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Recount starts today for Georgia's 7th Congressional District race

A recount is underway in the last undecided Georgia congressional race. Late Tuesday afternoon, the Secretary of State's office ordered the recount for the 7th Congressional District.

After the initial count, Republican incumbent Rob Woodall led Democrat challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux by 419. That is a margin of 0.4 percent.

Georgia law allows a losing candidate to request a recount if the margin is less than one percent.

Most ballots are cast electronically and will be recounted the same way. Paper absentee and provisional ballots received by Gwinnett County are scanned individually. 

We're LIVE at election headquarters in Gwinnett County and hearing from both campaigns on Channel 2 Action News at Noon.

Information from The Atlanta-Journal Constitution was used in this report. 

Energy drinks may be contributing to PTSD in soldiers, study finds

U.S. military members are facing a new threat overseas and right here at home. A new study says energy drinks are contributing to post-traumatic stress disorder and the U.S. military may be to blame.

Energy drinks provide an instant boost for soldiers in war zones, where they've become the beverage of choice for many service members.

It was a hard habit to leave behind for Army veteran Stephen Eager who served for 11 years, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

"It did have a hold on me. It was a physical addiction for several years,” Eager said. 

Eager, now a married father of four, was drinking 10 energy drinks a day when on duty 16 hours a day.

We'll explain the findings of the study and talk to doctors about their concerns, on Channel 2 Action News at 4:47 p.m.

Georgia grocery stores, pharmacies open on Thanksgiving Day 2018

Whether you’re making last-minute runs to the grocery store or pharmacy hours before Thanksgiving dinner, plenty of local grocers and pharmacies will be offering regular or limited hours on Thursday, Nov. 22.

» RELATED: You’ve been warned: The best and worst times to drive in Atlanta this Thanksgiving

These stores will be open on Thanksgiving Day:

Note: Be sure to call ahead of time to confirm your local store hours.

CDC: Romaine lettuce is not safe to eat and should be thrown out

U.S. consumers are being advised to not eat any romaine lettuce as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention investigates an E. coli outbreak.

The advisory applies to all types of romaine lettuce, including hearts of romaine and salad mixes that use leaves of romaine lettuce.

Channel 2's Tom Regan visited local grocery stores to see how they were planning to keep customers safe. 

What you need to know as you prepare your Thanksgiving meal, for Channel 2 Action News at 4 p.m.

The CDC wants to be very clear about this romaine lettuce warning: Don’t eat it. Any of it. No matter where you got it. Throw it all away. https://t.co/IMqVv5tsGX pic.twitter.com/ABFP48rPME — Tom Regan (@tomreganWSB) November 21, 2018

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Cool Thanksgiving ahead but expect rain to move in Black Friday

Thanksgiving is shaping up to be gorgeous, but a system of rain will move in this weekend, according to Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Katie Walls.

Walls said Georgia can expect clouds and areas of rain to increase through the day Friday with highs mainly in the 40s to around 50 degrees.

Cool but SUNNY for your Thanksgiving holiday! The afternoon will feel pretty nice. BUT that's not how the week will end. We're tracking widespread rain moving in. Stick with Ch. 2 as we update the timing and rainfall amounts you can expect. pic.twitter.com/NASNBDnHWb — Katie Walls (@KatieWallsWSB) November 21, 2018

Our team of experts will be updating your Thanksgiving and travel forecasts throughout the day on Channel 2 Action News.

Rain will continue through part of Saturday with some of the rain sticking for Georgia Tech at Georgia kickoff at Noon.

Good news for travelers: conditions improve dramatically by Sunday for the drive home, Walls said. 

Group names this year's most dangerous toys

With Black Friday less than 48 hours away - here's a warning about dangerous toys before you start checking the kids' Christmas lists.

Slime is just one of the toys on the annual "Trouble in Toyland Report" released Tuesday.    

The organization said it found toxic amounts of boron, which can cause nausea, vomiting and other health issues, in slime products.

“No one should worry about whether or not the toy they’re buying is toxic or dangerous. But in 2018, we’re still finding hazards in some of the most popular toys. Toy manufacturers must do better to ensure their products are safe before they end up in children’s hands and mouths,” said Adam Garber, Consumer Watchdog for U.S. PIRG.

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In a survey of five search pages for balloons sold on Amazon, U.S. PIRG found no choking hazard labels on 87 percent of the latex balloons marketed to parents of children under 2, an apparent violation of the law. Among children’s products, balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death.

The report also highlights two smart toys -- a robot toy and a tablet -- with privacy concerns discovered by an investigation by the Mozilla Foundation. Every year, the potential for smart toys to expose private data becomes a more significant concern.

Given the popularity of slime, that class of toys was a primary focus.

"Boron is a potentially toxic substance that should not be ingested by children as it's associated with negative effects in all body systems, said Dr. Daniel Rauch, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. "It is best that children avoid any exposure to ensure they are healthy and parents take appropriate action if it is ingested in any form."  

While there are currently no limits on boron in children’s toys in the United States, U.S. PIRG called for placing warning labels on products and a full public hearing to determine safe levels of boron.  

“Regulators need to determine the appropriate health-based standards to protect children from boron in slime. In the meantime, we want parents to know the risks, so they can supervise their kids accordingly,” said Tano Toussaint, U.S. PIRG's consumer watchdog associate.

Read more here.

2 shot at College Park gas station

Police have arrested a gunman after two people were shot at a Valero gas station in College Park on Tuesday evening. 

The shooting happened on Main Street. Police said one person was shot in the head and the other was shot in the hip.

There are cameras at the busy gas station, but they are pointed toward the pumps and did not capture video of the shooting.

Channel 2's Lori Wilson spoke with a family member of one victim who said her cousin did not deserve to be shot.

"That's all we're doing is hurting each other, seriously," Alicia Roberts told Wilson.

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Roberts rushed to see if her cousin was OK when she got the news.

"As long as he's OK, I'm all right but this (expletive) got to stop," Roberts said.

Police said they got the call about shots fired around 6:45 p.m.

"An officer was pretty close and saw part of the altercation," interim College Park police Chief Ferman Willingford said.

Willingford said their preliminary investigation showed two men met at the gas station and a verbal altercation escalated. Police believe there was only one gun used in the altercation.

"He's a good guy, good guy, recently got married, has three kids," said Gloria Davis, another cousin of the victim who police said was shot in the face.

It's an investigation that one family hopes will provide answers as to what happened to their loved one.

"Why you feel like you gotta take something? Go get you a job. It's ridiculous," Roberts said.

"I'm hoping and praying that he's OK," Davis said.

Police said the two victims were transported to a hospital with serious injuries. 

Former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins, a GOP pioneer in Georgia, dies at 74

Former Congressman Mac Collins, a truck driver-turned-lawmaker who helped build Georgia’s Republican Party, died Tuesday, according to several GOP officials. He was 74.

Collins was a plain-speaking country boy famous for colorful anecdotes who represented a Macon-based U.S. House district from 1992 until 2004. He stepped down to run for Zell Miller’s old U.S. Senate seat, a contest he lost in the GOP primary to Johnny Isakson, his stylistic opposite.

The cause of death was not immediately known, but several friends said he started the day working on his family farm.

“Mac was a dedicated public servant. He was a hard worker,” said Bo Bryant, his former chief of staff. “Like he used to say, he was a graduate of the university of hard knocks.”

Collins hailed from Flovilla, a town that at the time of his birth in 1944 was home to about 240 people and was best known as a fueling and watering station for steam engines on the Southern Railroad. He skipped college to start his own trucking company, driving a beat-up vehicle during the day that he would patch up at night.

“It was tough,” Collins said in a 2003 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You start a business with wore-out equipment and no money, just debt.”

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His wife, Julie, worked beside him in the business’ early days, answering phones, keeping the books and even helping load trucks on occasion. The company eventually took off, and Collins hauled timber for Georgia-Pacific and dabbled in the grocery and automobile businesses.

Collins’ interest in politics was first sparked when his mother, Bessie, won a seat on the City Council despite having only a fifth-grade education. He won a seat on the Butts County Commission in 1976 on his third try — as a Democrat. But he eventually switched parties, becoming the county’s first GOP chairman in 1981.

Republicans were still a rarity in rural Georgia in those days, and Collins was soundly defeated in his first run for the state Senate in 1984 and again in 1986.

“My friends told me if I had run as a Democrat I would have won, and I would have,” he previously told the AJC.

The third time once again proved to be the charm, and he was elected to the statehouse in 1988, becoming one of only 11 Republicans serving in the chamber at the time. He won his U.S. House seat four years later, just ahead of Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution.

“He was a pioneering leader of the Republican Party in Georgia, joining at a time that there were no Republicans in power in Georgia,” said state Sen. David Shafer, who in 1992 was the executive director of the state GOP.

In his six terms in the House, Collins served on the Intelligence and tax-writing Ways and Means committees. He quickly became known to GOP leaders for his knack for translating Congress’ byzantine policy moves into language non-Washington types could understand.

“Mac never lost the common touch and his ability to connect with regular working folks. He sort of prided himself on that, and it was certainly true,” said Skin Edge, who served with Collins in the Georgia Senate and went on to become the chamber’s GOP leader.

Collins’ straight-talking sensibilities were also frequently on display on the campaign trail, where he would often carry a broom. The prop was used to underscore his pledge to clean up Washington.

He also had a stubborn streak.

The Republican didn’t concede the U.S. Senate race, nor his narrowly unsuccessful comeback bid against then-U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall in 2006.

“You never didn’t know where he stood on something,” said Brandon Phillips, a family friend and GOP operative. “He may be quiet at first when listening, but then he’d make his opinion known and he wasn’t very shy about it.”

Collins eschewed many of Congress’ perks out of solidarity for his blue-collar constituents. He chose to forgo his lawmaker pension plan, saying that if Social Security was good enough for everybody else, it would also work for him.

“His philosophy was that Congress should not be a retirement plan,” Bryant said.

He also regularly returned portions of his office operating budget to the Treasury, according to former top aide Mike Joyce, and frequently arrived at the office around 5 a.m. to begin the workday. A few savvy constituents caught onto that fact and would call in early for the chance to speak to the congressman directly.

After leaving Washington, Collins continued to stay active politically while keeping up his farm near Jackson. Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to the state Board of Corrections in 2014.

He is survived by his wife, four adult children, roughly a dozen grandchildren and a namesake great-grandchild, Denver Mac Collins. A memorial service has yet to be announced.

Many of Collins’ former GOP colleagues took to social media Tuesday to honor the lawmaker’s legacy.

“Mac and I served in Congress together and I admired his leadership and dedication,” tweeted Deal, who also ordered flags at the state Capitol and in Butts County to fly at half-staff on Friday and through the weekend. “With heavy hearts, @GAFirstLady and I offer our condolences to his loved ones and join in remembering his service to Georgia.”

Gov.-elect Brian Kemp touted Collins’ “incredible legacy of service.”

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