Adel, incorporated in 1889 and now the seat of Cook County, is located about thirty miles north of Valdosta in south Georgia on Interstate 75. Despite the rapid growth prompted by the six lanes of interstate running nearby, Adel has managed to keep its friendly atmosphere and small-town charm. According to the 2010 U.S. census, Adel’s population was 5,334.
Long before pavement covered its roads, Adel was called Puddleville. The name stood as a testament to the many water puddles that saturated low-lying streets after a rainfall. Rumor has it that the first postmaster, Joel J. “Uncle Jack” Parrish, saw the name Philadelphia on a croker sack and pushed to change Puddleville’s name. Taking the letters “a-d-e-l” out of Philadelphia, town leaders arrived at a unique name and in 1889 celebrated incorporation into the county, which at that time remained a part of Berrien County. Not until 1918 did the state legislature establish Cook County.
Two of the largest employers in Adel are the Cook County Schools and Memorial Home Health, a health alliance that operates the hospital and a convalescent center. Another helpful addition to the Adel economy has been the opening of the Cook County Workforce Development Center, a satellite campus of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. Classes began at the 13,905-square-foot worker training facility in 2002. Community leaders and residents generously lent support to the center through direct monetary gifts and in-kind services. Now a thriving educational facility, the Workforce Development Center offers technical and business degree programs in a variety of specialties. Manufacturing and industrial outlets continue to find Adel an appealing place to establish or expand their operations.
The convenience of Interstate 75 also lures many tourists to Adel and Cook County. Reed Bingham State Park, located about six miles from the interstate, is a sprawling state park that stretches from Cook into Colquitt County and surrounds a 375-acre lake. In addition to fishing, the park offers visitors scenic hikes through the southern Georgia wilderness. Other places of interest include the Jim Paulk-Sowega building, which is known as the Watermelon Building for its exterior watermelon motif. Built in the 1930s, it currently houses Adel’s chamber of commerce. A New Deal mural called Plantation Scene was painted on the side of the post office in 1941 by Alice Flint.