Ebetsu Plaza at Main City Park just had an amazing ribbon cutting ceremony that was a result of a lot of effort from its volunteers working in conjunction with the City of Gresham to enhance the park for all to enjoy. One of those members that lead the way was John Clark, owner of Stamp-Connection, and his CNC PRO. John is one of those rare people that works hard and gives back all while smiling and mentoring others as he goes.
The project is designed to raise money for an endowment fund that will be used to maintain the park and the Gresham Japanese Garden for years to come. The Garden was constructed in the 1970’s but fell into disrepair over the last decade. Volunteers came together to replace the bridge leading into the garden and to replant and maintain the garden, returning it to its former glory. Realizing that the current volunteers would not always be here to keep it going, a solution was needed to provide resources to carry on the rebirth of the garden. This is when the construction of Ebetsu Plaza (named after Gresham’s sister city Ebetsu, Japan) and the Touchstone Paver Project came to fruition.
The Touchstone Pavers are in the Ebetsu Plaza, which is located at the entrance. It was built using over 4,000 repurposed paver stones that were removed from another location in the city. However, there was a challenge; engrave the pavers that were already installed. After many months of research John Clark purchased the CNC PRO, distributed by RedArt Technologies, as it stated it is a portable engraver.
The project did have a few challenges along the way. One of the very first challenges that came with trying to engrave the pavers was the fact that the stones had a ridiculous amount of aggregate mixed into them. Messy sandblasters were too labor intensive and didn’t provide the detail needed. Using laser engravers, like many other brick fundraisers, was not an option since the pavers were already installed and the lasers couldn’t pulverize the cement and aggregate consistently. The only machine that could do the job onsite with the quality to make a successful fundraiser work was the CNC Pro and the diamond impregnated bit.
Above is video John Clark made of him engraving a paver that was in place.
Here were more challenges and answers:
- The entire pathway was done on a slanted surface and the pavers followed the uneven contours of the area.
Answer: the genius of the CNC Pro allows for adjustments at all four corners, the Floating Z, so that the machine can be leveled to match the individual level of each paver.
- It was at the height of summer and the days were topping 90 degrees.
Answer: set up a large event canopy over the engraving area. This helped to shield John from sun while engraving and let onlookers watch the progress more comfortably.
- The aggregate was tearing up the bits at a pace that was creating an unforeseen cost.
Answer: a simple change in the number of passes made on each cut line reduced the amount of wear on the bits. Soon they were getting 10-12 pavers completed before the bit needed to be replaced.
Additionally: A special cart was built that could hold the engraver and rails without having to dismantle it every night and put it back together the next time engraving began.
The community has responded with full support and admiration. Donations are being received at an ever-increasing pace and a special website is being developed so that people can share the story of their paver, who it was dedicated to and why they meant so much to the donor. Celebrations of life and special “In Memory of” orders are still flowing in, as well as nods to our beloved pets and bike riding buddies. Businesses got on board to honor employees, local service clubs ordered entire sections for their members.
What started out as a means to raise funds for the Garden endowment has turned into a mosaic reflection of our community. A story of our friends and neighbors, written in 8-inch square pavers, that together reflect the tight knit and immensely proud community that has become the city that sits at the foothills of Mt. Hood. The city we call Gresham, Oregon.