VALLEY CITY (AP) - Warren Hinrichs says he's painted flagpoles in 48 states over the past 50 years. One woman compared him to Johnny Appleseed.

The 68-year-old Spokane, Wash., man said he started in the business after his father, Bill, began painting flagpoles in 1935. Warren Hinrichs estimates he's painted 4,000 flagpoles.

This week, he's in Valley City, working on six flagpoles.

He recalls one woman telling him he reminded her of the legendary apple tree planter because he traveled around the country looking for neglected flagpoles.

"You make them pretty and nice and make people smile," he recalls her saying. "Then you move to the next town and do the same."

On Tuesday, Hinrichs scaled the flagpole at the post office in Valley City. He scraped off old paint, sprayed the flagpole's crown gold and then worked his way down, painting it silver. He also replaced the flagpole's rope.

Hinrichs also will repair flagpoles at the Barnes County Municipal Airport, the Barnes County Courthouse and three at Valley City State University. His private business earns him $9 per foot of flagpole.

Warren Hinrichs says his father, who completed about 2,000 flagpoles by 1986, earned $1 a foot when he started. Warren Hinrichs came to Valley City because his father also worked on flagpoles here.

Warren Hinrichs said recently tore his left rotator cuff. He said his doctor gave him two pain killer shots before he began painting.

He might have surgery this winter but has no plans to retire.

"I'm young yet," he said. "Good Lord willing, I'll keep going."

Information from: Valley City Times-Record,">