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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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Nigel Bray of Oregon City helps rebuild village school destoyed by earthquake


For years, Nigel Bray has wanted to take his general contracting skills to places affected by natural disasters, but even though he contacted church groups and the Red Cross, he could not find anyone to invite him to help.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Oregon City resident Nigel Bray fulfilled his dream of helping others who were affected by a natural disaster when he helped rebuild a school nearly destroyed by an earthquake in Nepal.But then a golden opportunity arose for the Oregon City resident when his own daughter, Nianna Bray, posted on Facebook that she wanted volunteers to accompany her to Darbung, Nepal, to rebuild a school that was severely damaged by the massive earthquake that hit that country last May.

Away Inward Foundation

Nianna Bray, a 1997 graduate of Oregon City High School, is an international yoga instructor with her own business, Away Inward Retreats.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Workers remove rubble from the remains of the school in Darbung, Nepal. Students displaced by the earthquake are attending classes in temporary bamboo structures with corrugated roofs.“When we started the company, we started traveling ... and we wanted to find some way to give back, so we started doing charity work at an orphanage in Nepal and in the slums of India,” she said.

Nearly three years ago, Nianna formed a nonprofit called the Away Inward Foundation, “to have more of an impact, to gather bigger donations and to raise more funds,” she said.

Last year, while she was leading a retreat in Nepal, she met a man who runs a guide service for hikers; Darbung is his village.

“He told her that about 80 percent of the homes were affected by the earthquake, and the school was nearly destroyed,” Nigel Bray said.

Nianna decided to use her nonprofit’s network of supporters to rebuild the school, because a school “is universal; people can connect to it,” she said.

So on Oct. 28 Nigel and his daughter flew to Katmandu, Nepal, and then endured the nearly five-hour ride in the back of a pickup to Darbung.

When they and the other 10 volunteers arrived at the school an extraordinary sight greeted them — 300 students, their teachers and the village elders welcomed the group with a ceremony that was so touching Nigel said he “almost exploded into tears.”

“They had flowers and ceremonial scarves and they were cheering — it was just incredible,” he said.

Living conditions

The next day, the group began the hard work of rebuilding the school, which originally had been built from stones and mud 40 years ago.

“We tore down all the rock walls, sorted out the rocks from the debris, and carted off the debris so they could rebuild — we did all the grunt work,” Nigel said.

Meanwhile, all the students were going to classes in bamboo structures with corrugated roofs; classrooms were divided by tarps.

In the village itself, “homes were damaged and condemned, and the walls all had cracks and were falling in. People were afraid to sleep in them so they built shacks out back to sleep in at night,” he said.

The villagers also do not have running water in their homes, but instead go to concrete water stations where the water runs day and night.

“They come and fill up their buckets, take showers, wash their clothes,” Nigel said.

“The biggest problem is that they have no insurance, and there is no government help. The monsoon didn’t have enough rain, and their crops failed,” he said.

In addition, Nigel said, “India has closed the border for transportation of goods and fuel, so they can’t get gas for heat or their cookers. It is all stopped at the border for political reasons.”

And yet, he said, “I never heard one of them complaining about their situation.”

Communication, inspiration

Nigel returned from Nepal on Dec. 5, and said the most challenging aspect of his volunteer work was communication with the villagers.

“I wanted to talk to them, and several people wanted to talk to us. We did have an interpreter from time to time, but when people invited us in for tea, we couldn’t talk to them, so we smiled at each other,” he said.

“I wanted to know how they thought; I wanted to understand their feelings,” he added.

Nigel did connect with quite a few people in the village, and one of them, Ghita, was an inspiration to him.

“Before the earthquake, she had a tiny restaurant in the front of her house. But the house was so badly damaged that now she only has one room, and she can’t cook in her house. She lives in a small wooden and bamboo shack with her daughter and daughter-in-law,” Nigel said.

Undaunted, the woman has set up an outdoor cookstove on what is left of her front porch and is running the restaurant again, with two tables on the porch, he said.

Nigel said he will always remember the ceremony he experienced on the first day and said the villagers made the group feel “extremely welcome.”

Nianna noted that this kind of volunteer work is “one of the most amazing experiences anyone can have.” She added that she will be recruiting volunteers to go back to Nepal in March and October.

But this last trip was especially memorable for her because of her father’s presence.

It was thrilling for her, seeing her father “smiling and enjoying these simpler moments; seeing his friendships with people without language. Seeing the way he was with kids. He was a really big support for everybody; for kids, for the volunteers and for me,” she said.

Helping children

Members of the community can help support the effort to rebuild the school in Nepal by dropping off donations at Oregon City’s Live Edge Salon and Local Artistry. Sydnie Bray, a 2008 graduate of OCHS and Nianna’s younger sister, owns the salon along with her father, who is a woodworker. His handmade furniture pieces are for sale in the salon.

The salon held two fundraisers for the Away Inward Foundation this year, raising $1,500.

Nigel would like to encourage others to donate to the foundation, adding that the most important aspect of his daughter’s nonprofit is “they spend very little on administration; almost 100 percent of the donations go to the people that they’re helping.”

Fast facts

Learn more about Away Inward Retreats, at awayinward.com.

Learn more about the Away Inward Foundation at childrenweserve.org. To volunteer to travel to Nepal, click on Get Involved, and then click on Volunteering.

Monetary donations may be dropped off at Live Edge Salon and Local Artistry, 613 Railroad Ave., Oregon City.

Contact salon owner Sydnie Bray at 971-221-9819.