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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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Orchestra concerts delight holiday audiences


String Connection showcases talent of young musicians

The young musicians who make up String Connection, an orchestra based in Happy Valley, know how to get an audience in the mood for the holiday season. Start with an arrangement of “Jingle Bells,” and then throw in a 5-year-old girl on the drum, for “Little Drummer Boy.”

by: PHOTO BY DICK TRTEK - Members of String Connection, with co-director Colleen Wheeler, pause between numbers at a recent concert at Somerset Lodge Assisted Living.Add a few more Christmas carols, follow those with some classical and baroque music, and audience members will express their delight with applause and compliments.

by: PHOTO BY DICK TRTEK - Linda Vasey and Colleen Wheeler are founders and directors of String Connection.That was the scene at Somerset Lodge Assisted Living in Gladstone last week, as String Connection, a group of 42 student musicians ranging in age from 7 to 18, played a concert for residents.

Originally a music studio founded by Linda Vasey and Colleen Wheeler in 1989 in Happy Valley, the orchestra of the same name came about in 1992.

“Linda and I are the founders and directors of the String Connection studio where we teach private lessons, conduct the orchestra and have summer educational programs. Linda also runs the pre-twinkle class; several of the young students are children of our former students,” Wheeler said.

She has a bachelor’s degree in music from Portland State University, and is currently working on a master’s degree. She plays violin and viola professionally, and has been a substitute performer in the Portland opera for over 20 years, as well as playing in many other local groups. 

Vasey has a bachelor’s degree from Marylhurst and a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University. She has been the principal second violin for the Portland Opera for over 20 years, and is a core member of the Oregon Ballet Theater orchestra. 

Throughout the year, String Connection gives 12 to 15 concerts, most of them during the holiday season, and many of them at retirement communities in the area.

“We like sharing our music with people who aren’t able to go out to concerts. This environment is perfect to showcase our music and to have fun playing for others,” Vasey said.

“We find that the more we give, the more we receive,” she added.

Wheeler and Vasey collaborate on choosing the music for the group to play, making sure the pieces are appropriate for the young musicians and for the venue where they will be playing.

Over the years the orchestra has won 24 national titles and three international titles.

The group has performed at the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C., and in prelude concerts for the Oregon Symphony. In June of 2014, String Connection will travel to Los Angeles to take part in World Projects; the group is one of only four orchestras selected to be part of this event.

Young performers

Isabel Jolley, 16, has been playing the violin since she was in kindergarten at Stafford Primary in West Linn. What she likes best about String Connection is that the group is a “mini-community,” with members who “love and support each other.”

She enjoys playing for the retirement communities; because she is not a member of her school orchestra at West Linn High School, this is her chance to see everyone’s faces when the group plays.

“I’m proud of my orchestra — we have won so many awards, and the young kids keep up with the music,” Isabel said, noting that her favorite piece the group plays during the holiday season is Torelli’s “Christmas Concerto,” because it flows so beautifully.

Addie Peterson, 14, is a freshman at Clackamas High School, where she is in the concert orchestra.

One of her favorite pieces to play at the moment is a baroque concerto by Corelli, although she also enjoys playing orchestral arrangements of “Sleigh Ride” and “Jingle Bells.”

Calling the violin a “gorgeous instrument that is fun to play,” Addie noted that the notes in the higher register give her chills.

Eric Mull has a slightly different story to tell. The 14-year-old freshman at CHS is also an orchestra member, but he plays the bass.

He started with the violin when he was 3 years old and switched to the bass just last year, after hearing the instrument at school and loving the sound.

In case anyone thinks the two instruments are similar, Eric noted that the bass is the opposite of the violin to play, and carrying the large bass can be a challenge.

“The bass plays an important role; it is the heart of the orchestra and keeps everyone in beat,” he said.

Eric likes playing at local retirement communities because it is not a high-pressure concert, allowing the musicians “to focus on little things, and give back to the community.”

Another orchestra member at CHS is 14-year-old freshman Alexander Wilde. He has been playing the cello for 10 years, but has only been a member of String Connection for the last five months.

He commented that it has been easy to get to know the members of the group, and he likes the fact that the performances are a mixture of different types of music.

String Connection is available to play for special events, Vasey and Wheeler noted, and that is one way the group can raise money to offset the funds needed for the musicians to travel to L.A.

Vasey added, “We need to get funding to travel farther and wider, now that people are finding out who we are.”

For more information about String Connection, a studio for stringed instrument players of all ages and abilities, call the studio at 503-788-8129, or visit the Facebook page.