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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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Neighbors fed up with Metro's track record


Those of us who, in the late 1970s, had big misgivings about the former Columbia Region Association of Governments morphing into Metro (the current regional government) did not imagine how much of Milwaukie’s (and all regional cities) government autonomy would be ripped away under the pretense of lower cost services and better facilities management of a few regional functions.

Over time it went from coordinating to an 800-pound gorilla who runs the show from behind the curtain and it is costing us dearly! It costs our tax dollars, our legitimate citizen participation process, input on critical developments which change the character of our city, of how taxes are or are not collected, of subsidies to the rich, and potential loss of safety, security and livability of neighborhoods.

For nearly 20 years, Metro has been busy proposing, promoting and ensuring that cities in its jurisdiction follow their version of smart growth. It includes putting high density, “affordable” and low-income housing in a mile-wide swath around every MAX light-rail line. With the stealth of a Wall Street bank, they are reversing the long-used system in which corporations pay taxes to governments, to where governments pay corporations to build. The public is forced to pay with tax dollars when it would cost less if a private party/corporation paid their own way. We in the neighborhood understand this, and appreciate that the Portland Tribune is talking about the backward, upside-down planners who are screwing up neighborhoods as they tell us they don’t have funds for needed local services.

In the current such planning projects: “Forward,” began as a sweet little “let’s look at refreshing downtown zoning codes to one of paying developers and corporations to do what they should be doing for themselves, and in the doing, making sure few local businesses can afford tenancy in these new, huge, look-alike developments that will hamper bringing in affordable merchandise for local limited-income residents.” This project will include seven downtown projects, including many of the Dark Horse Comics properties tying up the commercial district. They also intend to redevelop 32nd and 42nd avenues with the same taxpayer source and give away.

There are also the big sites of Murphy’s Plywood, next to the Union Pacific track, behind Mike’s Drive In and the triangle behind the Oak Street shopping mall. They could be light, clean industrial properties but the city wants to put old, sick or poor people there, breathing the diesel fumes and rumbling trains forever more. When that kind of industrial land is so scarce locally that Portland is trying to sign options on their golf courses, we have to wonder what the hell is going on here.

The shock for me was reading the name of John Fregonese in both the Metro planning books describing how they want to do “smart growth” and the owner of the EcoNorthwest planning company hired by Milwaukie and Metro now doing this project! He is also the person who laid out the rules for our citizen participation in it.

Slightly paraphrased, he says in the planning documents supplied to the citizen reps (I am an alternate for my neighborhood) says essentially, go along, don’t make waves, be a team player, look at the big picture, not the little details — just smile and go along!

That is how Metro did their pre-vote stuff with citizen activists in the region all those years ago. This is very familiar manipulation. But it got worse when Fregonese stipulated that only government officials, corporate honchos and property owners could attend the big meetings “Developers Roundtable.” The door was closed to all citizens. We noted, however, that the big people were free to attend the public meetings.

The fee paid to Fregonese was over $225,000 — to do work already determined decades ago! I asked our current development director to provide hard copies of the reports for a blind member of our neighborhood. He brushed it off with “Oh, she’s OK... she doesn’t need one, and we don’t have the money to do it.”

State, regional and local laws require that an accommodation be provided handicapped persons and adequate study materials. They don’t care... When my physician requested the city provide me with hard copies of reports and necessary materials which we would study as a part of my job as chair of the Historic Milwaukie Neighborhood Association, City Manager Bill Monahan sent a response to me saying he didn’t believe I needed them, that he felt they were for private use, and if I want them, BUY THEM! As I have aged my vision is failing and I again have double vision much of the time. Surgery didn’t solve the problem.

For three years, I have felt that there was a problem in the city-planning process. It just didn’t add up: It wasn’t just me they didn’t want to know too much, they didn’t want people to see whole documents, in ordinance changes. Like looking through a hole in the fence to see the elephant — all we saw were little pieces without the full context of what the changes really meant, and in many cases, they failed to provide adequate information about which document was being changed and how it fit in with others. They have avoided a full review of the Comprehensive Plan for 23 years, choosing to chip away one little piece at a time, but constantly! Even they have trouble keeping track of the changes.

NW Housing Alternatives (the big “affordable’’ high-density housing/office complex for a multimillion-dollar company with 1,800 rental units around Oregon) is the other big problem. They too have had a professional planner schmoozing with Metro and the city — including consulting on the rewrite of rules for high-density and affordable housing where density bonuses and tax abatements are offered. Were we told the ultimate purpose of these changes? Nope!

NWHA is seeking a zone change that will give them unprecedented “gives” and has the potential to do real harm to the downtown neighborhood. The city has given them a free pass on the kind of hearing they re ceive in order to not place conditions upon the development which would assist the safety and livability of the tenants, including children, elderly and handicapped people who need our input before the project breaks ground. But all we get is stonewalled, knowing that they are the second in a downtown onslaught of very tall, high-density buildings set at the junction of the high school and MAX station.

Right now we see a big way-too-friendly working relationship between Metro, TriMet, the city, big developers and landowners, and consultants with an in. It is so closed and orchestrated, it appears to be a corrupt system that will continue to extract tax dollars from the middle class to put low-income people into substandard and crowded high-density developments that profit only the big corporations and banks. It’s time to have a closer look at this process that has as its only considerations: No. 1: How many people can you jam in? And No. 2: How much money can you make? Neither of those address the livability we Oregonians sought to protect when we created the Land Conservation and Development Commission goals and guidelines. We can grow and develop, but we need to give a damn about how we do it, fairness and making livability our guiding star.

We have paid huge salaries for our planners who farm their work out to consultants at many times their huge salaries. Even our city manager claims degrees in law and land-use planning. So how did we get so messed up? How many planners does it take to screw up a neighborhood?

Jean Baker is a Milwaukie resident.