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Downsize double whammy

Cheryl, Sophie, Debby, Tim and Joe Kinnane – Tim is a prison guard at Grafton jail.
Cheryl, Sophie, Debby, Tim and Joe Kinnane – Tim is a prison guard at Grafton jail. Adam Hourigan

NSW Government plans to downsize Grafton Jail might do in 14 days what Joe Kinnane has been trying to do for 40 years - turn the city into a ghost town.

The Grafton Ghosts Rugby League Club stalwart and his wife, Grafton Women's Hockey president Cheryl Kinnane, were at yesterday's rally against plans to downsize the jail to listen to their son Tim, a prison officer for 20 years, tell his story.

Joe made the throwaway line about his dream for his football team, then apologised.

"It would be funny if it wasn't so serious," he said.

Tim's story is no laughing matter.

Earlier this year he, with his wife Debbie and two children Andrew and Sophie, moved to Grafton, after the closure of the Berrima Jail.

The family's plan was to work the final years of his career in his home town close to his parents.

The family were keen to buy a house even though their house at Berrima was still on the market.

"I checked with the department and the jail management about the job at the jail and they both said it was all sweet, our jobs were safe," Tim said.

"Someone was lying."

Tim and his family's anger at the thought of being forced to move again is matched by his parents'.

"Like all grandparents the thought of seeing the grandkids whenever we wanted instead of travelling for hours was great," Joe said.

"As a former bank manager I know all about the stresses and strains young people go through getting finances together to buy a house. They did all the right things to make sure they could afford to do what they've been working toward."

Tim said if the jail downsize goes ahead he will have to pack up and move again.

"I can't afford to take redundancy, it's only about a year's pay," he said.

"And now I've got two houses I've got to try and sell."

Joe said: "Tim paid his dues working for the prison system.

"He's spent 20 years working for them in the some pretty out-of-the-way and God forsaken places live Ivanhoe, Broken Hill and Lithgow.

"He deserved his chance to move back to his home town and be close to family."

The support coming from the community has heartened all branches of the family, but they're still sceptical of the politicians.

"Talk's cheap, action's gold," was Debbie's summary.

Topics:  grafton ghosts, grafton jail




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