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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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A dose of HOPE


Cannabis community comes together to help girl, 4, fight rare cancer -

On a recent sunny day, sisters Leah, 4, and Nora Merklin, 2, were awarded membership into a special club: the Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery Forever Club. What this means is that both girls will get free ice cream forever, said Eric West, owner of the Oak Grove ice cream shop.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Ava, 8, Luke, 5, and Olivia, 8, watch Colin Chasey work his magic on milk chocolate ice cream with Oreo bits at Mix 'n' Match Creamery.When West opened his shop on April 16, he started with a “goal to bring joy to people within the community and internationally,” by pledging a percentage of his profits to help children in need.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Enjoying free ice cream with marshmallows are Norah, 2, far left, and Leah Merklin, 4, while Mix 'n' Match Creamery owner Eric West, center, and Bethany Merklin, the girls mother, look on.When his friend Jody Schreffler, an Oak Grove resident, told him about Leah being diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, he realized he had an opportunity to help a family practically in his shop’s backyard.

“I’m honored to have an opportunity to make the girls and their parents more joyful,” West said.

Leah was diagnosed in April 2013. DIPG is an extremely rare type of brain tumor primarily affecting children. According to the DIPG registry, the cancer accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all brain tumors in children, with about 100 to 150 new diagnoses per year in the United States and about 300 per year in all of North America and Europe.

There is no cure, and fewer than 10 percent of children with DIPG survive two years from diagnosis.

“It’s a mean one. The tumor becomes an interwoven part of the brain stem and affects breathing, balance and walking,” said Bethany Merklin, Leah’s mother.

“Our doctor told us that chemo and radiation will not cure DIPG, so we had decided on no treatment at all, until God threw something in our laps,” she added.

That something was cannabis oil, and it has made a dramatic difference in Leah’s condition.

Cannabis and cancer

Merklin and her husband, Erik, obtain the cannabis oil legally through the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. The oil must be ingested, so they sandwich it between Cheerios and Leah eats the substance three times a day.

The side effects?

“She is hungry and she sleeps better,” Merklin said, noting that those are both good things.

When Leah was first diagnosed, she was given from six months to a year to live, so her parents made sure she received her Make-A-Wish trip to Disneyland right away.

When they came home from California, they found out about cannabis oil from a group of parents on Facebook, and soon everywhere they looked, they found research about the oil helping with DIPG.

“The cannabis oil causes cancer cells to die in a cleaner way,” Merklin said.

Before the oil treatments, “Leah couldn’t walk without falling, and her eyes crossed. Now, she is able to go to school without me, she can walk, and some days her eyes are not crossed,” Merklin said.

“She has passed her one-year mark and her MRI in January showed that the tumor’s growth was minuscule,” she said.

“She is healthy; we live day by day and believe she is going to survive,” Merklin said.

She added, “We are just excited to shine a light on an alternative form of treatment for cancer. Leah is surprising doctors and is alive far past where they anticipated her being — she is our little hero.

“She has endured so much, and is fighting without even knowing it. Cannabis oil has given us our baby, and I thank God every day that, for whatever reason, He showed us mercy and gave us this incredible medicine.”


It is a terrible irony that Schreffler, who told West about Leah, also has a relative affected by the same rare cancer. But for her, the news is not as good because cannabis oil is illegal in Australia, where her niece lives.

In addition, both women noted that children’s cancers are the lowest funded cancer research.

When adults get cancer, like breast cancer, there are well-funded organizations that back them up and help them, and adult cancer survivors can speak out for the cause.

“But Leah can’t do that, so someone else needs to be the voice for children’s cancer,” Schreffler said.

With that in mind, Merklin and Schreffler are trying to organize a summer fundraiser to help defray medical expenses for Leah and her family.

“Last summer, the cannabis community came together to help us, and there was a fundraiser in Oak Grove. The support has been overwhelming; you forget how good people are,” Merklin said, noting that Leah has a GoFundMe account set up and a Facebook page, so people can support her that way.

Ice cream and a free show

It may sound impossible, but Eric West, the owner of Oak Grove’s Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery & Cafe, can mix up 7 million ice cream flavor combinations; just don’t ask him to list them all.

But West wanted to make sure he wasn’t engaging in false advertising about how many flavors he can produce, so he asked a customer who is a former math and physics teacher to figure it out — and the arithmetic penciled out.

And that’s not all that’s unique about Mix ‘n’ Match. When you order one of those 7 million combos, “we make the ice cream right in front of you, and you get a free show,” West said.

He describes the process of making the frozen treat as “where science and deliciousness meet,” because he uses a blast of liquid nitrogen, kept at minus 320 degrees, to freeze the cream so fast that “no large ice crystals form, so the ice cream is smooth and creamy.”

And customers get to watch the magic happen. When the torch is turned on, steamy clouds of vapor materialize, and the end result is ice cream.

You want Almond Roca and bacon? You got it. How about dark chocolate with peanut butter, salted caramels and Butterfinger? No problem.

And don’t even get West started on Twix, Kit Kat, real espresso, brownies or mint with M&M’s. It’s all possible.

As for customer reactions, well, West said “people are blown away and enjoy the show.”

But for West, the business is much more — a portion of his profits go to help children’s causes.

“Our future goal is to make this a franchise and expand to more stores that are all committed to give back to the community and sustain change in a positive way,” West said.

“The more ice cream we sell, the more joy we can spread.”

Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery & Cafe is at 2144 S.E. Oak Grove Blvd., Milwaukie. It is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The cafe sells pastries and hot and cold drinks, as well as ice cream. It will be open on July 4. Call 503-786-8784 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..