Kokomo Teacher Spearheads Ramp Improvements

"Kokomo teacher Mat Temme stands next to the new pavilion constructed at the Kokomo Reservoir public boat ramp. Photo by Author

Over the past several years the Kokomo Reservoir has seen an increase in use. I think it’s because people are realizing the therapeutic benefits of outdoor recreation and the joy of being on or around water, whether fishing, canoeing, kayaking or simply pleasure boating.

But if you utilized the only public boat ramp during busier days you had to deal with several issues. The first was the limit of available parking. If the small asphalt lot was full boaters were forced to park their rigs on the grass. That wouldn’t be so bad if the ground was dry.

Even during times of decent weather you were still forced to navigate around large, dangerous ruts left by senseless vandals who used the area for their off-road destruction. There was also no open air pavilion that could be enjoyed for picnics, tournament weigh-in sites or as a place to seek shelter during times of inclement weather.

Each year complaints were directed towards the lack of improvements at the popular launch site. But instead of complaining, one man kept his comments to himself, replacing disdain with positive action.

Kokomo School teacher and avid fisherman Mat Temme is one of many who use the Kokomo Reservoir. He views the impoundment as a local treasure providing anyone with desire the chance to enjoy various types of recreation close to home. He realized improvements would benefit everyone using the local impoundment. So he did what any self-respecting man should do, he set out to help solve the problem. “My dad raised me to always come up with a solution instead of complaining,” Temme stated, referring to his best friend and father Alvin.

He started the process by seeking permission from Indiana American Water Company, owner of the local lake. Temme also sought the OK from the Kokomo Parks Department who maintain the public areas surrounding the reservoir. Once he received their blessings things started falling into place, much to his surprise.

“I was talking to a friend Erick Miller and once he found out what I wanted to do he volunteered to bring his skid loader to the ramp and cut out the new parking lot,” he explained. In one day the pair removed truckloads of sod and placed nearly 140 tons of stone creating additional, solid parking for up to 10 trucks and trailers. Then with help from other volunteers the existing asphalt and new stone lots were striped delineating each space.

Once completed Temme then contacted avid bass angler and local contractor Hink Hinkle who specializes in the construction of post and frame buildings. “I called him just to get a price on an open air type shelter,” he explained. To his surprise Hinkle said he would cover the cost of the shelter if Temme could cover the expense for the concrete floor. So his next call was to Rick Miller of IMI, Kokomo’s local supplier of concrete. “When Rick found out what was going on he provided the material,” he added thankfully. Temme plans on dedicating the shelter in memory of long time fisherman and friend Dick Mugg who passed away last year following an open team tournament.

The local teacher was amazed as things fell into place with help from many businesses and individuals. “I had my mind made up that I was going to pay for the improvements out of my own pocket,” Temme continued. “It was that important to me.” Total cost for the improvements were estimated at $5,100. “But once people started finding out what was going on I started receiving donations.” He added. “It’s interesting how sometimes when you need things in life they automatically start showing up.”

What originally began as an idea of one man and the willingness of others to help, the boat launch now sports additional parking and a new pavilion, benefitting everyone who uses the facility.

Temme did not spearhead the project for praise of glory. He did it as his way of giving something back to the community he loves. He is just another example of a good man doing good things.

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John Martino

Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.

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