taxes 715 061820PARK FOREST – Individual income tax returns for Illinois may be submitted starting Friday, Feb. 12, and State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) urges residents to file early this year.

“This is an important filing season, given the pandemic,” Joyce said. “I encourage folks to begin filing as soon as they’re able so they can receive their tax refunds as quickly as possible.”

According to the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR), an error-free return filed electronically can trigger a direct-deposit refund within four to six weeks. The number of electronic filers increased by nearly 3% last year. Of 6.4 million returns filed, 87% were filed online and 63% qualified for refunds.

IDOR officials say that filing tax returns electronically and requesting direct deposit is still the fastest way for taxpayers to receive a refund. IDOR recommends filers create a MyTax Illinois account, particularly because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, so that taxpayers may quickly respond to any filing inquiries and ensure swift processing.

IDOR is also working to protect filers from identity theft. The department encourages taxpayers to be vigilant in protecting personal information and to be alert to phone scams and email phishing.

The deadline to file 2020 income taxes is Thursday, April 15.

Category: Information

furnace 012921PARK FOREST – With temperatures dropping and more people staying indoors, State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) joins the Office of the State Fire Marshal in reminding residents to have their furnaces checked, change furnace filters and make sure carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are functioning properly.

“With many people working remotely due to COVID-19, thermostats are turned up all hours of the day,” Joyce said. “I encourage homeowners to make sure they are heating their homes safely to keep their families and loved ones safe this winter.” 

From 2012-2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 52,050 fires each year involving heating equipment, accounting for 15% of all reported home fires during that time. Half of heating-related fires are reported during December, January and February.

It’s not just fires that pose a danger during these cold months. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is only detectable by special detectors and alarms. These alarms, just like smoke alarms, need to be tested monthly to ensure they are working properly.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. If you are experiencing these symptoms, if you smell natural gas leaking in your home, or if your carbon monoxide alarm activates, evacuate the home immediately and open windows on the way out, if possible.

Read more: Joyce offers tips to keep residents safe and warm this winter

Category: Information

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KANKAKEE – To help keep workplaces safe as employees return to work after the holidays, State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) secured an Illinois Department of Public Health mobile COVID-19 testing site in Kankakee County.

“Many people coming back from celebrating the holidays are seeking COVID-19 tests,” Joyce said. “The mobile testing site is a convenient way to get tested, which in turn will help prevent the spread of the virus following the holidays.”   

The mobile testing site will operate now through Wednesday, Jan. 6 from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. each day at the Kankakee County Health Department, located at 2390 W. Station St. in Kankakee.

Anyone will be able to get tested at the site for free, regardless of symptoms. No appointment is necessary, but daily testing supplies are limited, so residents are encouraged to visit early.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.

However, people with COVID-19 can spread the virus before they start showing symptoms, and some individuals may be asymptomatic. For this reason, IDPH recommends testing for anyone who has recently been part of a large gathering or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

For more information about COVID-19 testing, visit http://www.dph.illinois.gov/testing.

Category: Information

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PARK FOREST – The annual Conservation Achievement Scholarship is now accepting applications, and State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) encourages eligible Illinois high school seniors to apply.

“The price of attending college is a very serious concern for many students and families,” Joyce said. “This scholarship opportunity is a chance to help students lessen the burden of college debt – I hope every eligible high school senior applies.”

The Conservation Achievement Scholarship will award up to four scholarships of $2,000 each for the 2021-2022 school year. These scholarships are one-time awards that are not renewable. The scholarship funds may be used for tuition, college or university fees, textbooks, or room and board. Funds are mailed directly to the college or university of the successful applicant.

Applications are due March 1. Awardees will be selected based on their contributions to Illinois’ natural resources throughout their high school enrollment. Applicants must possess a 2.5 grade point average or better on a 4.0 scale, or a 3.1 grade point average or better on a 5.0 scale. Students must also be enrolling in a two- or four-year college or university in the calendar year of their high school graduation.

The application form is available online at the Illinois Conservation Foundation’s website. Questions should be addressed to the Illinois Conservation Foundation at 217-785-2003 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Category: Information

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PARK FOREST – With winter weather approaching, State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) echoes the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police and the Illinois Tollway in reminding drivers to prepare for winter driving conditions.

“As we head into the winter, I am asking drivers to start thinking about safe winter driving,” Joyce said. “The preparations and plans you make today can keep you and other drivers safe in the months ahead.”

Drivers should be mindful of winter driving skills and build extra time into their schedules during the winter months. As part of the “Winter Weather – Get it Together” campaign, travelers are encouraged to follow these simple guidelines:

  • Bookmark GettingAroundIllinois.com to check travel conditions 24/7.
  • Wear a seat belt. It’s the law in Illinois and your best defense if you are involved in a crash.
  • Drop it and drive. Put down the devices – it, too, is the law.
  • Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary. If you must drive, check the weather forecast and make sure someone is aware of your route. Familiarize yourself with public transportation options.
  • Slow down. Slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking are required throughout the winter.
  • Don’t crowd the plow. A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. Even if you see them, they may not see you. Any plow that’s hit must be pulled out of service, resulting in one less resource available to clear the roads.
  • Watch out for black ice. A road may appear clear but can be treacherous.
  • Be especially careful when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas. All are prone to icing.
  • Prepare an emergency kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
  • Carry a cell phone and a car charger in case of emergency. For emergency assistance in the Chicago area, call *999.
  • Give first responders and stranded drivers plenty of space. Obey the Move Over Law by slowing down and changing lanes when approaching any stopped vehicle with flashing lights.
  • For more winter driving tips, check out this short IDOT video.

For more information on preparing for winter weather, visit IDOT.Illinois.gov.

Category: Information

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