A Flandreau businessman with a long-standing dispute with the city was arrested Friday after he tried blocking the removal of vehicles from his property.
Jeff Weigel, 50, was charged with assault on law enforcement, obstructing law enforcement, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, resisting execution or service of process and violating a city ordinance. Assault on law enforcement is a felony. The other charges are misdemeanors.
Three officers had him on the ground in an attempt to cuff him while taking vehicles from the right-of-way at his business and an adjacent home. During the process, an officer used a Taser on Weigel but did not release the prongs.
For years, Weigel and the city have been in a dispute over whether he needed to clean up his property and remove vehicles and other items from the right-of-way. After filing nuisance violations against him, the city gave him multiple chances to comply. The latest deadline for removal was Friday.
Shortly after 12 noon, flatbed car haulers and a tow truck were at the property at the request of the city because Weigel had not removed the vehicles. Weigel stood between the back of the tow truck and the front of a school bus, preventing the driver from hooking onto the bus.
Shortly thereafter, he shouted and swore at police officers as they approached in an attempt to get him to move out of the way.
“You’re not taking my stuff,” he yelled over the sound of the truck engine. “You’re not taking nothing.”
Weigel, who operates Rudy’s Welding on Park Avenue, was taken in handcuffs from his business to the Moody County Sheriff’s Office and later to the Lake County Jail. His bond was set at $2,000 cash on Saturday by Circuit Court Judge Patrick Pardy.
On Friday, officers were acting on a court order from 2001 that says Weigel could not store vehicles and other items in the city right-of-way. The city council dismissed other nuisance complaints for items behind a fence.
To carry out the order, police were overseeing the removal of about a half dozen vehicles that were either on the residential property or in the right-of-way on the commercial property, less than 19.5 feet from the curb. Heavy equipment was used to move a dirt berm that had been built to prevent some of the vehicles from being taken.
Weigel has argued that several other businesses in town operate in the right-of-way, that the city was targeting Rudy’s Welding and that he is not required to follow the ordinances because he is zoned as a business and has operated that way for three generations.
“We’re a necessary business, and Flandreau should be glad to have us,” he said at the last city council meeting on Nov. 2.
Alderman Karen Tufty tried asking Weigel questions, but he shouted back at her, interrupting.
“What I’ve been wondering all along, because this bantering back and forth does no good, what I’ve been wondering, for 19 years, what have you done?” Tufty asked.
“You’re asking a question that is ridiculous,” Weigel said.
He left the meeting after arguing and making threats saying the council members and city representatives had no idea what would happen if they tried removing his property. He also told a police officer who was at the meeting that he didn’t need to be there and called the council members a derogatory name on his way out.
“You’re all jackasses,” Weigel said. “I take offense at having the officer here.”
Mayor Dan Sutton had stopped at Rudy’s Welding four times the Friday before that council meeting to try and talk to Weigel about a plan to remove property from the business, and the city had made phone calls to Weigel, which went unanswered.
“We’ve given this guy every opportunity,” Sutton said after the arrest.