Morning Headlines: Attackers Back on Schuylkill Trail

The Scoop: Philadelphia Police arrest four in connection with most recent incident. Plus: Kenney endorses Evans, big plans for the SS United States, and more.

Good morning, Philadelphia. The snow is beginning to fall and stick across the region. We’re not expected to get a lot — about an inch — but please be careful out there. Here’s what else you need to know:

Attacks return to the Schuylkill River Trail, arrests made.

The young men on bikes who have been robbing joggers, walkers and riders on the Schuylkill River Trail are back after going into hiding when police stepped up patrols on the trail. Trail users were relieved of cash and possessions in three separate incidents on two days this week, according to a 6ABC report. In the most recent incident on Wednesday, things got violent when the victim refused to unlock his cell phone and the young men began to punch and kick him. Police arrested four young men a few minutes after that incident, while other incidents reportedly remain under investigation. Residents living near the trail have been concerned about the attacks for months, and City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson has formed a task force to come up with ways to make the trail safer.

Dwight Evans picks up an endorsement from Mayor Kenney.

While much of the city’s Democratic establishment still stands behind embattled Congressman Chaka Fattah‘s bid to hang on to his House seat, the top dog in City Hall has broken ranks. and 6ABC report that Mayor Jim Kenney endorsed State Rep. Dwight Evans‘ bid to unseat him. In a statement he released last night, the mayor cited Evans’ “long history of fighting to eliminate poverty, improve our children’s education, provide decent safe and affordable housing for our families — and good paying jobs for our residents.” In the only preference poll in the hotly contested race so far — commissioned by Evans — the longtime representative of West Oak Lane in Harrisburg led the pack, showing strong support across the board in the five-candidate race. One quarter of those polled remain undecided, however.

Will the SS United States sail once again?

Fans of “America’s Flagship” took heart yesterday when the SS United States Conservancy announced that Crystal Cruises has signed a purchase option for the ship with the intent of modernizing it and returning it to service as a cruise ship. Officials of both entities announced the $700 million restoration plan at a news conference in New York yesterday, which we reported on here. If all goes as planned, that city will become the new home of the world’s fastest ocean liner, mothballed since 1969. But for now, the United States will remain docked at Pier 82 on the Delaware riverfront for another nine months while Crystal completes a feasibility study. (If this sounds familiar, it is: The ship arrived here in connection with a renovation feasibility study in 1996, and Crystal sibling Norwegian Cruise Line paid for another one in 2000.)

City Council tackles criminal justice reform.

Philadelphia City Council yesterday named the first members to a new commission it created to recommend reforms for the city’s criminal justice system. reports that the commission will have three co-chairs: Keir Bradford-Gray, head of the Philadelphia Defenders Association, Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and former Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin J. Bethel. Three other members were also appointed yesterday, and Council President Darrell Clarke said more would be added. Clarke said the commission would differ from the existing Criminal Justice Advisory Board in being more open and accessible to the community; the commission plans to hold some of its hearings in various city neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced a bill to create another commission, this one dealing with youth gun violence.

Time for the annual pig-out — er, wing-out — in South Philly.

By the time you read this, they should be sweeping the chicken bones off the floor of the Wells Fargo Center and carting the defeated contestants in Wing Bowl 24 off to have their stomachs pumped. The WIP-sponsored event, one of the biggest in the sport (sport?) of competitive eating, puts 30 contestants in front of piles of Buffalo wings and challenges them to down as many as possible in 14 minutes. The top 10 advance to a second 14-minute chomp-off, and the top five second-round finishers face each other in a two-minute speed-eating round. Defending champion Patrick Bertoletti, who put away a record-breaking 444 wings in claiming the crown last year, faces stiff competition, including 2014 winner Molly Schuyler, one of two women (the most ever) competing in this year’s event. Who won? If you care about stuff like that, the results should be posted on the Wing Bowl website or blog. If you don’t, read Richard Rys’ “Wing Bowl: Is It Time to End It?” from last January.

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