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      Ohio fishermen may be billed for ice rescues

      PORT CLINTON, - As Lake Erie begins to freeze, Ohio authorities are making some changes following last winter's stranding of 130 fishermen on an ice floe.

      The rescue operation cost the Coast Guard more than $245,000 on Feb. 7, after a miles-wide chunk of ice broke away in the lake.

      Local agencies dealt with about $20,000 in additional costs.

      Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton says rescues from lake ice will now be coordinated by fire departments, and they will decide whether any fishermen will face civil penalties effectively billing them for the services.

      The sheriff's department will determine whether any criminal charges are in order.

      Bratton says he supports ice fishing but also wants people to use common sense when the ice may be thin.

      (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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