The Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) campus will soon be graced by a new feature, one that college officials believe will become a part of the very fabric and heritage of the campus. The feature is a life-sized bronze statue of two of the institution’s iconic figures on campus – Trouper the Mustang and Roscoe the Campus Dog.
The statue (see the accompanying photograph) will be located for everyone to see in the Central Quad area on campus. The statue is designed by talented NACC Artist Barbara Kilgore and will be built by the University of Alabama Sculpture Department at their foundry. “This is something we have been wanting to do for a long time,” stated NACC President Dr. David Campbell. “We think the bronze statue will be an unusual feature of the college, even bringing in some visitors/tourists to see it. Beyond that, the statue will symbolize how the Northeast family takes in and nurtures its students and community and makes the campus their home, as they did with Trouper and Roscoe.”
Both Trouper and Roscoe have very unusual histories and stories. Trouper is a full-blooded mustang horse from Nevada who is owned and trained by Amber Rain Matthewson and Amber’s daughter, Montana. Amber was able to purchase Trouper at one of the mustang auctions that are held to reduce the number of wild mustangs in the Western states. Amber, who is from Henagar and now works at Northeast, broke and trained Trouper, who incidentally is named after Amber’s life-saving doctor. Always the reader, Dr. Campbell read about Amber and Trouper and asked if she would permit Trouper to be the college’s official mascot, since the institution’s mascot has been a mustang from its beginning. Amber immediately said yes. Before COVID-19, Amber would frequently bring Trouper on campus for students to see, and she would ride him representing the college in Christmas or community parades. The Northeast family now looks forward to the day Trouper can come back on campus.
Roscoe is another story. Roscoe is a black Labrador who chose to live on the Northeast campus. He was a neighborhood dog whose family moved, and Roscoe kept coming back to campus. Finally, the family told Dr. Campbell: “Roscoe is a free spirit and always has been. So just let him live where he wants to.” Roscoe stayed, and the college took him in. Roscoe is now a friend to all on campus. He has his own doghouse, but when cold, hot, or stormy he sleeps inside one of the college buildings. Dr. Campbell, the police, and others feed him on the weekends. When he was younger, Roscoe loved to ride across campus in the back of the maintenance staff’s mechanical carts. And he is usually at the door of the first building opened at 6:00 a.m. to help staff unlock and go through the building.
Dr. Campbell states that Northeast, of course, cleared the bronze statute for construction on campus with Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy Baker who immediately said “Yes.” Chancellor Baker noted how great it is to see a college like Northeast make students feel at home by having a pet they can speak to like Roscoe.” Roscoe and Trouper have had several newspaper articles written about them, and they have their own Facebook and Instagram pages.
It was the college’s own outstanding artist - Art Instructor Barbara Kilgore - who brilliantly put Trouper and Roscoe together into the same image for the sculpture. “It occurred to me that Roscoe had chosen us to be a
part of his family and that we have chosen Trouper to be a part of our family. I realized that if we were going to have a sculpture that showed the spirit of the institution, it had to include both of them…the interaction between the two is one of total acceptance. They are nose to nose, looking at each other. The mood is one of love and respect: the essences of NACC.”
Mrs. Kilgore concludes by saying, “I love the idea of making both these animals part of the history of our institution in a visual and tangible way. This will allow future students and faculty for years to come to see our commitment to educating. It will serve as a reminder that no matter where students come from, no matter what level of education they start, we accept them, love them, and are dedicated to helping them become whatever it is they strive to be.”
Dr. Campbell stated, “We are so excited about this for our campus. This is one of those things that we believe will become a part of the legends or stories that are told about a college and establish a special bond with the people who attend and work there – something that goes on forever.”
Campbell added that famed writer Daniel Wallace has agreed to write the plaque that will go along with the statue. Mr. Wallace is author of Big Fish. Big Fish, based on the movie, was produced as a play at Northeast, and Mr. Wallace was honored during the production. “Daniel is a great friend of ours and Mrs. Joan Reeves,” Campbell added. “And I couldn’t think of anyone I wanted more to write a short narrative about Trouper and Roscoe. He is a brilliant author whose animal characters come from the same magical world to visit us as Trouper and Roscoe. We are honored by his involvement in this.”
Campbell also noted that this was not the college’s first attempt to have a bronze statue. When the Health Education Center was built, a bronze mustang was to be in the courtyard as a part of that complex, according to Dr, Campbell. He and retired Dean of Instruction Wayne Woods traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to find an artist and foundry for the statue. But the prices were too high and then the recession hit. “I finally came up with the idea of saving the vending machine money for this,” Campbell said. (By contract NACC gets a small percentage of vending machine sales.)
Campbell continued: “I wanted to spend it on something special for our students. It took a long time, but we finally collected enough for the statue and then we were blessed to have Mrs. Kilgore, and, of course, Trouper and Roscoe. As they say, things often work out if you are just patient.”