Bits of Stone for February 3, 2013
By Dean Stone | (email@example.com)
Construction of US 129 from Calderwood to Robbinsville, N.C., opened remote area
Before the completion of U.S. 129 from Calderwood to Robbinsville, N.C., there was no Dragon or Dragon’s Tail. That 11-mile stretch of road with 318 very sharp curves prove a challenge today to travelers between Calderwood and the North Carolina state line at Deals Gap.
Cheoah (1919), site of ALCOA’s first hydroelectric dam in the area, and Santeetlah (1928), its second, could be reached only by the company-operated railroad’s connection to Southern Railway at Calderwood. (Calderwood was originally known as Alcoa and had a post office by that name until the present city was established in 1919).
Construction began in 1927 of a road along a trail used originally by wildlife and was dedicated in 1931 in Robbinsville. In some areas in North Carolina the road follows the former railroad bed. After the road was opened, it was not paved for a number of years, but ALCOA built Tapoco Lodge at the site of the company’s temporary construction housing site near Cheoah Dam.
When the road through the sparsely settled area was completed, the Blount County Chamber of Commerce sponsored a bus trip for Maryville business leaders to visit Robbinsville in an effort to attract new business from that area.
Harrison Akins has key role in Brookings Institution Press book due in March
Harrison Akins, a 2002 graduate of Maryville High, has had a very important role as the chief researcher for the forthcoming book, “The Thistle and the Drone.” Its subtitle is “How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on tribal Islam.” The book will be published in March by the Brookings Institution Press.
It is described as a ground-breaking third volume of a trilogy that includes “Journey into Islam” (2007) and “Journey into America” (2010).
The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C. Its stated mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations that advance three broad goals:
• Strengthen American democracy.
• Foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans.
• Secure a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system.
It is generally considered to be the most influential think tank in America.
This book is certain to bring considerable attention in Washington, D.C., given today’s problems.
The author is Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. He is also the first Distinguished Chair of Middle East Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Pakistani High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and a visiting professor at Cambridge University. He has served as an adviser to President George W. Bush and the British royal family.
A world-renowned author, diplomat and scholar, Ambassador Ahmed reveals an important alternative to winning America’s decade-long war on terror which has exacerbated the already broken relationship between central governments and the tribal societies on their peripheries.
Dominated by ideas of a “clash of civilizations” and “security,” the United States has become directly or indirectly involved with these societies. Although al Qaida has been decimated, the U.S. is drifting into a global war against tribal societies on the periphery of nations, he writes.
Harrison headed research for the book. He works for Ambassador Ahmed as Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow in the School of International Service at the American University. Following graduation from Maryville High, Harrison earned a degree at American University followed by a masters degree at St. John’s College and a second masters at the London School of Economics.
Harrison is the son of Darrell and Deb Akins. Darrell was a vice president of the Bank of Maryville when Gov. Lamar Alexander called on him to serve in his cabinet and has since become the founder of Akins-Crisp Public Strategies with offices in Oak Ridge, Washington and Huntsville, Ala. Debbie was the founding director of Leadership Blount, alumni director at Maryville College and is currently patient advocate at Roane County Medical Center.
Their daughter Rachel, who trained under Bill Robinson at Maryville High, is executive director of the Wichita Falls, Texas, Youth Symphony. She recently gave birth to the first grandchild in the family, Willa Jane Barber.
Many older residents will remember Darrell’s parents, the late Gene and Sue Akins. He was a supervisor of instruction in the Alcoa school system where Darrell graduated from Alcoa High.
Dean Stone is editor of The Daily Times.