We could do a better job of generating useful release notes. As a first step, I suggest we follow Lucene's lead and add html formatting to our CHANGES.txt. An example output is here:
This should then be included with our release documentation that is published on the website for each release.
After this is committed, the next step is for committers to agree on a CHANGES.txt convention that will flag major features/improvements (such as a well placed *). Then the flagged Jira's can be further highlighted when generating the html.