News Minute: Here is the latest Illinois news from The Associate - – Rockford’s News Leader

News Minute: Here is the latest Illinois news from The Associated Press at 1:40 a.m. CDT

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(AP) - Illinois-based Consolidated Communications and North Carolina-based FairPoint have obtained all necessary state regulatory approvals and anticipate closing the deal in a matter of days. Consolidated says it plans to complete the $1.5 billion purchase of FairPoint on Monday. Consolidated President and CEO Bob Udell says the combined company with operations in 24 states will become stronger and more competitive with a 36,000-mile (57933-kilometer) fiber network.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Deadlines to enter various competitions are quickly approaching for this year's Illinois State Fair. State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon says in a Wednesday statement that the ones fastest-approaching are Saturday's deadlines for the open show beef, dairy, sheep and goats. The deadline for the Twilight Parade is July 11. Fair officials say entries much be postmarked by the following Monday if an entry deadline falls on a Saturday.

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (AP) - The extended Fourth of July weekend is expected to be one of the busiest periods of the year on Illinois's tollway with nearly 8 million vehicles on the system. The Illinois Tollway says in a Wednesday statement that the heaviest travel day should be Friday. Around 2 million vehicles are expected on the road then. That compares to an average day when around 1.6 million vehicles use the tollway.

CHICAGO (AP) - Weather officials have issued severe weather warnings, including tornado watches, for portions of northern Illinois. The National Weather Service issued tornado watches on Wednesday evening for several counties including Cook, Boone, McHenry and Lake. Severe thunderstorm warnings are also in effect for some places in the evening with threats of large hail, damaging winds and torrential rain.

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