As is often the case with small town folk, there's no better response to an issue than with a joke.
One Westbury resident thought the return of transportation was a better solution than the prison - "we can just send them back to the UK!" - while another had an abstract idea of capital punishment. All in jest, of course.
But once small talk was over, the government's decision to build a prison on the town's northern fringe quickly became serious business.
With a vocal group of opponents on one side, and the usual government spin on the other, it can be hard to know where the rest of the community stands. The Examiner doorknocked businesses on the main street to find out more.
And one thing soon became apparent - whether for or against, all agreed the government's decision to drop the announcement on the town out of the blue was a mistake.
Pharmacist Kelli Houlahan said prison opponents weren't overstating the impact it would have on the town.
"I've been very unhappy with the process, it was just dropped on the community," she said.
"This is a nice country pharmacy. I would hate for Westbury to lose that country feel.
"My daughter is apolitical, but even she could see how poorly thought-out this is. She said Westbury is where you come to retire, so why have a prison here?"
MORE ON THE WESTBURY PRISON:
- Many Westbury residents 'hostile' to jail plan
- Northern Tasmanian prison site revealed
- Michael Polley says Westbury not right place for new prison
- Northern Tasmania Development Corporation defends prison
- Westbury should sense opportunity, mayor of council with three prisons says
- Meander councillor John Temple questions prison plans
- Drop-in information sessions confirmed for Westbury prison
- Elise Archer talks up proposed Northern Regional Prison
The government's plan to take community representatives to the mainland to show them other prison towns was also ill-advised, Ms Houlahan said.
"This is a very small community. There's aren't really any other situations you can compare it with on the mainland, and all the comparisons that have been made are with much larger community centres."
Peter Wright opened cafe Oomph! last week, a decision he made before the prison announcement, but one he may have reconsidered if he was aware of the government's plans.
He said it may have benefits in the short-term, but little after that.
"I can see that there could be a monetary gain during the building process, but once it opens, I can't see much more monetary gain for the town," Mr Wright said.
"Everything will be on a contract basis, it won't be local small businesses benefiting. Most of the people who will work at the prison won't live here."
He also held fears for Westbury's growing image as a historic town for tourists.
"It's a shame because it's quite a lovely historic village that's just starting to be known on tourism maps," Mr Wright said.
"And why would they put it within full view of a major tourism road? Can you imagine putting a prison beside Evandale?
"From what I can see, it appears that the prisoners will have more rights than us locals. We don't have public transport, but they'll have a regular service."
The mood changed somewhat when stepping into the Jamieson's Statewide Rural store, however.
Farm contractors and salesmen believed there was a 50-50 split between supporters and opponents, when the wider district was considered.
Ag business contractor Tim Reed said it was common for people in small towns to kick up a fuss.
"They blew the poppy factory expansion out of proportion. They complained about the Ridley fish farm, they thought there'd be a fish smell over the town," he said.
"It's not just a Westbury thing to complain. It's a small town thing. You can see that it's going to bring jobs, but it's not like they're going to employ people from just down the road. Most of them will come from Launceston and Devonport."
Other business owners were either new to town and didn't want to speak out of turn, or they lived in another town.
Valley Workshop architect Warren French had been a keen observer of the ongoing debate. His business would soon outgrow its William Street premises, and he had been keeping track of developments in the industrial estate.
He said relocating to the area would now send the "wrong message" to his clients who saw his business as high-end. The government needed to find a location similar to Ashley for the prison instead.
"Somewhere like Ashley is very easy to get to. It's far enough from Deloraine to be identified as not being Deloraine. It's far enough from Westbury to be identified as not being Westbury. It's probably even far enough from Exton," Mr French said.
"The appeal of Ashley is that it's kind of nowhere, even though it's close. I don't think it's a distance thing, I reckon it's a perception thing. It needs to be where it can be 'not-Westbury'."