Iron Range GOP candidate facing lawsuit for garage chop

Nearly a year and a half ago, the small band of daily commuters on Itasca County Highway 8 noticed that this happened. I posted the picture to social media with a silly Paul Bunyan joke.

What we hadn’t realized at the time was that this garage-halving operation was part of a looney, decades-old family property dispute involving Roger Weber, the rural Nashwauk GOP candidate for the State House of Representatives In District 6A, currently held by Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing). The Grand Rapids Herald-Review did a story back in 2013, and I could have sworn I wrote about it here on the blog, but now that I look I don’t see it in the archives. I did mention the occurrence casually in this 2014 legislative race preview.

John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune details the story in his front-page Sunday feature:

After his father’s death, Roger Weber said, he told his sister he was going to remove any structures that were on his side of the property line.

Meanwhile, on April 18, 2013, [Mark] Besemann bought the home from Anderson. The sale was recorded with the county on April 22.

On April 27, 2013, Besemann returned to his newly-purchased property to find the garage cut in half.

“I live a half-hour away so I’m not over there every day. About a week after I closed on it, I drove in to see that half the garage was gone,” Besemann said. “I had a pretty good hunch who did it, but I waited a few days to call him. Someone who does something like that isn’t thinking properly. I didn’t want to get him any angrier. I didn’t know what else he might do. … It was a pretty rough way to greet your new neighbor.”

Besemann said he was aware there was some dispute over the exact property line between Anderson’s one acre and Roger Weber’s 39 acres. But he said he assumed the old family dispute could be worked out in neighborly negotiations now that he owned the house.

“Apparently the property line problem, that the garage might be partially on his (39) acres, wasn’t a problem when his dad lived there. But after I bought it, it became a problem,” Besemann said.

Weber has said that he assumed the house still belonged to his sister when he sawed the garage in half, removing the half he says was on his side of the property line. And Weber says he clearly told his sister that he would take the garage down.

“He (Besemann) knew what he was getting into,” Weber told the News Tribune on Friday.

Weber declined to answer additional questions, saying it was a “private” matter not related to his running for public office. He referred calls to his attorney, Brian Bengtson of Grand Rapids. Bengtson did not immediately return a request to comment on the case.

“It’s a family thing,” Weber said of the garage dispute, before hanging up.

In other words, back when Weber thought his sister owned the house and garage he thought it was A-OK to just chop them apart like a crazy person. The fact that she sold the house before he chainsawed the garage (with stunning precision) is just an unfortunate coincidence in his thinking.

The story has legs because of the political angle. Weber was the GOP nominee in this district back in 2012 and was re-nominated again in 2014 despite most people knowing about this story locally. But really, it’s just one of those strange sort of back woods tales one finds as regions like this stumble toward modernization.

Not only is this garage just a few miles from my house, along my drive to work, but Mark Besemann is an old friend of mine from high school. His parents were my Scout leaders and we hung out throughout our school years. His brother is in my fantasy football league. What’s funny is that the Besemanns have been Republicans as long as I can remember and, according to conversations I’ve had, actually voted for Weber before he cut the garage in half. So not only does the episode demonstrate Weber’s lack of temperament, judgement and empathy, but he’s managed to actively alienate voters who would have supported him otherwise.


  1. Another fine example of inherent conservative generosity.

  2. I had to read the story twice. He had a beef with his sister for decades but decides to take it out on the new owner. Completely senseless. Yup, just the kind of level-headed person one wants for a representative.

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