The Youngstown Health Department is welcoming three new positions after city council approved the salary spending Wednesday evening.

The positions are a part of a new program to improve medical outreach in the city as public health departments across the state continue to receive more funds.

The Youngstown Health Department received a $450k grant from the state for health improvement zones.

"They'll be the first of the kind in the State of Ohio," said Erin Bishop, Health Commissioner for the City of Youngstown. "And with that, we needed to create these positions because what we're doing is developing 4 health improvement zones, one on each side of town."

The positions include an epidemiologist and four community health advocates along with a supervisor. Each advocate would be placed along one side of the city. As the details of what's known as the 'Community Health Improvement Plan' are soon to be released, Bishop said the program is possible because of those additional funds being directed to public health.

"We also got ARP money to do this," Bishop added. "$2.4 million. During COVID-19, we also saw we needed to get to the people and that's why we were everywhere doing shots."

Bishop added this would be the first epidemiologist to work for the city's health district. She said the position is essential for the growing department.

"We've had the relationship with Mahoning County all these years and it's been wonderful but, now that we're getting bigger, we need more information," Bishop said. "We had an epidemiologist all throughout COVID-19 and she was the one who was able to give us our numbers every day."

Health advocates working on each side of the city will lead to a healthier tomorrow, according to Bishop. 

"They [Youngstown residents] don't want to come out [of their homes], so we have to go literally to their house to see what they need to succeed and to be healthy," Bishop concluded. 

Also approved at council Wednesday evening, the city will enter into a contract agreement with a construction company to begin the 20 Federal Place redevelopment.

The total cost of those services will not exceed $800k.

Council also gave the thumbs up to refund the AT&T location on Salt Springs Road after the city found the company overpaid more than $220k in property taxes in 2019 and 2020.