I noticed it seems like the section that listed and reviewed various byond releases is gone now. How will announcements and releases be handled in the future, via forum topics? Possibly a sticky thread in the byond discussion thread?

When is 494 anyway, I thought we were to get a taste of it with the site update?
AFAIK announcements will be posted under BYOND Discussion, which IMO is stupid. The BYOND site that was there before had everything important in one place; now it's scattered between a dozen other posts.

Note that you can access the release notes here.
The plan is tentatively to use stickies to put the latest announcements, like version updates and "staff" posts (which reminds me that I have to put the old 493 post up as a sticky). One of the reasons I like this site is that we don't have to do these things in different places now. In our first test of this site we did use a separate announcements forum-- and that's easy to revert too-- but I figured it was unnecessary since there is usually only one or two important announcements at a time. But we can see how it feels.