise the funds for the travel experience, and “they can’t just get the money from mom and dad,” Brusett said, nor can they borrow it from each other.

During a trip to Paris, a student spent too much of her money at the start of the trip, and ran out of funds just as the group was preparing to tour the opera house. She was disappointed to miss the opera house, and spent that day walking around the city instead.

That same student is now in Europe on a college program, and Brusett said she let him know she finally was able to go on the opera house tour.

Brusett also was along on a trip to New Jersey with a younger group of students, and was able to press home the importance of following through on commitments.

“There was a huge roller coaster that the kids wanted to go on, but I told them they could only do so if their homework was done. Some had to sit down right there and write in their journals, and I pointed out what they had learned from this experience,” he said.

As for the future of HeartLife, Brusett said he does not have plans to extend the school to grades 11 and 12, but he does hope the school continues to thrive for another 10 years or more.

Celebrate the season

What: HeartLife School’s free Holiday Revue and open house

When: 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7

Where: The Bridge House, 2816 S.E. Harrison St., in Milwaukie

Contact: For more information about HeartLife Imagineering Home School Co-op, visit heartlifepdx.com or call director Kevin Brusett at 971-570-2253.