12-year-old Jazz festival winner waits months for winnings | News

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12-year-old Jazz festival winner waits months for winnings

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- James Simpo Jr. lives and breathes music. His father's home has essentially become his studio.

"He takes a lot of pride in his music. He doesn't take it light," said Simpo, Sr. "He works hard to get to a high level to compete in these competitions. He's looking to win."

Simpo is proud of his son's achievements, the ribbons, the posters, the accolades. In this year's Jazz Festival Generation Next Youth Talent Competition, the middle school student played the guitar to show off his skills.

"He loves competing, showing these older kids, 'hey I'm a young kid but don't count me out,'" said Simpo.

He finished in third place. The prize was a scholarship to the UNF jazz camp and $250. Simpo said his son attended the camp, but has yet to see the money.

"I don't where the problem came in that we didn't really receive the cash award. We've just been put off on that one," he said.

Now Simpo's friends are making fun of the situation.

"One of my friends told me they ganged him, stiffed, ganged him. We didn't receive the award and he's been disappointed," said Simpo.

Why is it taking months to give the middle schooler his $250? 

At the city's Special Events Office, which is responsible for the Jazz Festival and its events, they were referring all questions to the Public Affairs office.

Simpo said that is what happens every time he calls City Hall; he's told he has to talk to someone else. He's been waiting since May for someone to tell him about his son's unpaid winnings.

"We just want to receive what he deserves," he said. 

City spokesperson David DeCamp said this was a mistake, an oversight.

To put an end to it and give the 12-year-old his winnings, the city had a check immediately sent to him.


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