What makes your town great?

To celebrate the unity that got southwest Michigan through a difficult 2020, Leader Publications asked community leaders what they believe makes their towns great.


What makes Dowagiac great? The people, that’s what makes Dowagiac great!

The people of Dowagiac are proud, hardworking people who care about Dowagiac and each other. People from all backgrounds and all walks of life. The people of Dowagiac aren’t just neighbors, they’re friends and family — friends that look out for each other and take care of each other when it’s needed. Family that is always there for each other. This is seen time and time again in the countless acts of generosity that flow through Dowagiac each year. In my 25 years in Dowagiac, I haven’t been a part of an unsuccessful fundraising event. Dowagiac takes care of each other and always steps up to the plate when needed.

I saw this front and center during the Black Lives Matter march this past summer in Dowagiac.  I saw a community come together.  When other communities were being torn apart, our community was holding hands and standing strong together.  This is a community that is proud of its diversity and background. I had an amazing sense of pride that day to be part of Dowagiac. The support that we receive at the Dowagiac Police and Fire Departments is second to none. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to know that our community backs us and cares about us. We in turn strive to be part of our community. That’s what Dowagiac is, community, a place to make a living, raise a family, laugh and love. A place to call home. That’s what the people of Dowagiac have built and continue to build.

People are the world’s most valuable resource, and the people of Dowagiac are the best of the best. That’s what makes Dowagiac great!

Steven Grinnewald

Dowagiac Public Safety Director



I think that one of the things that makes Niles so great is how this city and its residents always come together and unite as one to help in whatever capacity is shown to be most needed. This has never been more evident than in this last year, as I have watched Niles come together to support local businesses during a very trying time for all.

I love the creative and helping spirit that Niles has always had. They take any issue thrown at them and work together to figure out a viable solution. Niles is a great place to live.

Amanda Dunnem

City of Niles

Ward 2 Councilwoman



We are very proud of our first responders being the police, fire and ambulance. The support and appreciation from our residents is outstanding. We have just completed a five-year park and recreation plan (2021-2025), and we had more than 400 residents respond to the plan’s questionnaire. We are also proud of the Edwardsburg Public Schools system, the Edwardsburg Sports Complex, our local Lions Club and our very active chamber of commerce.

Jerry Marchetti

Ontwa Township Supervisor



First of all, we have a very unique, rich history. The Underground Railroad went through here, and Cassopolis was one of the state’s original colonies. We’re a lakeside community that features plenty of water activities.

I think one of the greatest assets that we have is that we’re a blended community. Black, white, Hispanic, native and Asian populations. I have lived here my whole life, and to my knowledge, there have not been any racial tensions. We get along with each other.

My grandfather was born in 1878 in Cass County. My family has been here for centuries. To my knowledge, it has always been a quiet, peaceful community.

David Johnson


Cass County

Van Buren/Cass District Health Department confirms COVID-19 associated death of a student in Van Buren County

Cass County

Cassopolis man gets probation for drunk driving

Cass County

South Bend man resentenced in 1997 Union murder case


Army veteran talks his experience in Afghanistan


Local farm markets ready for fall season


Mason’s Pumpkins preparing for second-annual Harvest Festival


DUS, teachers continue contract talks


Dowagiac Area History Museum fundraiser raises $40,000


Wolverine Pipeline, area organizations partner to lend veteran a helping hand


Cassopolis woman opens vintage, antique store downtown

Brandywine Education

Tickets on sale for Brandywine Hall of Fame induction ceremony


New tech students race marbles to raise money for essential workers

Berrien County

MGCF awards $121,182 in grants to Berrien, Cass counties

Berrien County

Berrien County reports lower COVID-19 cases in schools following mask mandate

Berrien County

Berrien County amends transportation funding requests


Dowagiac man found guilty of drunk driving

Cass County

Underground Railroad Society of Cass County wins Michigan Humanities Council 2021 Outstanding Humanities Organization Award


Dowagiac Police Log: Sept. 17-22


Ontwa Township/Edwardsburg Police Log: Sept. 13-20


Boutique yoga, wellness studio opens in Edwardsburg

Berrien County

Berrien County Health Department hosts educational event in recognition of Infant Mortality Awareness Month


Apple Festival Grande Parade is back, looking for participants

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 995,910 cases, 20,700 deaths


Parents protest masks at Niles Community Schools Board of Education meeting