Leadership Orleans recognizes alumni of year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2021 at 8:27 am

Melissa Blanar of the Office for the Aging and Robert Batt of Cornell Cooperative Extension praised for service to county

Melissa Blanar

ALBION – Leadership Orleans has announced its alumni of the year for 2020: Melissa Blanar and Robert Batt.

Blanar, director of the office for the Aging in Orleans County, graduated from Leadership Orleans in 2019. Batt, a graduate of the inaugural class in 2018, is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County.

Robert Batt

“Their ongoing leadership efforts during 2020 supported many areas of need in Orleans County,” The Leadership Orleans Steering Committee said. “Both went far and beyond their professional leadership roles through their organizations to serve at even greater levels. In reaching out, their natural leadership styles inspired the volunteer efforts of many others who to this day are still assisting them in fulfilling those needs. From distributing food to community members to addressing other pandemic realities, Robert and Melissa have been there to share their leadership skills.”

Leadership Orleans is a year-long program with about 25 members in a class who learn about the different sectors of the county, from agriculture, manufacturing, education, healthcare, government and other industries and services. Last year’s class was disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead of a graduation in December, the Class of 2020’s commencement is tentatively scheduled for May 20, 2021. Batt and Blanar will be recognized at that ceremony.

Batt and Blanar have both been instrumental in the food distributions during the pandemic. They have worked with Foodlink and other distributors to have boxes of food available for free to local residents. (There is a food distribution this morning at Medina Central School.)

Those distributions have been at Holley, Clarendon, Albion, Medina, Ridgeway and the 4-H Fairgrounds in Knowlesville.

Melissa Blanar, left, carried milk to residents’ vehicles at a food distribution on Nov. 13, 2020 in Albion. Her office has been extra busy in the past year assisting seniors during the Covid pandemic, including recent efforts trying to help them make appointments for the vaccine.

Robert Batt carries a box of food to a car on July 2, 2020 during a distribution at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds. Batt helped at similar events throughout the county. He also wrote a grant and is on a committee to bridge the digital divide in the county by bringing more high-speed internet access to Orleans.