It started with finger pointing and ended in a sort of handshake. That's how the meeting between the Ottawa and Lucas county sheriffs and a group of ice fishermen worked out, and it's how more things should work out.
It started with the Feb. 7 rescue of hundreds of ice anglers from a drifting floe off Crane Creek State Park, one that Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton estimated cost the Coast Guard a quarter million dollars and local agencies more than $20,000.
Those figures might be a little inflated; it appears some of the rescue activity, such as the lumbering C-130 transport plane orbiting the rescue scene, was actually just a modification of a regular training flight the Coast Guardsmen would have been making anyway.
Bratton, in the heat of the moment, made national headlines with his uncompromising opinion of the people pulled off the ice, and it was understandable: high winds and unseasonable temperatures, coupled with clear signs the ice was coming apart; what were they doing out there anyway?
And he called for charging the anglers for their rescue.
The ice fishermen who met with him and Lucas County Sheriff James Telb last Thursday night had a different perspective: Experienced ice fishermen know better, and shouldn't be punished for the actions of those who don't know what they're doing. Also understandable.
And the discussion turned to how the experience of the longtime anglers might be tapped to keep the inexperienced anglers from needing rescue.
Free knowledge? That's a bargain no public servant should pass up, although we wouldn't look amiss at more of the experienced fishermen making money as guides for the neophytes.
Which brings up another point: The ideal situation would be one in which public safety can be preserved without antagonizing something that's both a longstanding local tradition and an increasingly important source of tourist revenue.