People in a good neighborhood don't all go to work together, but they all have to work together to make it a good neighborhood.

People in a good neighborhood don't all go to work together, but they all have to work together to make it a good neighborhood.

That's John McCormack's view of things.

To the Taymouth Road resident, a neighborhood is like a business, and the residents are the employees. They don't have to all get along or see eye to eye on everything, but they must do their part or the enterprise will fail.

"We're in the business of having a safe environment for our families," McCormack said last week. "You get what you give, plain and simple."

Plain and simple, McCormack and his wife, Connie, sat down last week to talk about the lives they've led, the neighborhood they've chosen to live in for nearly three decades and the hopes they have for when the city's Neighborhood Pride Program comes to their community Oct. 4-8.

The program, which was launched a decade ago, will be returning that week to a small section of the very first neighborhood to get the Pride treatment, Forest Park.

When city officials announced that the area bounded on the north by Northcliff Drive and Green Apple Avenue, the south by Morse Road, the east by Cleveland Avenue and the west by Tamarack Boulevard and Avalon Avenue would be the fourth and final Neighborhood Pride site for 2010, John McCormack admitted he wasn't sure what to expect.

Bruce T. Black, who manages the program for Mayor Michael B. Coleman, gave a preview Aug. 7 of what Neighborhood Pride will mean to the area at a sparsely attended meeting in the Columbus Baptist Temple, which will serve as the Pride Week Service Center.

John McCormack, who became a Block Watch coordinator for his neighborhood not quite two years ago, attended because he wanted city officials to know that not enough of the people living in his area are sold on the idea.

Residents are worried that the concentration of city services - Black likes to say that what a neighborhood would get in three years takes place in that one week - will end up increasing their taxes, Connie McCormack said.

"Are they just going to go up and down the street giving tickets?" she said one resident asked.

"They don't know enough about it," her husband chimed in. "People are suspicious of new things coming from the city.

"You've got a lot of people who are afraid of change."

The McCormacks moved into their home in the Scotland subdivision on Oct. 18, 1980.

"We were the youngest couple at the time," Connie McCormack recalled.

They rented for the first five years, undecided on whether to stay or not.

They stayed.

"It was always a good neighborhood," John McCormack said.


Like much of the Northland area, the subdivisions that will be subject to the Pride treatment in early October have had their ups and downs in terms of crime and the impact of a struggling economy. Shortly before John McCormack took over as head of an existing Block Watch in November 2008 things took a turn for the worse, he said.

"The crime started to increase with car break-ins, home break-ins."

A neighbor got slashed across the face with a box cutter around that same time, Connie McCormack said.

Her ex-Marine husband attended a meeting of the Block Watch and came away as the coordinator.

"I know everybody in our neighborhood, maybe not by name, but I know who belongs here," John McCormack said.

McCormack, who has his own dog-training business and lives with seven trained German shepherds, began going out on patrol in the neighborhood, accompanied by one of them, Neeko.

"The word got out," he said. "It's a deterrent. It just snowballed. People were going, 'Here comes Neeko," not, "Here comes John.'"

John McCormack was born and reared in Lorain, the son of not just one but two police officers. His father was a beat cop for all 44 years he was on the force and his mother eventually moved on to the Department of Corrections.

When he turned 18, John McCormack joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was on active duty for six years, some of it spent in Okinawa, Japan. McCormack worked various jobs after leaving the military, including running his own trucking firm. He's been involved in dog training for the past 20 years, concentrating on his Semper Fi K-9 Training business for all breeds for the past decade.

"I was really never happy until I started working with dogs again," John McCormack said.

A student of judo from the time he was 5 years old, McCormack was inducted into a Martial Arts Hall of Fame as an instructor in 2006.

John and Connie met when his travels brought him to Columbus. They've been married for 24 years and have a daughter, Kathrine, 23.

Once the Neighborhood Pride Program has come and gone from the neighborhood, Connie McCormack said it is her hope a sense of pride that some, but not all, residents have will remain behind.

"Just take pride in what you have, in your surroundings," she said.

"I want to see the whole community come together ... like a family," John McCormack said.