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      Nuisance neighbors at war in Schoolcraft County

      Most people are familiar with the story of 19th century feuding neighbors, the Hatfields and McCoys. Upper Michigan's Source uncovered a couple of modern day Hatfields and McCoys living in Manistique.

      Neighbors Larry Kouw and Richard Hughson just don't get along. Law enforcement and the Schoolcraft County Prosecutor are involved, and it appears the battle has just begun.

      In the spring of 2009, 62-year-old Kouw says he went to his new neighbor's house to introduce himself.

      "First thing out of his mouth was 'When you gonna move that {<}blank{>} woodpile?' I looked at him, and I says, 'Number one, that's my property, number two, I'll cut the woodpile up when I get good and ready to cut it up. It's my property, and I'll do it when I have time to do it.' So anyway, that was the beginning of this turmoil here," explains Kouw.

      81-year-old Richard Hughson was the new neighbor. He claims the turmoil started last August when he and a contractor were building a fence on the back perimeter of his property. He says Kouw started yelling that the fence was off by a few inches and was actually on his property.

      "I don't know if he spit in my face or if he was salivating so bad, but he was beet red," says Hughson.

      Hughson claims that Kouw then assaulted both him and the contractor, but the charges were dropped. The problem has only escalated since then. Kouw now claims that Hughson sneaks around, sometimes peering into his windows, taking pictures.

      "He's a pervert, that's what he is, taking pictures of young girls. We tried getting a PPO (personal protection order) on him last year, but we're glad we didn't, because the judge says there's really not enough evidence and this and that, you know? They kept telling us to take pictures of him, then they'll convict him," Kouw adds.

      Kouw hasn't snapped a picture of Hughson. Instead, he's created giant wooden signs and posted them in his yard for Hughson and everybody else to see.

      "The sign that really got him was the one that says 'Warning: elderly pervert man, {<}expletive{>}, in area taking pictures of young children and teenage girls. Be on the alert.' Well, that sign really got to him," Kouw says.

      The signs have Hughson furious, because he claims they are lies.

      "It aggravates me. He has the signs up there so everybody can see it, but if the right person went by in a car and sees it, (they might think) 'Oh, is that where that pervert lives? I think I'll get out my gun and shoot him because that happened to my little girl.' I am not a pervert; never was and never will be, and that's why I'm angry," Hughson explains.

      Kouw disagrees and gives his daughters permission to protect themselves if they ever feel they're in danger.

      "That's why we have pistols laying around here now when we're outside. I'm not worried about it, because I'll plain cold-cock him. But anyway, when my girls are here, my girls know how to use guns. My girls will use them. I says, 'He ever touches you, shoot him.' Plain and simple," Kouw says.

      "I don't know. I'd like to see him in jail to be honest. That's about the bottom line," Hughson says.

      Schoolcraft County Prosecutor Peter Hollenbeck tells us that the police have responded to at least 11 reported complaints from Kouw and Hughson, and he says that's what they'll continue to do. Hollenbeck also says that in light of these recent events, Schoolcraft County is talking about the potential of sign ordinances sometime down the line.