OTTUMWA — The 33 annual Celebrity Night at Indian Hills Community College on Wednesday night had a special twist this year, as it also served as a rededication event for the Tom Arnold Net Center.
Arnold, who is a native Ottumwan, worked at the Morrell meatpacking plant in Ottumwa and graduated from IHCC before furthering his education at the University of Iowa and becoming a stand-up comedian, actor and writer.
After having an illustrious career that includes writing for the Roseanne TV show and acting in countless roles, he helped to fund the creation of the Net Center and established a writing scholarship at IHCC. He also helps with an acting workshop for Indian Hills students.
He served as the guest speaker for the Celebrity Night, and spoke with the Courier before the dinner and rededication ceremony about why Ottumwa and IHCC mean so much to him.
Stories about getting stitches and having his name put in the newspaper were some of the fond memories he still cherishes, and he said IHCC still holds a special space in his heart.
“The opportunity to go to Indian Hills changed my life more than anything I’ve ever done,” Arnold said. “I’ve donated to a lot of things and a lot of causes, but this is the most personal.”
The Net Center was opened in 1997, and serves as the home to the IHCC volleyball team and offers students a second recreational escape. Major renovations were completed on the building in 2013, which included new locker rooms, coaches’ offices, and a weight room. The exterior was also updated and a glass front was added to the east side of the facility.
Arnold joked that the most important thing to him about funding the Net Center was “because they gave me a key so I can work out in the gym.” But, he also gave a more serious answer.