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Century old concrete base breaks off outside Alex’s Ice Services

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MASSENA - Thanks to the drawn out, frigid winter in St. Lawrence County, the final remains of a century old conveyer belt has fallen outside of Alex’s Ice Services in Massena.

Due to the seemingly everlasting frozen ice on the Grasse River, the large concrete base that was the last piece of the conveyer belt left, was shoved off of its perch by the protruding ice and nearly into the river earlier this spring.

Alex’s Ice Services owner Ted Krywanczyk said that the original Massena Ice Company was started around 1898 and was owned by The Horton’s Ice House group.

“My dad bought - it was called Massena Ice Company and Horton’s owned it - and my dad bought it in 1959 and I took it over for him,” Ted said. “When my father was young, he says that when he was 13 or 14 the conveyer belt was still here and he would walk on the chains. After many years it started rotting and they had to take it down for safety reasons.”

Ted said that a few years before his father, Alex, became the owner they stopped taking the ice out of the river and loading it on the conveyer belt and instead began using a ice block making machine.

“(Alex) remembers walking up and down the conveyer belt. In the summer it just sat there because they only used it for a couple of months in the winter,” Ted said.

“(The ice) was almost up to this utility pole up on this hill, and I remember coming down here because I knew the ice had started coming and then it was getting warmer and warmer. One day I brought my son down here and we could see (the ice) flexing and there was a lot of pressure from all of the water underneath.”

One of Ted’s neighbors, Larry Warren, told him that in all of the years he has lived on George Street, he had never seen the ice last as long as it did in 2014.

“As I was talking with him, we finally heard all of this crunching and some trees across the way were knocked down and the ice started going. The concrete was still there and (the ice) was coming up over the top of it,” Ted said.

“The first wave went through and then it stopped and then there was another section that came through. I don’t know if it was later that night or something. ... (Mr. Warren) came over and said to me, ‘(The concrete base) got knocked over.’”

The final piece left of the machine broke off in late March, according to Ted.

Alex said that he was shocked when the last part of the machine fell off.

“Let me tell you something - that conveyer built was huge, chain linked. I used to climb all the way up it when I was a kid but it never broke,” he said.

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