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Artist rescued after getting stuck while painting Dunedin water tower mural

Tom Stovall was painting two land turtles on the tower when his equipment failed Friday, officials said.
Artist Tom Stovall as he works to paint a mural of a turtle named Henry on the Dunedin Curlew Water Tower on Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Dunedin. The water tower was built in the 1960's and is 150 feet tall and holds 1 million gallons of water. Stovall is a large scale muralist who also painted the Crescent Lake Water tower. He started working on Henry in April and plans to complete phase one by mid June.
Artist Tom Stovall as he works to paint a mural of a turtle named Henry on the Dunedin Curlew Water Tower on Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Dunedin. The water tower was built in the 1960's and is 150 feet tall and holds 1 million gallons of water. Stovall is a large scale muralist who also painted the Crescent Lake Water tower. He started working on Henry in April and plans to complete phase one by mid June. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published May 27|Updated May 27

DUNEDIN — An artist was stuck suspended in the air Friday afternoon when the motorized pulley system he uses to get up and down a Dunedin water tower failed.

Tom Stovall called the city of Dunedin around 1:30 p.m. to say he could not get down from the Curlew Water Tower, located on Curlew Road near Bayshore Boulevard, according to Sue Burness, the city’s director of communications. The motorized pulley system Stovall uses to get up and down to paint the tower had stopped working, she said.

Dunedin Fire Rescue brought Tom Stovall down after the pulley system he was using to get up and down from the Dunedin Curlew Water Tower had stopped working Friday afternoon.
Dunedin Fire Rescue brought Tom Stovall down after the pulley system he was using to get up and down from the Dunedin Curlew Water Tower had stopped working Friday afternoon. [ The City of Dunedin ]

Burness described the motor-powered pulley system as a contraption with a platform, and a cage surrounding it.

Dunedin Fire Rescue responded and got Stovall down around 3:30 p.m., Burness said. Stovall was uninjured.

“We’re kind of smiling about this, because when we did an interview earlier this week with ABC, he said he loves attention,” she said. “And boy, did today fulfill that for him.”

Curlew Road was blocked between Bayshore Boulevard and County Road 1 for the rescue, Burness said.

Stovall, who has worked on other water towers around Tampa Bay, is painting a mural of two land turtles, named Henry and Sylvia, on the tower. He was in the midst of painting Henry when he got stranded Friday, Burness said. Stovall should have Henry completed around mid-June, and then Sylvia will be next.

Burness is unsure when the mural will be finished, but she suspects afternoon storms and hurricane season may delay its completion.

“It’s a labor of love,” she said.

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