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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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Legends of the Arch Bridge


“There is nothing in machinery, there is nothing in embankments and railways and iron bridges and engineering devices to oblige them to be ugly. Ugliness is the measure of imperfection,” wrote H.G. Wells. One gets the feeling that master Oregon bridge builder Conde McCullough read Wells and took his exhortation to heart because Conde McCullough didn’t know how to build an ugly bridge.

But other engineers did, and sometimes Conde despaired of their gracelessness. In a letter to a friend written in 1937, he complained, “From the dawn of civilization up to the present, engineers have been busily engaged in ruining this fair earth, and taking all the romance out of it. They have cluttered up God’s fair landscape with hideous little buildings and ugly railroads. The highway builders have ruined all the fishing so there is no place where one can go and get away from it all. As a last and final insult, there appears to be a movement on foot to clutter up the right of way with blazing artificial lights at night so that there will be no place on the road for the young folk to park and engage in their usual amorous avocations. There is no romance nor poetry left in the world...”

Conde, on the grand occasion of reopening the Arch Bridge, may I say, sir, you are wrong.

At noon on Oct. 13, five poets gathered on your wonderfully restored bridge for a poetry workshop and put some romance and poetry back in the world and all because this structure exudes classic beauty and silent magisterial legend. Run your hand across any arch or obelisk and you’ll instantly know what I mean. The concrete seeps verse.

As I led the workshop, I realized I didn’t really fathom the legend of the Arch Bridge until two years ago, when I was writing about another one of Conde McCullough’s masterpieces, the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, opened in 1937, and one of the crown jewels of New Deal Oregon socialism, the others being Silver Falls State Park and Timberline Lodge.

It was a late autumn evening and I drove south on McLoughlin Boulevard, venturing to Oregon City where I grew up and graduated from high school in 1982. FM radio played Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose” and then Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time” as I approached the bridge that spans the Clackamas River, another of McCullough’s greatest achievements, which won the America Institute of Steel Construction’s 1933 Award of Merit for “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge.”

Looking west and down from the bridge, I saw the swirling brown confluence of the Willamette and Clackamas Rivers, the latter the greatest steelhead/drunk rafting river in the world. This is the site of Clackamette Park, the setting, in my youth, of many glorious high school summer days of cut offs, feathered hair, halter tops, bare midriffs, hackey sack, KGON 92.3, low-grade local marijuana, homemade berry wines and oceans of cheap Pacific Northwest lagers formerly brewed and drunk in the Pacific Northwest by union men, many of whom worked at the Oregon City mill and were the fathers of my best friends.

I crossed into Oregon City. In the distance I saw another bridge, the I-205 super slab that opened in 1970. Rest assured: no one has, nor ever will, write a poem describing the luster of this bridge. No one will ever take its photograph, nor feel any twinge to enact an amorous avocation. However, it does serve as the stunning and instructive visual antithesis of everything Conde McCullough evangelized about in the creation of great bridges. I suspect that as soon as the Arch Bridge reopens, I will never drive across the I-205 span for the rest of my life. I will always take ten precious minutes out of my life and detour for the rare thrill of an artistic experience in vehicular traffic.

Main Street beckoned and I parked the truck in view of the now-dead mill and ancient Arch Bridge with its familiar concrete arches, ornate concrete railing, or balustrade, eccentric pedestrian amenities, and signature set of four obelisks at each end, classic Conde flourishes in Art Deco that he may have first experimented with here.

It occurred to me, that in all my years living in Oregon City I had never walked across this historic bridge even though it figured prominently in the antediluvian and acrimonious rivalry between Oregon City and West Linn high schools. Probably more acts of drunkenness, vandalism, sexual shenanigans, and daredevilism related to high school sports has been conveyed by this bridge than any other bridge in the history of America.

Now was the time to take my walk, because I knew the Oregon Department of Transportation was going to close the bridge for two years for its much needed restoration.

I ascended to the bridge and read a primordial plaque caked in road grime: built in 1922, one of Conde’s first bridges. I started walking west on the north sidewalk and couldn’t help but notice the bridge was obviously falling apart with chips, cracks, dents and more than a little moss. I made a detour into a little rectangular area that pedestrians could use to admire the mill or the river...or enact an amorous avocation. Standing inside the rectangle, and partially shielded from view by passing motorists, it instantly occurred to me that generations of Oregon City and West Linn teenagers had probably taken full advantage of this concealed alcove. It also occurred to me that Conde probably wanted it that way. Does anyone build bridges in the world like this anymore? Oregon has a couple dozen of them alone. All of them Conde’s! Who was this man? What motivated him? Where are the engineers like him today?

I spent a good hour on the crumbling Arch Bridge that night and gained a new appreciation for Conde’s genius and ODOT’s mission to preserve these unique Oregon monuments to elegant civil engineering.

Conde McCullough built bridges with a beguiling aesthetic that are pleasingly integrated into the landscape. His bridges do so much more than transport people and commerce. His bridges inspire and enhance legends. They conjure and foment them too. That’s what all great bridges do, even ones a mere 745 feet long.

Such as in 1934 when a 14-year old girl, on a dare from several boys, climbed an arch to the top of the bridge.

Such as in the mid 1970s when several Oregon City Pioneers used acid to dislodge the lion statue from West Linn High School and hung the bronze beast off the bridge.

Such as in 1979 when a sophomore at Oregon City High School, Matt Love, wrote in his journal: “I heard Pioneer Pete got busted because he hung a sign on the old bridge that read: “Welcome to West Linn, suburb of Oregon City.”

And that was only the teenagers!

What of the adults? Think of all the proposals, the motorcycle rides over the arches, the epic battles with salmon and sturgeon, the protests and parades, suicide attempts, both failed and successful, and that memorable moment after 9/11 when Oregon City and West Linn came together and draped a colossal American flag off the bridge. And just imagine 80 years of insane bridge stories from the mill workers!

So many golden legends, floating, dissipating, threatening to vanish forever. I lament that potential loss, but feel confident that the Arch Bridge will continue to inspire legends, mad and poignant ones alike, for another 90 years...and beyond.

And finally Conde McCullough, one last rejoinder to your cynicism. No poetry left in the world? Here’s our rebuttal, here’s what in combination the poets wrote about your bridge:

The Arch Bridge, Oct. 13, 2012

I walked over the Arch Bridge once,

I dared to dream,

of cloudpuddled distance,

but not tell anyone.

The smell of fresh concrete,

new rails, new sidewalks,

new bevels, new obelisks with lights,

as sturgeon and salmon swim below

Conde McCullough’s magic.

Wonder and awe

of the concrete patterns,

over the nowhere river,

patterns within time

that connect us again,

as the Arch Bridge lives.

Matt Love grew up in Oregon City and graduated from Oregon City High School in 1982. He is the author/editor of nine books about Oregon and won the Oregon Literary Arts Stewart Holbrook Award in 2009 for his contributions to Oregon history and literature. His website is nestuccaspitpress.com.