Jack Workman, owner of the Dairy Queen in Tamarack Circle, is known for taking an interest in the community.

Jack Workman, owner of the Dairy Queen in Tamarack Circle, is known for taking an interest in the community.

Workman hires local kids to man the counter, sponsors a Forrest Park baseball team and looks after the local Boy Scout troop.

"He's always willing to do anything and everything for our youth," said Chris Brimmer, a troop master and baseball coach. "I consider him an ambassador to the Tamarack Circle area. He's a fixture there."

Workman's status as a neighborhood fixture was disrupted Sept. 9 when he was shot during a robbery at his store. He's home from the hospital and on the mend, but the news of the crime has left the Northland community upset.

"I was crushed," Brimmer said. "I was in pure shock."

Since Sept. 9, the Dairy Queen's doors have been closed.

Northland Community Council president Dave Paul, who has been in touch with Workman's wife, said his sense is that the Dairy Queen likely won't reopen.

"My sense is maybe not," Paul said.

Dean Peters, a spokesman for Dairy Queen, said the corporation won't push for a decision from Workman on whether he plans reopen. Workman owns the store as a franchise and the company wants to give him the time he needs to recover, Peters said.

"It's got to be the right time," he said. "It's too soon to speculate what's going to happen in this situation."

The territory operator from Dairy Queen will work through Workman's options with him, Peters said, and the company's preference would be for the store to reopen.

Northland Area Business Association president Dave Cooper said he doesn't personally know Workman, but he said news of such a severe crime in the Northland business community is cause for concern.

"I'm extremely saddened that we have to deal with things like that in our community," Cooper said.

In response to the shooting, Paul said he is working with the city to talk to businesses in Tamarack Circle to organize with property owners to prevent future crimes in the area.

"The first step is just to get businesses talking there," Paul said.

Even before the burglary and shooting, Paul said security was a concern in Tamarack Circle, which is home to 24 businesses on 10 different parcels of land.

Other businesses near the Dairy Queen have reported being burglarized and robbed, Paul said, and police reports show that Workman was held up as he left his store in September 2007.

"There have been some issues in the circle," Paul said. "There have been some serious incidents there."

He said his concern is that if security is not addressed in the circle, it may lose business.

"We want to keep that commercial center viable," Paul said.

The apartment complex near the center has hired a private security company over recent years and addressed problems with crime there, Paul said, and he hopes the shopping center will be able to work with the complex's managers to similarly turn the center around.

He said the closing of the Dairy Queen concerns him and his hope is that Workman will feel secure enough, once he is recovered, to reopen the Dairy Queen if the center is safer.

Paul said the outpouring of support following the shooting shows that Workman is a valued part of the community.

"A lot of folks in the community do know him, and he and his family have been very supportive of the community," he said.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com