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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

SD nonprofit tries to keep poverty from stalling car engines

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Thursday, January 25, 2024   

Winter time in South Dakota can sometimes result in car engines not starting. For people with no money for repairs, there are options in some cities, including a nonprofit blending low-cost repairs with engine maintenance smarts.

In Sioux Falls and Rapid City, the SHIFT Garage accepts applications from low-income people in need of a standard repair. If they qualify, they only have to cover the cost of the parts, which are not marked up. The labor is free, provided by experienced volunteers who replace the battery or install new brakes.

Chris Erickson, who directs the Rapid City location, said they want people to avoid a vicious cycle such situations can create.

"Nowadays, to do brakes, it's like 600 bucks," Erickson pointed out. "And if you have a vehicle that is your only way of getting yourself back and forth to work and that goes out and you get this thousand-dollar repair bill for something that you can't afford, not only can you not fix your vehicle -- but now you can't get to work to make money to fix your vehicle."

He explained keeping the repair bill drastically lower could prevent someone from seeking help through a predatory lender. Similar nonprofits can be found in other states, and if you live in a community without one, church offices sometimes provide emergency funds for car repairs. Poverty-fighting organizations, such as community action agencies, might also offer guidance.

SHIFT Garage also asks clients to pay a $50 fee, but it can be waived if they take a vehicle maintenance class at the shop or a financial literacy course elsewhere in the community. Erickson emphasized sharpening your DIY skills will likely keep your engine running longer.

"We see a lot of times where a minor repair goes unresolved and becomes a major repair," Erickson added.

He stressed the courses also provide opportunities for families to pass along tips to their children, so they avoid similar hardships in the future.

SHIFT Garage mostly works on cars around 20 years old as electric vehicles remain out of reach for most low-income households. Erickson said they will try to evolve with the technology as more hybrid and used EV models make their way around the secondary market.


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