The safe return of an abducted child, the restoration of a beloved statue, seed money for a special high school for future scientists, statewide recognition as a Kentucky Trail Town and a new downtown retail development grabbed the first five positions in the “Good News List for 2014” of The Morehead News.

The newspaper’s editorial staff considered positive articles from the front pages of 103 issues of the newspaper published in 2014 to determine this year’s top 10 list of news stories that made us feel good.

In the final review, more than 60 examples of good news articles from Page 1 were competing to be listed as the best of the best.

It was not easy but the process reinforced our commitment to continue publishing a package of balanced news for our print and online readers.

Friday’s issue of The Morehead News will feature our list of the top 10 local news stories of 2014, based on their impact on the community.

Here is the list:

1. Mission for Muna – Muna N’Diaye, seven-year-old daughter of Dr. Noelle Hunter of Morehead was rescued from Mali in West Africa two and one-half years after her father took her there illegally. Her mother’s unrelenting campaign to bring the little girl home attracted national and international media attention, including a powerful TV message in the reelection campaign of U. S. Sen. Mitchell McConnell.

2. Spirit of the American Doughboy – The iconic statute of a World War I soldier on the battlefield endured 85 years outdoors on the courthouse square in Morehead before it was refurbished this year, thanks to the fund raising efforts of the Morehead Woman’s Club, Rowan County Veterans Foundation and private citizens. In addition to a new uniform, the old soldier also stands on a new pedestal.

3. Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics – Morehead State University received its largest single cash gift ever – $4 million – from Joseph W. Craft, plus $2.3 million in annual state support, to create this two-year high school program for those gifted in science and math. When it opens in the fall of 2015, the Craft Academy will be the second such school in Kentucky and only the 16th in the U. S. It will be housed in Grote-Thompson Hall in the center of the campus.

4. Kentucky Trail Town – Two years of planning by tourism staff and volunteers ended in July when Morehead became the third Kentucky Trail Town. With that designation, the community became eligible for highway signage, listings in state tourism publications and websites and other marketing support. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that the Sheltowee Trace National Recreational Trail would be rerouted through downtown Morehead.

5. New Towne Square – With other business and professional offices to follow, this new retail development opened in November with a new Fazoli’s Restaurant. That brand reappeared after a five-year absence from Morehead and was warmly welcomed by customers. A pediatric clinic and other tenants are coming to that neighborhood on Stone Street.

6. RCSHS Renovation – In what hopefully will add 20 years to its life, the school board launched a $4 million renovation project to upgrade Rowan County Senior High School. Opened in 1981, the school is being modified to improve technology, space utilization and other factors.

7. God’s Pantry Distribution Center – Ground was broken recently for a new, 9,000-square-foot warehouse to serve as the Morehead Regional Distribution Center for this Lexington-based food bank which provides free or low cost foodstuffs to food charities in 50 counties. The facility will be located in the John Will Stacy MMRC Regional Business Park off KY 801. It is being financed largely through individual, business and organizational gifts from the Morehead area.

8. Farmers Market Pavilion – After years of enduring the hot sun, wind and rain under tents and makeshift shelters, Rowan County’s produce farmers now have a new, covered facility in which to sell their homegrown fruits and vegetables. The county provided property and the construction was financed with tobacco settlement funds. It opened last summer.

9. Railroad Museum – The trains and the tracks left in 1985 but the evidence of Rowan County’s railroad heritage is being preserved in a museum under development in the old freight station building on West First Street in Morehead. The Morehead and North Fork Railroad group, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, is raising money and providing volunteers to bring the museum to reality.

10. Lakeside Christian Academy – The largest Christian school in the county announced plans to build a new classroom building in the next few years on its campus on U. S. 60 west. Planning and fund raising already are underway. Most of the school’s classes meet in temporary facilities.

Keith Kappes can be reached at kkappes@themoreheadnews.com or by telephone at 784-4116.

Recommended for you