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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


Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Letters: Wetland's peril; public safety; smart guns; Tootie Smith; Blue Heron


Thank you VERY MUCH for taking time to visit the students and field trip and sharing the information with the public (“Field Trip offers hands-on learning,” March 19.)

by: PHOTO BY STEVE ST. AMAND - (From left) Clackamas Web Academy students Samuel Georgiyev and Max Skvortsov find a western tree frog egg sac in the wetlands at Three Creeks Natural area, just north of an industrial area that includes McFarlane's Bark.  We appreciate your quotes of our professionals (state and local) getting the message out about our local habitats, many of which are in continued peril, along with the critters. The surveys are critical (thank you, Susan Barnes and Terri Gibson).

Last spring the web academy had a gathering of students at Happy Valley Park to look at the wetlands on the boardwalk.

I look forward to more analysis of our lowlands, especially west of I-205 in the Mt. Scott Creek sub watershed.

Pat Russell


Preparation important

Clackamas Fire District No. 1 has two vacancies on its Budget Committee. These two positions will help guide us in budget development and preparation for next year. Please visit us at clackamasfire.com for more information.

A special thank you to the North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce and Oregon City Chamber of Commerce for hosting a State of Public Safety forum on March 19. Clackamas Fire along with American Medical Response, city of Happy Valley police, city of Milwaukie police, city of Oregon City police and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, had a panel discussion regarding public safety issues. This was an opportunity to share programs that have a regional impact and address community and business needs.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. With all of the rainy and windy weather, please make sure you are prepared for localized flooding, downed trees, landslides and power outages. Please take time to prepare yourself, your home, your business and your community.

Fred Charlton

Clackamas fire chief

Smart gun technology a joke

Regarding Mr. Hamilton’s letter (“Gun thoughts,” March 12), the only “problem” is that there is no problem. According to the National Institute of Justice, the number of homicides and nonfatal gun crimes committed in the United States has declined from its peak in the ‘90s. Nonfatal gun crime in particular has “fallen significantly” from a high of 1.3 million incidents in 1994 to just 414,962 in 2011.

While gun ownership is difficult to quantify (federal researchers are forbidden to ask and thankfully there’s no national registry), the amount of guns in America has increased. According the NIJ, 192 million firearms were available to civilians in 1994, while according the Congressional Research Service, 310 million guns were available as of 2009. This in a country of 314 million people.

It’s easy to say that there’s a magic solution to end the remaining gun crime. Smart gun technology is a joke however. Strum, Ruger & Co., Inc. has recently joined the Second Amendment Foundation in a lawsuit against the state of California saying implementation of this technology is unworkable. Even if it was, I doubt many gun owners would want to subordinate the operation of their firearm to a computer chip.

But with 310 million guns in America not even outlawing guns for civilians will accomplish the goal of ending “gun violence.” The fact is that what we would lose is far more than what we might gain in a world of strict gun regulations. At least as far as gun owners are concerned. And of the course there’s the matter of that pesky Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That darn thing!

Samuel Dickerson-Edgington


Tootie refuses to debate

Tootie Smith has officially turned down the offer Lars Larson and I made for a debate live on his show. This is in addition to the four other debate requests she flat out ignored.

Why would a Republican Congressional candidate pass up an opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of like-minded Oregonians?

Does she have something to hide?

Is she scared of tough questions?

Running for Congress is serious business and debating one’s opponent is a fundamental part of campaigning. It gives the people the opportunity to make an informed choice by seeing how the candidates differ in substance and style. Why does Tootie think this rite of passage is beneath her?

These are the actions of someone who believes they deserve to be the nominee, not someone who believes they must earn the votes of the people. Professional politicians, with their sense of entitlement, feel they are above being challenged. Tootie Smith has shown that she is cut from this same cloth.

The Fifth District will be Oregon’s only competitive Congressional race in November, but we cannot beat Kurt Schrader if we nominate a typical politician who is more interested in holding a powerful office than representing the people.

Ben Pollock

Candidate for Congress

Blue Heron update

In my letter to the editor published April 2, I referred to the Oregon City Planning Commission hearing scheduled for April 21. However things have changed:

The current interested buyer is studying the site and framework plan and meeting with Legacy Project partners to explore how their ideas for the area fit our community vision. Last week, the bankruptcy trustee for the site, Peter McKittrick, sent a letter requesting that the city postpone the land-use hearings to give the potential buyer more time for due diligence. As the trustee and the project partners have been working in good faith for many months, the partners are happy to accommodate this request.

A new date for the first public hearing has not yet been determined. However, the city will host a public Open House on April 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. at City Hall, 625 Center St., to display the proposed master plan. This informal event will offer a chance to chat with city staff about the Willamette Falls Legacy Project prior to public hearings.

Janine Offutt

Oregon City

We welcome submissions from readers on local issues for our Opinion page. Please send your thoughts by noon Friday to Raymond Rendleman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Keep Letter to the Editor submissions under 400 words; longer submissions will be considered for Community Soapboxes. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, libel and appropriate taste. Letters must be accompanied by a full name, a telephone number and street address for verification purposes. Readers are also invited to call 503-546-0742 with story ideas and comments.