Compiling The News-Item's Top 10 local news stories of the year invariably produces a depressing list.

For 2012, save for Henry Hynoski's run to the Super Bowl in his rookie year in the NFL at No. 5, the Top 10 could be categorized as more "death and destruction," a dose of "debate and disgust" mixed in. That's to be expected, as prominent news, by nature, is usually bad.

That doesn't mean, however, the region had nothing positive to recognize from 2012. So, on this first day of the new year, we take note of these developments:

- Formation of blight task force: Perhaps no single subject is as important to improving the area's quality of life, especially in eastern Northumberland County, then addressing blight. Formation of a countywide task force that will pool resources and help municipal officials enforce laws and find money to raze and repair is "No. 1" on this list.

- Lourdes' tax "break": Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School heads into the new year with $240,000 earmarked for tuition assistance, thanks to the newly formed alumni foundation's campaign for business contributions under the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC). More challenges lie ahead for small, private schools, but this amount of money - with more to come in calendar year 2013 - will make a difference at Lourdes.

- Fifth decade begins for NCCTC: Speaking of important local institutions, the Northumberland County Career and Technical Center celebrated its 40th anniversary this fall. The milestone gave us pause as to the school's history, but also illuminated its potential for the future as a changing economy, skyrocketing higher education costs and a tight job market lead more students toward "hands-on" vocations.

- Community spirit: The coal region is known for its spirit and generosity, but 2012 -perhaps more than any year in recent memory - was one where people rallied for community causes. They helped those "next door," but also strangers struck by tragedy far away. New groups - Coal City Revitalization and Project MC Cleanup - organized to promote new events and create a cleaner community, all of which will improve the region's quality of life.

More bad news will come our way in 2013, but as these developments demonstrate, we know good will persist as well.

Happy New Year.