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UPDATE: Up to 9 more inches of snow possible late Thursday into Friday
It was a slow slog to work for many motorists Wednesday morning, but the worse commute this week may be yet to come.
Snow is expected to return Thursday, starting with afternoon flurries and intensifying overnight. By Friday, some locations could see 5 to 9 inches of new snow.
A winter storm watch for Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties will be in effect from 9 p.m. Thursday to 11 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
The forecast comes after a week of snow.
UPDATED: Gallery: Share your wintry photos with us
Have you been out and about enjoying the wintry weather as of late? We want to see your photos! Email them to Times digital producer Laura Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org along with your name and where you shot the photos, and she'll upload the photos to this gallery.
Total snow cover ranged from 5.5 to 7 inches in Lake County, from 4 to 9 inches in Porter County and 6 to 8 inches in LaPorte County, according to data posted Wednesday morning on the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.
Jasper and Newton counties remained under a travel advisory, which means routine travel could be affected because of hazardous conditions.
Officials warned drivers to allow extra time for travel, slow down and make room for plows and emergency vehicles.
Highland warned residents that snowfall had exceeded 1 inch, so parking on public streets was prohibited. Cars cannot be parked on Portage streets after 2 inches of snowfall, police said.
The Porter County Sheriff's Department said vehicles parked on streets in unincorporated areas will be towed if more than 2 inches of snow has fallen and the vehicles are not moved after a green warning ticket is issued.
Indiana Department of Transportation's Northwest District said on Facebook early Wednesday more than 170 crews have been plowing and salting roads for the past 48 hours, but some areas remained slick.
"Overnight storms like these are especially tricky for us to completely clear the way and limit slick spots. So, you definitely want to plan plenty of extra time this morning. It's nasty out there in most areas," the department said.
Several schools announced delays and closures.
Michigan City Area Schools announced the Future Careers Expo scheduled for Thursday at the A.K. Smith Career Center was canceled because of school delays this week, participants with the flu and weather concerns. The event will not be rescheduled.
Low temperatures Thursday could fall to near zero, with negative single digit wind chills.
St. John police seek tips after woman hits bank teller, rips off her necklace
ST. JOHN — Police are seeking information about a woman accused of attempting to use a fraudulent ID card to withdraw money from a bank, hitting a teller who became suspicious and ripping off the teller's necklace.
St. John police were dispatched about 12:45 p.m. Feb. 1 to the Chase Bank at 9600 Wicker Ave. for a report of a disturbance.
Witnesses told police a woman entered the bank and attempted to withdraw money from an account using a fraudulent Illinois identification card with a Chicago address.
The teller recognized the woman from a similar incident a few days before, police said.
The teller began to question the woman, who became angry and agitated. The woman hit the teller in the nose and ripped a necklace from the teller's neck, police said.
The woman left the bank and got into a Chevrolet Camaro driven by a second woman, police said. No money was taken.
Officers checked the area but were unable to locate the Camaro.
The Camaro had a partial Illinois license plate number of AP412. The woman is believed to be part of a group conducting fraudulent activities in Northwest Indiana and the Chicago suburbs, police said.
Police released surveillance images of the woman and Camaro. Anyone with information is asked to call the St. John Police Department at 219-365-6035.
Valpo High football coach abruptly resigns less than three weeks after being hired
Steven Mueller has resigned as Valparaiso High School football coach less than three weeks after he was officially hired.
In a letter emailed to parents of players Tuesday morning, Mueller wrote, "I wanted to let you know how much I thought of your young men. They were incredible. I absolutely believe they have the potential to win state this year. I cherished my short time with them and only have the best intentions for them. I will let you know they are in great hands with Coach Marshal (sic). I think the world of him. He will keep the fire burning and the drumbeat beating strong. I wish you and the Vikings the best."
A football player told The Times that Mueller had recently placed signs around the school with expressions such as “Execute with violent precision” and “Impose your will.” Mueller told the players that the signs were intended to inspire them throughout the day, as well as the general student body. Some people, however, took the words in a different way.
A player said posters were put up around the school last week, and complaints began appearing on social media Monday.
Other signs read: "Be someone special," "Weakness is choice," "What we tolerate is how good we will be" and "All exclamation points."
"Team is rather PO'd (mad)," said the player, who asked not to be named. "We want answers and agree this is out of control. Lucky to have Bill Marshall here, because the administration would have one heck of a time trying to find someone that would want to coach here now. We enjoyed having Mueller around, he pushed us and got us fired up and you could just feel that energy."
Jim Peters and CJ Peters talk about the abrupt resignation of recently hired Valparaiso football coach Steven Mueller (1:52), the decision by …
A message left with Mueller was not returned and Superintendent Ric Frataccia was out of the office. Athletic Director Herb Hofer confirmed the resignation via email, indicating Marshall will be recommended for hire at the Feb. 22 school board meeting.
The resignation extends a tumultuous stretch for the program dating back to the week of the Class 6A sectional when then-coach Dave Coyle resigned.
"Coach Mueller was a great person and a great coach/leader for the short time that we had him for," said another player who asked not to be named. "He wanted to change Valpo football for the better and make all of us men better but obviously, as we have seen, people try to find disgusting and not good meanings in quotes or signs and so unfortunately he decided if he couldn’t be who he wanted to be, then he could not help us be any better and decided that Coach Marshall would be a better fit. … Mueller was a great person who tried to make us better but people didn’t like that."
Gamba executive chef Mike Rueth remembered as talented and caring
Family, friends and co-workers are remembering one of the Region's talented, hardworking and caring culinary professionals this week.
Mike Rueth, executive chef of Gamba Ristorante in Merrillville, died Feb. 2 of heart disease. Rueth, 32, was a resident of Merrillville.
Rueth is survived by his parents, Timothy and Susan Rueth, and siblings Anne, Kate and Jeff.
"He was a wonderful human being," said his father, Timothy Rueth. "And ever since he was a little kid, he was always trying to help someone."
His sister Anne wrote a special eulogy for her brother, which she will present Friday during his funeral service at St. Thomas More Church in Munster.
"There are many things you can count on Mike for: a smile that will light up your darkest days and reflect your best ones, a quick witted joke, a concise political debate, a big bear hug, a genuine interest in your story and your life, and the best meal you've ever had. But most of all, you can always count on Mike to care and to try to help and to put your needs far ahead of his own," Anne said.
Gamba Ristorante owner Benito Gamba said he was "devastated" by the loss of Rueth.
"Michael was like my second son and one of the most caring people I ever met," Gamba said. "He's going to be dearly missed. He's one of those guys that can't be replaced."
Gamba added that Rueth was "very creative" and had a lot of ambition as a chef. "That's something that's hard to find in young people today," he said.
Gamba and Rueth always collaborated on the various menu items presented at the restaurant, which specializes in Northern Italian cuisine.
"He will be my angel now," Gamba said.
During a past interview with Rueth about his work at Gamba, he praised the environment and his boss.
"In addition to familial hospitality, Benny truly understands and appreciates fine food," Rueth said at that time. "As a result, he lets me source the finest meats, seafood, cheeses and produce from all over the world. As a chef, if you can put these products on a plate and enhance their natural attributes rather than detract from them, you've done your job."
During a past dining experience at Gamba, this writer was not only impressed by Rueth's culinary expertise but also his caring attitude. As his family and friends stressed, he was genuinely interested in other people, their lives, stories and their work.
In her eulogy, Anne said her brother was "incredibly passionate" about researching everything culinary related.
"He is perhaps most proud of his role as executive chef at Gamba and the relationships he's built with staff and customers alike there. He sees his boss, Benny, like a second father and works tirelessly to give everyone who comes into the restaurant the best possible experience. He has a brilliant business mind and is a visionary and teacher in so many ways. His choice to be a chef says so much about who he is, certainly an artist, but also someone who seeks to bring comfort, pleasure and traditions to others," she said.
Visitation for Rueth will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Kish Funeral Home in Munster. Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Thomas More Church in Munster.
Coroner IDs child, adult who died in crash involving CSX freight train, pickup truck in Gary
GARY — The Lake County Coroner's office has identified the adult and child killed Tuesday morning when a CSX freight train struck a pickup truck in the city's Miller section.
Eric McClellan Jr., 7, of Calumet City, and Janetta McClellan, 57, of Gary, died from blunt force trauma in the incident, according to the coroner's office.
Gary police were called about 8:05 a.m. to the crash in the area of Lake Street and Miller Avenue, Lt. Dawn Westerfield said.
An eastbound freight train struck a green Chevrolet truck that was crossing the tracks, she said.
Lake County coroner's investigators pronounced the two dead at the scene at 9:19 a.m., police said. They were the only two people in the truck.
There are crossing gates at the intersection, Westerfield said. She did not yet have information about whether the truck driver may have disregarded signals.
A CSX spokesperson said Tuesday no one on the train was injured.
"CSX extends its deepest sympathies to everyone impacted by this tragedy. We appreciate the prompt response provided by local authorities and will continue to assist in their investigation of the incident," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
The freight train was bound for New Jersey and consisted of two locomotives, 26 loaded rail cars of mixed freight and one empty rail car, according to the spokesperson.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Sgt. Michael Jackson at 219-881-7485.
Check back at nwi.com for updates to this story.