Featured Stories

INSIDERS (Sponsored Content)

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

Volunteers needed to help western bluebirds


“It is so easy to fall in love” with a western bluebird, said Nancy Fraser, a volunteer bird bander with Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project, an all-volunteer conservation organization with a mission to help sustain a healthy population of the birds in the northern portion of the Willamette Valley.

by: PHOTO BY JONATHAN HOUSE - Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project volunteer Dana Sue Robinson shows homeowner Irene Dietz how to place mealworms in a holder for her bluebird box. Unfortunately, bluebird habitat is decreasing, due to pesticides killing off the insect population that the tiny birds eat, and because of the removal of downed trees, called snags, and wooden fence posts, that provide crucial nesting spots.

But volunteers with the Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project are trying to educate the public about bluebird habitat, and more importantly, the group is seeking more volunteers to help monitor the birds.

On Saturday, March 8, the group will hold a workshop to train people who wish to be part of the project, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Champoeg State Heritage Area Visitors Center.

Volunteer training workshop

The ideal volunteer would be a person with an interest in field work with native species, who also is eager to get out in the country and monitor and help the birds, Fraser said.

“It provides another method to connect with nature in a whole new way. You get a sense of what the bluebirds’ life is like and how tough it is to beat the odds for these birds,” said Dana Sue Robinson, a volunteer with the Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project and Oregon City resident.

People who attend the workshop will learn about the project and will be told up-front about the time commitment it takes to be a bluebird monitor, Fraser said.

Volunteers monitor nesting sites, watching the birds build nests, lay eggs and hatch their young. They work over the summer, and must drive a car. They also may be given a route that is not just around the corner in their own neighborhood.

“We do try to match volunteers with routes,” she said, adding that bluebird-monitoring routes are in Clackamas, Marion, Multnomah, Washington and Yamhill counties.

Robinson, who will teach the workshop, noted that there are a number of nesting sites in Clackamas County, including the upper highland area of Oregon City, and along Spangler and Springwater roads. There also are nesting sites near Howard’s Mill Road in Beavercreek, and a couple in Canby and Sandy.

Attendees at the workshop will learn what is “the approved way to approach a nesting box and how to keep records of what they see. They also will learn how to approach and leave a landowner’s property. We are all about the safety of the birds, the volunteers and the property owners,” Fraser said.

Each new volunteer will be assigned a mentor and also will receive field training, she said.

Habitat dwindling

The Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project is always on the lookout for landowners who are willing to put up one or two bluebird boxes on their property, Fraser said.

“The birds need nesting sites that are adjacent to a nice mowed yard with trees and shrubs interspersed. They also need perching areas near the nesting box and a birdbath nearby,” she added.

One of the reasons for the habitat going away is that homeowners will remove downed trees or use non-wood fence posts.

“If someone can leave a snag down safely, all creatures will benefit,” Robinson said.

Bluebirds and plenty of other birds make nests in cavities, and there is lots of competition for those cavities from other small birds, so field workers have to go to a homeowner’s property and determine if the site is promising for nesting bluebirds, Fraser said.

If the landowner has used pesticides, there may not be enough insects for the birds to eat, Robinson added, noting that volunteer bluebird monitors often leave mealworms on the tops of bluebird boxes to augment the diet of the tiny birds.

Irene Dietz lives just off South End Road in Oregon City and has hosted two bluebird boxes for five years.

She sees the birds nearly every day, and says they look at her as if they are expecting her to feed them.

“We always have them, and I’ve noticed that the bird families hang around to help the next set of families,” Dietz said.

She always has been interested in bluebirds, dating back to when she was a child in the 1930s and had to bring in the cows.

“I walked past a fence post with a nest inside, and I would always peek in there,” she said.

Hosting bluebird boxes and volunteering with the recovery project is rewarding, Robinson said, adding, “You meet such a diverse group of people and connect with those individuals. It gives you a tremendous sense of community. And people have told me they can’t believe how much better they feel being out in nature.”

How to help

What: Volunteer workshop for the Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project

When: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8

Where: Champoeg State Heritage Area Visitors Center, 8239 Champoeg Road N.E., St. Paul

More: Register in advance by visiting prescottbluebird.com or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Be sure to include a contact phone number and street address.