Water, traffic, lack of doctors among area’s biggest issues
By Melissa Steele, Cape Gazette
February 19, 2020
Going door-to-door in the 36th Representative District, incumbent Rep. Bryan Shupe, R-Milford, has learned firsthand about water problems facing his constituents.
“One woman in Ellendale had a 4-month-old, and she told me she uses bottled water to bathe her child because of the nitrates and other contaminants in the water,” he said.
Shupe, who is finishing up his first term as representative for the area covering south Milford, Ellendale and Lincoln, said he has passed out water-testing kits to residents, connecting about 10 families with funds to install water-purification systems such as a reverse-osmosis system that eliminates contaminants.
“We found a lot of individuals don’t have water that I would consider acceptable to drink,” he said.
The Department of Health and Social Services offers funding to low-income households for water-purification systems – money that comes from the interest paid into a revolving water loan fund provided for municipal water improvements, he said.
Shupe said he is working with private companies such as Culligan and Sharp to replace filters for low-income families. “These are people who would otherwise not have safe drinking water,” he said.
Shupe, a father of two young children with his wife Sherry, said plans are to install similar water purification systems at area daycares and community centers.
Shupe said another issue he has witnessed is a critical shortage of doctors in the Kent and Sussex area.
“Residents either cannot find a primary doctor or their primary doctor is retiring or their doctor is going into concierge service, and we’re seeing limited services for our residents’ healthcare services,” he said.
Shupe said there are now 250 primary care physicians serving the area, and to remedy the shortage, he is sponsoring a bill to help physicians pay off their student loans if they come to Delaware to work.
Working with upstate representatives from across the aisle, Shupe said the bill would pay off loans up to $50,000 over four years. The bill passed the House and now awaits action in the Senate.
“When people cannot find a primary care doctor, their condition can become chronic, adding to the cost of care and raising healthcare costs,” he said.
As a small business owner who runs online news service Milford Live, and owns Fur-Baby Boutique & Doggie Daycare with his wife, Shupe said he is sensitive to regulations that hamper small business. One that caught his attention is a little-known law that prohibits a brewpub owner from opening more than three establishments in the state.
“I have never heard that you can only have three bakeries, or three bicycle shops or whatever it may be,” he said. “A lot of this deals with how alcohol is distributed in the state, but at the heart of it, it really is a small business bill, and what we can do to eliminate unnecessary regulations on our small businesses.”
Brewpubs such as Iron Hill Brewery have already been forced to open facilities in neighboring states, he said, and Milford’s Mispillion River Brewing has reached its three-pub limit with facilities in Smyrna and Millsboro.
“What we’ve seen is these brewpubs, as they continue to grow and create jobs, are hesitant to invest in Delaware because they can only have three, and then they have to go out of state,” Shupe said. “Brewpubs bring jobs at their facility but also create other economic development.”
As he campaigns to retain his seat, Shupe said he will continue to work with the Delaware Department of Transportation to improve Milford-area roadways. So far, he said, more than 26 projects have been done including paving, radar signs, bridge repair and improvements along the Route 30 corridor.
“That has taken a lot of my time. Listening to concerns of constituents and talking with DelDOT,” he said.